Amanda learns to fend off attackers in unique self defense course
I have been called many things in my life, but a ‘groin hunter’ is definitely a first for me. This week I was appointed this title, along with ‘hammer hands’, by the hard men of Self Protection Ireland (SPI) – and if anyone challenges whether I deserve such accolades, be warned, I’m now trained to attack.
As I’m currently busy filming Celebrity Apprentice for TV3, the hard-core guerrilla trainers of SPI did their best to condense a two-day Spartan Seminar into one long and exhausting afternoon.
In my naivety, I thought it was going to be a straightforward exercise of simply teaching a chick like me to gouge a fella’s eyes out and crack him in the nuts – and indeed there was plenty of that malarkey.
However, I soon learnt there’s much more to self defence than flapping your limbs around like Lassie lost in the lake down by the quarry.
Designed to give everyone (male and female) the skills to protect themselves, this course is much more than just a worksheet that tells you to hand over your bag to bad men with knives – though they do strongly recommend that you follow such advice and encourage being street aware of potential dangers and how to avoid conflicts by simply giving them a wide berth before any problems arise.
The strength of this particular course that it shows you just how you’d feel in a high pressurised situation. Think about it, karate chops with warning screams are all well and good in a kids’ cartoon, but put into a real scenario they might not work when stress grips your body and you tragically lose your voice.
I know this because I tried to scream when I lost my son in Dundrum Shopping Centre a few years ago. He was only four and I found that in the panic, I lost all control over my vocals. Not only could I not scream, but I could barely whisper a description of him to passers-by and instead began to hyperventilate in the most pathetic way.
Thankfully there was a happy ending and a kind woman returned my wayward Rugrat, but I learnt a powerful lesson that day that adrenalin can be crippling.
So what does SPI do that other self-defence courses don’t? To be brutally honest, they simulate violent encounters and then terrify the living daylights out of you. Sounds horrific? It is a bit, but like learning a language, you can’t expect to perfect your fluency unless you immerse yourself within the environment you’re trying to understand.
What I liked about this horror-ride is the fact that the guys throw you into real situations instead of false set-ups to recreate attacks. The Abberley Court Hotel in Tallaght,
Dublin, is where I discovered my ability to heat-seek out the vulnerable groin area and acquire the fabulous alter-ego, ‘The Groin Hunter’. In fact, I like it so much I’m considering it as the title of my next book!
I was pushed to the point of panic for the training – being locked in a darkened lift (yes, an actual elevator) and told two men are going to come in and beat the crap out of you will do that to a gal.
Thankfully, I discovered that I could overcome fear and harness my adrenalin. Although the sensible part of my brain was reasoning that there was no way these guys were going to really smash my face up, waiting in the dark set my heart pounding and the second the doors opened and the lads came in screaming extremely rude words, I could have died with fright.
Equipped with my new defence techniques, I mixed a little Muhammad Ali with a little bit of my inner Finglas and with the finesse of a tom cat being thrown into a bath I scrapped, swung and hammer-punched my way to freedom. It wasn’t pretty. I hurt myself a little, as well as the instructors – even though they were wearing heavy-duty
Spartan padded suits – but I surprised myself at how much damage I could do if I needed to.
According to the guys of SPI, this is the only course of its like both here and in the UK. Designed for its realism, it teaches you tricks to become more streetwise, how to protect yourself when you’ve been grabbed and held tight and how to always attack your attacker.
Before this course I never would have thought it possible for a woman to hurt a strong man, but even without the use of a weapon, which SPI never encourages people to use,
I’ve learnt that I can handle myself.
Women, especially, need to protect themselves more than ever. Although most of us only fall into danger when out walking the streets, sadly many encounter trouble in the home as well.
Although I don’t advocate violence, I will always remember one important piece of self-defence advice: If you can feel and touch it, you can bloody well HIT IT.
Stay safe folks and do your best to avoid all dangers.
The next SPI two-day course takes place next weekend July 27 and 28, at The Abberley Court Hotel. Check out www.selfprotection.ie for more information.