Go Ahead. Raise Your Voice.
Women don’t need to find a voice. They have a voice. They need to feel empowered to use it, and people need to be encouraged to listen.”
~ Meghan Markle
Late one night after a workout, a self-defense instructor we’ll call Emily, was walking out of her local gym when she was approached by a man who asked her, “Hey, wanna fight?”
Clearly, the man had been watching her practice.
She turned to him and said, with a confident, assertive voice, “You don’t want to do that.” And then she told him back off.
The man left immediately, and after she reported him, he was no longer allowed at the gym.
Emily uses this story as a way of showing her students why their voices are one of the most valuable resources in their self-defense toolkits.
There are countless reasons ESD practitioners advocate the use of voice, but here are our top five:
Your voice can and will:
1. Startle An Attacker
Using a loud, assertive voice will likely startle an assailant and catch him off guard. Even if he doesn’t run away, his startle response will hopefully give you one or two seconds (which is actually longer than it sounds) to make crucial decisions.
2. Draw Attention to Dangerous Situations
Your voice has the power to draw attention to dangerous situations. Attention is likely to deter an attacker, but will give the people around you the chance to come to your aid.
3. Help You Breathe
When we’re faced with dangerous situations, it’s easy to forget to breathe. Not breathing can make us disoriented, forgetful and dizzy. But using our voices automatically keeps us breathing.
Breathing calms us down, keeps us focused and in the moment, gives us oxygen, and engages our core muscles.
All of those things give us strength.
4. Increase Your Adrenaline
Making noise when dealing with a dangerous situation increases your adrenaline. Adrenaline increases your speed and strength. So be as loud as you can! Volume = physical power!
As an added bonus, adrenaline slows down your sense of time, which gives you a chance to make critical decisions.
5. Show Off Your Strength
Your voice is a physical manifestation of your power. Let it boost your confidence and show your mind how strong you are. Your body, an attacker, and everyone around you will be next in line to get the message.
Believe in yourself. Sound like and BE the superhero that you are!
Here's a song to inspire you:
Yelling Isn’t Easy
Getting comfortable with your voice can often take as much practice as learning to kick or punch. The first time you’re asked to yell in a self-defense class, your face might turn red and you might start to laugh.
That actually makes sense. We’re all born with the ability to be loud (after all, screaming and crying are the first thing a baby does), but think about how quickly that skill is knocked out of us. How many times have you been told not to raise your voice?
Luckily, using our voice is a skill that can be relearned. Some self-defense students have told us that they practice shouting “NO!” in front of the bathroom mirror.
We promise. The more you practice, the easier it gets, especially when you’re in a self-defense class where you never have to yell alone.
Are You Convinced?
Empowerment self-defense isn’t about meeting violence with violence. It’s about keeping others from crossing your boundaries. Your voice is one of the most effective ways to do that.
When Emily tells her students the story of that night in front of the gym, she ends by saying, “I was able to use my voice to prevent a situation from becoming violent.”
The moral? Don’t ever be afraid to take a deep breath way down into your abdominal muscles, exhale, and yell.
Bonus: This is the sound of twelve women raising their voices together in an empowerment self-defense course: