Nancy Horenburg on the art of self-defence

Wednesday, 19 July 2017
Nancy Horenburg on the art of self-defence

A self-defence workshop targeting girls and women is in the offing on July 22nd. 

The brainchild of Nancy Horenburg, an artist and illustrator, as well as a health and fitness practitioner, the event will take place at the land Retreat in Mokatse.  Horenburg has over 30 years experience as a martial arts expert and has taught classes in karate, Kung fu and Capoeira, but is currently only teaching Taichi and Qigong.

And she tells BG Style that her life work is based in the fields of health and wellness, martial arts, and the arts (she is also an artist of watercolour, clay sculpture and words). And for many years, she has provided services and products in these areas, as well as providing workshops on health and wellness alongside her mother, Françoise Horenburg, a natural health therapist. Horenburg has already given a workshop on self-defence a few years ago, and although she never thought about doing more workshops and self-defence classes, she has never committed to it until now. “I believe that with the state of the world we live in right now, the fear that is truly present or just made up, we need to have some skills that will enable us to live with less fear, more safety and more consciousness and awareness. Now is the time I have chosen to commit to providing these workshops and classes,” she explains. The event seeks to provide three things – an awareness of the survival instinct individuals already have that strives to keep us safe, and to know how to use them more fully to stay safe. Secondly, it seeks to provide behaviours, attitude and habits that individuals can learn to implement into their lives and stay out of danger. Thirdly, simple physical techniques, that, should the need arise, can help protect inviduals from more violence.

Elaborating why she was targeting women and girls, she explains that although men are also victims of assault and crime, her target audience was far more vulnerable. “I have also chosen to exclude men from this workshop because the women need a safe space in order to learn,” she says. 

“If any woman or girl has already experienced a crime towards them, bringing a man into the group would be counterproductive to their safe state of mind. We must remember that perpetrators of most crimes are men, and until men have empowered themselves enough so that they have no need to take power away from others, especially women, and until they have gained a sense of honour and responsibility, women and girls are the group that needs to learn safety and self defence skills,” she explains. 

Topics that will be covered during the event include but not limited to the following, that we have an instinctual and cognitive system in our body whose main purpose is to keep us safe, and how to use that system the way it is meant to be used. Secondly, learning about habits, behaviours, posture, language, attitudes that are part of a person who will most likely become a victim, and of someone who will most likely never become a victim. And lastly, learning basic but effective self defence skills. 

Sharing her insights about what needs to be done when confronted by a dangerous situation, she advises that one of the first mistakes that victims normally make is not being aware that there is a potentially dangerous situation and not taking steps to avoid that situation. According to Horenburg, many women are afraid to be rude to someone who seems friendly, but that might be the very person who ends up being an attacker. 

She also points out that if a woman/girl feels that there is danger, she must take whatever steps she can to avoid it.  “Even if it makes her feel foolish or scared or rude or mean or whatever, because in the end it is better than to be attacked,” says Horenburg. In the unlikely event that a physical situation occurs, she emphasises that they must use knowledge and intuition to decide how far she wants to go to protect herself. “If it is just a bag being stolen, maybe the best thing is to let it go, as people have been seriously injured or killed because they refused to give up their bag. Your life is not worth your bag,” she notes. She also says that if she is facing the threat of rape, how far is she willing to go to protect herself? That is a question that no one can answer except the girl or woman who is experiencing an assault.

 “Although it might not be an entirely positive thing to say, studies have shown that between women who have been raped and fought back and women who have been raped and not fought back, the women who had fought back had much higher relief from their trauma and recovered emotionally much better and faster,” explains Horenburg. 

A student of life, Horenburg started Sankukai karate, here in Gaborone, at 11 years old. She credits her karate teacher, Sensei Clements, a great teacher, for paving her martial arts journey. She views martial arts as a way of developing one’s character, practising virtues, creating a greater connection to our non-physical self and learning physical techniques of self defence.

 The martial arts are, in her opinion, in their truest sense, a way of developing and uniting body, mind, heart and spirit to be the best person one can become and live the best life one can. “That has been my journey though the various arts I have practised, from karate, Wing chun Kung fu, judo and jujitsu, and centering on my current arts: Taichi, Sankukai karate, Kungfu and Capoeira. It is an ongoing journey with no destination but to be the best I can be,” she said.

Additional information about where one can buy tickets can be viewed at the Self Defence Workshop page on Facebook. 


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