Friday, July 19, 2013

Karate Classes for Women in Arizona

We live in a violent world. Phoenix is no exception - in fact, Phoenix is a leader in violence. Anyone who has spent a year or more in the valley can tell you many stories about the violence in the city. And parts of the rest of the world is even more violent. The World Organization of Health (WOH) reported in 2013 there were 109 nations that had banned guns in their countries, yet all of these 109 nations had more murders than the US. The WOH also noted Switzerland reported no murders - yet all adults are required by law to own a gun and become proficient in its use. So, this is a form of self-defense that seems to work.

Remember this wonderful scene in the KARATE KID?

Daniel San: So, karate's fighting. You train to fight.
Miyagi: That what you think?
Daniel: No.
Miyagi: Then why train?
Daniel: So I won't have to fight?

By training in martial arts, we build self-confidence allowing most people to avoid many confrontations. But this doesn't always work. There are unstable people on the streets - just take a look at Congress. So by constantly training in martial arts, you not only get in good physical condition and make new friends, but you also learn a valuable art that should help you defend yourself should some crazy drug addict try to attack you.

As a professor of martial arts, referred to in Japanese as 'Kyoju', I tried to get the university administration to option a Freshman class in self-defense. There is just too much crime and abuse in our world and it should be an option for all women (and men for that fact) in Junior High School, High School, College and then in a local gym or martial arts school (dojo) to train in martial arts. When I was teaching martial arts at the University of Wyoming from 1977 to 2007, I tried to include many self-defense techniques for women and offered special classes in self-defense for women. After reading a book about violence on campus, I was shocked to find that statistics showed about 25% of all females would be sexually assaulted sometime during a four year college career. One website reports 1 out of ever 7 women on campus have been raped! Now that didn't even include time before and after college.

Senpai Viva demonstrates Pinan Godan Kata.
When it comes to self-defense classes, all these do is offer some basic self-defense techniques. The problem with self defense classes for a semester or a weekend clinic is they do not provide enough training. Take a look at how long it takes for a person to become a black belt in traditional (non-sport) martial arts. It can take 3 to 4 years, depending on the individual.

The reason has to do with a piece of oriental philosophy known as emptiness, or 'mushin' in Japanese.  In order to be able to react properly in a stressful situation, a person must be able to react to an attack without thinking. They must also learn to strike properly - this is why many women have found traditional Shorin-Ryu Karate helpful, because they learn both. By the way, Shorin-Ryu translates as Pine forest style in Japanese. But in Chinese, it translates as Shaolin Style, indicating a direct link to the Shaolin Chu'an Fa (Kung Fu).

And a few Shorin-Ryu systems also teach student to develop a one-punch knock out, such as the Seiyo Shorin-Ryu systems. The reason for this is that, unlike some systems that teach women to strike numerous times, it is much less stressful to be able to strike an attacker once or twice to end the attack.

Over the years, I found my female martial artists who became yudansha (black belts) were some of the best martial artists by far. For the most part, the women really enjoy karate and other traditional martial arts. They enjoy training with other women, they enjoy working over the guys, they enjoy the exercise and potential weight loss, they enjoy the lifelong friendships they make in karate, and they enjoy learning about weapons.

A real samurai from Japan. Sensei
Paula from the Arizona School of
Traditional Karate in Mesa, dressed
as traditional Japanese.
Just about all of the schools in the Phoenix valley we communicated with, indicated they either did not teach weapons, one had to wait until they reached black belt to train in weapons, or they had to pay a bonus fee to learn weapons.

On Okinawa (the homeland of Karate), weapons (known as kobudo in Japanese) have always been part of the martial arts system and people learn to use weapons along with their karate training from the beginning. One school in the valley teaches weapons the day you sign up for classes (and they do not require contracts): the Arizona Hombu. The traditional curriculum at this martial arts school includes karate, kata (forms), self-defense, samurai arts, kobudo and jujutsu taught by a Grandmaster with nearly 5 decades of experience. Not only do the students learn to defend themselves, they also learn some Japanese, martial arts history, philosophy and lots of traditions.

Dr. Adam with Dr. Nagmeh pose at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate

Lacy trains with Katharina at the Arizona School of
Traditional Karate - A school of Martial Arts
Heather applies nunchuku to nerve at the back of Charles neck.

Watch out Bill! Sensei Paula trains with tonfa at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate at Baseline and MacDonald, Mesa and Gilbert.

Grandmaster Hausel shows Kris how to apply joint lock using the hanbo.


  1. Right. In martial arts, you will build self-confidence and discipline.
    Cheers to all courageous women who pursue in learning martial arts, esp. to all newbies in this kind of art! =)

    Martial Arts Brisbane

  2. This is one of the most incredible blogs I've read in a very long time. The amount of information self defence classes for women is stunning. Your blog is great for anyone who wants to understand this subject more.