The Necessity of UofT’s First Gender Neutral Self-Defence Workshop
The Newspaper speaks with Sifu Ali Siadatan to discuss why Wu Xing Martial Arts chose to collaborate on UofT’s groundbreaking new event and how learning martial arts can help eliminate stress during the school year.
Photo by Ella Rollins
With individuals ranging from Free the Children’s Marc Kielburger to CBC Radio Host Terry O’Reilly who have all had rewarding experiences working with Wu Xing Martial Arts, we chatted with Sifu Ali Siadatan about how to combat conflict without lifting a finger, the role of martial arts as an avenue for empowerment and why UofT is long overdue for it’s first gender-neutral self- defence course.
What drew Wu Xing Martial Arts into collaborating on this event?
When asked why Sifu Ali Siadatan decided to back the event, he described it as correlating with the general mission of Wu Xing Martial Arts. One of their primary goals is to “bring health and empowerment to people." "This is a chance to make that goal a reality for students at UofT and to inspire them to explore the knowledge of martial arts and healing arts.”
What is the value of having a gender-neutral self- defence course on a university campus?
As self-defence workshops are almost always directed at women, Siadartan has a forward thinking perspective on the necessity of a self-defence workshop accessible to both women and men. Regarding the gender-neutral atmosphere of the event as “very valuable”, he goes on explain that “studying late can be dangerous and both men and women are subject to attacks for different reasons.”
It is Sifu Ali Siadatan’s hope that his workshop can help students learn how to focus their minds, deal with stress effectively and teach them notions of confidence so they can feel comfortable in their surroundings.
Sometimes martial arts is associated with violence but how do you think that learning self-defence fosters empowerment, increased self-esteem and a sense of personal strength for individuals who learn it's methods?
Quick to debunk this often misinformed myth, Siadatan has a clear and logical answer about why martial arts actually has little do with promoting physical violence. Stating that if it caused violence, statistics and the media would have shown a steady increase in the 30 years that martial arts has been a part of North American culture, he instead clarifies that masters of martial arts are seen as artists instead of fighters.
Siadatan goes on to further describe the role of conflict in martial arts and that many people have difficulty coping with the reality of it. “Martial arts teaches how to deal with conflict instead of turning a blind eye. Through it, participants learn how to analyze situations from a mile away and learn core principles that can be applied to several parts of life.”
He states the importance of acquiring the feeling of “being able to take care of ourselves.” “Through learning meaningful movements associated with language that create a complex and fulfilling algorithm, it can create assertive, empowering emotions.”
In your own practice, what do you hope your participants take away from self- defence classes?
Sifu Ali Siadatan expectations for his participants extend past what to do in the immediate situation of danger. He emphsizes “a review and lesson of how to think about situations and being aware of all the possible tools you can use.” In a more physical sense, he hopes that individuals leave with an “understanding of pressure points and unexpected vulnerable parts of the body that can lead to a quick escape.”
What is the most rewarding thing about teaching a class of this nature?
Ending our conversation on a more personal level, Siadatan relishes in “connecting with other people and being able to bring something positive to their life on a physical, mental and spiritual level.”
The Gender Neutral Self-Defence Class is hosted by the Equity & Outreach Commission at University College and Wu Xing Martial Arts. It will be held on September 24th at 6pm in the Junior Common Room in University College.
For more information, check out the event on Facebook.
To learn more about Wu Xing Marital Arts, check out their website