Krav Maga & Women: Overcoming Obstacles to Training

By Jennie Trower

Women Self DefenseI enjoy teaching Krav Maga to everyone, but I have to say my favorite thing is watching a woman who is unsure of herself on the first day of class go from being timid and saying, “I don’t think I could ever hit anyone” to punching with force and saying, “I think I could really do this!” a short time later.

Something transformational happens to women when you teach them how to fight for themselves. The power they get in touch with in the studio transcends that space and spills over into every area of their lives – they set better boundaries in their relationships, they speak up at work, their self-confidence soars, and they feel empowered to say ‘no’ – or ‘yes’ – to things in their life.

But there can be hurdles to getting them to train. First, women are often preoccupied with taking care of everyone else’s needs before their own. Even though we know self-defense training is a great investment in one’s own personal safety and health, it often takes a back seat to other commitments. Women [and people in general] can also be reactive rather than proactive about personal safety, thinking it could never happen to them, until they see something in the news that scares them and they seek out self-defense instruction.

Also, women often face judgment by others. I personally have been asked if I’m afraid of men, am an angry person, or think I’m in imminent danger of an attack – but nobody is asking the men those questions! Those sorts of judgments and beliefs don’t follow the men into the studio. Our collective socialization and attitudes about gender roles and fighting and power are widespread and pervasive, and can be a real factor in training women.

Overcoming those beliefs on a personal level can also be a challenge for women. To defend ourselves, we have to know – on a deep, gut, soul level – that we are worth defending. We have to know that we have value, that we matter. Often women are so mired in self-doubt and crises of confidence, that they don’t feel this way, so it can be difficult to get them to fight back with conviction. They think “I’m not strong enough” or “this will never work” or “I can’t do this.” The beautiful thing is that Krav Maga NYC training increases your confidence, which helps transform these limiting thoughts into “I am powerful”, “I can do this” and “I will never quit.”

Finally, some women are concerned that if they train with aggression in the studio, that will somehow make them aggressive and “hard” in other areas of their lives. I try to remind my female students that we need to practice being aggressive and powerful. And the studio is where we do that. We are training for a fight, and aggression and good Krav Maga techniques combined are what could save our lives. How we train in class is how we will respond in real life, but punching hard in class does not mean that we will go home and scream at our kids or get violent in the workplace. Quite the opposite! Having a healthy outlet for the aggression that I’m convinced everyone has keeps us peaceful in other areas. But it also allows us to practice being aggressive, should we ever need to flip that ‘switch’ in a self-defense situation.

Krav Maga NYC works for everyone, but there can be some challenges to getting women to train seriously. However, with a little time, effort and support, they will get there. And that is a beautiful thing.

Keep training. Stay safe.

Jennie Trower is a Krav Maga instructor and owner of BOOM Self-Defense in Austin, TX. She has trained in Krav Maga for more than 12 years and is passionate about the transformational effects it can have in a person’s life – particularly women.

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