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Number 1 Reason

Self-Defense - Learning to defend yourself can make the difference! Choosing the right martial art or self-defense system may help you survive an assault.

Ask yourself these questions:

1. Are you aware enough of danger to avoid situations that can lead to a potential assault?

2. Would you yell for help if attacked or would you freeze?

3. Will you be able to get away if grabbed, picked up or tackled to the ground by someone who weighs 50 to 100lbs more than you?

4. Can you think of any way to defend yourself right now this second?

There’s no way to know the exact answer to the 3rd question until after the fact but the 1st, 2nd,and 4th question can be answered quite easily when your involved with a sound self-defense program. Having a good skillset tucked away in your mental toolbox to take action when action is needed is probably one of the greatest benefits someone could have from martial arts. And taking a good self-defense course and sticking with the practice may very well help you escape an assault or better yet keep you alive.

Some programs can teach situational awareness and street smart defense techniques to avoid potentially harmful scenarios. This will help you deal with question number 1. Combine that with continued practice escaping from grabs, bear hugs, choke holds and even ground fighting and you may start to understand the importance of questions 2 and 3. Practice your techniques till they are second nature and ask yourself question number 4 once again.

One of the things I impress upon all my students is a simple yet effective 3 second rule when it comes to escaping certain holds. It's possible for an average person to be choked into unconsciousness within 5-10 seconds and some think even sooner when the blood flow to the brain is cut off just right. Because of this we strive to escape certain holds including all chokes in 3 seconds or less. Just knowing this causes most to work that much harder on breaking the grip, hold or choke quicker and getting away much faster.

The statement that seems to get their attention the most is when I tell them that after 5 seconds they may end up in the trunk of a car. That single comment seems to drive home the point very fast for many. Though it does not cover every possible outcome the very idea of being taken away against your will or captured strikes a cord. The very next phrase is "Your Dead!"

No matter what the criminal intention is of a possible assailant you must treat each assault as life or death to prepare for the worst and come out alive.

With no delay or sugar coating what so ever, let’s look at some statistics.

Assault-1in5-300In 2010 a study called the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, was done with the support of the National Institute of Justice and the Department of Defense.  The study was a telephone survey of 16,507 adults which represented a broad sampling of our US population. The results where that an astounding 1 in 5 women within the United States has been sexually assaulted!

Using the predefined definition of rape provided by the researchers a whopping 1 percent of the women surveyed reported being raped the previous year. This suggests that possibly 1.3 million women every year, in the US are raped or have been a victim of attempted rape.

The department of justice estimated 188,380 Americans were victims of sexual violence last year but according to the 2010 FBI violent crimes report only 84,767 assaults defined as forcible rape were reported. Now I am no math genius but what this tells me, is the actual reported number of rapes is a disturbingly low 6.52% of the actual sexual assaults that occur annually! Previous estimates of only 84% of rapes being reported may need to be changed to an even higher number.

A direct quote from the article says:

“The survey found that youth itself was an important risk factor for sexual violence and assault. Some 28 percent of male victims of rape reported that they were first assaulted when they were no older than 10.

Only 12 percent of female rape victims were assaulted when they were 10 or younger, but almost half of female victims said they had been raped before they turned 18. About 80 percent of rape victims reported that they had been raped before age 25.

Rape at a young age was associated with another, later rape; about 35 percent of women who had been raped as minors were also raped as adults, the survey found.

More than half of female rape victims had been raped by an intimate partner, according to the study, and 40 percent had been raped by an acquaintance; more than half of men who had been raped said the assailant was an acquaintance. “
For more on this study reference the New York Times article here:

Nearly 1 in 5 Women in U.S. Survey Say They Have Been Sexually Assaulted - New York Times

rape-stats-300Other statistics show that:

•    Rape is the most under-reported crime with 84% of the victims never reporting the crime to the proper authorities.
•    One woman will be forcibly raped every 6 minutes!.
•    One out of four women had either been raped or sexually abused!
•    Women at dating ages of 16-24 are at the highest risk of being sexually assaulted!
•    Most rapists are found to be between the ages of 15-24 years old!
•    More than 90% of all rapes occur within the same race and social economic class!
•    Contrary to popular belief, 84% of female rape victims actually knew their rapist (a friend or acquaintance)!
•    More than 50% of rapes where the women actually knew their rapist occurred in the man's car or his home!


One positive statistic that I have run into over and over again while researching, is that as much as 86% of women escape attempted sexual assaults by resisting and fighting back. Although this is a positive number I am slightly disturbed by the thought of so many attempts being made annually.

Now that we have gotten through the hard numbers, let’s take a good look at other reasons why women should practice some form of self-defense or martial art.

More Good Reasons

Health -  One of the best benefits of martial arts is that of fitness and wellness of the body and mind. Staying active and learning new skills presents us with physical and mental challenges to keep us in tip top shape from head to toe.

Confidence – This is one of those attributes that we carry everywhere. When you walk, as you think and when you speak confidence can spill off of you and affect others, as well as your own sense of wellbeing. I cannot speak too much about how confidence can completely rearrange your world in regards to accomplishing goals and overcoming attrition.

Even criminals may be thwarted before they attack by sensing high levels of confidence in potential victims. Martial arts can instill this confidence in people by showing direct results as related to hard work. Obtaining new skills that you never had and achieving that next belt level can bring new found confidence right out.

Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone - Most martial arts require contact in order to practice self-defense and basic techniques you will use throughout the system. If not you need to change the discipline and get out of your comfort zone.

I see many female students who at first quite frankly do not want to be placed in a situation where contact is involved. In the beginning this causes them discomfort whether it is practicing blocks with a partner, sparring or working on self-defense techniques together. This of course is fine to some extent but can be hazardous when they are actually confronted with a potentially harmful situation.  

Over time and a few classes later those same female students are the ones asking to spar or work on self-defense more.

Martial arts can get you out of that comfort zone and teach you to stay calm when you are faced with a situation were contact is going to happen. Many women may freeze up under this discomfort and do nothing to escape or stop an attack. By practicing contact within a structured self-defense system you can learn to think under fast paced pressure.


Some of us are already involved now!

One of our very own, Jason Zalva of the Orono police department and also a volunteer TaeKwonDo instructor at the Bangor, YMCA, has been involved with teaching girls self-defense at the Old Town, Maine high school for several years. The classes which take place 2 to 3 times per week are held first thing in the morning and are roughly 1 hour long. Instruction is done mainly by Jason Zalva with help from various assistant instructors. The program is outlined to help the girls in attendance to create a reactive skill set in order to deal with potential threatening situations by practicing basic defense techniques and situational awareness each class.

While working with Jason Zalva on his self-defense program at the Old Town high school I had a great time and got to see first-hand how beneficial the training was for the students. It's wonderful programs like this one from volunteers like Jason that make a huge difference in each community. Nice Job!


WLBZ Channel 2 Report by Jackie Ward WABI Channel 5 Report by Tim Throckmorton


Through our mission to keep martial arts affordable and available we are hoping it will give more and more women the opportunity to learn self-defense. We cannot change the world overnight but we can sure try and put a dent in those statistics.



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