Self-Defense: An Empowering Gift

Karate instructor Sarah Wolf discusses ways to verbally avoid physical conflicts and how to fight back when other options fail.

Recently, Street Sense joined forces again with Senior Karate Instructor Sarah Wolf of D.C. Self Defense Karate Association for a Women of Street Sense (WSS) Self-Defense Workshop. The latest event followed up on a self–defense Workshop back in September. Wolf has helped educate and empower the women against possible harmful and life-threatening situations.

The recent workshop was a continuation of verbal strategies with the addition of low-force physical techniques to evade confrontation, sexual assault and abduction. Vendors Gwynette Smith, Sybil Taylor, and Jacqueline Turner showed off their skills in self-defense exercises. They reviewed verbal techniques to avoid physical conflict. When words failed, Smith, Taylor, and Turner put on their fighting shoes to reinforce that the words “no thank you” mean “NO” and nothing more.

In some situations aggressors don’t seem to respect verbal or body language indicators that you disapprove of their harassment and just want them to back off. So, when words can’t reach an aggressor, one must make the choice to exercise low-force self-defense skills in order to flee possible harmful situation, get to safety and reach out for help.

With the help of Wolf, WSS effectively got this message across to participants of the workshop.

Wolf’s greatest advice for women is to avoid physical confrontations by verbal and mental tactics, because by doing so an individual can gain control of a hostile situation. Her whole strategy is to defuse a potentially aggressive situation before it escalates. Participants of the workshop were encouraged to become more aware of their environment, avoid compromising conditions, and exercise body language and voice tones for de-escalation.

Wolf pointed out when verbal and mental strategies fail, low-force physical methods can be used to avoid dangerous circumstances. Most importantly, Wolf showed the women the safest and most practical way to hit and fight back in the event of an attack. Women are still advised

to use low-force measures in order to escape dangerous situations instead by combating the assailant. Wolf’s final piece of advice was, “In life-threatening situations, an individuals’ greatest line of defense is following their instincts.”

About the Teacher:

Sarah Wolf

Sarah Wolf has been teaching karate and self-defense since 1993 under Sensei Carol Middleton. She started her training after taking a self-defense class after moving to Washington, D.C., from college. She says, “I took the self-defense class because I thought it would be important to learn having just moved to the city. I continued my training because I was very inspired by the karate students I met.” She now is a full-time instructor at the D.C. Self Defense Karate Association. She said, “It had not occurred to me that I do have the skills and the power to keep myself safe. With my martial arts training I feel more calm, centered and strong. What I love about teaching martial arts and self-defense is that it is all about empowering people by giving them more knowledge and skills. When we have information we can make better choices for ourselves.

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