Thoughts on Self-Defense

June 11, 2010 at 3:24 pm Leave a comment

On Thursday, June 24, from 6:00 – 8:00 Sarah Wolf of DC Self-Defense Karate Association will come to ECNV and present a two hour self-defense class geared specifically to people with disabilities. I strongly recommend that anyone who is interested in learning how better to protect themselves attend the class.  I took my first class many years ago, and it changed how I looked at myself and my place in the world.

I vividly remember the ads I saw as a child for a local karate school. I watched them with a mixture of envy, sadness, and awe. Because I have a physical disability, I never thought that I could do the sorts of things I watched the smiling children do in the advertisements. I never wondered about adaptive classes or anything like that; I simply decided that those kinds of things were for other people, the people who weren’t like me.

Many years later, I’d learned a bit more about taking care of my body and discovered I love to exercise, but I still never thought that I could do anything like learn martial arts. One day as I was walking to my classes in graduate school, I noticed a flyer for a self-defense workshop taught by an instructor from DC Self-Defense Karate Association. I was intrigued. I remembered my desires as a youth to learn to find power and confidence in my body. I felt I had learned to do some of that, and I wondered if I could do more.

It also made me wonder: what would I do if I was ever attacked in some way? I had basically decided to simply hope and pray no one ever did anything like that. Although I’d become a lot stronger, I still felt I was no match for an able-bodied person who felt determined to hurt me. I realized, thinking about that flyer, that I wasn’t comfortable with the idea that I was only safe as long as certain other people ignored me. I wanted to learn what the training promised it provided: confidence in my body and spirit. Surely, even if I’d never be the most physically graceful human being on Earth, I could learn that. Nervous, I called the number and explained that I have a disability and asked if it was possible for me to take the class.

When she explained that the class was for everyone and that she could adapt some of the moves so that I’d be able to do them, I felt relieved, and very excited. When I attended the first class and found that the instructor wasn’t the model-bodybuilder I expected, but rather a regular person who’d clearly learned to do impressive and powerful things with her body and through simple confidence, I felt elated.

The class taught me that there was no reason for me to believe that I couldn’t learn to protect myself and move through the world with confidence. I won’t say that I learned that “I can do anything;” I don’t expect to be winning any foot races any time soon! But I learned that I had only believed that I couldn’t protect myself because I’d bought into the idea that my disability made me less than other people, and I realized very quickly that I had no reason to believe that.

I went on to take tae kwon do with them for several years. I no longer do, but I feel that the lessons I learned are invaluable to me. I learned that if I move through the world with confidence that means a lot not only for my safety, but also for my well-being.

Contact Alexa Mavroidis at 703-525-3268 or

By Alexa Mavroidis, ECNV Peer Mentor


Entry filed under: Event/Meeting, Health. Tags: , .

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