Writing by Kristina Nazariyan // Photograph by Catarina Inacio
I am not a violent person. I’m not “street-smart” or even mildly threatening. I’m a 5’2”, almost-seventeen-year-old girl who looks young for her age and still refuses to be the one to kill the spider. In other words, I’m an easy target. I know it, my friends and family know it, creeps on the street know it. Needless to say, my parents– my dad in particular– had been insisting that I take self-defence classes in summer camp for two years. Initially, I resisted, not wanting to be alone in what I expected to be a class full of boys stronger and tougher than me. This year, however, I changed my mind, as I noticed that the city is becoming more dangerous as I get older (even though I live in probably one of the safest countries in the world).
It’s not even considered that surprising to be assaulted at this point; several of my friends have had close calls with this. The day after camp was over I found myself in a potentially dangerous situation, but the difference was that I knew how I’d defend myself if I had to and wouldn’t need to rely on anyone else to swoop in and help me out. This honestly minimised the stress of the situation by like 60%.
I won’t lie and say that I expected much from my self-defence classes, but after one lesson, I changed my schedule to have more classes per week and ended up taking them for the seven weeks I was at the camp. Obviously, I haven’t become an expert in martial arts or anything, but I have become more confident in myself, both in my ability to protect myself and in general.
We covered all things from being cornered to being confronted with fire-arms and I was surprised at how simple the defence techniques were once we’d practiced them a few times. It got me wondering why self-defence classes aren’t taught in schools when they’re so incredibly useful and active that they could easily be part of the physical education curriculum. Anyone can be an easy target; danger isn’t “reserved” for a certain age, gender, or race, but neither is the power to protect yourself.
In the future, I would like to become a journalist and hopefully be able to raise more awareness on this topic and maybe even campaign for schools to incorporate self-defence courses into their sports programs. If you think about it, it’s actually a very attainable idea. The only reasons I can come up with against it are lack of time or qualified teachers and the (unlikely) possibility of some people becoming more violent. However, we can’t expect the issue to be resolved without stressing the importance of not hurting others in the first place, so bringing this to attention in the classes would be crucial.
For now, I would urge everyone to take self-defence classes, no matter how young, “weak”, or small you are– I saw 10-year-olds take down our 2-meter-tall teacher– because, and I can’t stress this enough, they are so, so, so useful and you never know when you might need them. I am extremely privileged to be living in such a safe country, but– not to sound overly dramatic– there are predators everywhere and even if you don’t end up needing it, knowledge of self-defence could end up saving someone else’s life. In the end, the only person you can rely on to protect yourself is you, and I think that having the skills and knowledge to do so is vital.[share]