Self Defense & Your Mind

By Julia Chung

“The best self-defense weapon? Your mind,” says Grayce Liu who stands there, confident, and assertive. Liu, who is a Krav Maga instructor and a nonviolent-communicator, community leader, certainly invokes a sense of self-awareness and confidence amongst the audience. As she spoke, her physical stance is the embodiment of assertiveness. The straggly audience made up of young and old, first generation NATWA members as well as second-generation, slouched in their post lunch coma. However, upon conclusion of Liu’s self-defense seminar, audience members sat up straighter, drawing themselves up. There was excitement about the room, and energy. Women were ready to take charge! Self-defense is first about knowing yourself, secondly, your emotional and mental state of mind, and lastly, a physical response to react when there is a provocative stimulus from the outside.

“Self-defense is about knowing yourself,” says Liu. And to a certain extent, being self-aware is a big part of using your mind to facilitate and understand what is around you. There is gut instinct and intuition that may contribute to whether a sense of danger is around you. There is also knowing where you are at all times. And determining your sense of surroundings should be a natural practice. This is not to say we should be paranoid, but rather, this awareness will help in quick situations should a threat appear.
Another important part of self-defense is deciding to be assertive. There is a gradient of confidence: whether to be passive, assertive or aggressive. There are several gender and cultural implications to learning this, being Taiwanese-American/Canadian, and being a woman. When a stranger approaches us, it is easy to be passive based on our gender and cultural background, and what society tells us what is the norm. However, being assertive without being aggressive, that is, standing up for your rights without compromising others’ rights, is an important concept we Taiwanese women should try to grasp.

Lastly, self-defense is physical. Physical because we are defending ourselves physically by a potential perpetrator. This part of the seminar was very hands-on and we learned various techniques from Liu’s Krav Maga background on how to do so. There was the hair pull release, choke hold release, groin grab, and the wrist break. It was very active and exciting.

The seminar was really great to instill confidence in the women who attended. I personally felt like I was able to prevent myself from a potential threat. I feel confident that I can now maintain my assertiveness while still being polite thanks to this seminar. Thus, when a potential threat arises, we will be able to use our brains to overcome danger.

*Photo credits: Shu Jon Mao


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