It’s natural for our passions to flow into our stories in some form or another, and women's self-defense is one of those tidbits from my own life and interests are woven into the storyline of Picture Perfect.
Micah, the hero in the story, practices jujitsu. Lily, the heroine, studies boxing. One of the underlying currents of the story is the concept of self-defense and safety.
Having grown up in a Christian “bubble,” I was anxious about heading off to college. It didn’t help that the first college I attended was on the outskirts of New York City. The summer before my freshman year, I asked a family friend (a police detective) if he would teach me self-defense. We got together and he showed me a few tactics, but I remember at the end of the evening feeling more worried, because as he showed me scenarios, my mind started to run. I began to realize just how little I knew, and how many different ways a person could attack another person. (To be clear, it wasn’t his fault at all. He taught me some simple techniques to use in an emergency. In retrospect what I wanted was training and that’s not something that happens in one night!)
In college, I took an 8-week course that was an intro to martial arts. Again, nothing wrong with the instructor or the class. But it was about precision of strikes, blocks, and kicks, and step-by-step attack/defense sequences. It was not “down and dirty” self-defense. (Of course it wasn’t designed to be! But in my ignorance, I equated “martial arts” with “women’s self-defense” and walked away feeling more vulnerable than when I started.)
Fast forward a few years. Not long after meeting my husband, I learned he studied jujitsu. He asked if I wanted to learn. I said no. I wasn’t interested in jujitsu. I wanted to learn self-defense. So he invited me to meet his instructor, who was excited to teach me techniques geared for women. I started coming early, before jujitsu class, to learn. I learned about women’s areas of strength, about awareness and alertness, and the physics of the human body. I practiced palm strikes and knees to the groin until I developed muscle memory and instinct and earned the nickname “Lethal Knees.”
Then my session would end, and jujitsu class would begin. It didn’t take long before I was joining them on the mat.
Over the years, I’ve loved teaching women’s self-defense because I've seen wonderful things happen when a woman learns she really can protect herself physically. I think every woman should realize she has a vested interest in her physical and sexual safety and not leave it up to chance or assume it's someone else's responsibility.
So many women see themselves as "weak." I was once one of them. Learning self-defense helps develop confidence, and that's something that has far-reaching effects--many women discover inner strengths they never knew they had and become "stronger" on different playing fields of life, whether it be work, relationships, communication, setting boundaries, the list goes on.
I hope readers learn a little a little something new from the characters' experiences in Picture Perfect!