On Self-Defense: I Won’t Let Fear Get in the Way

two students stretch their arms in a martial arts class Reports show that Americans with disabilities are more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than average folks out there. All sorts of reasons have been given to explain why this might be. Maybe it has something to do with the high unemployment rate among people with disabilities. That can leave people with disabilities more likely to be economically disadvantaged, and, in turn, more vulnerable to crime. And then there’s this: if a bad guy is looking for someone to rob or attack –or both – a person with a disability might be more appealing. A person who has difficulty communicating, for example, might have more trouble reporting the crime. And a person like me, who can’t see, might have a difficult time running away at full speed.

Learning all this, I was happy to hear that a story on Worcester News Tonight last week highlighted an ongoing Martial Arts Self-Defense course offered by Easterseals Massachusetts to address these issues – and more.

The Easterseals Massachusetts Accessible Martial Arts Program is for people who not only want to practice self-defense, but also want to learn stretching, exercise, and relaxation techniques. The program is open to people with and without disabilities, and as the news segment shows, it provides a good opportunity for socialization, too.

I myself have never been the victim of a violent attack –knock on wood – but I was pickpocketed on a busy Chicago sidewalk a few summers ago. I was with friends, using my white cane. My purse was at my hip and the straps were across my shoulder. We were in a crowd of people waiting at an intersection for the light to turn green, so when I felt a slight push at my hip I thought nothing of it. When we arrived at our destination, I reached into my bag. No wallet.

I have to believe the pickpockets singled me out because of my blindness. I was angry at myself for not turning around, checking my bag or telling the sighted friends with me that I felt that push in the crowd. Angry at the robber, too, but grateful they didn’t assault me.

I don’t want fear of being robbed or attacked to make me afraid to leave home. Fear of leaving home would restrict physical activity, which I know can lead to poor health, and often, depression. I would guess that people who learn skills to help protect themselves might discover that learning those new skills helps them get over all sorts of other fears, too. Maybe I’ll give martial arts a try.


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  1. Truxedo Says:

    Very true indeed. I personally witnessed a few bullying incident to the persons with disabilities, some are even very physical and they really need that self-defense strategy to protect themselves.

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