Judo is one of the most effective forms of self-defence, specifically for women.
Let’s take the worst case scenario. In most cases, a predatory man who attacks a woman on the street will grab her. At that proximity, striking-based martial arts lose their effectiveness (they require distance and freedom of movement to kick or punch an attacker).
On the other hand – judo is based upon principles of holding an opponent, identifying balance and being able to use this physical awareness to gain advantage.
So in a situation where the priority is to escape safely, the key benefits of having a judo-based skillset include:
- Mentally, you are familiar with close contact, reducing the chance that you “freeze up” from the shock of it. This increases your ability to respond more effectively – whether it be to yell for help or fight back.
- Physically, your muscle memory has an awareness of how to handle yourself in close contact situations. Not just from having increased strength and fitness from training, but an intrinsic understanding of your own balance, their points of balance and overall physical awareness. Altogether, this means that you are better equipped to instinctively move towards positions for your advantage toward control and/or escape.
- Standing, falling or on the ground, you have practiced and are comfortable in all of these positions.
- De-escalation happens by default in being able to “grapple”, control or hold your opponent at a distance long enough to keep you safe (on the other hand, striking may escalate the situation, increasing your risk of physical harm).
It is never guaranteed, even with self-defence training, that you will effectively fight off an attacker. Oftentimes, a male will still hold the physical strength advantage. You do, however, increase your chances of responding well and escaping safely in such a situation.
Keep in mind that all of the above is “a worse case scenario”.
On the lighter side, there is friendship and community to be found by joining a local judo club. The level of mutual respect amongst women who are willing to challenge themselves through this sport and martial art of judo is a bond earned through showing up and giving it a go.
P.S. While it is my belief that judo provides the most effective martial art self-defence basis for a woman – something is better than nothing. If you do not have access to a judo class within your area, but there is some other form of martial art available, then go and do it.
Written by Melissa Budiarto