Women's Awareness And Self Protection group
Personal Safety, Self Defense & Awareness Training
The Women's Awareness and Self protection group was formed in 1989 by a group of self defense, martial arts and assertiveness instructors. It is based in Cambridge, England, but our instructors have taught all over the country, and in Europe and North America.
We work with adults on issues including personal safety, avoiding conflict, and physical self defense skills. We also work in schools and colleges, covering these issues, and bullying. Our instructors are readily available to teach seminars and classes around the UK and Europe.
You don't have to be an expert martial artist to protect yourself. We believe that there are some key concepts and skills you need, but you might be surprised at how much you already know!
According to United Kingdom Home Office statistics, more than one million women and girls experienced domestic abuse in England and Wales. In addition to this, more than 300,000 women are sexually assaulted each year. 60,000 women are raped.
Studies and surveys, for example by the British Crime Survey, suggest that more than a quarter of women have experienced domestic violence. One of every ten women questioned say that they have been stalked.
Silence... sadly, 40 per cent of those who experience serious sexual assault tell anyone.
The Public Services website : www.direct.gov.uk has an excellent section on Women's Safety, giving information on domestic violence, sexual assault, forced marriage and trafficking. I highly recommend this if you are affected by a specific issue.
Our own courses and seminars focus on awareness and appropriate action. If you can avoid situations by using awareness and forward-planning, this can eliminate many possibly dangerous situations. It really isn't about avoiding the world and paranoid. It is about developing good habits... just like looking both ways, and listening for traffic, before we cross a road.
On the physical side, we first teach basic evasion skills - better not to be grabbed! We also teach escape skills, from various types of grab and hold, whether standing or on the ground.
If you are interested in a seminar or course for your friends, at your school or college, or for work colleagues, just get in touch. We can provide female or male instructors for a general introduction, or for specific topics such as safety in the home, safety when travelling, safety in the workplace, and more.
Books on Personal Safety
There are quite a few books on self-defense, here are a couple of the best.
A very useful book that addresses a wide range of hazards with the philosophy that knowing what to do can reduce fear and losses. Covers staying safe at scool, work and travelling, as well as emergency and disaster preparation.
This highly-rated book covers some crucial topics, like recognizing threats, de-escalation of situations, dealing with fear and self defense skills.
Teaching Children to Protect Themselves
If you have a child, you probably feel a great sense of responsibility for their safety and well-being. If you are a teacher, youth leader, sports coach, or other adult with children under your care, that responsibility may be written into your employment contract.
Children of all ages are vulnerable. Their size, lack of strength, naivety and trust of others can all add to this problem. I have often heard friends debating the age at which they would (or did) let their child walk to school alone. I shudder when I hear someone say that their eight-year-old is "street-wise".
We need to find a balance between cocooning a child so much that they become frightened of the world and abandoning a child to the hazards of fortune. Children (and their parents) need an understanding of the risks, and that understanding should be appropriate to the age and development of the child.
When teaching young children, our major focus is dealing with bullying. Here we can introduce some simple concepts:
- staying close to friends and family
- trying to look confident
- avoiding being alone with bullies
- telling a trusted adult about bullying of yourself or others
- not allowing a bully to get too close
- running away, to a safe place
- simple techniques to use if you are grabbed and need to escape
These concepts can then be appled more widely, for example, to strangers. We prefer this approach because it is less frightening than diving straight in with horror stories about other children who may have been abducted or murdered. It's also worth noting that many children don't understand the concept of "stranger". They may consider that a stranger is:
- someone ugly
- someone mean
- someone wearing black
- someone with scars
- someone who will kill you
All these ideas, and more, have been suggested to me when I've asked groups of children "what is a stranger".
The NSPCC has an excellent educational booklet for children aged 8 to 11, Called "In the know" , it offers children a lot of information about Keeping safe and strong. It's free to download, just click on the picture.
Who, in your opinion, is most at risk of experiencing violence?
But What About Men..?
It's true, men can also be targeted and experience violence. We also offer training, one-to-one or in groups, for men who want to learn about personal safety and self defence.
Awareness, again, is key. Men and boys should know about the situations where they are most vulnerable. They should consider the impact of their own actions and behaviour on their safety. Some examples:
- drinking to excess will increase the risk of being involved in a fight or being in an unsafe environment
- road rage doesn't come from "nowhere" - consider your own behaviour, and try to avoid aggravating other drivers
- involvement in drug-dealing, gangs or serious crime can drastically affect your chances of living (!)
Again, learning a few skills can help. But, resist the temptation to see yourself as Jean Claude Van Damme after a couple of martial arts lessons.
The biggest risk for men?
It's debatable, but EGO can be an issue for some.
For information on martial art classes in Cambridge, have a look at the Cambridge Academy website