My life purpose seems to be a conundrum. I believe in non-violence. I believe in peace. I don’t like to hear about people hurting other people or animals. And yet I was drawn to “fighting” from a very young age. All my childhood games and playing revolved around being a soldier, a special agent, a police officer. Surprisingly, I have now been all of those things and more. I have been trained how to do very violent things in order to preserve freedom and the lives of those who can’t protect themselves. And still, I stand for peace.
I don’t like war. I don’t like fighting. I don’t like violence. But I have created a business, a school that not only teaches women how to protect themselves from danger (storms, fires, terrorism, crime), but I also teach women how to be violent. EVERY time I teach the “Claws and Fangs” module of our self-protection class, I have this strange feeling inside of me.
You see, every other part of our business teaches about how to avoid trouble, how to see trouble before it gets to you. We teach how to hide in city settings, in the woods, and in your home. We teach how to escape from trouble, how to escape from men who want to inflict violence on others. We teach how to use everyday things to protect yourself and your family from all types of harm.
I truly believe that most violence can be avoided, and that is why we spend the majority of our classes teaching awareness, protection, avoidance, and escape. I don’t want anyone to have to face the things I’ve seen. Things I’ve seen in other countries where women don’t always get the respect or the protection they deserve. Things I’ve seen as an officer of the law, the pain, violence, hatred, abuse, and worse. Things that have happened to my own family members. But sometimes people will face those terrible things. And sometimes, there’s no escaping it. Sometimes, there’s no one there to help; no soldier, no policeman, no brother, or dad. It just has to be faced head on with focus and determination.
And that is why, at the end of our program, I teach the “Claws and Fangs” module.
So, why do I get that “strange feeling” inside me when I’m teaching this module? Here’s why. When someone is trying to hurt you or your children, and you’ve done everything we’ve taught you and that terrible monster who wears the disguise of a human is still intent on doing vile and horrible things to you or your family… Well, what you learned in your community self-defense class probably won’t save you or the child he is trying to take from you.
You see, I get that almost sick feeling inside because I am teaching women, young and old, how to do things to someone that no person should EVER need to know. But when I watch the news and see the ever increasing numbers of terrible crimes that are committed against women and children, I know I MUST teach these things. Housewives, young moms, Sunday school teachers, escorts, college students, teenagers, and senior citizens SHOULD NOT need to know how to collapse an attacker’s lung, or rupture his liver, or blind him, or take away his ability to breathe or walk. And yet, there I stand, in front of these women who know the risks of living in this world, women who know that there may come a time when their safety or the safety of their children rests in their hands alone. They have come to me to learn what we all hope they will never have to use. Their courage and determination is inspiring. It moves me to honor them by giving them every tool I can possibly give them to make their lives safer.
The discomfort I feel sharing the lessons of the “Claws and Fangs” module is made better when I see the look on my students’ faces as they finish the class. They are looks of strength and empowerment.
I found a small story that also helps me as I teach this class:
A student said to his Master: “You teach me fighting, but you speak of peace. How do you reconcile the two?
The Master replied: “It is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.”
Be courageous, be determined, and be prepared.
Until next time,
Cranford – Chief LaBCaF Guy