How LIVE Makes You Safe
All women live with the possibility of violence in their life. We’ve all heard the stories, seen violent situations, perhaps even felt the impact of violence ourselves. Violence against women is a sad and real prescence in our world. Working as a counselor, violence is an aspect Nichole faces in her job nearly every day. Let me share part of a letter we received from her.
“One weekend changed my whole ability to protect myself. As opposed to all the week long training programs I was required to take for work, that made no sense. All those trainings want you to remember all of their techniques which are very difficult, if not impossible, to do in a real true threat situation.”
“Whereas in LIVE you don’t have to think, all you have to do is move. LIVE actually worked for me in an experience with a violent client. I didn’t have to think and I didn’t even hurt her because I was able to use the LIVE concepts gently and knew that I could do so. She wasn’t strong but she was aggressive and I needed to protect myself. It really is just all natural. No thinking involved.”
I know you are wondering, how is it possible that one weekend training with LIVE was more effective for Nichole than all the week long trainings’ that she was required to take by her employer?
It’s because these previous solutions women have been given teach them to fight like men and don’t solve the problems women face. Because of this they continue to be the victims of violence, sexual assault, domestic abuse and murder. Nichole explains in her letter.
“Judging from my own personal experiences I wouldn’t recommend anything else. Here’s why, I took four years of self-defense in high school. Not long after I took four years of another training which was just for protection from violent clients. I took another two years of something I can’t even remember the name of and seven years of a third program as a replacement of the two previous programs. None of the techniques were memorable, none of them would easily come into my mind in a serious situation, the only one that stuck was LIVE.”
Let’s talk about what makes this possible...
I had studied martial arts for years and yet I wanted something fuller, something more than just physical exercise. I started looking around to see what other systems offered. However, nothing I saw was very different, not enough to make me change. Then through a recommendation of a friend, I found Dennis and Shinobi Martial Arts. What they were doing was different from anything else I’d seen. They seemed to be doing no work at all, they would just step to the side here, move a hand there, and the attacker would end up in a pile on the ground.
The first night I took a class, Dennis was demonstrating how to escape when someone grabs the front of your coat. It looked simple; he just moved to the side and somehow his attacker flew to the ground. I was trying to duplicate what he was doing but I was having trouble. My training partner was a very strong man and I couldn’t get away from his hold and take him down.
My partner told me to stop fighting him and to move into the open space next to him. The results were unexpected and amazing. I felt nothing. I just stepped into the space and my training partner was vaulted over backward to the ground. It’s impossible to completely explain what an incredible, freeing feeling it was. I couldn’t believe how simple and effortless it was. The feeling was so natural to my mind and body, which made my decision to join the group feel easy and right.
Three weeks later Dennis was running a women’s seminar and asked his students to help. The day after the seminar Dennis called me to get my comments and feedback on what had been taught. He explained that he had been working on this idea for a women’s seminar for over five years and he needed a woman’s input on what was important to women, their concerns, their fears and how best to convey the information to them. He asked me if I would help. I helped my Instructors from my previous martial arts styles teach self defense courses but Dennis was the only one who asked for my opinion and help.
We took the Ninja ideas of escape and evasion, and tested them in attacks from actual stories, personal experiences and crime statistics of violence against women. The situations were reenacted as close to real as possible to determine which principles would be the most effective.
Over a two-year period the principles and learnings from these sessions were tested in developmental seminars with hundreds of women who were interviewed afterwards. We asked them what they liked, what they didn't like, what worked and what didn’t work. It was clear that for the majority of them what is currently known as women’s self-defense is not the answer. From these seminars and interviews an answer emerged.
The goal has to be to escape and survive, not fight an opponent in battle. This first criteria removes the competition mentality of having to defeat someone, who is more than likely bigger and stronger. This frees a woman to do things that a sport based system wouldn’t.
The answer has to utilize women’s natural body movements, instead of being a watered down version of something designed for men. Virtually all martial arts being taught today were created by men for men. They don’t take into account the differences in women’s bodies, minds and the actual violence they face.
The answer must be something that women are willing to do. Most self-defense systems assume the attacker is a stranger. The use of violence may be an option if the attacker is unknown but it’s not as easy when you are in shock from the disbelief that the person doing this to you is someone you know. Reacting violently may not be emotionally possible.
The answer must NOT be reliant on the use of a weapon. The use of anything as a weapon to escape is always appropriate; however it must be something that is available at the moment. If your self-defense system is reliant on a weapon and you cannot get to it at the moment the system is useless. It must also be stated that any weapon can be taken away and used against you if you are not trained in weapon retention.
The answer must teach principles not set techniques. Any system that says do response A when confronted with attack B is doomed to failure. It is mathematically impossible to cover every situation with all its variables and provide a set answer that will be remembered under the panic of an actual attack. The answer must be based on principles that hold true in any attack of violence, so that an appropriate response can be created in the moment.
The answer shouldn’t take months or years to learn. The one thing that most women don’t have enough of is time. Our society moves at an ever-increasing pace and with the everyday requirements of living it is near impossible for a majority of women to take the time to train in a martial system.
The answer must be taught in a way that does not rely on memorization. Complicated techniques, or for that matter any memorized technique, will not be remembered under the stress of an actual attack.
The answer should be presented in a way that empowers women. Educationally it is more efficient to learn something when you’re in a positive state feeling comfortable. The more you enjoy what you are doing, the more you will retain. Women should finish feeling more secure about their safety as well as happy, having fully enjoyed the training.
The answer should be based on first hand experiences. Theory just doesn’t cut it when it’s your life on the line. You want something that has already been proven to work.
All of these answers lead to the same conclusion that I mentioned earlier in Nichole’s story and in mine. The reason LIVE makes sense and works so well is because what it teaches is natural for women.
The majority of self-defense courses are about fighting, not escaping. These courses tend to be designed by men and generally utilize fighting concepts derived from three different areas:
- Memorized techniques from traditional martial arts
- Punching, kicking and grappling from competitive sport martial systems
- And pain compliance techniques from law enforcement
Each of these martial systems is extremely effective for its original purpose and the people creating these self-defense classes all have an earnest desire to help women. It’s just the principles being applied may not be the most efficient answer for women.
In LIVE, women take part in a series of self-defense experiences presented via games that actually transform their perspectives of their own capabilities when dealing with violence. Through these experiences the principles of violence evasion are literally discovered within themselves. Unlike techniques that must be memorized, a concept that is discovered from within will never be forgotten under pressure.
The main reason why all of those other attempts at women’s self-defense don’t work is because they force women to fight by the rules of the attacker, the rules of men.
Women told us in the interviews specifically why they don’t work for them.
- They don’t believe that they are physically capable of doing what is being taught in most self-defense classes. From a very early age women are exposed to the idea that men are stronger and they could never defeat them in a fight. Teaching them better ways of fighting doesn’t overcome that doubt.
- They don’t believe that what is being taught will work against a large, angry man. Seasoned martial artists, if they are honest with themselves, sometimes question the effectiveness of their training. An attacker’s size, strength, testosterone, drugs, and alcohol level or just plain mean attitude are a few of the reasons women question the effectiveness of what they’re being taught.
- They are not willing to do what is being taught. Most of the self-defense classes available assume that the attacker is the proverbial stranger in the bushes. He’s not. He’s someone you know. When you’re talking about abuse, the victim knows one hundred percent of their attackers. When you are talking about sexual assault the victim knows eighty percent of the attackers.
Women know the odds are never in their favor if they play by the rules of men. A woman’s ability to defend herself and survive a violent situation does NOT come from fighting like a man, it comes from finding open space.
Think about that for a moment.
Where are you right now? Where are the open spaces you can move to? You already know how to do this. How do you move through a crowd? You don’t bump into people, you move around them in open space. Think about how often you do this already.
I didn’t try to defeat my male training partner. Nichole didn’t try to fight her aggressive client. We both did what was natural; we moved to open space.
Over the years at our LIVE seminars so many women have shared their tales of violence, abuse and fear, not for sympathy, but to express their gratitude for giving them hope again. One woman told us that she had been sexually assaulted 30 years ago and since that time she had taken every self-defense course she could find. She said of all these trainings’, LIVE was the only one that made sense and made her feel safe again.
All these stories show that the key to women’s safety is not to fight like a man but to simply find open space…”
I invite each and every one of you to re-think what women’s self-defense means to you. Open your mind to the possibility of open space.”