The three biggest reasons why you should learn self-defence

It is not uncommon to hear on a daily basis stories of violence against women, attacks on women and horrific stories of woman abuse in South Africa. This is why, for over 13 years, 1st for Women has been actively engaged in the fight against woman abuse and to date has raised over R65 million for woman abuse causes and assisted over 90 000 abuse survivors. Much of this incredible work is thanks to the contributions of their customers, who donate a portion of their premiums to the 1st for Women Foundation each month.

More however can and must be done as the problem persists. Based on 1st for Women’s report, Seeking Solutions, over 70% of the people surveyed rated the situation as extremely severe with rape of South African women among the highest in the world, according to Statistics South Africa.

While these stories and statistics can make us feel discouraged and in many instances fearful, it is important to remember that women can prepare for the worst, just in case, and become empowered to defend themselves or manage a life threatening situation. Such stories can also inspire South Africans to create campaigns and initiatives which will assist others to become empowered.

Former Miss SA Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters faced a horrifying situation when she was in an attempted hijacking in 2017 and the knowledge she gained through a self-defence course equipped her to handle the situation in the best possible way to remain safe. The skills she learned came from an organisation called Woman INpowered created by Mark Grobbelaar, a 6th Dan karate expert.

Woman INpowered is one of the many organisations registered on ForWomen, a 1st for Women initiative, launched during 16 Days of Activism in 2017. This online platform aims to consolidate woman abuse fighting efforts in one place and give all South Africans the chance to take action, 365 days a year, by giving help or getting help in the fight against woman abuse.

Woman INpowered came about when Mark discovered what had happened to his friend Alison in 1994. She was abducted outside her home, brutally attacked and left for dead but after sustaining such life threatening injuries, she survived. Following the incident, Mark made contact with Alison and together they realised the need for a self-INpowerment programme, specifically designed for women of all ages. While the programme is designed to uplift women in all situations and provides them with self-defence skills, it also has several benefits in an instance where a woman is facing a potentially abusive situation, be that sexual harassment, domestic violence or physical abuse.

Three reasons why self-defence can change your life:

  1. It keeps you safe: Self-defence not only helps you develop skills to physically protect yourself but it will also help you to identify a dangerous situation. The skills can assist you to remain calm and confident lessening the anxiety when doing activities such as walking alone, driving at night or being home alone. It also sharpens your reflexes meaning you can analyse and react quicker to unexpected situations.
  2. It builds confidence: Self-defence helps with boosting your self-esteem, your personal worth and overall confidence. It brings out your own faith in your abilities because you have the confidence to protect yourself, and your loved ones. Self-defence helps women to walk with confidence making them less of a target.
  3. It keeps you fit and reduces stress: Self-defence is a great way to stay fit and healthy as well as reducing stress levels. Stress and anxiety can cause you to become distracted, less aware of your situation and surroundings and reduces confidence. Exercise of any type releases endorphins, increasing happiness, and provides the overall feeling of being able to conquer the world.

Self-defence is therefore not just about fighting your way out of a life threatening or abusive situation but also serves as a holistic means for living a healthy, balanced life that leaves you feeling empowered and confident.

Through the stories of Demi, Mark and Alison, and many others – as well as the combined efforts of initiatives like ForWomen and the 1st for Women Foundation – tackling the problem of woman abuse in South Africa can be done through a holistic approach of prevention, preparation and provision.  It is a complex and multi-faceted problem, but through our collective power, we can take action against woman abuse and give abuse the boot, once and for all. Join in the fight against woman abuse and give help or get help on ForWomen today.