Category: Martial Arts

Wright State’s Got It Right!

Wright State 8.28.14

I had the privilege of speaking at Wright State University last week… And let me tell, you they are doing things RIGHT.

Aside from the fact I walked into  another seminar of 2 men speaking on self-defense and personal safety (so thorough, they are!) I was approached by a male staff member that also worked in counseling for domestic violence. He introduced himself and wanted to know what GFB is all about. After listening to my short speech, not only did he not tell me that I should do this or that (sometimes people who have “certified credentials” in self defense like to do that), he commended the work and stated “That’s great what those guys are doing out there (referring to the men’s seminar outside) But we need badass women showing other women how to protect themselves.”

WOW. I was so flattered and proud to be representing the mightiness that is GFB. Talk about RESPECT!

Not much to my surprise after this warm greeting, the rest of the night was full of enthusiasm, engagement and hella-good times. The crew at Wright State was just kick ass.. and taking such fantastic steps to make their beautiful campus a safe and supportive one. They are doing it RIGHT I tell you. Thank you SO much for letting me be a part of your inspiring spirit Wright State.. see you on the flip side!

Love and Light,

GFB Bree

The Safety Godmothers: The ABCs of Awareness, Boundaries and Confidence for Teens

We are so excited to introduce you to Ellen Snortland and Lisa Gaeta’s new book, The Safety Godmothers: The ABCs of Awareness, Boundaries and Confidence for Teens – released this week!

Ellen is the author of Beauty Bites Beast, a GFB fave read, and Lisa Gaeta is the founder and CEO of IMPACT Personal Safety of Southern California, which offers full contact adrenaline based self-defense courses that all of our Girls Fight Back presenters have taken (and kicked ass in)!  The book features 20 real life success stories in which teens employed the verbal and/or physical self-defense methods we talk about in our presentations and proved victorious in being their own best protectors!  Check it out here.

The Safety Godmothers book cover

Glenwood High School Fights Back!

Check out this article and this video in The State Journal-Register about the kickass group of students at Glenwood High School that participated in Morgan’s one day three school adventure!Capture

 

Third Annual DePauw “Throw Down”

DePauw

DePauw and I go waaaaay back. Well, three years. This crew knows how to kick it. And seeing as how this was my third time speaking at DePauw, thanks to Delta Sigma Theta, we had a lot of up close, personal and REAL talk. These ladies are all about fun, spirit and WOMEN empowerment. Heck, a few of the guys showed up solely out of support. It doesn’t get better than that. DePauw, thank you so much for having me back and I’m looking forward to round 4.

Love and Hugs,
GFB Bree

Bad Ass Ballet at Anna Maria College!

I had an absolutely amazing time doing the Bad Ass Ballet with the wonderful women of Anna Maria College! Thanks so much to Lisa Saverese for being such a terrific hostess, Theresa “Smalls” for the great intro and good laughs and to our awesome volunteer Franco for not only being my fight partner but also for helping with the song mix. :)

Wishing everyone at Anna Maria a safe and happy spring break. And best of luck to everyone with all the incredible summer internships I heard about! What a bunch of super women!

And thank you all ever so kindly for my awesome AMC shirt!

-GFB LeahAnna Maria 2

Book Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings Book Cover

Book Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

 

1865 – The 13th Amendment is ratified abolishing slavery

1870 – The 15th Amendment prohibits the denial of the vote based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude

. . . . . .

1920 – The 19th Amendment prohibits the denial of the right to vote based on sex

 

The Grimke Sisters (1792 – 1873 – Sarah & 1805 -1878 – Angelina) lived to see slavery abolished but not long enough to see women get the right to vote over 50 years later.  They are two of the earliest outspoken American feminists and two of the best known female abolitionists.  Both women were born in Charleston, South Carolina to a plantation owning and slave owning family.  Going against their family’s way of life and also against all standards for women of their time, they became leading abolitionists and later feminists by speaking in public, publishing pamphlets, and assisting with the education of many of the children of the abolition and feminist movements.  Their combination of these two passions was controversial in their adopted faith of Quakerism as many feared it would split the abolition movement into two groups—those who also felt that women and slaves deserved equality and those who were passionate about ending slavery, but still held fast to male superiority.  And, so it did.  At a time when women had no legal rights and were relegated to the roles of wives and mothers only, these two sisters dared to speak in public on political issues to both women and men.  Their published works include, “Letters on the Equality of the Sexes,” “Appeal to the Christian Women of the South,” and “An Appeal to the Women of the Nominally Free States.”

 

The strength and conviction that it takes to stand up for what one feels is right despite the views of those around you is awe inspiring, especially at a time in history when women had very few role models to look to when forging an unconventional path.  In Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Invention of Wings,” the story of the Grimke Sisters is beautifully told in the form of a novel.  Though some aspects of the narrative were created to fill in the gaps, many of the characters, facts, and historical events are true with quotes from the writings of both women included.  If your background in feminism doesn’t stretch much past the 1970’s, exploring the original works of the Grimke Sisters and the ground they gained for all of their sisters is a must.

 

Sue Monk Kidd’s novel is a story of courage that brings to life the ugly history of slavery in our country through the eyes of Sarah Grimke and a slave owned by her family, Hetty “Handful” Grimke.  The alternating narratives of the two main characters speaks volumes about civil rights and brings to mind the words of Emma Lazarus, author of “The New Colossus,”, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.”  This applies to the dual struggle of Hetty, who was bound by the terrible shackles of slavery, and Sarah who was blessed to be free, yet still not truly free due to the limitations placed upon her sex; and it applies today to remind us to continue the fight to end oppression in whatever form it appears.

 

“The Invention of Wings” gets a GFB Thumbs Up.  — GFB Gina

 

225px-Angelina_Emily_Grimke

Whatever is morally right for a man to do, it is morally right for a woman to do. I recognize no rights but human rights—I know nothing of men’s rights and women’s rights; for in Christ Jesus, there is neither male nor female.”

― Angelina Grimke

 

225px-Sarah_Moore_Grimke

“Here now, the very being of a woman, like that of a slave, is absorbed in her master.  All contracts made with her, like those made with slaves by their owners, are a mere nullity.  Our kind defenders have legislated away almost all of our legal rights, and in the true spirit of such injustice and oppression, have kept us in ignorance of those very laws by which we are governed.”

― Sarah Grimke

 

To read the book: http://www.amazon.com/Invention-Wings-Sue-Monk-Kidd/dp/1472212746/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1390612592

Self-defense: A False Sense of Confidence?

The following is a guest blog by our good friend, Kate Webster, Ph.D. She is the Director of Violence Prevention Programs at Thousand Waves Martial Arts & Self-Defense Center in Chicago, IL. This gal kicks ass – and she uses her fancy advanced degree as an improvised weapon. *kidding* Seriously, she’s brilliant and she rules. Here’s Kate’s response to a recent interview on the Today Show that made all of us at GFB throw up in our mouths a little bit. -Erin

When I was in college, I knew there were dangers on my campus, as there were on any campus, and I wanted to be smart about being safe. Yet, all I heard was a bunch of don’ts.

Don’t walk alone at night, don’t go to fraternity parties, don’t get drunk at parties, don’t wear short skirts, don’t dress like you’re asking for it. Sound familiar?

To be safe, I was told to walk with a guy at night, carry mace or a siren whistle, or use the “blue” campus phones. But these tips always confused me because what if I didn’t have a guy friend to walk with me or want to carry mace or couldn’t find a blue campus phone?

Now, don’t get me wrong, some of this advice can be quite wise—it can be safer to walk with someone you know and trust, and mace or a whistle can help to stun or startle an attacker so you can get away. What confused me at the time was how the tips seemed to say that I had to rely on someone or something else to help me to feel safe. Couldn’t I stand up for myself, by myself? Luckily, a number of years later, I stepped into my first women’s self-defense class and found my answer to be a resounding yes.

I’ve been teaching self-defense ever since that first 12-hour course and firmly believe that we all have the power to stop, prevent, thwart, avert and successfully confront an attack through the most peaceful means possible—which sometimes might mean being physical and striking back, but more often means being assertive, strong, empowered, confident, and knowing you are worth defending.

However, not everyone seems to agree. On the Today show a couple of weeks ago, Pat Brown, a criminal profiler, denounced self-defense for young women, claiming it gave them a false sense of confidence. She erroneously claims that in self-defense classes, girls and young women learn to punch incorrectly and kick in high heels. And, according to her assessment, it’s not going to work—especially against a 200 lb Mike Tyson type of attacker.

I was so frustrated and saddened by these comments. Not just because they are incorrect—we teach untrained techniques such as a palm heel or a knee kick and not a trained one such as a punch—but because they are damaging to girls’ and young women’s ability to feel strong, empowered, and capable of taking care of themselves.

Peppered throughout her interview are comments of what we need to do to keep our girls safe and I was sorely reminded of those don’ts I heard back in college. Not a single time did she mention what girls and young women can do for themselves to keep themselves safe. She has a point that there are things all girls and young women can do to keep more safe, but let’s not blame them for wearing sexy clothing, having a few too many drinks, or wanting the freedom to walk home alone. Instead, let’s give them tools to feel strong and confident so they can make the best choices for themselves, and  decide for themselves if they want to have a drink, wear a short skirt and walk home alone.

The self-defense we teach at Thousand Waves Martial Arts & Self-Defense Center teaches teens and adults of all genders how to feel stronger in their mind and body and make the most peaceful choice in the face of violence that is appropriate for themselves. Giving individuals a sense of their own agency and a capacity to make decisions for themselves—the bad along with the good—is the true gift we can give the young people in our lives.

Exciting Events in NC

March is already starting out to be an exciting month for me.  I’ll be doing Fight Back Productions gigs in Georgia, Ohio, Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Florida.  Crazy!

But in between the out of town excursions, there are some exciting things going on right here in town that I want to share with you.  I hope that if you are in NC you’ll come and join me!

First up, at 3pm on Saturday, March 13th, I’ll be presenting a free Girls Fight Back! seminar at Advanced World Martial Arts Systems in Kernersville.  The program is appropriate for ages 13 and up and will last about 90 minutes with plenty of time after to answer any questions you may have.  I’ll be talking about ways to avoid becoming the target of a violent crime by trusting your intuition and behaving like a bad victim and I’ll finish up with some simple fight techniques that you can use if you ever find yourself confronted by an attacker.  The program is presented with tons of humor and you’ll leave feeling like a stronger, more empowered person.  Pete Andrews of AWMAS has graciously agreed to let me use his studio for free and while there is no charge for the seminar itself, we will be collecting donations for Heroes Serving Humanity.  For more information about the workshop check out: http://www.awmas1.com/page_latestnews.htm. And call 336-992-5223 to sign-up.  Call ASAP – space is limited.

Also in the realm of violence prevention, from March 12th thru March 27th; V-Day Greensboro will be presenting staged readings of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues and A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer at Open Space Café Theatre in Greensboro, NC.  These very adult oriented productions explore how our society affects the way women view their bodies and the way that violence impacts the lives of women around the globe.  I’ll be performing in A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer, so come check it out and say hi to me afterwards! The Vagina Monologues performs March 11, 13, and 26 at 8pm. A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, A Prayer performs March 12, 25, and 27 at 8pm.  Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at the door or make reservations by calling (336) 687-1319.  All proceeds go to The Sherri Denese Jackson Foundation in Greensboro NC.

If you aren’t in North Carolina, you can find out more about the V-day campaign and look for events in your area by checking out www.vday.org.  And be sure to check out our FBP calendar at www.fightbackproductions.com/calendar to when we’ll be in your neck of the woods!

Exciting Events in NC

March is already starting out to be an exciting month for me.  I’ll be doing Fight Back Productions gigs in Georgia, Ohio, Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Florida.  Crazy!

But in between the out of town excursions, there are some exciting things going on right here in town that I want to share with you.  I hope that if you are in NC you’ll come and join me!

First up, at 3pm on Saturday, March 13th, I’ll be presenting a free Girls Fight Back! seminar at Advanced World Martial Arts Systems in Kernersville.  The program is appropriate for ages 13 and up and will last about 90 minutes with plenty of time after to answer any questions you may have.  I’ll be talking about ways to avoid becoming the target of a violent crime by trusting your intuition and behaving like a bad victim and I’ll finish up with some simple fight techniques that you can use if you ever find yourself confronted by an attacker.  The program is presented with tons of humor and you’ll leave feeling like a stronger, more empowered person.  Pete Andrews of AWMAS has graciously agreed to let me use his studio for free and while there is no charge for the seminar itself, we will be collecting donations for Heroes Serving Humanity.  For more information about the workshop check out: http://www.awmas1.com/page_latestnews.htm. And call 336-992-5223 to sign-up.  Call ASAP – space is limited.

Also in the realm of violence prevention, from March 12th thru March 27th; V-Day Greensboro will be presenting staged readings of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues and A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer at Open Space Café Theatre in Greensboro, NC.  These very adult oriented productions explore how our society affects the way women view their bodies and the way that violence impacts the lives of women around the globe.  I’ll be performing in A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer, so come check it out and say hi to me afterwards! The Vagina Monologues performs March 11, 13, and 26 at 8pm. A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, A Prayer performs March 12, 25, and 27 at 8pm.  Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at the door or make reservations by calling (336) 687-1319.  All proceeds go to The Sherri Denese Jackson Foundation in Greensboro NC.

If you aren’t in North Carolina, you can find out more about the V-day campaign and look for events in your area by checking out www.vday.org.  And be sure to check out our FBP calendar at www.fightbackproductions.com/calendar to when we’ll be in your neck of the woods!

RAD Self-defense Systems Review

HPIM3154Last night was my last official RAD class at my alma mater and I thought I would share my experience with those of you who might be looking for a self-defense class to take.  Just remember that these are only my thoughts and programs will vary at different locations.  So, check out the RAD Systems website to find a class near you so that you can form your own opinion.

First, RAD is an incredibly popular program with a presence on virtually every college campus in the US and Canada.  It is usually free or very low cost to attend and once you graduate, you are given a certificate to return to any class throughout the US or Canada without any additional charge.  They also require that all men involved be law enforcement officers or submit to a thorough background screening.

Because RAD is typically offered on college campuses, you can expect to have a lot of young, enthusiastic gals in your class and the one I attended was no exception.  Over four short training sessions, we bonded and cheer each other on through various scenarios.  The instructors were friendly and not the least bit intimidating or egotistical.

While I general found the class to be simple and easy to follow, I wasn’t totally impressed with the amount of practice time we were given or the time spent on teaching ground defense.  There were also some scenarios that were “off-limits” during the full-contact portion of the final night.  I found that frustrating since several of us wanted to practice ground techniques.

All-in-all I would list the pro and cons as follows:

Pros -

  • Easy to find classes and large network of instructors all over the US and Canada
  • Free or low cost to attend with the option to return to any class, any time, any where without additional charge
  • Very simple techniques that are similar to other systems

Cons-

  • Not a lot of practice time esp on ground defense
  • Not a lot of time with padded attackers to practice various scenarios
  • Some scenarios were “off limits” and could not be practiced with the padded attackers.

Personally, I really enjoyed learning this new system.  It is very similar to other approaches and I will definitely be checking out other RAD programs in my area.  If you have taken a RAD class at your college or in your community, please feel free to leave a comment!  Was my experience similar to yours or did you have a totally different opinion about the classes you took?HPIM3155

If you are in the Denver area, be sure to sign-up for the new Girls Fight Back workshop being held at Spiral Yoga and Wellness tomorrow.  For more details, check out Erin’s post below!

Making Self-Defense Fun

Lately I’ve been talking to women’s safety instructors about low class attendance for a skill that can save a person’s life.  It’s a common frustration among most self-defense instructors, even those who are internationally known, when it comes to marketing safety and self-defense education to everyday women.  Despite the excellent education that so many instructors offer, in many cases these classes are duds, with only a few people in attendance.

I believe there are many reasons for this, one of the biggies being that women are flat-out SCARED of something bad happening to them…and consequently are afraid of confronting that possible reality in a self-defense class.  As a result, many class attendees who actually show up have put off taking a class for years, are nervous to be there, recently survived an attack or “close call” or are forced to attend. (Often the case with moms making their daughters go…while ironically, those same moms often never take a class themselves.)  This can be a tough crowd in regards to helping them relax, opening their minds and filling their brains and bodies with new ideas of what they are capable of.

This begs the question…what if we got this education to women in other ways, with less pressure?  What if we made self-defense classes like swim lessons?  The lessons are fun, but the goal is teaching young people to not drown. (Scary outcome, fun process learning to avoid it.)  What if we looked at models like Jazzercize?  It was created after Judy Sheppard Missett saw the high turnover rate of dance classes, so she threw in a fitness component and some crazy humor.  The idea? Have fun while getting fit.  Why is fun so taboo when it comes to self-defense?  Is it possible for the education to be even MORE effective if people are relaxed while they hear our message of safety?

When people are laughing, they are listening.  And when they are listening, they’re learning.  And when they are learning, they become empowered.  And that’s when change happens.

I’d like to pose this question to all women: What would make the idea of taking a self-defense class or martial arts less scary to you?  A clean, pretty studio? Women only?  More “friendly” marketing materials?  Or shouldn’t self-defense be fun at all?  Please comment…

S.P.E.A.R System

This past weekend, I took a Level 1 training course offered by The Realistic Female Self Defense Company in Chapel Hill, NC.  The instructors at RFSDC are certified by Blauer Tactical Systems, Inc. and teach what is commonly called the S.P.E.A.R. System.The S.P.E.A.R System is based off a ton of scientific research conducted by Tony Blauer into the physiological stress responses of human beings.  It focuses primarily on the universal way that humans flinch.A group flinches from a baseball bat

I can’t begin to describe the physiological background of the system because it is very detailed and well researched.  And it is hard to compare the system to others I have been exposed to, so I decided the best way to evaluate the training I received on the S.P.E.A.R. System was with a list of pros and cons.  Please know that these are simply my thoughts and you can form your own opinions by checking out the links above and signing up for a class if you are interesting in learning more.  You can also read this interesting interview I found with Tony Blauer in Black Belt Magazine and look for videos on YouTube.

Pros -

Cons -

  • Seems to require more upper body strength and focus more on upper body techniques
  • Not much focus on verbal de-escalation techniques (how to get out of a fight without fighting)
  • Level 1 and 2 courses are difficult to locate through the primary website

If you are interested in finding a S.P.E.A.R System class near you, my advice would be to search S.P.E.A.R System Self Defense and your homestate on google or a similar search engine.  You can also contact the Realistic Female Self-Defense Company via their website as they travel and may be offering a class near you at some point.

All-in-all I met some great, passionate people and added another tool to my self-defense toolbelt.  Keep checking the Fight Back Productions blog for info about various self-defense systems that we train in.

Wing Chun

So, I told you all I would keep you posted on the self-defense training I’m trying out these days, and I realized it’s been awhile. After taking a Krav Maga class, I started learning the basics of Wing Chun, a form of Kung Fu. Wing Chun was one of Bruce Lee’s favorite types of martial arts, and it just so happens that this style of combat was created by a woman who needed to defend herself against an abusive man. It is designed to be used against larger opponents and focuses alot on stability and relaxation. I have practiced yoga for several years and am 5’2″, so these things really appealed to me. In addition, I happen to have a friend who has been willing to teach this to me at his house once a week, in exchange for Graphic Design work. This option fits my budget and busy schedule very well, so I couldn’t pass it up.

I’ve had three or four sessions so far, and wanted to share some of my findings with you. One thing I like about Wing Chun (and the environment in which I am learning it) is that it’s very simple. The main focus is on maintaining balance, a strong foundation, and protecting the center-line of the body. If all of these things are in place and working together, it becomes much easier to remain calm in a bad situation, and if you are stable and aware, it becomes much easier to throw your opponent off balance. Though Wing Chun is considered to be a high martial art, it doesn’t focus on yelling, making funny noises, or breaking through bricks with your bare hands, none of which seem very practical to me. At this point, I have only learned the very basics, such as how to move my body in unison, with the power coming from the hips, how to throw a punch without hurting myself, and do this with maximum force, and some basic elbow strikes, blocks, and kicks. I must say, I am really enjoying these lessons and find this to be one of the more practical forms of martial arts as well as a relaxing and centering past-time. Plus, it looks really cool once you get these moves down and can do them really fast. Your friends will be totally impressed.

Another important lesson that I have learned is to keep my shoulders relaxed and learn how to use the elbows, hips, and knees to generate power. Being relaxed not only allows us to remain focused and not freak out, but also allows us to read our opponent. For example, say some scary bad guy grabs my arm. If I tense my arm, that arm is no longer serving me as a weapon and I am forgetting about all the other tools I have at hand. Also, he can feel that tension and respond by using MORE force. If I let that arm relax, then I can focus on the other parts of my body that ARE available to me. Also, if my attacker is tense, and I am relaxed, I am able to recognize the instant that he releases tension and respond by kicking his ass before he knows what hit him. This stuff is so simple and makes so much sense, some days it’s hard to believe I’m just learning it now. But, that’s kinda how it goes with self-defense, you don’t know how easy it is to be your own best protector until you find a good sparring buddy.

On that note, I want to talk a little about how this experience is affecting me. I don’t consider myself to be a very aggressive person and don’t particularly like the idea of physical confrontation, so when my friend told me a during our lesson a few weeks ago to punch him in the solerplexes, I had a rough time with that. I understand that it is necessary to put this stuff into practice and use proper form and know where to hit, but I think, like many women, the idea of fighting is just not natural to me and I don’t want to use violence. On the flip side, as a member of Girls Fight Back, I am constantly exposed to stories of violence and tragedy, so I know just how possible it is that I may be faced with a situation in which fighting could save my life. Maybe all the Kung Fu training in the world won’t protect me from all the scary bad guys out there, but maybe, just maybe, the skills I am learning now will allow me to take care of myself if the opportunity arises. I think it is better to have these tools in my toolbox in case I ever need them, than to be “stuck up shits creek without a paddle” as they say.