Regarding shame/helplessness management, it’s one of the single-most important things we can do to help people in the self-defense industry. Yet we have a built-in victim-shaming element in MA/SD that goes hand-in-hand with physical-only approaches. “You failed previously and that’s on you, but with these krav maga classes…” such utter bullshit. (And this is not at all limited to women, men are shamed and blamed just as much as there’s a standard or code they’re expected to live-up to and vulnerability is weakness)

Whatever happened to reaffirming victim’s choices that brought them to you today? Or building their self-confidence by confirming they must have done something RIGHT to get to this point?! That the best thing we can do is use victim-scenarios (Youtube/CCTV videos, first-hand accounts, unbiased and honest anecdotes, documented professional reports) is to learn and analyze for future safety-scenarios instead of victim-accusing/judging/mocking?!

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I don’t recall ever online or in-private where I’ve critiqued a victim and their choices. I simply do not have all the information, do not walk in their shoes, do not know the full-context of the scenario, and do not know the victim and their circumstances/state-of-mind/past experience(s) enough to pass judgment. Adrenaline, fear, stress, anxiety, tension, aggression, conflict…..are funny things that affect everyone differently at different times and in different circumstances. We, even as instructors, learn. Deduct. Analyze. Assess. Comprehend. Discuss. Build consensus. It is the best we can do and the absolute least biased way we can help students learn for their own benefit. Their life is different than ours. As our their threats and dangers and risks they face day-to-day. In their environments and cultures. And routines and patterns.

Shame, helplessness, trauma, emotional damage, mental problems, future fear (whether unfounded or not) are all huge elements for victims that impair their perception. Yet so many constantly fail to address this and jump right to what they can do for their newfound clients….not what their client actually needs in their own circumstance. “Listening” is a thing that’s greatly lacking in the self-defense world. Empathy, too. So are reaffirmation and acknowledgement. We’re so often too busy listening to the sound of our own voices, spewing our own violence credentials, telling students what they’ve previously done wrong instead of what they did right (and build off of that aspect)

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It’s one of a number of reasons I’ve been lessening my online presence as I’ve long grown tired of the victim-blaming that goes on for real-life violence videos and news articles. We always know better and have never dropped the ball ourselves – we’re martial instructors, after all. I, personally, learn from absolutely everywhere I can, especially victims who are willing to share. (And their version is often much more accurate, humble, and honest than the guy who pounded 6 attackers with aplomb, anyway, if we’re being blunt….I glean much more from the former than the latter) We can quite simply learn a ton from them, usually far more than the weekend tough-guy who’s been in 150 bar-fights over the last 10 years. (who can’t seem to stay out of trouble, for some reason…) Criminals are, after all, looking for victims and EVERY single one of us is vulnerable at times..distracted, frazzled, picked-on, targeted, inattentive. All of us. None having escaped. We have ALL been a victim of some aggressive or conflictive scenarios at some point in our lives. I have. Nobody is EVER “switched-on” all the time, 24/7, ready and jacked. Nobody. (Remember, hyper-vigilance is bad. Negative. A burden to your health, well-being, and longevity)

We have all been victimized, bullied, verbally-berated, put in our place, taken-advantage of, punched in the face, gas-lighted, or intimidated. If being honest, most of us have likely experienced ALL of the above, whether admitting to it or not. SO, let’s stop victim-blaming and -shaming….it’s unbecoming in an industry that’s become much more known for ego, testosterone, projection, Neanderthalism, subjectivity, and entitlement than anything else in the public-eye. (I ask around) Time for a paradigm-shift. Or 3.

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