So what is UKMW, anyway?

UKMW is the women-only branch of Urban Krav Maga. UKM is an established and internationally successful martial art, founded by Stewart McGill .

Why have a women-only class?

I’ve been training in Stewart’s UKM classes for seven years now. In that time, I’ve seen many women come to the classes, attend for a few weeks or a few months, and then stop coming. While there are several female regulars who do attend the mixed classes on an ongoing basis, I felt it was time to see what I could do to reach out to those women who kept dropping out. A more female-focused environment seemed like a good place to start.

What’s the difference between this and the mixed-gender class?

As far as the techniques themselves go, very little. The main difference is that the women’s class focuses more on defending against the kind of attacks that women are most likely to face.

What’s the point of teaching women to defend themselves in any case? If they fight back against an attacker, all that’ll happen is they’ll end up getting hurt worse than they would have done if they’d just given in.

This is a myth, and has been shown to be a myth by a study done in 1992 by Sarah Ullman and Raymond Knight. This study showed that “women who responded with physical aggression to the offender's violent physical attack were more likely to avoid rape than were women who did not resist such force. Also, the potential for physical injury was no greater for these women than for those who used other resistance strategies or who offered no resistance.” (Quote taken from the abstract of the study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence). Please note that I am not saying that forceful resistance against attack will automatically mean that a woman will escape the attack. But it does increase the chance of escape. This is the direct opposite of the myth that many women are taught, and the teaching of that myth does a lot to convince women that they shouldn’t, or couldn’t, fight back.

What about me? I’m very small/weak/clumsy. Surely there’s nothing I can do to defend myself if I get attacked?

Anyone can learn self-defence techniques, and anyone can apply those techniques. I’m not going to lie: someone who is very strong has an advantage over someone who isn’t. Someone who’s very big has an advantage against someone who isn’t. But there are ways to negate those advantages, and these techniques are the bases of UKMW teaching.
As for being clumsy; I’m fairly clumsy, and I’m the instructor! I’ve learned these techniques, not by being naturally graceful, but by studying them repeatedly until they became instinctive.

So you have to put a lot of time in to really get the hang of this thing, huh?

No, not really. You can commit as much or as little time as you like. Most UKMW techniques are quite simple and straightforward. My aim is that someone could come to a single class and walk away with something that will be useful to them; but equally, coming on a regular or semi-regular basis will strengthen your understanding of the techniques and the degree to which they become second nature to you. Ultimately, it’s up to you!