If you or your loved ones were ever in a life-threatening situation, would you know what to do in that split second to possibly save your life? My team and I met up with Mark Grobbelaar, founder of Woman INpowered (WIP) and after just a few hours, we left feeling physically and mentally stronger. Here’s why….
What is WIP
Women INpowered is an extremely simple, easy to learn, yet devastatingly effective self INpowerment system that has been designed for women to give them the mental and physical ability to make a choice in a threatening situation.
When I met WIP founder, Mark Grobbelaar, he told me that he uses the term INpowerment rather than empowerment because his main aim is to teach women of all ages to believe in themselves and know that they have the inner strength and ability to choose their destiny in any given situation. I really resonated with this message, and that’s why my team and I did Mark’s course.
How did WIP start?
Society says that because you’re a woman, there’s certain things you can’t do. But as a father of a soon-to-be teenage daughter, Mark believes that’s a load of rubbish. “I want my daughter to grow up with a strong self-esteem, knowing that she can overcome anything,” he adds. And with SA’s high femicide rates, Mark is passionate about turning this around.
Although he has 40+ years’ experience with Karate, Mark hardly uses any of these techniques in his INpowerment classes. He started WIP many years ago after hearing what happened to Alison Botha, the brave woman who survived a brutal rape and stabbing outside her home. “After tracking her down, Alison and I met for dinner and we spoke extensively about what happened. I realised then that she’d made some critical mistakes, like leaving with those men in a car, which almost killed her. So, I worked day and night to develop a simple, yet effective system for women that would be easy to remember and implement in situations like these,” says Mark.
He also explained to us that although there are benefits to practising martial arts, such as increased strength and fitness, Mark believes that complicated self-defence courses probably won’t help you in a life-threatening situation such as a mugging with a weapon or hijacking. Firstly, because you need to practice the techniques for a long time before it becomes second nature. And secondly, if you did remember it by chance, men are physically stronger than women, and chances are you wouldn’t have the time to get into the right position to defend yourself effectively using traditional self-defence techniques such as arm grips.
How does WIP work?
The WIP course is made up of four one-hour sessions, plus you get a manual to take home. Classes are suitable for women of all ages and fitness levels, although Mark prefers to see girls from age 12+.
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In each class, you’ll learn a simple technique that could save your life. Mark focuses primarily on teaching women how to punch someone in the throat as this is the quickest and most effective way to immobilise them. He uses the concept of punching through a wooden board, which everyone masters by the end of the course! “When I ask women if they think they can break a board, they always say no, so it’s phenomenal to see how they overcome this by the end of the course,” says Mark. “I always explain that they can do anything if you’re taught how to do it and when you believe in yourself, it’s possible. Breaking the board is a physical and emotional release for women because they quickly realise that they’re stronger than they think and do have the choice to defend themselves in any situation, whether it’s abuse at home or a crime on the street,” he adds.
Some simple rules
One of the rules Mark speaks about is never going with the attacker to a second place. Things always get worse at the second place – always. Remember people often use weapons to get what they want – be at your car, phone or any other valuables on you. At the first place, chances of survival are 95%, and less than 35% at the second place. Just recently, our very own Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel Peters punched a potential hijacker in the throat and managed to get away after learning the simple technique in Mark’s class.
The most important thing is to try and get away from the situation as fast as possible. Always leave, says Mark. If you can’t leave, there are only three human reactions to a traumatic event:
- Fight – If you choose to fight, you must make sure that whatever you do immobilises the attacker otherwise it’ll infuriate him.
- Flight – The most important thing is to try and get away from the situation as fast as possible.
- Freeze – In this case, you’ll always end up being the victim, so this is not a good option. You need to be proactive in a life-threatening situation and know that you have a choice.