Gods&Radicals—A Site of Beautiful Resistance.

Reclaiming Ourselves: The Importance of Self Defence

Well you best get back out there and hit them back then.

I wonder how many working class kids have heard that at least once in their lives. I know I certainly did growing up. If we dared go inside crying because someone was going to hit us, or bully us, this was the standard response.

Nowadays we may gasp, shocked that we would tell our children to go out there and fight back, and that’s a pity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating childhood violence, far from it, but being taught to fight back from a young age, to not take anybody else’s shit, to stand up for yourself is a vital life skill.

And besides, this article is about self defence, which can take on many forms besides physical violence. However, as that is where the mind naturally goes when we think about self defence, that is where we shall start…

Self Defence - Physical Violence

I’m a fighter as regular readers might know, having had numerous kickboxing and boxing matches. I haven’t been as active as I might like the last couple of years, but I adore the physical act of fighting. There’s something so exhilarating about it and unless you’ve experienced it for yourself, it’s difficult to understand. However as much as I enjoy the fighting aspect of martial arts (the hours of practise, the hard work, the sheer guts and the feeling you get when it pays off and you win), I first started training for self defence. Yes, it helped me get out and about when the kids were little, and I’ve met good friends because of it, but I could have gone to any exercise class and got that. It was definitely the self defence aspect that drew me.

Now, people tend to shy away from physical violence. It is seen as repulsive and barbaric and I am in no way suggesting we go about brawling all over the place, but I do not see anything wrong in physically defending yourself.

Indeed it is a must when under attack.

And learning self defence techniques is a good way of learning to protect yourself. Not everyone, in fact few people can rely on the police to protect them from any would be attack, I mean, what are the chances of the police arriving in time to stop said attack? The best the police and justice system can do, if you are lucky (and some places and people are luckier than others, but that’s an article for another day!), is to take action after the event. Doesn’t stop you from being hurt or violated though, does it? So learning to physically defend ourselves is one of the first and most basic steps in beginning to reclaim ourselves.

So where to start?

I always say do what you can to increase your general fitness and well being, and I appreciate this will be more difficult for some than others.

If a particular martial art or self defence type sport or class seems like something you’d enjoy then look into it. And you get so much from these sports. Yes there are the physical benefits but they also teach you so much more, such as control, how to remain calm when under attack, how to react to taking a blow and so on. There’s also the added benefit, at least from my experience, that when you find a good martial arts gym, it’s almost like a solidarity network in itself.

There are many benefits in learning to fight and I would urge everyone to explore this area.

Other Aspects of Self Defence

I’ve already hinted that physical violence is only one part when it comes to self defence, so what are the other aspects?

In previous articles, I’ve written about reclaiming ourselves in terms of food and medicine (you can read one of them here), and I believe that is a form of self defence too. I won’t rehash them here, but it is worth mentioning .

So what else?

The truth is almost every aspect of our lives can be viewed in terms of self defence.

  • Education - We all know that schooling and education are two different things. In the UK where I live, we send our kids to school to receive their education, but because of governmental policies (and all governments, I don’t differentiate between Labour and Tory, left and right, because the truth is they are just different sides of the same coin), kids are really only taught to pass tests. The emphasis is on getting them ready for employment, producing good little workers who won’t question the system, as opposed to genuinely teaching them how to think critically for themselves. And so we must teach our children and ourselves these skills.

  • Skills -By widening your skill set, even if it’s just a little at a time, you reduce your reliance on others and it is just one more way you gain a little more independence. I think it is highly important to learn basic life saving skills like CPR, or how to treat common injuries. The NHS, whatever others may think, is an absolute gem, however years of under-funding and mismanagement at government level have done it no favours, but with that said, even with free at the point of use healthcare, in an emergency, quick actions can save lives. For those who are unable to access healthcare, life saving first aid and very basic medical knowledge is a must.

    Basic DIY skills can also come in handy and avoid the cost of having to hire somebody for something you can do yourself. In fact broadening your skill set in any given area is a way of reclaiming yourself, is a form of self defence. Sometimes not needing to rely on anyone is the best form of self defence - self reliance.

  • Solidarity With Others - All of the above is all well and good in theory but in reality, there will be some areas that you will excel in and others not so much. This is when solidarity networks come into play. To learn more about solidarity networks, this is an excellent piece and is free to read and share. By coming together and forming small networks with others we trust, we can pool our skills, working together to help each other out. Mutual aid is self defence.

In Summary

Self defence penetrates all areas of our lives, whether that’s sticking up for ourselves against oppressors and bullies, those who would hurt us or deprive us in any way. It goes past the physical, is magical and mundane, can be individual and collective. Some might call it a state of mind. However you view it though, there can be no denying the importance of self defence.

Emma Kathryn


My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magic, of course!You can follow Emma on Facebook.