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DWC: An idea for a class

June 9, 2008

In which I jot down for later an idea about a non-martial martial art class—maybe a pacifist arts class? —to help people learn how to act authentically in the middle of physical conflict.

Today instead of doing the myriad things I ought to have been doing, I had an inspiration for a class I might want to teach (and for which I would probably want a co-teacher). Since I haven’t blogged yet today, I’m jotting it down here.

The purpose of the class is to teach embodied self-confidence in the face of physical danger, that’s not dependent on a certain set of assumptions about how you’re going to handle it (i.e. fight your way out of it). The intended audience is college age women, trans and genderqueer people, queers of all stripes, people with disabilities, and people in transition in various ways that make them more likely to need to inhabit their bodies more confidently (i.e. recovering from injury, new mothers, leaving home for the first time, leaving an abusive relationship, etc). An underlying assumption is that the audience will also be people who don’t have exposure to or interest in conventional martial arts, self defense, or sport.

At the end of the class, the intention is for students to have the ability to create action plans for dealing with confrontations that suit their needs, abilities, and values, and that follow from a realistic assessment of their abilities and risks. They will practice those action plans until they are fluid and rapid, and they will anchor a state of freedom-from-fear (not the same as being fearless or without fear; it means free from being controlled by fear) so that they can trigger it instead of panic. They will also be able to adjust their barriers and boundaries so that they can recover emotionally from a confrontation and proceed with their day.

This seems to me like a set of much more needed skills than leaping high in the air or swinging a sword around, or even necessarily knowing how to deflect a blow or escape a hold (although we’ll teach some of that for those who want to learn it; I won’t assume that everyone does, or will be able to).

Interestingly, I haven’t engaged in martial art practice or play in at least two years, and even then not much; I wonder why all this is coming up now. It feels really right, and like something I should absolutely work on. This is just the class I would have wanted to take myself when I was foolish and paranoid and toting a knife around for no good reason.

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