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Empowering Women Through Martial Arts

In my first marriage, I lived adjacent to a neighborhood that had a pretty high crime rate, but not actually in that city so I mostly felt safe going about. I remember being surprised when my ex wife told me she didn’t feel comfortable going to the gas station by herself. It wasn’t until I had considered this that I realized that while I’m a former Marine with a lifetime of martial arts training, that she was not, and she had legitimate concerns.

Years later, I started teaching Women’s self defense courses and for the first time I was seeing women triggered as a trauma response and had to learn to teach in a new way. Not only that, but when I was advertising it, I was surprised by how many women started sharing their own personal trauma experiences in domestic violence and sexual assault with me.

One such girl who I had been friends with for a while told me a story of how when she was 16 she didn’t want to have sex with her boyfriend, so he had two of his friends hold her down while he hit her with a baseball bat. I realized that till that point I was pretty naive. While her case was extreme, it wasn’t uncommon, and all of a sudden I was discovering that many of the women I was friends with had similar experiences.

Currently in America, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men report severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. This is just the reported cases. There is a direct correlation between higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior.

Even women who don’t experience trauma often lack confidence in the workplace, family, and interpersonal relationships due to lack of inclusiveness, poor sense of security, verbal and nonverbal cues of inferiority, or lack of opportunities.

Now, I consider my daughter who is 11 and beginning to become a young woman. I don’t want her to ever have to worry about feeling like a victim. I want her to have the confidence in life to find success, so that she can have happiness. I want her to know that she is deserving of respect. I believe martial arts can be a tool to help with these goals.

Martial Arts offers empowerment, because it is self empowerment. I cannot give you the ability to become empowered, but rather offer a platform that will allow you to strengthen yourself and discover your own inner fortitude and confidence. In our program we provide the skills that allow you to overcome threats, and as you gain in knowledge, you can experience and overcome increasing levels of hardship. This is your journey and you are the one who gives yourself the empowerment you deserve.

Empowerment earned in this way gives confidence and this translates to all parts of your life. Someone speaking down to you no longer encounters a meek personality but a strong confident woman. It’s hard for someone to condescend to you when you know you can kick their butt. Not only this, but in training, you will find equality and equal opportunity to grow and develop. There is no limitations from others, only yourself, and they can be overcome.

One of the great things about martial arts is that the students experience each other’s lives through community. This raises consciousness on the topic of empowerment and builds relationships that are supportive of strength and growth. Within this inclusive group offers opportunities for leadership experience that women are often denied, and which bleed into other areas of their lives. Through the training itself you gain sense of security and peace of mind.

You inspire others and become inspired. This fundamentally changes one’s bearing and demeanor.

As a father and husband, I wish only for the women in my life to become self empowered and it is my hope to share this with other women so that they may feel the benefits of self empowerment.

Greg Koval

Devil Dog Martial Arts

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