Self-defense and why women should learn it

By Rachel M. Lusby

Did you know over 200,000 people each year are raped/sexually assaulted in the United States? Did you know over 40% of those people are under 18, and roughly 80% are under 30?

These statistics, according to RAIIN ,(Rape, Abuse, And Incest National Network,) also suggest every 2 minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. (

The National Organization for Women says according to the National Crime Victimization Survey over 200,000 women in the U.S. are raped or sexually assaulted, which runs about 600 women every day. And the majority of those women are attacked by an intimate partner.

That number includes rapes that are not reported. FBI reports list lower numbers because they rely on agency reports.

(This is not to say men and boys are not sexually assaulted as often as women and girls.)

Jim Curtis, owner and instructor at Umibushi Self-Defense Academy in Des Moines, stresses the importance of self-defense in the classes he teaches and the seminars he holds at various locations in the United States.

Curtis is a former Marine combat veteran, (Vietnam War,) and has over 50 years of experience in martial arts. He holds a 10th degree Grandmaster’s rank in both traditional karate and practical self-defense.

The number one thing Curtis wants women not to do is wait for something to happen.

“Many women come in to learn self-defense after they have been attacked.”

Awareness is key, he says. “If you think there is danger, you need to project a confident demeanor.” This means hold your head up and make eye contact. Those who are looking to assault a person, male or female, are looking for those who do not project that confidence. That behavior makes you a primary target.

Other key factors in awareness are knowing your surroundings, staying in well-lit areas, and wearing attire that does not give the attacker an advantage. If you are running, for example, do not wear your MP3 player because it hinders your hearing. Wear sturdy shoes and do not wrap scarves around your neck that could be used as a strangling device. Also, do not wear restrictive clothing and tuck in your ponytail, which can easily serve as a handle of sorts.

Many women are taught the most sensitive area of a man is the groin. Although this tends to be true, he says this is not necessarily the best option because at a very young age men learn to protect that area and it becomes a reflex action. He suggests going for the eyes, throat and knees.

Disabling the attacker’s knee provides an easy way to escape.
Of course, there are other options outside of physical self-defense, but Curtis warns against these as well. Pepper spray and mace are viable options but not entirely effective because things can go wrong.
“It can disable the attacker, but it could also blow back into your eyes and face,” he says.

While at home, however, Curtis says wasp killer is a good option because it is more controlled and when inside the chance of it blowing back into your face is slim.

“There is still nothing better than your own ‘God-give’ weapons,” he says.

In addition to self-protection, Curtis says taking self-defense courses impacts other areas of life in a positive way. “It empowers you,” he says. It can provide confidence that shows in the workplace and personal life.

If you are considering taking self-defense classes, Curtis says practice is important. You can lose whatever skills you learned just like in most other aspects of life if you do not practice.

Jim Curtis also teaches about child safety and the traditional self-defense classes. Women’s self-defense classes are separate from men’s. He says his pricing appears to be lower than what the normal cost tends to be.

Umibushi is located at 22760-A Marine View Dr. in Des Moines, behind the Taco Time. Phone number: 206.422.8143

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