Wrong order.

Comments from my last blog:

“I was 24 when I needed to meet and stay in contact with someone like a hole in the head. I was taking karate at the time. It wasn’t an invisible force field…

Until I met you guys, I didn’t really know that there’s a difference between learning to fight and learning how to fight, and that you don’t want to do them in the wrong order. Like… the nasty, daily struggle where you’re forced to project, “Not today,” and “I’m not the one,” to people who seem to think the contrary.

It seems like if you don’t deem self-worthy of self-defence, but train anyway, you’re using it as a shield to convince yourself you can take care of yourself, but you’re only fooling yourself, because everyone else can see through it. In martial arts, you may manage to climb a couple of ranks because, you, like everyone else, can manage to memorize movements and terminology.

So that’s what made me think, if some of us can’t stand up to people, like you were saying, telemarketers, etc., in daily social situations, if you don’t protect yourself emotionally/psychologically when there’s minimal threat, not sure if it’ll happen in bigger things. It didn’t with me…”


There’s a difference between learning to fight and learning how to fight, and you don’t want to do them in the wrong order.


A few years back, I found the Brave Girls Club and signed up to their Soul Restoration programme. It involves making art projects with hearts and flowers and butterflies and stuff. On the surface, it didn’t precisely look like my usual kind of thing, but I felt drawn to it so I thought I’d give it a go.

It didn’t take me very long to realise that I was wrong, and my instincts were right. I wasn’t doing anything new, though I was doing it from an entirely different angle. The programme was all about self-defence. Learning to establish and maintain boundaries. Learning to say no. Learning to shield yourself from the everyday affronts, exploitations, and abuses that are often considered petty by those who know how to defend themselves from them… but are anything but for those people who still need to develop those skills, or who do not feel they have the right to self-protect.

There was a participants’ forum. I ran away from it in horror within days. The level of openness, honestly, and vulnerability most participants engaged in (in a place full of strangers!) gave me the heebie jeebies. A significant proportion of the women there were return participants keen to say that the programme hadn’t failed them – they’d failed the programme. They had not managed to finish the course in the past because they felt guilty for taking that time away from the needs of others, even though they were badly in need themselves, or because someone in their lives had stopped them. But they loved it so much that they wanted to try again, and again, and again…

The stories they told were haunting, although they didn’t involve blood and gore. They spoke of a level of self-worthlessness, hopelessness, and powerlessness that I really didn’t want to know about. They spoke of established patterns of interpersonal relationships based entirely on parasitism and/or predation, and maintained through the deliberate diminishing of the person who was, ultimately, doing all the damn work. And yes, some of them spoke of straightforward abuse.

All of these women needed to learn to defend themselves, psychologically, emotionally, and physically. And most of them would never have walked into a dojo, and the few that might would probably not have stuck with it, and any who did would probably have ended up lying to themselves about what they were actually achieving. Because there’s a difference between learning how to fight and learning to fight, and you don’t want to do them in the wrong order.


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