Prevention & Self Defense
As an expert in Krav Maga and self defense, I can tell you that there is no prevention in self-defense. There is only risk reduction.
However, research has shown that we can sense danger before it occurs. In the body. Through our heart, our nervous system and our senses before our brain interprets these senses. This means that if we label the senses as "danger" or "fear", in life-threatening situations it is often too late to avoid the danger. It also means that intuition is indeed preventive.
So, if we go through the world consciously and attentively, without becoming hypervigilant or fear-based, we can sense danger before it happens, and hopefully avoid it.*
Of course, intuitive training needs as much time and practice as any other skill, and in the transitional period it is helpful to have self defense tools available to defend yourself if you are ever attacked. And, of course, for those who work in professions that put themselves in danger purposefully in order to help others, self defense is an essential tool to have in your toolbox... as well as self-healing, just to make sure you are not trying to rescue others, and instead that you are doing what you are doing because it is you soul's purpose in life.
Rescuing implies victimhood. Victimhood implies Perpetrators. It puts us as a society on the Triangle of Disempowerment. Even though this Triangle is a very lucrative business model, it is a world in which individuals are not taught to take responsibility for their own action and words, they are not taught to heal themselves, they are taught to look outside for a rescuer, and then to blame the world when things don't pan out the way they hoped or point fingers at themselves or others when those may not be who is responsible. It is also a world in which those helping are not sustainably lifting others (those who need help temporarily) into a position where they can help themselves sustainably. There is a dangerous power dynamic that often creates dependency, co-dependency, a sustained abuse of power by way of rescuer-syndrome, and therefore a state of sustained victimhood.
In my experience as a rape crisis counselor and self defense instructor, I have observed that many survivors turn to self defense training with the hope of healing and preventing future incidents; however, Krav Maga and self defense training often leaves them open to further trauma, and instructors are often poorly equipped to deal with flashbacks and other PTSD symptoms that may occur during training as a result of their trauma.
There are ways to make self defense accessible to those who have experienced trauma without compromising the technique and without creating re-traumatization. This requires a different approach, an understanding of the nervous system and the psycho-somatic connection in people, and it requires a focused effort by experienced practitioners to serve these populations. These instructors are rare, and the focus in most self defense training certifications is simply not there because the self defense community is itself still predominantly firmly positioned as a rescuer on the Triangle of Disempowerment. This is not a position from which to teach individuals to be themselves and to live into a world that is peaceful and healthy. It is a position in which Victimhood, Perpetratorhood and Recuerhood are for the most part deepened.
Krav Maga and self defense techniques are helpful to reduce the risk of an attack and to survive an attack (whilst most likely not to remain unharmed), if we are ever confronted by it. It is a powerful tool to have and it can be indeed empowering, temporarily. However, no matter how much you learn about self defense, there is nothing you can do to "prevent" a crime. They only person ever who can prevent a crime is the one committing it.
However, self defense training can also be utilized to be able to heal from trauma, if it is professionally offered and taught in such a way (which is currently rarely the case). I feel it is the responsibility of instructors in self defense and Krav Maga to offer this way of training to their students, and it is the reason I created Luminous Warrior self defense training in 2009.
If we teach violence (because that is what self defense training is), then we also have to teach students how to heal from trauma. We also have to offer our students the opportunity to realize and acknowledge that certain tools offered in the training may morally and ethically not be a realistic option for them personally to use against another human being. And in that case, we still have to be able to offer them tools that can still potentially avoid the act of violence or a violent assault. That tool is the inner space of highly attuned intuition, if it comes from a trauma-free state.
When I opened the Luminous Warrior self defense and healing center in Washington DC, my training included an integration of energy medicine, shamanic healing and self defense techniques because I felt -and still feel- that it is a duty and responsibility of everyone who teaches self defense to be able to teach trauma healing as well. Not just for the trauma a student may have experienced prior to training; also for the harm self defense techniques may cause during training (regardless of whether a student had prior trauma), and for the trauma the techniques we teach may elicit in a student after an attack when the student uses self defense and it seriously injures or even kills another living being.
It's not just about surviving an attack, it's also about living with the consequences of one's actions and the aftermath of an attack: what has happened to you and what you have done to someone else in order to defend yourself. If I defend myself (in case I survive at all), I must also be able to deal with the fact that I may have killed someone else, or that I may have injured or disabled someone else, for life. And it is exactly this facet that is so important to emphasize in self defense training -yet rarely is- because it does not provide for a "good" business model, especially when training civilians.
Civilians are not soldiers who are trained to regard other people and living beings as "targets" so that they can be killed with less thought. Training someone to kill another human being is one of the most unnatural things one can do, yet we glorify it in society, movies and TV shows. And we do not talk about the fact that most veterans are in counseling because of what they have had to do in the name of an idea or a country. The suicide and addiction rates among veterans are staggering.
We are people with souls that are emphatic and connected in their natural state. We are a human family, and an earth family if you include plants, air, waters and animals. No act of violence makes us feel better in the long run. All life is connected.
Especially when actions and words come from fear, anger, greed, jealousy, hate, entitlement etc. they only ever cause more of the same. This has been my experience as an expert Krav Maga instructor, as a rape crisis counselor, as an honor guardian of the Mindful Memorial Foundation, as someone who has worked with veterans, human rights defenders, activists and journalists who have served in war zones, and as a soul coach.
Therefore, my approach -for students and instructors alike- is as follows:
1. teaching healing first, if one has any trauma;
2. imparting self defense skills in a way that allows one to stay trauma-free while training and choose what self defense options are truly viable, realistic and authentic for each one, even if it means that students or instructors eventually move themselves out of and away from fighting environments or self defense altogether;
3. training intuition for prevention and life navigation; and
4. soul coaching for authentic and intentional living.
I have since closed the center in Washington DC. I wanted to step out of the fight and out of the perception of competition with other self defense centers. I wanted to see what it takes to move someone out of the fight and yet retain self defense skills for the love for life, not because I am afraid to die or because I regard my life as more important than that of another. Is that even possible in today's world of competition, automization and externalisation? It took me many years in nature until I felt I have finally been able to shed what was not mine to do, and to claim what is mine to pass on to the next round of humans.
Now, I want to be able to serve those who may need the tools I have to offer to move the human family forward, in self defense training, in trauma healing, in life. I want to amplify the tools we have in self defense to make them more current, more applicable to our times and the pandemics we face: a disregard for human dignity and life in general, including a disregard for the natural world that manifests as violence, addiction and a myriad of other health issues. I want to be of service to those who intend to teach self defense responsibly and those who intend to enable and empower themselves as well as the myriad of students that come to their training centers to become responsible and kind citizens.
Each soul will need something else to be who they are and to make their contribution. If we allow this human dignity of individuality with an orientation toward harmony and health, we have everything covered: there is nothing left undone, you don't have to do what you do not enjoy, no one is taking away another's work, and each one is doing what they are here to do. There will still be plenty of discomfort and learning. That's part of evolving. And that's ok. Discomfort, anger, fear, jealousy, greed does not need to lead to violence or forms of poverty if you know how to work with your feeling state. If you are skilled as a human being.
In a healthy human world, there is no competition, there is a mutual enabling by allowing each soul to express who they truly are in their healthy and healed state. There is room for self defense even in a peaceful world. It's for the love of human skill and learning. Not for life or death. It's for a learning about the reverence for life, how fragile the mind and body are, and then to go outside and appreciate that gentle world, the human souls, and the soul of nature.
Let's not want other people to be as we are, and also let's not respond to trauma or an experience in a way where we bend ourselves out of alignment with our natural state. Resilience means activating our innate ability to heal, learning ways to transform feeling states so we can be who and as we are, in our healthy state, and to enable and allow others to be that in theirs.
For me, it is about finding ways to live into a peaceful and complementary world as human family, to contribute to communities that are healthy, where the basic human needs are met, and nature is respected while we meet those needs. It was not about being known for Luminous Warrior, or owning a center, or being an entrepreneur. It was about imparting my gifts and skills to move our human family forward into a healthy and healed state. And it still is. I just had to do that first for myself. And now I did.
The moment we are born, we are one step closer to death. To utilize self defense for survival in our time is nonsensical. And it's also only ever temporary. Our life on earth is limited from the start. Therefore, let's each make an effort to become skilled in what we enjoy, to be kind in our soul, and to be healthy in our hearts, and then let's pass the wisdom, skills and gifts we have learned on to others, so they too may enjoy life and the natural world, for another round, of humankind, on earth.
*Please note: My approach is not a psychological or clinical approach. It is an approach based on crisis management, sensory perception, self empowerment and self healing.