During one of her Tai Chi classes at a nearby martial arts school, my mother discovered that they were doing a free female self-defense class. She asked me if I'd like to join her and I said, "Sure. Why not?" (oh, the things I do for blogfodder) We arrived only to find that we were the only ones in the class over the age of 10.
The class had originally been planned for a Girl Scout troop but the school had opened it up to any woman who wanted to attend. So it was just us, the girl scouts and the girl scouts' mothers...who just watched. I found that curious - what a fine example they could have set for their daughters if they had only set aside their self-consciousness and gotten up off that bench. I say this not to be mean but as someone who is somewhat self-conscious herself...I am hardly the girl to dance on tabletops, no matter how drunk I get. I'm not quite a wallflower but I was honestly feeling awkward about yelling and hitting things.
I tend to overthink things like this, and realized I was being ridiculous - I was worried about a bunch of 10 year olds thinking I looked silly! I decided to tell my brain to shut up and whaddya know? It ended up being a lot of fun and I learned something in the process. I didn't hold back, hitting as best I could and one of the instructors said, "Wow, you're dangerous." So there you go - proof that you never know what you can do unless you try.
There was a talk after all the hitting, blocking, kicking and yelling. (by the way, watching my mother shout, do a palm strike and break a practice board was quite possibly one of the coolest things ever.) The instructor spoke mostly to the little girls, teaching them about situational awareness and how to project a non-victim image to the world. She told a story about how there are three types of people in the world: lambs, lions and wolves. (sound familiar?) It was slightly different than the tale we gunnies know but the girls understood nonetheless - the bad guys want a victim, so don't act like one.
I watched their faces as they realized that they had the power to do this - to fight when needed, to resist when necessary, and to survive at all costs. Years from now, with daughters of their own, they'll be able to get up off that bench.