Last week, the women at Nellie’s attended the first of two Wen-Do Workshops, taught by a certified Wendoka. Wen-Do is a form of Women’s Self-Defence that teaches women how to fight back and how to survive. Wen-Do employs a series of different tools and techniques that anyone can use, regardless of size, strength, age or ability.
The workshop began in a circle. The women talked about what self-defence means to them and shared success stories. We uncovered myths and stereotypes about violence against women and the stigma associated with women who do fight back. It is often stigma, misinformation and sexism as well as a series of other interlocking systems of oppression including racism, classism, poverty, immigration status, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, ableism and others that prevent women from defending their own lives.
Women are taught that they are not strong, that they are not capable, that they should be afraid to pick a fight for fear of putting themselves in greater danger. Wen-Do teaches us that this is not true. The Wen-Do Instructor recounted success stories about five-year-olds and ninety-year-olds who have effectively defended themselves against attackers, using tenets of Wen-Do. Then, we learned some of the techniques.
The women felt empowered and walked home from the workshop with a renewed sense of inspiration and confidence. It was the enactment of the chant often heard at Take Back the Night: “They say stay home – we say fight back!” For more information on Wen-Do, or to sign up for a class, please visit: http://www.wendo.ca/