‘Self Defense Starter Kit’ Offers Practical Moves to De-Escalate Everyday Discrimination

By Sameer Rao Mar 09, 2017

With hate-motivated violence reportedly increasing across the country, two Muslim women offer the Self Defense Starter Kit for those looking for functional maneuvers to use in real-life instances of discriminatory abuse.

Rana Abdelhamid and Maryam Aziz, who star in the sometimes-comical instructional video series, use their black belt-level martial arts education to guide viewers through eight simulations of possible violent encounters and corresponding self-defense techniques. Video titles include, "How to Twist Out of a Wrist Grab," "How to Stop a Grab to the Hijab" and "How to Use Your Voice in Self Defense." 

Abdelhamid describes the series’ premise in an introductory video:  

Self-defense is mad empowering. It makes you feel secure, it gives you a positive relationship with your body and allows you to see the power of your body. You’re literally building your toolkit so that if there’s any situation where you feel like you are under attack, you can de-escalate that situation. And you can use that power to protect yourself, to protect your friends, your family and even your community. 

Both Abdelhamid and Aziz work with the Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment, an organization founded by Abdelhamid that’s geared towards training Muslim women and girls in self-defense, entrepreneurship and leadership skills.

Filmmakers Robie Flores and Alison Withers, who directed the video series in collaboration with the organization, told Teen Vogue last month that the team aimed the series’ mix of physical and verbal de-escalation strategies at women of all backgrounds who experience street harassment: 

"Street harassment is something we all deal with on a very regular basis that it’s become so normalized we don’t mention every single time it happens, and this is alarming and a very serious problem, especially for visible minorities," Robie told Teen Vogue. "We genuinely didn’t know how to properly face these situations we encounter very often, much less what to do when they escalate and turn violent."

Abelhamid said in the same interview that the creators "recognize that self-defense is not the main solution." "But it’s about building women’s capacity to be able to defend oneself as we continue to fight the good fight," she added.

Check out the "Self Defense Starter Kit," and let us know what you think in the comments.