"Self-defence starts with the self"...
Self defence is about self development. Effective and complete self defence training encompasses mental, emotional, and physical aspects to give an holistic toolbox of strategies and tactics.
A brief overview of what this means, looking at aspects of all four stages of self-protection:
Stage 1: Avoidance through Awareness
Yes, this covers the myriad recognition and awareness strategies and tactics to hopefully help you avoid and prevent a situation escalating into a threat or violence. But specifically where does the 'self' part come in, outside of increased knowledge and skills?
Multiple areas, but to name a couple...
Have you overcome the common apathy mentality which many people have around the subject of violence prevention and violence management? So commonly we hear things like;
"Ahh, I'm ok, I live in a safe neighbourhood",
"I don't put myself in dangerous situations",
"I don't want to think about all that dark stuff",
"I'll get around to that one day"...
"What are the chances anyway?"
And many, many others.
These type of statements are dangerous as apathy fuels denial. And denial is the devil when it comes to self-protection.
"Of all of the protective strategies we have to stay safe from violence, pretending the threat doesn't exist has to be the worst of them all" - Phil Thompson
(Note: YOU are reading this article, so you are not in apathy. Nice work!)
Are we also self aware of bias's that we have which can affect our view of people and situations in a skewed way? This can have a substantial impact on our interpretation of the situation, our ability to deal with it, and directly to our personal safety.
Are we able to process the information in a way which creates confidence and empowerment, rather than un-warranted fear, anxiety, or worry?
If you are a survivor, or have ever been the victim of violence in any of it's many forms, are you aware of how far into the healing process you are, or are not, and the potential issues that may bring up for you for future prevention?
And that is just a few of them, just for reference.
As you can already see...The CONTENT is important, but the CONTEXT is vital.
Stage 2: De-escalation and communication
This would be a VERY LONG LIST if we were to highlight all of the different areas in which self-awareness it vital to de-escalation. So here are just a couple;
How well developed is your awareness and control over your own ego?(Hint; if you say "it's perfect"...You're in trouble)
What is your level of ability to apply self control under stressful situations?
Are you aware of your triggers and your own insecurities which could prevent you choosing to de-escalate?
How developed is your ability to use empathy with your fellow humans, even ones you find repulsive?
What bias's are you carrying into the interaction (we all carry some)?
What is your level of ability to self-regulate?
How open are you to letting the other side feel they won, potentially making you seem like you 'lost' in front of other people (or just to yourself)?
Are you aware of your own personality style when dealing with confrontation and how that can affect the situation, even when you have the best intentions?
And soooooooooo many more!
Stage 3: Physical self defence
Do you enjoy, or think you would enjoy, violence?
Are you so terrified of violence that the thought makes you feel ill?
Have you clearly thought about your 'why'?
Are you aware of your level of self control, your temper, your natural disposition to dealing with physical threats?
Are you a trained sport fighter, and there's always been this little niggling feeling that you would like to 'try your stuff out for real'?
If you are competent at applying force, are you competent at controlling the level you apply and when to stop?
And, you guessed it...A LOT MORE!
Stage 4: Post-Event Issues
What is your degree of resilience for dealing with ,and coping with, threatening or violent events?
Could you have thoughts of revenge and retaliation and if so how will you deal with that?
Are you closed off against seeking professional help to assist in dealing with the impact?
These are just a few examples of why self defence needs to start with the self. It is an important area of personal development and can be incredible for self improvement in multiple areas of our lives, not just for protection against threats or violence.