Friday, April 1, 2011

Battered Women In Martial Arts

Recently, I read a post over on about karate and domestic violence. Joesph McDaniel watched a movie where a woman learned a martial art to defend herself against an abusive husband. It bothered him how the movie romantically portrayed this woman as defeating her attacker.

In real life this wouldn't happen. Men are usually bigger and stronger, but more than that, an wife beater is also an emotional abuser. Which is why men can be physically abused too. The only difference between a woman and a man victim, is the amount of damage that is caused physically. The emotional abuse cuts a lot deeper than black eyes.

Anyone could be abused. You wouldn't know. People who are abused are teachers, police officers, housewives, even sometimes black belts. One in every four women either, is or has been, abused.

Think about a stranger coming up to you and punching you in ribs. Would you ask him out on a date? How about an acquaintance? If it were like a friend of the family, you probably wouldn't be talking to him anymore. Now think of someone you truly love. Chances are, if it were the first time, you would forgive them. If it happened a second time, you may rethink the relationship.

What would make someone stay in a relationship that can be sour and poisonous to the soul? Why would they allow their children to watch one of their parents being hurt? How can that abused person believe the apologies and promises that have come so many times before? There can be many reasons why a person can stay in a relationship that hurts. The main reason that people stay, is a low self esteem. They do not feel worthy of anything better, or they think no one else will care. They may feel like they are worthy of something better, but they can't see a path out.

What can karate do for the abused?

You may be thinking, "Why would someone who is physically abused, go take a class where they get hit?". That is a very good question.

You don't simply get smacked around in karate, you ask for it, literally. In kyokushin before we train we say, "oni gashi mas?". It means "Will you teach me?"(loosely translated). We always reply with "Hai!" which means yes. Then we train together, with great respect. Respect is important.

Karate, especially kyokushin (sry I am partial), makes you strong. Not just physical power but spiritual power. You have to believe that you are worth the hour or two for the class every week. When you are in the dojo, you leave the outside world at the door when you bow in. You don't think of the mood your partner may be in while you are breaking a sweat doing your fitness. While sparring, you forget about the fight you had with your spouse the night before. Working katas, you think about your form and stances and the snap of your techniques, and not about how you are not measuring up at home.

At first the abused person may not have a loud kiai (strong yell). If someone spars a little too hard, they might not say something. He/she may not be very chatty in the locker room. However as they progress along, they will find physical strengths they never knew they could achieve. Making their goals and ranking up will boost confidences and soon the seishin (spiritual energy) will grow. The mind will see paths to escape and end the abuse.

Just joining karate is the first step to being free. She has already seen that she is worth that hour. You may hear her kiai aloud, or ask someone to lighten up and soon they may even be giggling in the locker room at stupid jokes.


I really want your opinions. Is martial arts a good thing for a battered woman? Are there better things? What would you advise your sister/friend? How would you help someone who isn't asking for help but really needs it?