*Points finger* "Don't walk through the Meadows at night."
I was told this 4 separate times during the first week I moved to Edinburgh. While I think Edinburgh is safe, I have a vivid imagination that's rarely on my side. My boyfriend used to live on one side of the Meadows and I lived on the other, so I'd walk home quite late diagonally along the Meadows with my knees poking out of my knuckles incase someone jumped out from behind a tree at me.
The most "dangerous" encounter I've had here has been getting cat-called by a jakey (Scottish slang for druggie) one night. Not exactly the worst thing to ever happen.
But because I not-so-secretly want to kick a few people's asses, I was eager to learn self-defense. I met a friend at the gym, thanks to my creepy American friendliness, who has a kick-boxing company called Combat Solutions and he and his fellow instructor, Craig regularly hold self-defense seminars for men and women.
Self defense seminar
I went to the seminar held by Craig last weekend at St Thomas of Aquin's high school off the Meadows near Quartermile. Craig was extremely welcoming and happy to answer specific questions (Like what do we do if someone grabs our ponytail?) He paired us up and let us practice a few minutes after each technique he demonstrated. The seminar was for all ages and fitness-levels and focused on techniques to use if someone tries to get physical with you. The techniques are designed to help you get out of a situation as quickly as possible, using the smallest amount of energy possible. It doesn't matter if the aggressor is bigger and stronger, these techniques are designed for that too.
No one wants to feel threatened, especially in a gorgeous city like Edinburgh, but knowing how to defense yourself will alleviate that bit of fear you have when walking home alone at night, or if someone you thought was a friend starts getting aggressive.
I highly recommend you check out Combat Solutions, whether you're interested in kickboxing, combat-related fitness classes, or self defense classes (private or seminars.) The instructors provide a welcoming, friendly environment to exercise and meet new people.
Random side note that accidentally turned into a full-blown lecture . . .
I want to give a shout-out to the Fit Club in the Sportsplex in Fairfield, Connecticut USA. They do fitness classes and martial arts classes for adults and children. It's pretty intense and feels like a family when you walk inside, it's so welcoming.
The owner, Joe Oppedisano, gave me private self-defense classes when I was 19. I saw him again when I was 21 after dealing with domestic abuse. I never told him how thankful I am for what he's taught me—maybe he'll find this post somehow. His words of advice and teachings still stick with me today. He told me he trains a lot of women who've dealt with domestic violence but are afraid to report it. He strongly urged me to report my situation but I was too scared. I didn't know if it really counted and I was afraid of the backlash. I wanted it to just disappear but nothing truly disappears, does it?
I strongly urge anyone in an abusive situation to go to a friend, or better yet, a professional and tell them what's going on. Listen to their advice. Loved ones should never hurt you, regardless if it's physical, mental, or verbal. You should never feel like it's your duty to "save" them. If they are unable to help themselves, then they need professional help and you need to let them go.
Also, this is really sick to say but if you are dealing with abuse in university, go to a trusted outside source. It is known that universities will do anything to brush these situations under the rug to keep their reputation, as they did with mine.
I will never forget how caring and helpful my friends were and how I pushed them all aside out of fear. I regret not acting sooner but I'm glad I acted eventually. My friends who were there for me 3 years ago have forgiven me and are here for me today, as I am here for them. Listen to those who are worried for you and trust them. They know what's best for you. Never, ever push away your friends.
Alright, that's the end of my rant. Go check out Combat Solutions!