Archive for Women’s Self-Defense

The Fence – Fending off an Attack Before it Begins

Posted in Safety, Self-Defense, Techniques, Training, Violence, Women's Self-Defense with tags , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2015 by chencenter

[Read Entire Article]

If you’ve watched The 3 Main Postures video, you have some knowledge of what the Fence is and why we use it – but let’s go a little deeper, shall we?

The Fence, or versions of it, is as old as physical conflict itself.  But it wasn’t until the amazing teacher, author and martial artist Geoff Thompson (Coventry, UK) and his club really started to bring it into popularity as an effective way of managing the dynamics of physical altercations.  As a doorman (aka. bouncer), Geoff was able to learn quickly just how effective and important this technique can be.

WHAT IS THE FENCE?

The Fence is a temporary barrier we use to keep a potential attacker under control. All the Fence postures that we recommend start off with the body in a non-threatening position, with the purpose being – to lessen the aggression/intent of the person trying to harm you and to by you time to scan for help, plan an escape route, find an improvised weapon, and/or prepare to pre-emptively strike.   [READ MORE]

MICHAEL JOYCE

OUTFOXXED.COM

The 3 Predator Types Everyone Should Know

Posted in Self-Defense, Training, Videos, Violence, Women's Self-Defense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2015 by chencenter

Video #1 was on distance management, because, let’s face it – He/She who controls the distance, controls the encounter.

Here’s video #2, and another subject that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should, and that is “Who are we dealing with in the encounter?”

Knowing our opponent can be instrumental in helping us quickly choose our action-plan (especially when it comes to Women’s Self-Defense).  Men don’t have NEARLY as many Insidious attackers as women, and thus train primarily for the Social and Asocial ones.

IF YOU TEACH WOMEN

Please stress the importance of understanding the methods Insidious attackers use in order to control or hurt them.  Most women encounter some form of “insidiousness” on a weekly basis.

YOU CAN SUBSCRIBE HERE 

 

Women’s Self-Defense – The 3 Distances

Posted in Safety, Self-Defense, Teaching Topic, Videos, Violence, Women's Self-Defense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2015 by chencenter

Please Like, Subscribe & Share! Outfoxxed Channel

Distance management involves controlling the space between you and your potential attacker.  In this video, Michael brings to our attention how understanding personal boundaries can help to provide the necessary tools needed to defend yourself in a violent (or potentially violent) situation.

When training, think about the various ranges:

  • Conversational
  • Cautionary
  • Close (Danger) 

Remember that what is considered “conversational” in normal, every-day encounters with friends and loved ones is not the situation we are talking about!  These ranges are for situations when your intuition has already told you that something is wrong and that an action-plan is needed.  By training these distances and adding the proper state, posturing, verbal de-esculation (if possible/if time is available) and bridging… we’ll likely be much safer in the real situation.

Please note: These ranges and action-plans (future video, coming soon) is built with the female in mind.  Often, when males fight other males, other cues, posturing and state changes are more beneficial – speaking primarily of what I call the “Aggressive Fence”  (others may call it “ballooning”).  There will be a separate article and video on that in the future.

MICHAEL  & JENNIFER JOYCE
Visit our website:  OUTFOXXED.COM
(if interested, subscribe to our newsletter)

 

10 Questions with Michael Joyce

Posted in 10 Questions, Fencing, Kungfu, Self-Defense, Taijiquan, Women's Self-Defense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2015 by Combative Corner

Michael Joyce CombativeCornerMichael Joyce is the creator and chief writer at CombativeCorner.Com.  He is also a teacher, martial artist and movement aficionado with a passion for taijiquan, fencing and self-defense.  He is also a massage therapist who has been in practice since 2006.  In 2011, he self-published a concise, straight-to-the-point book titled The Golden Thread – Essential Principles of Self-Defense, that was heralded, not only by his peers but also by some of the best in the field.  Continuing his pursuit to create, teach and empower, “Coach Joyce” as he prefers to be called, is hard at work on various projects, many of which will be mentioned in this interview.  So, without further ado…

“It’s a communication thing.  And if we don’t have this communication with ourselves, if we can’t bring joy into practice, we’ll eventually leave it.  Some people even get injured by it. My answer is communicate more, add joy and seek to dive deep into what Bruce called ‘the honest expression of the human self.'”

What prompted you to begin your studies of the martial arts?

big-brawl-movie-poster-1980-1020203414My first experience was when I was 10 (or so) and my mom put me in a Karate class (trial basis).  The teacher had me doing the basic punches and blocks, but it bored me to tears.  I must admit that I was caught up in “what I looked like”…and not what I was necessarily “doing.”  I wanted to move like Jackie Chan, not Chuck Norris.  And it was Jackie (strangely, not Bruce) that led me back to the martial arts – after seeing a film called “The Big Brawl” (which Jackie thought was going to be his big break into Hollywood; but wasn’t).  It was an amazing film (in my opinion) that showcased Jackie’s talents brilliantly.  I would have to say that it was Jackie’s moves, and later, Bruce’s philosophy that kept me fascinated for a long time to come.  Then, as a freshman in middle school, my friend handed me a flyer for a local Kungfu class.

It was here, in this Kungfu class that I began to understand… that it was only through the dent of hard work that I would achieve anything great; anything of value.  And luckily for me, my teachers Jim Holoman and Jack Heineman were fantastic, giving and open to helping me further myself as a martial artist.  Also, it was through this class that I was able to get a taste of what some of these other art forms were about: like Tai Chi, Xingyi and Bagua.  Little did I know that I would later find Taijiquan (Tai Chi) to be the biggest and deepest ocean of them all… and I was more than happy to take a swim.

What is one thing that you have found through the martial arts that you wish others would find?

One thing I wish more martial artists would embrace would be that once you have solid footing in your martial art (and this works for hobbies and jobs too), that is to say, once you’ve found and understood the principles and have a strong foundation in the basics, “follow your bliss.”  This statement was made famous by mythologist, lecturer and author Joseph Campbell – and it’s such an important statement and life philosophy that I feel that too few people bring it into their life as a martial artist (at least as much as it should be).

This is not to say that if you’re in a formal class you “do what you want.” I’m not saying that. But when you’re engaged in solo practice, add as much joy into practice as you can muster.  This bliss will help motivate you, feed you with long-lasting energy and keep you eager to continue practicing.  It’s a communication thing.  And if we don’t have this communication with ourselves, if we can’t bring joy into practice, we’ll eventually leave it.  Some people even get injured by it.  My answer is communicate more, add joy and seek to dive deep into what Bruce called “the honest expression of the human self.”

Being such a “Jack of all trades” (taijiquan, fencing and self-defense)…what gives you the most joy?

When I hear that question, I never immediately have an answer.  It really depends on the day.  Let’s tackle each of these individually, shall we?

Fencing

Fencing and sword-fighting became a fun past-time as soon as I saw movies like The Sword In the Stone, The Princess Bride and Willow.  So needless-to-say, I was pretty young and impressionable.  Like most youngsters, I grew up with the image of the sword as being a noble and gentlemanly art.  Therefore, even to this day, I feel a sense of nostalgia and childhood energy every time I pick up a weapon (a sword particularly).

Tai Chi

Taijiquan came to me at a very important time in my life.  Because of the intensity of my kungfu training (namely, what I put myself through), and my lack of understanding (at that point) in how to exercise properly, I developed low back pain in my late teens and early twenties.  I wish someone had come around and told me that I shouldn’t be doing all the exercises and stunts that they showed in kungfu movie training montages.  I digress.  When I went to college, I came in contact with a superb teacher through a class he did at St. Louis University; Mr./Sifu Herb Parran.  He was the first to show me the beauty of Hunyuan Taijiquan, which I later found to a wonderful form of low back pain therapy.  Therefore, to answer the question – When I feel that the world is moving a bit too fast, I enjoy taijiquan.  When I walk outside, and the weather is beautiful, I really enjoy taijiquan.  Taijiquan is just another form of play to me and it connects many of the things that I love: movement, physics, meditation, nature, finding that “inner calm”, and artistry.

Self-Defense

As much as I am a nature-loving taijiquan/yoga/movement junkie, I am also a safety-minded, social and combative scientist.  We are all shaped by our past.  Luckily, my past is pretty great, but that doesn’t stop one from thinking, “how might all of this go away?”  The people in my life, just like the people in everyone’s life (close people), really help make Life worth living.  Violence is scary and ugly and requires a survival mindset that includes: detection, avoidance, communication skills and fighting skills (sometimes running skills also).  Self-defense training was a necessity to change myself from an uneasy, unsure, skeptical martial artist, to a confident one.  With women being the highest victimized of any population, I reached out (very early on) to women.  I put together a system of self-defense called Outfoxxed and it quickly became and still remains what I feel as “Priority 1” of my Life’s goals – teaching and empowering women.  Speaking of this… my wife and I just re-vamped our website and recently uploaded our first YouTube video.  Please check it out! [website] [YouTube video]

Jiu-Jitsu

Perhaps the easiest and most enriching endeavor one can do for themselves is to learn and play jiujitsu.  Like taijiquan (and even fencing), some small details seem to swing doors of understanding wide open, and I love that.  With jiujitsu, the movement-lover, the social and physical scientist is let out to play – all you need are mats (or sometimes a carpeted floor).  As a student of Rener and Ryron Gracie (GracieUniversity.Com), I know I can watch their videos, feed off their high-energy and also know that I am being taught correctly.  The only downside to this (especially since I do so many things), is being able to properly invest the time.  Currently I am able to squeeze in only 3 hours a week – which is only a quarter of what I wish I could invest.  The one thing I know about myself though and because jiujitsu and I mesh so well together is that I’m never, ever going to give it up.  To add… I’ve got one heck of a training partner; Brad Vaughn (his CombativeCorner interview is next!).

What teachers in your past have really made an impact on you?

207559_502968047582_8028_nThere have been so many teachers that it’s hard to count; plus, I already spoke of three.  (lol).  With that said, and in order to keep this answer a bit shorter, I am going to go with the teacher that was the most impactful.  That person is my taijiquan teacher, Master Chen Zhonghua.  I first met him at a Kennesaw State University workshop in the 2002 or 2003.  What struck me most was that he was a teacher that not only wanted you to learn the form well, but to actually feel what the body needed to do in order to produce the desired result.  I still had what he called “that wushu hardness.”

 We started to do some push hands, and not the choreographed press, stick and flow exercises – real pushing!  He was able to find a point of leverage from anywhere and that greatly impressed me.  After each off-balancing he would say a word in Mandarin that I instantly understood to mean a combination of “Look at this!” and/or “Do you see/understand?”  I know this because he would point and show either what he did to create the result, what I did wrong or both.  “This is the Practical Method,” he would say.  He was the first taijiquan teacher that did it all – showed me, allowed me to see the inner-workings, and blow my mind (all at the same time).  It wasn’t too late after that workshop that I decided to sell my car and journey to the Edmonton, Alberta to become his full-time student and gain my certification to teach Hunyuan & Practical Method Taijiquan.

What is it about Tai Chi (taijiquan) that you enjoy?  And is there anything that you don’t like about it?

To do taijiquan is to physically feel freedom.  To get good at taijiquan to reach heaven.  Is that too dramatic?  Well, I ask anyone who has maintained a consistent practice of taijiquan for at least a few years to speak differently.  How you feel this, is difficult (if not impossible) to put into words.  You must feel it for yourself.

As for anything “I don’t like” about taijiquan… I would have to say the near-sighted, our-system-is-superior, zealots.  I especially despise the fact that these people exist in every martial art system.  People can really take the fun out of things sometimes.  I remember another teacher of mine Dr. Yang Yang telling me a story about the late Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang and how he never had anything bad to say about another person or martial art.  He would never say that they were doing something wrong, he’d just smile and simply say, “I don’t understand it.”  Because, in my view, a technique either works or it doesn’t work.  The same technique may work in theory, but not work when under stress.  It’s your job as a student to find what works and doesn’t work for yourself.  It’s the teacher’s job to help steer you to the best of his or her ability.

What brought you into fencing?

As you might have been able to tell from a previous answer – fencing seemed to find me.  He-Man had a sword, Voltron had a sword, Lion-O from Thundercats had a sword.  There was Conan the Barbarian, Dar The Beastmaster and even those Jedi Knights from a galaxy far, far away.  Everyone who would seek to vanquish evil had a sword.  Seeing as there wasn’t a fencing club, or fencing salle in my area I never had a chance to study formally until I got to college.  I started with an extraordinary teacher at St.Louis University named David Achilleus (Trovare di Spada).  At that time he was associated with a group called The Baited Blade and taught a very passionate and fun foil fencing class.  Today, he is one of my favorite “fencing purists;” a fencer who stays true to the history and principles of the weapon he chooses to wield.

Would you tell us a little about your passion for movement?

Michael Joyce Lizard CrawlThe art of movement is something that is slowly becoming more of a mainstream sort-of-thing, thanks primarily to people like Erwin Le Corre (movnat) and Ido Portal.  We are essentially intelligent apes – animals that spend far too much time sitting, laying, watching and typing – and not enough climbing, hanging, crawling and dancing.  When we are young, we explore movement, but at a certain point we get to a point where we feel like we know it all.  Slowly, as time passes, we get more accustomed to not moving, no longer exploring, and no longer growing.  Understanding not just movement but the way YOU move is very very important.

When you bring more (conscious) movement into your life, you will likely find a great treasure – a way to improve function (which carries over to your daily activities), increased energy (which relates to productivity and is linked to happiness), and very importantly staves off injury, pain and illness.  What started as a child, one that loved to climb trees, explore the woods, build forts- became ME; a man that didn’t want to give that up.  Instead of building forts, I do yard work and remodel my home. (lol)

What got you into teaching Women’s Self-Defense?

When I transferred to UNC-Greensboro, a more close-knit community, I would hear horrible stories of rape, shootings, and other forms of violence on the regular.  If one was to set aside gang violence, and the Monkey Dance (nod to ‘Rory Miller’) that most men end up doing to prove who’s in charge… it (for the most part) leaves women and children.  Children obviously need to be taught something at an early age, but that is more of a parental responsibility.  Women, on the other hand, are the most victimized member of any society and typically find themselves without any training whatsoever.  With my love for women and to see them taken care for, came a brutal realization… that many men will not take care of them, and worse, choose to harm them.

Lauren BurkIn 2007, I decided to write a concise, to-the-point book on self-defense.  I had never written anything longer than a college essay before, and before long, I was in a bit of a writer’s rut.  I wanted to produce something that could supplement my workshops and give my students some important and potentially life-saving reading material, but the motivation wasn’t quite there.  Then in 2008, there were two senseless murders of two lovely young women, Eve Carson of Chapel Hill and Lauren Burk of Auburn.  I had never met either of them before, but reading about them and speaking with the Burk family, I knew that they were smart, fun and caring young ladies that, doing nothing wrong, met with a violent end.  With this event in my mind, I knew exactly who I wanted to dedicate the book to, and that I needed to get this information out – I needed to do what I could – as soon as I could.  With renewed vigor, I finished the book within weeks and self-published it on Lulu.com (The Golden Thread).

Today, my wife and I conduct classes, lectures and workshops on women’s self-defense known as the Outfoxxed Program.  We are currently working hard at producing a series of YouTube videos, blogs and other materials to help prepare women for what they may (but hopefully may not) come across.  It will certainly take more than my wife and me (Outfoxxed.Com)…but we are determined to make a big impact.  If you want to help us help others, please visit our YT Channel and subscribe (and share!).  We are also here, always, if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns.

Beyond just the subject matter, what do you hope your student’s understand?

Beyond the message to “Follow your Bliss”? Not very much (in the realm of martial arts).

However, if speaking to my self-defense students, I’d like to make sure they understand to go beyond the palm-heel strikes and knees to the groin.  The bulk of the “attacks” in your life will likely start off insidiously, and unfortunately by someone you know (and trust).  If you don’t communicate and/or take action when someone crosses a personal barrier then it will be harder and harder to get out of that situation.  Your intuition is what will kick things off.  Learn to trust it.  Communication may be an avenue to persuade your aggressor to “take a hike.” Learn to use the voice (insert nerdy ‘Dune’ reference here*).  I say “the” because there most certainly is a voice, an inflection that produces results. Most husbands know what I’m talking about! lol.  This is seldom talked about in self-defense, but might be enough to deter a possible attack before it gets physical.  There is also a way of using your body effectively that produces results.  Some of these movements are very simple, but without the practice will never become reflexive.  Learn to use your body.

What are some of your future goals?

My wife Jenny and I are hard at work creating material for our Outfoxxed YouTube Channel.  We are looking forward to engaging with more women and help to bring a change.  Viva la revolution! I am currently working on two books: my first fiction novel (which I won’t reveal quite yet), and another book on self-defense.  But this won’t just be any ol’ book on self-defense, this is going to be very comprehensive and quite special.  With the success of these venture, Jenny and I will hopefully be traveling more, teaching more and enjoying all that we can out of this great Life.

BONUS QUESTION (via T.J. Kennedy)

If you had only one hour to teach a complete beginner self-defense class, knowing they’d have to use it to fight off imminent multiple attackers, what would you teach them?

I can always count on T.J. to ask the hard-hitting questions!

I would break the lesson-plan into quarters.  The first 15 minutes will be spent on effective movement, and positioning/obstacle-creating.  The second 15 minutes will be on the Trinity Block (love it!), striking and breaking contact/not getting trapped.  The third 15 will be (because I will assume that none have been in a single fight before) stress inoculation drills whereby there will be a lot of pushing, cursing and posturing (one-on-one). In this drill, they will have to utilize what they learned from first and second quarter to move, check your surrounding for a possible weapon and finding the right time to preemptively strike (if available at all).  The last 15 will be 3 students against 1 (depending on the number of students) and will consist of 3 minutes of mayhem.  Momentary evasion, wrestling, and “bad-guys” pinning the “good guy” will likely occur.  At the instructor’s command the “bad guys” will jump off and the “good guy” will have to perform push-ups (or at least maintain a plank).  Then back into the fray!  [Lee Morrison style] The good guy will go through about 3 rounds of this punishment.  Without fail… they will understand physically and mentally how difficult it will be to survive the real thing and at the same time feel more prepared.

Thank you all for reading!

FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK & TWITTER!

Why Women Don’t Learn Self-Defense (But Should!)

Posted in Day's Lesson, Discussion Question, Self-Defense, Teaching Topic, Training, Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2012 by chencenter

Women’s self-defense, as we can all admit, is an important subject. But unless you are a celebrity instructor, have an amazing marketing team or wide access to women with a lot of time on their hands, chances are, you’ll have only a small-to-moderate turnout.

We’ve all heard and read the statistics; it’s uncomfortable to hear and imagine.  We shrug our shoulders and hope that it doesn’t happen to us.  We watch a program on the news, but as soon as you feel something the newscaster switches to another catastrophe, another piece of “breaking news.”

The Truth is…

We know what’s good for us.  We know that we should eat our veggies, brush our teeth… but what many don’t tell you (especially if you are a woman) is that you have a 1-in-4 chance of being raped or sexually assaulted in your lifetime.  Just think about the fact that even if it isn’t happening to you, it is likely happening to someone you know/knew and care/cared about.

If you acknowledge one thing (man or woman)….

You must acknowledge that you can become a target and crimes such as: bullying, domestic violence, sexual assault & rape can happen to anyone!

Even though every woman has thought about this at some point in their life, many are still not taking the necessary steps of prevention.  And just to make this clear – I’m not saying that learning self-defense is the definitive answer, but it is one of the best methods we have on this complex subject.  Taking classes with someone who understands not just the physical side of dealing with a would-be attacker, but placing enough emphasis on the physiological side – quick decision-making; when to run/escape, when to feint compliance (if necessary) and when to fight back, is of monumental importance.

“Violence is like treading water in a typhoon.  Most of the time, the typhoon is short-lived.  But if you don’t even know how to swim, you’re lost.”

But why do women neglect to train if the stakes are this high? …

  • Many have grown up with negative associations. Things like: age, size, weight, fitness level, their level of comfort, body image, etc., play into their thoughts about their ability in class and their potential to fend off/escape/subdue an opponent in a real situation.
  • Violence being done to you or a loved one is a terrible thought.  It’s easier to “put off” or go into denial that violence will happen to you.
  • Some women are not comfortable taking lessons from or with men.  [This behavior makes it not only more difficult to get them to class and learn, but more susceptible to victimization]
  • Many women (many whom I’ve met personally) don’t believe there is even a solution.  They feel they are and always will be incapable.
  • Some women have been victims themselves and a class will conjure horrible memories of the fear and hopelessness they once felt.
  • Some women may feel that fighting and learning to fight is “something men do” – It’s not “lady-like.”
  • Women (like many men) work hard during the day, and don’t feel like they have the TIME. [we make time for what is important]
  • They are or feel as if they are strapped financially.

Of all things…

Of all things, don’t let time or money be a factor.  There are some amazing, yet affordable programs out there (as well as products*).  And as far as TIME is concerned – like I said, we make time for what is important.  If we choose not to, well… that’s just plain foolish.

Michael Joyce

Golden Thread Workshops

RELATED ARTICLES

The Cycle of Behavior Tony Blauer

Ten Titles for Women Learning Self-DefenseMichael Joyce

Sexual Assault Prevention (+Video Clip)Gracie, Kennedy, Joyce

Gracie’s Women Empowered Course *

Ten Titles For Women Learning Self-Defense

Posted in Discussion Question, Self-Defense, Teaching Topic, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2012 by Combative Corner

Throughout film and television history, there has been much in the way of “Violence as entertainment.”  Many action and horror movies actually add “computer generated imagery (CGI)” because they feel there isn’t enough blood in their picture already.

From the 1970’s to the present, the (often-considered) “taboo” element of violence against women is introduced to the viewing public through the medium of film and television. While some of these titles (listed below) may glorify violence, or even promote revenge, there is (in many self-defense professional’s opinions) merit in viewing these frightening scenes.  If you choose to view any of the titles below, we ask that you view them constructively.

Consider what the character may have done inadequately, ineffectively or not-at-all and (if the scene warrants) what they did effectively.  Ask yourself what you would have done in the same or similar situation.  We know that “Situation dictates response,” but there is benefit in knowing the “face” of violence, the ploys of the assailant, the options available and in exploring (at least in a small way) the fears and emotions associated with the victim.

THE LIST

*Each Title is linked to their IMDB page. 

*A ^ denotes a Combative Corner article has been written on it.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER & FACEBOOK

The Gracie’s “Women Empowered” Course

Posted in Products, REVIEWS, Self-Defense, Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2011 by chencenter

It arrived the Summer of 2011… and finally the world has a women’s self-defense curriculum that not only is presented in a fun and energetic manner, but one that covers the wide array of violent situations with quality instruction and the attention-to-detail that the Gracies give time-and-time-again.  This review is intended to be “no-holds-barred” and will give the reader not only the strengths but weaknesses of this dvd series from both the viewpoint of a professional self-defense coach and from a beginning student. 

{Michael in off-white, Jenny’s comments in green}

Δ

Before I dive into the meat of the series – and what a succulent morsel it is – let me begin by saying that the roster is beyond exceptional in that they include two wonderful examples of “Women Empowered” in Eve Marie Torres and Sage Gracie.  Their comments are invaluable in both helping the beginner understand the pitfalls and difficulties common when anyone begins a training program and the fact they they are women helps to reinforce the female viewers that the techniques can be done effectively with the natural, inherent strength that all women possess.  Ryron & Rener (and later, Ralek) provide most of the technical advice as well as providing answers to common mistakes & questions from students they’ve had in previous classes.

After popping in the first disc and hearing them welcome you with such openness and sincerity… it’s easy to not only get excited about learning, but excited about DOING… which is (or should be) the most important characteristic of ANY learning series.

Rener Gracie is like the self-defense version of Tony Robbins.  He is so motivating and as he moves and makes some of the most interesting facial expressions, you can’t help but to have more focused energy on the task at-hand –  learning self-defense!

Δ

DISC ONE (BASE, RELEASES, TRAP & ROLL)

DISC ONE really gets the ball rolling by discussing the enemy (strangers/non-strangers) and the “Triangle of Victimization.”  What was a pleasant surprise to me and something I deem a necessity (in teaching self-defense) a strong emphasis on what the Gracies call the “Base Get-Up.”  Balance is crucial in self-defense and nothing rattles/confounds a woman more (initially) knocking her off balance.  (Regarding the “Base Get-Up) In the words of Eve, “It is not the most lady-like, but it IS the safest.”  The most important thing to take (after viewing) is that you shouldn’t expect to have the technique when you need it most if you don’t use it in everyday life.  Learn the “Base Get-Up”, train it and make it an organic part of your movement.

Having the women perform the techniques gives the viewer relatibility and identification in the movements.  In terms of video, every so often the camera would zoom in on a specific body part during the techniques which is extremely helpful for the student viewer.

DISC TWO (CHOKE, SUPER SLAP, GUARD GET-UP)

Again, the Gracies begin at the beginning, and add what many instructionals (books, dvds, etc.) leave out; how to prepare your body for an attack.  In this case, tensing your neck muscles in order to resist the pressure on your windpipe.  There are some pros and cons when it comes to the “Super Slap” (endnote 2.1), however, (as someone who has taught women’s self-defense for over a decade) I can see why they choose this approach.  Regarding the remainder of the disc, you receive what Rener & Ryron consider one of the most important (if not THE most important) technique of the entire series… the Guard Get-Up.  A great deal of fear comes when your assailant has you on the ground.  In this gem of a technique, the Gracie brothers show the viewer not only show an effective and energy efficient escape, but distraction techniques (i.e. Super Slap) and distance builders (as pictured to the left).

The front choke defense and guard get-up feel very practical.  The guard get-up is my favorite because it provides hope when you are in a panic-causing position whereby the predator is between your legs.  When this happens, this technique is very useful.

DISC THREE (FRAME, T & R EXTRAS, GET-UP EXTRAS, TRIANGLE CHOKE)

In this disc, the viewer/practitioner (having 6 lessons under their belt) really begins to learn that what might have worked in one scenario, might not work in another.  In self-protection, variables change and it’s very important that the student knows not only how to remain relaxed/confident in their actions but also how to recognize when something doesn’t work.  Beginning with the Stop-Block-Frame, this disc offers the viewer a sturdy support system for any attacker that encroaches within your personal boundary.    In three distinct “slices”, the Gracies effectively show the student, first, personal defense with the attacker outside of arm’s length.  “Slice 2” covers how to “Brace & Base” when the attacker makes contact, and finally (slice 3) shows “The Frame” technique (for those persistent buggers who won’t take a hint).  *It should be noted (in my opinion) that the Stop-Block-Frame is somewhat flawed (see End Notes).

Lesson 8 & 9, however, is endorsed with the highest enthusiasm.  There are many variations of techniques in the self-defense world, but when an attacker (for example) mounts his victim but is supporting his weight strongly with his arms or (possibly a scarier & more common scenario)… he’s pinned your wrists!  What do you do?  Again, these “Extras” are perfectly placed to optimize peak performance and diminish the “quicksand” that many self-defense professionals call “The Fear Loop.”  The disc ends with a popular jiu-jitsu technique known as the Triangle Choke, which utilizes the strongest asset a woman has (her legs) against the attacker’s neck.  The ability to render your attacker unconscious is bound to empower the female viewer to new heights.


Lessons 7-10 are fun techniques.  What makes this dvd set so thrilling to own is that it provides tools for almost any situation.  (If not exactly, there is something adaptable).  Whether you are in a tight space or in the middle of a parking lot, the teachers will instruct you on how to use the technique according to the scenario and what techniques to use for the different types of attacks.  Once you are successfully “proficient” on all the moves, you will be much more confident about yourself and your ability to defend against an attacker.  (Then, it’s off to Disc 5 where you can earn a Gracie Pink Belt!)

DISC FOUR (HAIR GRAB, GUILLOTINE, ELBOW ESCAPE, REAR ATTACK DEFENSE, WEAPONS)

Just when you though things couldn’t get more interesting, more empowering, the Gracies give you lessons 11-15.  As viewers… we are introduced to another Gracie, Ralek.  In this disk, the student is introduced to many of the “more challenging” situations; specifically the hair grab, attacks from behind, and attacks involving weapons.  In the world of self-protection there are numerous techniques, many of which are too difficult/complex to pull off in a high-pressure situation – NOT SO in the Gracie curriculum.  First and foremost, they present two important statements that every woman must take to heart:

  1. Those who use a weapon, normally will use as intimidation. (Usually to move you to a secondary/more isolated location)
  2. Don’t ever let them take you to a secondary/more isolated location!  (weapon or no weapon)

An important aspect however, that is rarely touched upon in weapon defense is what we should do (or expect to do) if we manage to disarm our opponent [see endnotes].

The guillotine chock happens to be one of my favorite moves.  Perhaps because I am always able to use it when my husband and I practice self-defense and other times when we are play-wrestling.  For some reason, he loves to go head first into me and then that’s when I pull the choke.  All the other moves are also fun, but are not quite as easy to perfect as this one.

DISC FIVE (PINK BELT QUALIFICATION TEST)

In this disc, the Gracies explain that (if you so choose) after reaching a solid foundation regarding the mastery of these techniques, you may want to make a qualifying video of yourself to be evaluated by one of the Gracie instructors themselves.  Not only will you be rewarded a pink belt if pass the test, but (pass or fail) you will be given a review sheet of comments and areas that need more work.  With or without this step, the Gracie family sincerely wants to help keep women safe; and to be evaluated on your performance of the techniques is just one of the ways in which you’ll feel more empowered and capable of handling any future situation that you may (but hopefully may not) confront.

DISC SIX (TOTAL EMPOWERMENT TALKS)

One of the most beneficial aspects of any program resides in connectivity.  The message and depth of knowledge aside, our ability to “connect,” relate and understand what women go through and may have to go through at some point in their life is (not to overuse the word) Empowering – but also comforting and reassuring.  You may listen to these talks at any point in your training and segments of these are offered for free on the Gracie’s YouTube channel.

Links :

Get the Women Empowerment Dvd Course and you’ll also receive two additional talks not found on YouTube entitled, Street Smarts and The College Talk; two very important additions.

DVD SERIES CONCLUSION

There is absolutely nothing like this on the market today (in my opinion).  The presenters are not only young and fun, but have a deep knowledge-base and can communicate their thoughts brilliantly.  Speaking from personal experience as a self-defense coach (and primarily a “Women’s Self-Defense” coach at that), I can say with 100% certainty that the lessons in this dvd series will not only empower you, but will serve as a wonderful foundation for future study in jiu-jitsu or any other martial art you undertake.  Also, and most importantly, the techniques (if you diligently practice them) could one day save your life!

 Buy your copy today by clicking on the picture to the left or below.

The Gracie self defense program, Women Empowered, is a good foundation for learning self defense. The teaching is enthusiastic and easy to follow with funny metaphors and clear imagery to help learn the step-by-step techniques. The program not only teaches you how to do a move for escape, but also demonstrates common moves that are incorrect and weak.

Δ

END NOTES:  WEAKNESSES IN THE PROGRAM

We’ve discussed the Pros of the program, which are almost too numerous to mention in one review.  Here are the Cons:

CALLING FOR HELP

The dvd is technique oriented and will surely empower any woman who decides to actively participate in the drills.  And although the Gracies discuss the emotional and psychological aspects of attack, they forget to mention that while these techniques are being applied, you can (and likely, should) be screaming for help!  While you should never rely on help, you can always improve your chance for survival (and of scaring your attacker) by vocalizing and making both your location and distress heard.

TAKING A HIT

Men are fairly comfortable with physicality.  Women are not.  I’ve always believed that it is valuable (at least) to mention of the inevitability of physical (and/or emotional) pain.  Perhaps this is not what the Gracies had in mind in this “Essential” DVD set, but (in my opinion & Jenny’s) training drills involving more realistic physicality will enable the student to be better prepared for the violence that could come their way.  [Obviously this can and should be done safely with the use of pads (at least at first)]

I feel the Gracies should’ve emphasized the times where it is inevitable that you will get punched, feel pressure, and such. To complement that discussion should be a lesson or a reminder through every move taught to do movements that include protecting the face and center-line.

HIGH-HEELED SHOES

Rener and his brother discuss high-heeled shoes when standing. They explain that high-heeled shoes will hinder the stand-up techniques because they hinder balance and should therefore not be used during training. I would question this because women are usually taught to wear a new pair of high-heeled shoes, especially tall ones, around the house to get used to it. Soon enough, a girl could even run in those shoes, even though it’s not good for you. So if a girl can turn a pair of heels into an extension of their feet, why not train a little bit in heels for the stand-up techniques instead of not at all? At least then the training would be realistic in the situation a women might be in for attacks. The reality is, a lot, if not all, women wear heels. Why not avoid going to the ground with the attacker by not letting the heels prevent you from escape?

HAIR-PULL TECHNIQUES

Also, the hair pulling techniques seem like only a way to prolong the process.  Why not strike, claw and dig if both hands are free?  Also, the head tends to rear back when hair is pulled (this is obvious).   The video should (in my opinion) adjust the training to deal with more naturalistic human responses.

WEAPONS

The question is left open and would be helpful if it were answered, and that is: “What do we do (or expect to do) if the technique works [we disarm the gun/knife].”  I know as a self-defense coach myself, there is all sorts of liability issues with giving advice on these highly-dangerous scenarios, however, these aspects (especially in your basic course) should be touched on.  If weapons are involved, when do we run?  At what range or in what situation is it best to run?  If we get the gun/knife, do we simply threaten to shoot & call the cops or do we place a round in his kneecap?  If the need arises, where is the best place to shoot?  Do you advocate that your Women Empowered ladies learn or take a separate course on gun training and safety?  With this being said, I must commend Sage Gracie as she states plainly after executing an example of the “Armbar” (Arm break/lock), “Make sure you break the arm.”  This is a saving grace to the lesson as it had appeared (to both Jenny and myself) that the student would simply hold/ask them to drop the weapon.  In self-defense, do not give the attacker that level of mercy.

Emphasis is placed on technique, which is only one (albeit large) piece of the puzzle.  Rener says several times in the last lesson, “(When/If you gain control of the weapon) The choice is YOURS.”  And it is!  But what ARE your choices?  In the Mindset Minute, he leaves you with only a partial answer to this question.  He says, “Know one thing, break distances or do something to ensure he doesn’t take it (the weapon) back and use it on you.”  This is true.  But as a coach wishing to give my students ALL available information, I’d want to make sure they know all the available options.

Coach Michael Joyce

Assisted by beginning student and wife, Jennifer Pruna Joyce

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER & FACEBOOK

*Michael Joyce is the owner and head instructor of the ChenCenter & the Golden Thread Workshops in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where he has lived and taught for over a decade.  Jennifer Pruna Joyce is Coach Joyce’s wife and is an aspiring writer & photographer who has recently graduated from Appalachian State University  and is just now learning the skills necessary to be proficient in self-protection. 

%d bloggers like this: