By Matthew Schafer
Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved
In all my years teaching one thing that I see over and over again is that women (girls included) often hesitate before responding to being attacked. Sure, guys do it too, but I’ve noticed that guys do it less and when they do hesitate they get over it much faster. It used to really bug me until I sat down as talked to a bunch of girls and asked them why they were so hesitant to attack someone who was trying to hurt them. It all became clear when one woman said, “Well, you’re not supposed to hit people, it’s against the rules.”
When we’re little we have rules ingrained in us and we all learn that certain things are just not done. We don’t hit each other, we don’t take things that are not ours, we don’t break things on purpose, and we don’t yell or make too much noise. Now, for a boy it is a little different. Sure we learn these rules too but some of these are natural behaviors for boys. Fighting, for instance, is a natural part of development for a boy. A human is a predator and every predator fights with their siblings and other males growing up, nothing is more natural. Boys accept the rules in front of the parents but then go off get in fights and scream and yell and that is exactly what they should be doing (in my opinion at least) but for girls it is not the same.
I think that is why men tend to hesitate less, because growing up they were more involved with fighting and they learned that in certain situation it was ok. Girls on the other hands tend not to learn the same thing so I’ve learned that they have to be told.
When I work with a class that has women in it, or a class of kids, I take the time to give this speech:
“I want everyone to realize that it is very important to follow the rules that society has set down for us. They keep us safe and make sure that people don’t harm us or take things from us. However, there are certain times when it is ok to break the rules. Any time someone is trying to hurt you or take you someone by force it is ok to break AS MANY RULES AS YOU NEED TO in order to stop them. If that happens, you have permission to break the rules. You have permission to yell as loud as you can, swear, bite, punch, kick, and hit as much as you want. You have permission to hit them in the groin, poke them in the eye, and hit them in the throat. If you’re being taken somewhere against your will it you have permission to steel things if it will help you get away or will draw attention to you. You have permission to grab the steering will and drive into parked cars. You have permission to break whatever you need to, to do whatever you need to, to get away and keep yourself same. I promise you that is someone is trying to harm you and you break the rules and do anything that I’ve just mentioned that nobody will be mad at you and you won’t be in any trouble. In fact, people will probably be proud of you. Does that make sense?”
What I have found is that when I say that at the beginning of a class people’s hesitation goes away and they just let themselves go. They yell louder, hit pads MUCH harder, and are much more aggressive than before. Many people just have be told that it is ok to break the rules in certain situations and by doing so I’ve notice kids, women, and even men acting much more positively during the class.