Answering Questions About Self Defense

A new podcast

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Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Ten years ago, I developed a self defense program based on my martial arts training and my experience as a violent crime survivor. Drawing on my physical reactions during my personal event, my focus was to develop a program based on how the body actually responds in self defense situations, and incorporate techniques that are similar to everyday movements rather than learning something complicated, foreign and new (that you might not even remember how to do, should you ever need it).

The idea was to build on the muscle memory we already have, rather than create something out of scratch, and tweak those everyday movements to apply to self defense situations. Like most women, I hadn’t learned any self defense or martial arts before I was attacked, so I also wanted to structure a program that addressed the reasons women typically don’t take self defense classes in the first place: the cost, the reluctance to face fears, and the subconscious belief (that society encourages) that tells us self defense doesn’t really work anyway.

I wanted to deconstruct what we traditionally think of self defense, and build something new, inclusive and that anyone could do… and have fun learning it. After using my 65-year old unathletic mom and her friends as a test group, I launched Pretty Deadly Self Defense as a series of workshops and courses that I’ve led in the cities where I’ve lived: Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris and Berlin.

Women’s self defense has been typically marketed mainly to middle-class cis white women; as the Pretty Deadly Self Defense program proved itself over time, our concerns expanded to include making self defense accessible to people who normally don’t feel welcome in traditional self defense classes: people of color, non-binary people, people of different religious backgrounds, working class people, sex workers, and people in rural areas who geographically don’t have access to self defense classes.

Ten years later, and Pretty Deadly Self Defense is celebrating a decade of helping people connect with the power they already have inside themselves, discover tools they can take with them anywhere, and learn how to trust their own bodies and innate self defense systems. It’s been a powerful, rewarding journey, and I’m excited to see how the program continues to grow and empower.

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Photo by Hannah Kugel for Pretty Deadly Self Defense

ut over the course of the past ten years, I’ve also been asked A LOT of questions — usually the same kinds of questions — about self defense. So I got together with my friend Kate Leismer, who writes as Wayward Betty and produces the About Face podcast. Kate has never taken any self defense or martial arts classes, so I asked her to ask me all the questions she’s ever had about self defense to create a comprehensive FAQ.

In doing research, Kate discovered that there are actually no podcasts by women dedicated to women’s self defense. So we made a podcast out of our FAQs, and I want to share it with you. We recorded 20 episodes in all, and they’re each about 15 minutes long.

Here’s our first episode:

If you like it, please give us a clap here on Medium and help more people find it. And if you really love it, please subscribe to our channel on Soundcloud, Spotify, aCast and Deezer (just search for Pretty Deadly Podcast and look for the flame icon) so you don’t miss any future episodes.

Written by

Producer and host of the bi-monthly podcast, Artipoeus: Art You Can Hear, and founder of Pretty Deadly Self Defense. /

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