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Health & Wellness

Self-Defense Isn't That Simple

minute read

While being able to fight is a part of women's self-defense, there is so much more to it.

September 14, 2023

Self-defense is a bigger topic than most people realize. It boils down to setting boundaries. This means beating up a mugger counts as self-defense but so does, "Dude! You're in my personal space." In fact, most self defense doesn't involve fighting at all.

So, how do prepare someone to deal with a self-defense situation? The first step is to help students understand the nature of boundary violations. Too many self-defense courses focus on the stranger jumping out of the bushes but the reality is that 82% of the time, attacks come from someone the victim knows. They often start with little aggressions like subtle comments or "bumping" into you, and then they escalate from there.

It is also important to see the topic in context. The real issue is men (and it is predominantly men) attacking people. Teaching women how to respond to this behaviour is only a stop-gap until we fix the source of the problem.

It is just as important to define success. Survival. Any situation you survived was handled correctly. Too often women who have experienced violence are told, "Well all you had to do was..." by people who do not understand the myriad of factors that go into any conflict. If you survived, you did the right thing.

From there, it is important to understand how our brains work under stress, what legal options and restrictions we have to respect, and what force options exist. It would be easier if there were simple answers but the simple answers are almost never accurate answers.

If you would like to learn more, the Medicine hat Judo Club is running a women's self-defense course starting on September 26th. It runs for 12 weeks, on Tuesday evenings from 7:30-9 pm. For more information or to register, contact Donovan at

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