Early in my martial arts teaching career, I taught a well-received class on Safety for Women.

It wasn’t until a few days later that I learned why teaching safety and self-defense to women was so challenging.

One attendee said she went home and tried a specific escape technique on her husband and, lo and behold, it didn’t work on him.

I was sympathetic to her, but also was frustrated, aggravated and pretty ticked off because I knew (first-hand) that the martial arts I learned did indeed work.

So I asked her a few questions about her experience:

Did you tell him what you were going to do? Yes.

Did you do it slowly? Yes.

Did you want to actually hurt your husband? No.

Did you hit him first? No.

Di you distract him? No.

Does your husband have any previous training? Yes, he did martial arts in the military.

What’s your husband like? He’s kind of a control freak.

The picture became much clearer.

Her husband wanted to show her the futility of learning to defend herself, coupled with his asserting the dominance of his male ego.

Bigger, stronger, more-experienced military man needed to show his smaller, weaker, less-experienced civilian wife that her attempts to learn to protect herself were basically a joke.

Imagine this dynamic in any other field of endeavor.

You take one swim lesson and your tri-athlete spouse jumps in the pool with you and races to the other end just to show you that you are not a good swimmer.

Or, you take one tennis lesson and your spouse, who played competitive tennis in college, challenges you to a game and serves ace after ace, not allowing you to return one tennis ball.

Or, you take a piano lesson and your classically-trained spouse sits down, plays a blistering Chopin sonata and tells you to give it up.

Your response to any of these scenarios most likely would be the same as mine, “what a (insert expletive here)”!

I recently saw a video clip of a noted martial artist cherry-picking various footage of women’s self-defense techniques and mocking showing how each one could never work (on big, bad him at least).

Another outsized, insecure male ego.

But, beyond their egos, do these men have a point? Is it pointless for women to take a safety class because these techniques don’t work?

It’s not that the techniques don’t work, because NO technique works in isolation, and EVERY technique can be countered, especially when you know what’s coming.


It is important to go into a women’s safety class with the correct expectations.

The main purpose of a women’s safety class is to learn that you can learn how to defend yourself, it’s an initial exposure to the vast world of personal safety training.

It’s NOT meant to be the last word on self-defense training, but rather the first step toward pursuing martial arts training.

Over the years, I developed a novel approach to spare women the ignominy of dealing with the men in their lives showing them how their self-defense techniques don’t work…

I don’t teach ANY self-defense techniques.

Whenever I teach an Introductory safety class, I teach women simple principles and movement drills that they can apply instantly.

A man can’t say a technique doesn’t work if women don’t learn one specific technique!

In one session, women learn how to keep moving when one escape doesn’t work and how to link several moves together so they keep fighting until they are free and safe.

Instead of learning one technique that may not work, being discouraged that it failed and having no follow-up moves, women begin with the mindset to try one thing and if it doesn’t work 100% to add another move, and another, and another, until they succeed.

This teaching method is much more empowering for the women and much more effective.

Last year, a woman who had taken a prior class returned for more training and told me this:

My husband wanted to see and feel what I learned in my safety class. (Here we go again, I thought)

He grabbed me in the kitchen and I just started moving like you taught me… (and?)

I almost torn his arm out of his shoulder socket, knocked him into the kitchen table and on to the floor. (YES!)

How’d that feel? 

GREAT! So I’m back for more.

No one can be a Black Belt after one class, but you can take your first step toward learning how to protect yourself.

Our next Free Women’ s Safety Class is Wednesday April 17th, 2019. Email office@scornavacco.com, call 303-485- 5425 or stop in at 1830 Boston Avenue Suite F Longmont, CO 80501 to register, and bring a friend or two.