About Featured Expert: Jennie Trower is the co-founder of Jarrett & Jennie Self-Defense, M.A.M.A.® (Mothers Against Malicious Acts), Customized Self-Defense for Women, and other specialized self-defense and safety programs for women, moms and kids. Jennie began her martial arts training in 2000. After a couple of years, she decided to expand her knowledge and try a Krav Maga class. It was love at first punch, and she was hooked! Since that time, she has earned numerous Krav Maga/self-defense teaching certifications, built a career around women’s self defense, and reached hundreds of people across the country through live training events, her blog and social media, and speaking engagements.
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The following is a condensed version of the full audio interview, which can be found in the above link at Science of Skill’s SoundCloud station.
Marcus Roth: Hey there, folks. Welcome again to the Science of Skill podcast. This is Marcus taking over for Coach Dan. I’m on the horn today with Jennie Trower, where they have been training in Krav Maga and Eskrima for a combination of 16 years, getting experience in the field of self-defense. A lot of our listeners happen to be males who are middle-aged or older, and I think this would be a really great insight to them. For only one … personal self-defense for themselves, but also two, I know the last podcast guest I had on talked about how the reason he got into self-defense is because his wife got into self-defense. What drew you to self-defense training in the first place? Can you describe your business for your listeners?
Jennie Trower: I had actually broken up with a boyfriend, and I was really sad. I needed a reason to get out of the house and to stop thinking about how sad I was. Right down the street from me was a martial arts studio. I started training in something called Chi Hyung Ryu. What I really loved about that, it was a traditional martial art, is that while I was there and while I was training, I couldn’t be thinking about how sad I was or how no one would ever love me again, because if that was what I was thinking about, I was going to get punched in the face because I wasn’t present and in the moment in my training. After several years of training, after a couple of years of that, I switched to Krav Maga, Later, after about 10 years of being a student, I became an instructor. After a few years of teaching on my own, I joined forces with the wonderful Jarrett Arthur. Together, we have Jarrett and Jennie Self Defense.
MR: Shifting gears here, now that we understand what you’ve done for awhile, let’s talk about women in the context of self-defense training. What unique barriers do you think keep women from seeking out self-defense training?
JT: I think there are a range of factors that keep women from seeking out training. I think it includes self-doubt. It includes a lot of fear. It includes how they might be perceived by others if they do seek out training. Then, just some logistical factors like lack of time or lack of access to quality training. Jarrett and I have found that one of the biggest of these, like I said, is fear. That can take shape in a variety of ways. There could be the fear of facing the reality that some of these threats exist to our personal safety. There can be the fear of maybe discovering, “Oh no, I’m not really capable of doing this.” The fear of looking bad or not being able to perform well, just in the classroom setting.
MR: I see. Now what would you recommend for a woman to look for in a self-defense course?
JT: We’d certainly recommend starting with checking with referrals among your community. Schools, or studios, or programs, or instructors that maybe your friends have been to, that they like. We also recommend that you go check out a potential program or school. For us, safety is first and foremost. From the moment you set foot in the door, you’re experience in the lobby with the sales staff, with the instructors, and also just in the social setting, you should feel 100% safe. That safety can take a while, a sense of trust to establish … but first and foremost you should feel well taken care of, psychologically, emotionally, physically, everything.
MR: Do you recommend women seek training designed specifically for them, or in a coed class, assuming the coed class is reasonable, if you will?
JT: Sure. Absolutely. I think it depends on the woman, right? I think there are benefits for sure, to training in an all-women environment. It could feel less threatening for women, especially a woman who has experienced trauma in her life. Frankly, that’s the majority of women, on some scale. I have found that a group of women training together is uniquely and undeniably supportive. There’s almost this shared energy that happens in that room. I think there are also benefits to training with men. We primarily teach women now, an all-women setting, and it think there’s a lot of value to that. We have to understand too, that yes, women face the threat of violence and the threat of physical assault, but we also face a lot of issues that are kind of unique to women’s experience in the world.
MR: In your opinion, is there truly much of a different between women’s self-defense and a mixed gender self-defense course? In what ways are the moves or techniques tailored?
JT: I think there are some differences like I just went over. The way that I teach a women’s self-defense class is very different than if I stepped into a Krav Maga school to teach a coed class. The things that we emphasize and prioritize and work on are just frankly, different. I think that regardless of the setting, you want to look for a program that offers skills and techniques that are going to work no matter your size or strength or gender.
MR: Pivoting here, how can a husband or father look to give their daughter or wife the correct encouragement?
JT: First of all, I really love this question. It means that we’re not just existing in a vacuum, but we might have the support of the men in our lives, which is wonderful. I think that by encouraging the women in their lives to seek out training, men can go a long way toward helping them be safer. I think that by recognizing that learning self-defense doesn’t make a woman anything other than educated and prepared, men can really help shift that perception. also gives you a framework for taking that training outside of the classroom.
MR: Now what would you recommend that same person, that same father, husband, not do?
JT: I would recommend that a husband or a father, or any man in general, be aware of and sensitive to … again, all these barriers that we talked about, that women face in training, and to try to support them and build them up, just like any good training partner should be doing for anybody in any sort of training relationship. I think coercing someone into something isn’t great. I think that providing the opportunity and then following through with whatever you can do to make that happen can go a long way toward engendering trust with that other person, and also keeping that person safe by supporting them through this process.
MR: Do you think that self-defense is something that every woman needs, across the board, and this should be a priority if they’re listening to this cast, to reach out and to try and better their life in this way, or do you believe it to be a topic for when … For most women, if you live in the country, you “may not need it” or … Where do you come down on that?
JT: Sure. Well I’m super passionate about that I feel every girl and woman can benefit from self-defense training. There’s at least three research studies that I know of that confirm that if a woman has even a short self-defense course, has participated in a short self-defense course, that that training can reduce her risk of being targeted for violence, and it can also increase her ability to survive a violent encounter.