Over the years, and in certain circles, I've become known by many names, including the "teacher of hard-reality" when it comes to real-world self-defense. Of course I've been known by many others as-well, depending on whether or not you were on the 'love-me' or 'hate-me' side of the the proverbial fence!

Part of the reason that I've earned this name is because I'm only one of a handful of martial arts and self-defense instructors among an army of so-called "teachers" who would ever point out the flaws in the way people train for self-protection. Please note that I didn't say... "Point out the flaws in styles or systems not my own," as is the norm within the world of martial arts and self-defense training. There's a huge difference...especially if you haven't seriously looked into any styles other than your own!

Regardless... the point is that not everyone always likes to hear about flaws - especially when they might be their own. In fact, I learned very early in my life that most people definitely prefer delusion over reality. It's more comfortable to "think" or "believe" that something is true, rathan than investigation, exploring, and validating that a thing really is true. And often, waking people up from their delusions, ends up making you the target of their anger. You know... the "kill the messenger" syndrome.

However, if you and I are truly focused on real-world self-protection, and not the extremes that seem to exist (you know, the under-educated martial arts teacher with no real-world experience, or the tough-guy street thug with no concern for liability or ending up in jail as a result of your actions); then we need to relentlessly seek the truth in our own training, and in our own lives, even when that reality is unpleasant or uncomfortable.

And the primary reason for that is because... real success is based on truth.

I suppose that sounds kind of basic, but in my experience, people often avoid hearing unpleasant truths -- even logical, serious, and dedicated students and practioners.

So... What does any of this have to do with women's self-defense, or the title of this article?

Well... next month I'll be teaching at WCI's Women's Self-Defense Intensive where I'll be driving home some straight facts. And, where other instructors tend to take the tactful approach, I've decided to toss caution and tact aside and deliver a very un-gentle collection of reality, techniques, and training advice that comes from my experience and dealings with some the most successful women martial arts practitioners, teachers and partners in law enforcement that I've worked with over the last 30 plus years. And, rest assured... there have been many.

I began this event years ago, which is exclusively for women who are teaching, are engaged as law enforcement and/or security professionals, or simply as student practitioners. This was never intended to be an exercise in segregation, but as what the famous Walt Disney called... a "plus-ing."

What's a "plus-ing", and what does anything the "Mickey Mouse-guy" said have to do with martial arts or self-defense training?

Good question. And the answer is simple.

A "plus-ing", according to Disney, is an additional opportunity for exploration of shared interests, an exchange of knowledge, networking and inspiration. Or more simply, it means... more specific knowledge is better than less or just general knowledge in a given area!

I've heard from some men and women over time - including some of the women whom I respectfully call the, "women with balls," both within the Bujinkan and within my own WCI organization, that they were not happy about this kind of training event. They wanted to know why they were being singled out - many even feeling like they were being directed towards some kind of inferior training - rather than the "specialized" training that it's meant to be.

I have to admit that I can see their point. Because, a lot of what I see being offered to female martial artists by women's self-defense teachers and so-called martial arts masters, especially when it comes to brutal attacks from bigger, stronger male attackers, doesn't have much substance or reality.

But I don't see this event that way.

To me, this is another way for me to expand and provide an additional training opportunity to a group of serious and dedicated students with special interests — similar to what we've done with The "Inner Circle" Platinum Ninjutsu Coaching and Musha Shugyo programs just for students who want to move through my curriculum for ranking in Ninjutsu. Or what we've done within our 10-week Online coaching programs like Introduction to the Samurai Sword Course, or our Ninja Mind and Ninja no Hachimon '8 Gates of Historical Ninja Training' programs.

Students helping students, encouraging, networking, forming training partnerships and creating another productive community within WCI and the greater Bujinkan family.

That being said, and contrary to the belief of many...it has definitely been my experience over 30 years of study, research, training, and street experience... that women do have a different mindset about self-defense than men.

After working with both men and women, both in law enforcement and in the context of martial arts and both men's and women's self-defense training, I've been able to observe some very specific differences between the two. I'll let you in on some of the broader observations that I've made between men and women's self-defense in just a minute. But first, I have to say that...

1) you will find some of these observations to be more true for you than others because everyone is unique and comes from his or her own unique background and circumstances, and...

2) you may find that you don't want to hear some of the things I'm going to say because they strike a nerve about a belief that you hold, or a lesson you were taught by another teacher you trusted - who said it was true but, in actuality it's not true at all.

The following are just a few of the things that I've observed about men and women, especially when it comes to self-protection and safety. Remember, I've warned you that you may not like what I say. But, your anger or denial doesn't make them any less true "in the real world."

I've noticed that men tend to be more short-term, immediate outcome, and cut-to-the-quick thinkers who "want to teach the other guy a lesson," while women are interested in more complex issues like size differences, the fact that the attacker may be someone they know and care about, or they fear that, no matter how much training they have, they may end up forgetting everything they learned when they really need it due to fear, indecision, etc.

Both are double-sided coins. For instance, men tend to be less concerned than they should be with how they might be feeling about the attacker, size and strength differences, or with legal liability issues. The predominate male answer to self-defense is, "I'll just shoot him," even when in most cases...he may not be caring (or even own) a firearm! On the other hand, women tend to be overly concerned with how they look, not knowing the lessons, and feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment with regards to hurting their training partners or even an attacker, which can foster timidity, inhibition and second-guessing themselves during the moment of truth.

Overall, I think men are less combat-inhibited and more ready to fight, but women are smarter about relationships and using their intuition and feelings, or at least more openly aware of the ability to rely on these things – in reality, both have the inherent ability to find all of these traits within themselves... Regardless of gender.

Women, statistically, are given more leway in training, avoided as training partners by most men, and treated more gently by those who do train with them, but also tend to avoid training with men. Most women, when asked about self-defense, give answers which point to their preference to rely on the men in their lives as their means of protection, even when they doubt that he could even protect himself! Women in general also tend to avoid negotiation and confrontation more than men – although that has not always been my experience — a few female partners from my law enforcement days come to mind!

I don't see anything wrong with airing these matters, facts from research about them, opinions that may or may not be accurate, considering and discussing the differences. In fact, I do this in practically every program I have ever taught, and I'm not likely to change that any time soon.

Ultimately, there isn't anything that I would advise or teach a man to do in a self-defense situation that I wouldn't tell a woman to do in that same or similar situation. But, there IS advice I would give the woman that I wouldn't give the man -- simply because their are things, due to social beliefs and training that boys and girls go through during childhood, that would work better for a woman than for a man - or that are definitely needed by women and not by men.

There is different conditioning, and there is bias. To deny either is, I think, delusional. To deny it in the interest of political-correctness, or to avoid risking offending women is, I think, counter-productive - not only for me as the teacher, but for them as someone who's supposed to be learning how to survive in a real-world encounter with someone who isn't going to be nice, politically-correct, or considerate.

As my students know, exploring reality like this isn't for everyone. But it can be useful to students who are ready, able, and willing to open up to find out, first-hand, what may be holding YOU back...

What is getting in YOUR way?

What conditioning or belief is getting in YOUR way?

What conditioning or belief systems or barriers do YOU have, that are getting in the way of YOUR learning, YOUR progress, or YOUR ability to perform correctly under-pressure, during a real attack?


What techniques, tactics or strategies might best fit YOU, because of your job, your lifestyle, or the environments you frequent most often?

And, as always, I challenge you to be relentless in your pursuit of seeking out reality in your own training and life…and be willing to develop the habits of being brutally honest with yourself. I find it ironic that most people feel more at-ease and comfortable being brutally honest, or at least about voicing his or her opinion about and to others... but hide from the same raw honesty when it's directed at themselves!

I would also suggest that you make it your mission of insisting that others whom you rely on give it to you straight, and don't hold back in an effort to soften the impact of the lessons you need to make sure that you're getting what I and a few others are offering. And that is simply this:

"Real Training for Real People in a Real World!"

Because, in this world of ours, nothing short of that will do! When it comes to your life - to surviving a brutal attack that, even if it doesn't kill you... WILL change you for the rest of your life! So... there is no room for illusion, delusion, or being politically-correct because you don't like the words, the topic, or the format of the training.

If you have a really good chance of having to deal with something on the street, in your home, or whereever the attack occurs...then you, and your teacher, have a moral and ethical OBLIGATION to make sure that it's a part of your training!

NOTE: I'll be presenting at the WCI Women's Self-Defense Intensive on February 16th, to be held at the Warrior Concepts Blck Belt Mastery Academy in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. During this very focused training opportunity, and along with some very powerful techniques, strategies and tactics designed for women's self-defense, I'll also talk about some of the ways that women get in their own way when it comes to getting the kind of real-world self-protection training they need. Some of these are universal, and also shared by men.

And just as men have certain self-sabotage attitudes and behaviors that are uniquely their own, women have more than a few that are uniquely theirs too. There are some strategies and tactics worth borrowing from men. But there are also some very specific tactics and techniques that can be used by a woman that can literally make her self-defense techniques in many ways more brutally effective.

I think you'll find that what I teach you about this will be very eye-opening, and may just liberate you from a lot of limiting B.S. Either way, I know that it will empower you to achieve better results with your training, and allow you to defend yourself against bigger, stronger, more committed assailants with less struggle than you ever imagined. I hope I'll see you there. www.warrior-concepts-online.com/womens-self-defenseIC.html

Jeffrey M. Miller SPS, DTI


Jeffrey M. Miller SPS, DTI, is an internationally-recognized and highly sought-after expert in the realms of self-protection, safety and security, and suriving acts of catastrophic workplace violence. He is a former federal police officer, undercover drug and black market suppression agent, private investigator and bodyguard - all professions which demnanded that what he knew worked - every time!

Jeff is the author of several books, including The Karate-Myth, which explains why most martial art and self-defense programs are wrong and how to truly be safe in today'soften unsafe world. He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, "Advanced Self-Defense Combat Tactics," the safety video titled, "Danger Prevention Tactics," and is a contribiting author to several peer-reviewed and edited works, including: "Workplace Violence in Mental and General Healthcare Settings," and "GIS in Hospital and Healthcare Emergency Management", both published for the general healthcare and psychiatric professions in 2010.

Jeff has spoken at conferences and universties, hosted and taught at seminars and workshops - including a presentation given to over 10,000 Girls Scouts and Leaders at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania. And, he has created company-centered training programs that are both life-saving and liability-conscious. Mr. Miller even serves as a legal expert witness in cases involving assault and self-defense issues.

Every month, he teaches thousands of students from both the US and around the world, how to be more safe, secure, and able to survive should the unthinkable occur. You can reach Mr. Miller for more information or to book him for an event, either by email at jmmiller@warrior-concepts-online.com, or by calling his office at (570) 988-2228.
His professional CV is available upon request.

About Jeffrey Miller

3 Responses to “Women’s Self-Defense: “For Ladies Only?” You Must Be Joking!”

  1. Jeffrey Miller

    Just a quick note that we’re offering special, discount pricing to groups, organizations, and companies sending multiple attendees!

  2. Peter

    Hi Jeffrey,
    I am sure your observations are correct. When I formed my own thoughts about “woman’s training” just before reading the article I came up with this. Woman’s only training is unlikely to equip a woman to deal with the most likely attacker they will face, a man. I see your observations pointing in the same direction. It is something which self-defense trainings should address.


  3. Marcy Shoberg

    I’ve also struggled with the issue of what “women’s self-defense” even means when I noticed others act like women’s and men’s self-defense needs are more different than I feel them to be. I’ve finally decided that it is mostly a marketing ploy to get women to take a class out of their comfort zone, but it’s also significant that most men have more experience pretending to hit things and pretending to be hit (as we sometimes do with partners in the learning stages of a technique) than do most women.

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