The hero can knock down a hundred men simultaneously but the heroine always lingers in the shadow of the hero even when she is an athlete! Such is the depiction of women in Indian cinemas in general. Culturally, we seem to have sown the seeds of incapability in women and many of us even support the notion that women are the weaker sex and need someone to rescue them. We feel that we have advanced as a society but still women are advised to carry chili powder packets to escape from an intruder in case of emergency, use gadgets to send SOS signals to family and friends to come to their rescue or use a spray to get off the ghastly situation. Never have we encouraged our girl children and young ladies to enroll themselves in karate or Taekwondo classes to learn self-defense! These have always been set aside for boys while girls are forced into singing, dancing or arts. Exercise is generally good for all offering various benefits in the form of improved physical fitness, strength and flexibility. Walking benefits overall body health, jogging increases life expectancy and yoga keeps you at peace. But it is not known to many that beyond benefitting physical and mental health martial arts can boost your brain’s cognition too.
Marketing industry has commercialized safety products too advertising useless products that are designed with the only aspect of minting money by counting on a woman’s fears and manipulating her chances of assault. Women empowerment doesn’t reach a solution by simply providing our ladies with certain tools to deter an assault but also by removing the fears residing inside them altogether which these marketing people use as a base for producing commercial products. The time, money and attention in turn must be invested in self-defense classes for our women citizens. Rather, a woman’s basic self-defense tactic is defined to be blaming. We want the men in this world to change, become better humans, stop raping, assault and violence but sadly, not any of the attackers even consider what women think.
Fighting and attacking have never been a woman’s forte but now, growing evidence suggests that self-defense training can help women avoid and overcome the threats of sexual violence as it provides them with complete control of their safety (https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2019/09/can-self-defense-classes-ease-rape-survivors-trauma/598237/). At the same time, we do have another body of research analysing whether the same self-defense training can benefit sexual assault survivors who get into depression and other traumatic side effect. While we don’t have many evidences backing this theory results seem to be supportive of this fact and the answer would be a definite ‘yes’ in the long run.
According to researchers there are two ways to improve attention-through attention training (AT) and attention state training (AST). AT helps in practising a specific skill and mastering the skill through repeated practise. AST is all about entering into a specific state of mind that allows for a stronger focus which is possible only with the help of exercise, yoga, meditation and other such things. Martial arts is also one form of AST and research shows that any form of martial arts including karate is associated with better performance on a divided attention task. A study in US on kids aged 8-11 years training in martial arts as a part of an anti-bullying programme found that practising this arts form reduced aggressiveness in boys and they were even inclined to interfere and help when someone was bullied. Girls did not show much changes as their aggressiveness was not on par with the boys. The results were similar when it included adolescents too in the study.
Even older adults training in karate displayed lower levels of depression and higher levels of self-esteem.
Apart from strength training and cardio it is time now that we include self-defense classes too as part of our regular workout schedules to benefit both the mind and the body. Its time to encourage women and remind them of the fact that they are no lesser than men. Until we don’t do this it is an indication that we are accepting our women to be damsels in distress waiting for the prince to come and rescue them which might never happen except in fantasy. And, by doing this we are creating a solid ground for the assaulters to take advantage of our precious gems in life.
Self-defense for Women is no Gimmick: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/self-defense-for-women-is-no-gimmick/2018/02/02/a5f9d360-0605-11e8-aa61-f3391373867e_story.html
Martial Arts Offers Brain-boosting Benefits for All Ages, Research Finds: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/healthy-living/martial-arts-physical-mental-benefits-health-exercise-tai-chi-karate-a8342756.html
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.