Self-defense, as the name suggests, is an act of protecting oneself at times of danger. It involves mental and physical components. One ought to be aware and vigilant to spot any pertinent danger and act with a great deal of presence of mind. The physical end of it comprises of specific techniques to channelize energy into counter-attacking for self-protection. One can protect oneself using several martial arts techniques. The training I received was based on Aikido. Aikido is a Japanese form of martial arts that revolves around the principles of universal harmony and was created by Morihei Ueshiba.
Why is it important to be armed with such techniques? Because we are not safe- neither at home nor at our schools or the workplace. For instance, according to figures published by the World Bank, in 2017, 149 people were killed as a result of Gender Based Violence (GBV). Among 680 cases that were documented, the main perpetrator was a family member or a relative in 163 of them. Similarly, a factsheet on GBV released by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2016 states that 48% of women reported that they have experienced violence at some time in their lives. Saying that all genders and age-groups are affected and need to be prepared and informed of steps to be taken to prevent it in the first place, second know how to protect oneself if found in such a situation and third know which authorities to reach out to. There is a helpline set up by the Government of Nepal with assistance from World Bank’s State and Peacebuilding Fund (SPF), especially for GBV victims. Khabar Garaun 1145 is a helpline launched by the National Women Commission (NWC).
Taking self-defense training can help at multiple levels. First and foremost, it can give us a sense of confidence to tackle an act of violence better. Second, we can count on ourselves. One need not be physically stronger than the attacker. With specific tactics, we can bring down the perpetrator to at least buy time to call for more help if not anything else. With a good hold of the techniques one can single-handedly defeat not one but multiple attackers. Being equipped with such life-saving techniques is like carrying a gun that doesn’t set off a security alarm. We were taught three levels of protecting self.
Maun Pratikaar – quietly curbs the threat by avoiding it.
Shabdik Pratikaar – assertively shout out. It is easier for the attacker when the victim is submissive.
Shakriya Pratikaar – attack back in defense.
This is where techniques learned in training come in handy.
A hectic life can distract us from taking time out for such life-saving tools. It is better to stay prepared. I would recommend everyone to take some time out to learn ways to protect oneself. When is a good time to begin? Today. On a more practical note, the earlier the better. I enrolled myself in an ongoing self-defense training designed for children. A one focusing more on adults would have been better for obvious reasons- the concept of ‘don’t try this at home’ doesn’t sink in young minds. However, I have no regrets. Skills can always be refined. Although during class I couldn’t help but notice how kids soaked it up like sponge while I resembled a block of wood more. Bottom line- start early.
I participated in one of the self-defense training camp organized by Aikido Aikikai Association Nepal (AAAN). The founder and chief instructor of AAAN, Sensei Arjun Shrestha (5th Dan), has given an effective 15-day workshop on Self Defense. The workshop was held with the aim to provide safety awareness lessons and promote self-confidence.
We are our most valuable asset. Let us protect it.
Dr. Aditi Agrawal