A monthly newsletter for students and friends of  Kicks Martial Arts for Women
Inside this issue:

Uncovering internet hoaxes

Tell us what you think

Cool Link of the Month

Located at the Heiter Community Center • 100 North Fifth Street •  Lewisburg, PA 17837
September 2003

Taking the Advice of Experts...

How accurate are e-mail tips for women on staying safe

CardioKicks! Fitness Tip of the Month

Gotta do the weight training for
much, much improved cardio work

by Laura Kamienski

Several versions of a mass e-mail containing “self-defense tips and advice” have been floating around for a few years now.  As a professional women's self defense instructor I've gotten an increasing number of them, as well as ones about specific hoaxes such as, dangers to women from abductions at malls, perfume samples that are really knock-out drugs, new date rape drugs that also make women sterile, and so on. When I work with groups I have to spend more time debunking this sort of alarmist (mis)information. The types scary stories found in these lists of "tips" are everywhere and seem to be increasing.  They address a fear women share and the effects this fear has on our lives.

Is the ubiquitous mediated image of psychotic strangers jumping out from nowhere reality? Sometimes yes, like the brutal assault of an elderly woman in the Lewisburg cemetery some time ago.  Such assaults are horrific! - but they are uncommon. The reason you hear so much about them is that the media capitalizes on sensational stories. More commonly stranger attacks begin with testing behaviors. For example, Ted Bundy faked injuries and asked for help. Jack the Ripper approached prostitutes posing as a customer. The Boston Strangler finessed his way into victims' homes. With this in mind the question must be asked what sort of self-defense skills would most effectively thwart violence?

It follows that a clear picture of the kinds of assaults that happen and how they happen is where we need to begin. To develop effective safety strategies we must search beyond statistics. Who is raping? What kinds of relationships do victims have with assailants? What kinds of exchanges precede physical violence? Where do assaults happen?  What sorts of defenses have been successful?  Answering these questions results in better decisions about safety and less unwarranted fear.

The mass e-mails in question invariably ignore is the fact that women are much more likely to be attacked by someone they know, and even love, than by a stranger. When stranger attacks to happen they are rarely “jump and grab” scenarios (though these do happen, they are overwhelmed by the other situations that get much less attention from media or self-defense teachers). A woman's own home is a much more common location for violence than a parking lot or a dark alley.

Studies show that women who have successfully defended themselves invariably used a combination of physical, verbal and psychological strategies. Women might consider enrolling in a self-defense course, but should ask questions first. Does the course only offer skills to defend against "jumpers" or does it also explore emotional dynamics often involved in relationships between victim and assailant? Does it offer opportunities for role-play and activities to develop skills to defend against all phases of assault? Do instructors have necessary training to relate to survivors?

While there are some bits of useful self-defense strategy scattered throughout these otherwise insulting and inaccurate lists such as, increasing awareness and using confident posture, these sorts of  "STOP", "DON'T," "ALWAYS" and "NEVER" commands serve primarily to strengthen myths and perpetuate a system of victim blaming and survivor self-blame. They imply that women are incompetent and incapable of making good decisions. They tell us that if we follow the rules — stay home, travel in packs, dress accordingly — we'll stay safe and if we don't we're an easy target and when we're attacked it's because we didn't do what we "should" have done. They either don't address, or only make mention of, violence against women as it most commonly occurs. They offer little or no advice and training in developing self-defense strategies against verbal, psychological and physical intrusions that almost always precede open aggression (including during the majority of stranger assaults).

While creating Empower! Self-defense for Women I took care to account for the reality of violence against women as it most commonly happens. While Empower! includes learning physical and awareness skills, we also focus on learning skills to defend against psychological and emotional manipulation and intimidation. We include skill-building activities designed to help students recognize and defend against the intrusions leading up to physical assault. We talk about how traditional gender roles encourage women being thought of, by both sexes, as easily targeted victims. We explore the emotional dynamics involved in the personal relationships between victim and assailant.

Uncovering Hoaxes, Misinformation and Urban Legends

Check out www.snopes.com . It is a great resource for verifying information in suspicious e-mail such as the hoaxes mentioned above as well as e-mail viruses and urban legends. If you receive and e-mail containing questionable information, you might want to check it out before forwarding to others.

  • For more information on women's self-defense, click here.
  • For more on choosing a self-defense course, click here.
  • For more information on Empower! Self-defense for Women, click here.

No means No!

"No" means no!


Resistance / weight training is an extremely important part of any complete fitness program. Some women worry that they will "bulk up" so they avoid weight bearing exercises. But the truth is that most women don't have the levels of testosterone necessary to develop large muscles. But big, beefy muscles aren't the only benefits of strength training.

Weight-bearing exercise helps develop bone mass, making it a good way to help prevent or delay osteoporosis. (The sooner you start before menopause, the better.) What's more, muscle burns about 45 more calories per pound per day than fat tissue.  Resistance training also strengthens tendons and ligaments which will help keep your body safe during cardio training.

So for best results add a resistance training regiment to your fitness program. And remember to "make every repetition better than the last one."

Upcoming Events

  • The next rank test will be held on October 4th at 2:00 PM
  • The next twelve-hour  Empower! Self-Defense for Women level one course is scheduled for September 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th from 2:00 PM through 5:00 PM. Space is limited. Contact Kicks for details, and to reserve a place in the class.

Cool Link of the Month:

Where is the outrage?
Read on and allow the stories on this site to increase your awareness of sexual violence, its prevalence, and its horrifying reality.
Let them fuel your outrage.
And then turn your outrage into action to
stop sexual violence!

Since its creation in 1975, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) has been at the forefront of the anti-sexual violence movement. PCAR has utilized its voice to advance the rights of countless victims and to affect critical change through its active role in public policy, education, and prevention.

stop sexual violence


Discover your power.

Twelve hour course: September 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th

Call 523-7777 for more information or to register.

We'd love to hear from you!
Please send us your comments, feedback and suggestions.

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