Friday, April 29, 2011

Warrior Woman pt. 2 "You Told Harpo to Beat Me."

   I was learning to fight, I was not learning how to end violence. This is the rub, this is the chink in the armor, this is the match to the fuse, at Doshe we offer education on disarming the bomb. Isn't it interesting that the women's self defense movement has found more women on the gun range, however hasn't decreased the number in the emergency room or the cemetery? Violence has never been a solution to end violence. This scene from The Color Purple illustrates the dis-ease that is created when violence is seen as a resolution to conflict.

Confusion, self loathing, desperation, deception, and the destruction of relationships, and all this just in the onset. The introduction of violence escalates and turns into a downward spiral for the couple and a perpetuation of the cycle for a next generation.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction ... The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation. (1963) 
-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Throughout The Color Purple we see this theme of violence as a means of control -for men and women alike. It is good to note here there are many forms of violence that are present; Physical, Sexual,  Psychological, Verbal, Emotional, and the ever present Race and Gender based socially sanctioned, Institutional violence. In this example the main character reaches a boiling point and succumbs to the violent nature of her environment, it's difficult not to without options. However in the end, it is the ability to find/create safe spaces, develop a deep sense of self worth, knowledge and self love that builds the courage speak truth to power, and to break down the cycle of violence. At Doshe Healing Arts our philosophy is that by the time individuals are engaged in physical altercations to much violence has already taken place. One of the ways we do this is though the practice of Tai Chi. 

Tai Chi is an ancient art that allows the practitioner to restore balance to the mind, body and spirit by cultivating Chi and promoting inner peace. Unlike hard forms I have studied, Tai Chi heals the body over time versus increasing wear and tear. The slow, graceful movements offer a full body, low impact work out that effects the body completely, even at the cellular level. Beyond that the self defense applications are much less combative and offer more choices when dealing with and adversary. You can judge for yourself -check out a Tai Chi approach to dealing with a hair grab. 

In my experience as a martial artist, I find that Tai Chi is more inline with stopping violence than meeting it with more violence. At the core Tai Chi is about over all wellness and not just winning physical battles. I would dare to wager that the majority of 'battles' that you have been engaged in over your life time were not of a physical nature. How do we deal with the myriad of attacks, struggles and battles we face in a society saturated in non-physical violence? We'll unpack that a little more in the next segment of Self Defense in 2011 -The Woman Warrior. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Self Defense in 2011 -Pt. 1 The Warrior Woman

Greetings and thanks for stopping by. Trusting this latest blog finds you in good health and spirits. If not hopefully something you read here will move you in that direction. At Doshe we spend a great deal of time supporting safety, and creating safe spaces. For this reason, I often share that the primary role of a Warrior in a civil community is to maintain peace, and to defend the members of the community against internal and external forces seeking to cause harm. Hmmm... yep, that sounds like creating safe spaces to me. Over time Warriors were replaced by armies of Soldiers trained to attack and kill for the purpose of establishing control. What's my point? It's time for the Warriors to return.

It saddens me to see self defense being 'packaged' in the Soldier model, particularly for women of the world today. It saddens me to see so many gearing up for battle when clearly, we already have more violence and weapons than we can deal with, and it's not making us any safer. The current trend in self defense is, learn to fight so you can be safe from the "dangers of the world".  Now for the sake of clarity I AM NOT bashing hard styles. I have trained in hard styles and simply offer some insight to anyone interested in looking at self defense through a different lens. In fact I chose this particular clip because it contains some relevant and helpful information.

This is a real life situation for far to many women in the world today. The missing piece in this is that often the danger is in our homes, our thoughts and our actions or inactions. I have trained in martial arts for over 30 years and have only had three physical altercations in that time. All three where with people I knew and trusted, two occurred in my home and one at my work place. In hind sight there were signs that I ignored, signs that could have prevented all three. So what happened? Where was the chink in my armor? I was learning to go to battle, I was training to fight off attackers...
"Looking at Safety in 2011 -Pt. 2 The Woman Warrior" coming soon.