When Violence Becomes Necessary
Model Muggers Train Women Self Defense
By Mary Tesoro
The room is dark and still. Except for the soft, rhythmic movement of her chest, she lies motionless.
She neither sees nor hears, her assailant’s approach. It isn’t until, his massive frame is entirely upon her that she has any indication of the attack. In an eerie, unfamiliar voice, he tells her to relax if she wants to live.
Her heart pounds wildly, every nerve in her body screams, and a wave of nausea overwhelms her as she realizes she is pinned. She offers no resistance as he moves down her body. Just as he reaches her feet, she turns slightly, draws one leg up, and kicks him square in the face.
He screams and tells her he’s going to kill her.
Again she thrust kicks; as her heel strikes his head he falls off to one side. Somehow, he manages to get back on top of her. She strikes him in one eye, sending both into spasm. He reels back, clutching his face. She kicks one more time and something within her knows it was the knock out blow – the blow which will incapacitate him for at least twelve minutes.
Simultaneous with his collapse is the sound of a shrill whistle and loud cheering. The scenario takes place, not in the woman’s home, but in a special training room. The victim, Maureen, is graduating from sixteen hours of the highly effective women’s self-defense training:
The training has been available in Monterey since January 1984, and in Santa Cruz since January 1985.
Over 3,500 women have successfully completed the course. Since its inception’ thirteen years ago, nineteen women have reported being attacked subsequent to graduation. Seventeen of those women chose to fight back; they all knocked out their assailant within five seconds.
Rape is now regarded as a crime of violence, not passion. And it is a rapidly increasing crime. The Monterey Rape Crisis Center (MRCC) gives the following information:
- One in every ten U.S. women (statistics vary) will be raped sometime in her life. A rape occurs about every 30 seconds in this country.
- The Monterey Peninsula reports close to twice the national average of assaults on women.
- Nearly 50% of all rapes occur in the victim’s own home.
Mara Cantor, MRCC client services coordinator says, “We expose all of our trainees to MODEL MUGGING because we think it’s the best course we’ve ever seen. We feel all women should be aware that they have options besides submission.”
Assaults too often prove fatal to the woman with no recourse but submission. Knowing when and how to fight back can mean the difference between life and death.
MODEL MUGGING is unique in its use of a specially trained, heavily armored assailant (typically a martial artist), delivering all out, full power attacks. Women don’t merely practice techniques, they use purposeful full force defenses in simulated rape situations, against the MUGGERS.
MODEL MUGGING was developed by martial artist Matt Thomas in response to the brutal rape of a female black belt karate student. Although she had won many trophies in her art, she was unable to defend herself against the rapist. She had never before actually hit anyone full force; nor had she learned to fight on the ground – where rape victims invariably end up.
Coached by a highly skilled female instructor, women develop focus, strategy, and powerful technique in the supportive environment of the MODEL MUGGING course. Against the attacks of the padded MUGGER, women’s bodies learn the feel of delivering a knock out blow. (A blow which would render unconscious anyone not protected by the special padding).
An attack, once begun, continues until the knock out blow has been delivered. For most women, this is the first all out, no holds barred, physical fight of their life.
“Adrenalin is the body’s natural preparation to fight,” explains, Danielle Evans, head instructor of the Monterey-Santa Cruz area. “Women learn, rather than to fear their natural response to danger, to channel that energy into an effective instantaneous counterattack.”
The MUGGERS’ attacks are so real that many rape victims relive their previous experience.
“Only this time,” says Danielle, “they come out as victors, changing perhaps years of “how they’ve experienced that rape. It can take from six months to a lifetime for a woman to get over a rape – if she ever does.”
The array of aftershocks for rape victims include depression, guilt, shame, inability to trust or love, sexual dysfunction, and relationship breakups. Divorce and suicide are fairly common after a rape.
Karen no longer shifts her gaze to avoid passers by on the streets of Santa Cruz. For perhaps the first time since her rape, she feels free to look, without fear, into the eyes of strangers. “I was missing a lot of human contact all those years,” she reflects.
The course also benefits women who, though never raped, live imprisoned by their fear of assault.
“MODEL MUGGING has changed my life,” says Monterey graduate Maureen McEvoy. “I’m not a martial artist, and by no means am I athletic – but I am now 100% confident that no one will get the upper hand with me. Knowing this even makes me walk differently – that in itself is a deterrent.”
Maureen’s business sponsors women who can’t afford to take the course. “l’d like to see other women who own businesses set up similar programs,” she adds. “Considering rapists attack an average of sixteen victims before being caught, women who use these skills are saving perhaps that many other women from being raped.”
American women are several times as likely to be raped as women in certain other cultures, according to the studies of Anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday. She perceives rape as a conditioned response to the way societies are organized. Sanday cautions against blaming men alone or women alone for the high incidence of rape in the U.S. “In a way, we all conspire to perpetuate it [rape]. We expect men to attack just as we expect women to submit.”
Geri, one of the first Santa Cruz MODEL MUGGING graduates, was shocked to hear herself apologizing as she struck back at a MUGGER attacking her in class. “We just have so many years of conditioning not to defend ourselves,” she says. “That’s what makes this course so valuable – it gives us options.”
“We’ve been taught that for a woman to fight, she must be tough or masculine. That’s just not true,” insists Danielle. “We can be the women we are – and still fight back.”
“We teach women to claim their right to self defense,” says MODEL MUGGER, Julio Toribio, proudly. “Sometimes we take a lot of pain in the process – but we do it.”
What motivates a MODEL MUGGER to spend four hours at a time in a suit that can raise his core temperature to 105°, and drain up to seven pounds of vital fluids from his body?
Paradoxically, besides strength, stamina, and specialized fighting skills, it takes a great deal of love to be a good MODEL MUGGER – to continue taking kicks to the head and groin, when it would be so much easier to pretend a knock out blow has been delivered.
Julio, a martial artist for sixteen years, explains his personal motivations: “Three years ago, my mother-in-law, a very peaceful woman, was assaulted in front of her own house. She had never learned to fight; she never expected to be attacked. She was found in the morning – dead of stab wounds.”
Julio saw MODEL MUGGING as an opportunity to channel his overwhelming grief and rage into positive action.
“Now I teach women to do what my mother-in-law couldn’t – to effectively defend themselves against brutal violence. And I feel better every time I see, at the end of each course, women leave with real trust and confidence in themselves.”
Original Article in COMMUNITY SPIRIT MAGAZINE – February 1985
COMMUNITY SPIRIT MAGAZINE – Pages 8-9, downloadable size is 1.21 MB
Other Model Mugging Self Defense Articles