Lady Savior – Krav Maga As A Treatment
by Theresa Wever
My name is Theresa and I have been teaching self-defense in Holland for over 3 years, at a specialized clinic for people diagnosed with PTSD/PTSS (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/ Syndrome).
I have also been teaching Krav-Maga in a Women’s shelter in Haifa, Israel, in the past 2 years. I have been able to do this, during my stay in Israel, for the PGE Master Camps in Israel. This is something I was very eager to do for a long time. Teaching Krav-Maga is challenging as it is, but there is a significant difficulty in teaching it to people who have already had the experience where they were not able to defend themselves (sufficiently).
One of the problems here is the logic behind the “guilt concept”. Meaning that people dealing with PTSD/PTSS will most likely ask themselves: “would it have been possible for me to defend myself at that time?” If the answer is yes, logic seems to demand that in that case they are to be blamed for the misery inflicted on them.
In the first few minutes of the lesson, most of them are very skeptical. I found that the best way to connect with them is join them in their skepticism; “Let’s see if Krav-Maga is really as awesome as they say it is”. This way, I team up with them, instead of pretending to be the one with answers. I don’t do this by talking. It’s something in my body language, a non-verbal communication. Another principal that’s very important to me is respect. I sincerely respect them for having the courage to join the class. This is genuine respect and not just a nice thing to say.
In return I expect them to respect me.
During my classes, I make sure I have suitable exercises for the variety of students and their physical and emotional state. The techniques I teach are broken into real basic movements, which anyone can apply. Once all the movements are mastered, I put them together and show the students that they’ve done it – they’ve learned the technique!
As the class advances, the students are more cooperative but there is still some skepticism. This is where I use one of the principals I mentioned earlier – the “join them” approach.
Since I joined them, they are not actually challenging me but together we are challenging the system. This is also very helpful for the ones that are reluctant to ask questions; they don’t have to be afraid I will be offended. If needed, I tell them that I don’t know everything but I do know the best instructors and that these instructors are very willing to help and find solutions. This is of course also underlining that Krav-Maga is not something I make up, but a real system tested by professionals much more skilled then I am. This makes the lesson fun and sort of playtime, inventing problems and creating solutions.
It is highly important for me to show my students that they each have great instincts and intuition, which they could learn to use much more efficiently. That way, their intuition will warn them long before the first sign of attack occurs. It’s important they realize they have intuition and know how to use it to their benefit. I show them that their body is aware of things their consciousness is not.
In conclusion, this is what I have learned so far from teaching self-defence to really “tough cookies”. “Tough cookies” being people that were convinced they were victims and always will be victims. The results of the classes are amazing, although technically speaking, they’re beginner level. What they gain is the restored belief in themselves – that they can do it.
I honestly believe that every instructor can do this. You just have to be humble and judgemental free .