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…