Why attend an 8 week self defense course?

We asked one of Sifu Leo’s tai chi students, about why she wants to do a self defense course with Leo, and the reasoning behind asking for an 8 week course.

Here are her answers:

Q: Why have you asked Sifu Leo to offer this type of Self Defense course?

A: Unfortunately, I too have experienced crime and unwanted attention from men (#metoo).  Recently I got to a point where I said enough! and then spoke with Leo.

Enough because I was reminded of the Jennifer Lopez movie “Enough” where she hired a trainer to help her prepare to defend herself.  What struck me in the scene was the intensity of her training, so that the self defense moves became instinctive to her.

The incident that lead to me recalling this, was when I was chatting recently to the store owner of one of my favourites shops, with another friend, and all of a sudden this stranger came up from behind me and put his arm around me, made some crude comment, and then walked off.   My friend and the gentleman I was talking to looked as shocked as I felt.

It was only a few minutes later that I remembered that my Sifu Leo had shown us a move in one of our tai chi classes, which would have been the perfect self defense move for this situation.  But I could not recall it at the time- not even after the incident.  The move, if it had been in my muscle memory, would have been appropriate for the situation, and I could have then told him that what he did and said was not ok.

Instead, I was left feeling vulnerable and powerless to another predator.

Q: What do you mean by “in your muscle memory”? What about this being instinctive is important?

A: The more we practice something (whether it be a physical move – like the perfect golf swing or self defense technique- or a certain mindset or attitude), the more it becomes our way of being.

Our muscles learn that movement, and so it comes more easily to us when we need to perform that movement.  The same can be for self defense moves.  I have attended a few self defense classes over the years, mostly 2 or 4 hours in length, in a once-off format.  Yet there are very few moves which I can now, years later, recall how to do.  And I wonder if in the moment of stress, if I would recall them with enough clarity to defend myself.

When learning, we go through four stages:

  • First, we are unconscious that we don’t know, what they call “unconsciously incompetent”.
  • Then we become aware of what we don’t know, we become “consciously incompetent”, and this is what often prompts us to seek out to learn something- if it is a priority to us.
  • As we practice and learn, so we can reach the next stage, which is where we are “consciously competent.”
  • And for sustainability, we aim to make this learning instinctive. We want it to be a muscle memory, where we are now “unconsciously competent”.

This is how we reach towards mastery of a skill.

So what I would like to learn now, is to have a few moves that I am unconsciously competent at, so that I can feel more empowered, and stronger, and know that should I ever need it, I can and will defend myself better and escape a threatening situation.  Because let’s face it, in today’s world and especially in my country South Africa, crime is way too rampant.  I want to more prepared to protect myself.

Q: Why Sifu Leo?

A: From speaking to Leo about this, he is willing to teach me – and others who want to learn with me – some of the techniques to protect ourselves, and in a way that we develop the muscle memory of them, so that they become our instinctual responses when under stress.

From having taught these techniques for many decades, and from his thorough immersion in martial arts (spanning over 40 years), I know that he is not only unconsciously competent in the techniques, but is also aware of how to teach them by breaking them down into steps, and taking us through the drills needed to learn them properly, to develop the muscle memory and have them as lifelong skills.

Leo also has a gentle and caring disposition, and from my experience in his tai chi classes over the last few years, I know that he can also push his students when needed (in his compassionate way) to help them grasp the ideas, stretch themselves, and learn what they want to gain from the practice of martial arts.

And importantly, I feel safe in his classes so that I am in a better state for learning, and feel safe to ask questions when I need to.

Q: Anything else to add?

A: My hope is that other women will join me in this course, so that we can become stronger together, not only in our ability to defend ourselves and escape harm, but that we then also take that and grow our inner strength to speak up more for ourselves, and for what is right and good in our worlds.


8 Week Self Defense Course for WomenFor information and dates of the next 8 Week Self Defense Course for Women in Johannesburg, see this Events Page here.

Contact your Self Defense Instructor Leo on 0833780468 for any questions you have about this course, and if you want to speak to this student about this course to decide if it is the right option for you.