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Lifelong Trauma: Lesson from Self-Defence

As a self-defence instructor, I witness resilience every day. People from all walks of life walk into my classes, some apprehensive, some eager, all united by a desire to feel safer. But sometimes, a single story can hold the weight of a thousand lessons. 

Here is the story of Sarah (name changed for privacy). Sarah was young, barely a teenager when a friend assaulted her at a party. It was a textbook case of betrayal – a moment of vulnerability used against her. Years later, she arrived at my workshop at the corporation she worked for, her eyes shadowed by a trauma she hadn't quite named. 

Self-Defence Workshop
Self-Defence Workshop Group

We practised escapes from various holds, and after the workshop, Sarah asked me what we could do if someone put us down, sat on top and pinned our hands to the ground. 

It was the same scenario – someone pinning her down. Before we could talk through it, the raw pain in her voice as she recounted her assault was heavy in the air. 

I invited Jasnoor, who accompanied me to the workshop, without telling her about the exact situation. I requested that she lie down, and I sat on her, pinning her hands down. I checked with Sarah. Is that the same situation? She confirmed in affirmation. 

Re- Enacting the Situation
Re- Enacting the Situation

There's a misconception that self-defence is about overpowering an attacker. In reality, it's about creating an opportunity to escape. 

I asked Jasnoor to escape this situation without giving her any clue. She hardly took a few seconds to reverse her position and escape.


It was a simple technique, one that relied on leverage and surprise. 

Sarah's tears came unexpectedly, silently rolling down Sarah's face. It wasn't the pain of the exercise but the realization. All those years, she'd carried the burden of feeling helpless. At that moment, she understood – escape was possible. 

That day, self-defence wasn't just about physical techniques. It was about reclaiming a sense of agency, a whisper of "what if" that turned into a roar of "I can." 

Sarah's story is a stark reminder that trauma can linger, shaping our perception of safety. But it's also a testament to the human spirit's ability to heal and the power of knowledge. Self-defence isn't about revenge; it's about empowerment. It's about knowing that even in fear, we have the strength to fight back, create an opening, and escape. 

We all have the potential for that strength. If you're carrying a burden of past trauma, know this: You are not alone. Self-defence can be a part of your healing journey. Take a class, learn the techniques, and discover the power you hold within. 



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