Three poems after Empowerment Self Defence Movement Matters Webinar

Dr J Nolan-Roll
4 min readJan 24, 2021


First, from someone who grew up through some wars and some abuse and with uttermost stubbornness that this should change, to women and movement I only slightly believe are actually real, as they live in places which I only saw on television and even then not a lot:

Thank you.

Second, I wrote some poems of your words on webinar of Empowerment Self Defence (ESD) history and beginnings. Because that is what wonderful Jane Speedy (check her art out) taught me research is. And also I really resonated with what you said so I thought there must be more resonators and they should most definitely hear it. Or read it.

Third, the poems are in no way shape or form anything like a proper poems so may your expectation of rhyme end right now. They are the poetic inquiry poems. Really wonderful but very tricky way to do research. Try it. But do it on your own peril. Under your own peril. Anyway, be responsible. Too much creative inquiry might save your life. Just saying.

Fourth, thank you. I couldn’t say it just once. And thank you to ESD Global for organising this and Yudit the force of nature for moderation.

Fifth, I am looking for mentors, especially in terms of beginnings so if you’re up for zoom coffee and you were a panellist do get in touch. Also, there is a massive chance I will get in touch with you so please respond. Even with a polite refusal. Other refusals are not welcome.

Sixth, you are epic. Even if you had nothing to do with webinar or ESD. Although, do go and check it out. It can only make you more epic.

Seventh, the poems. Or three lessons about the beginnings from the words of ESD panel on January 24th, 2020, time NOT from 4pm UK time but from 5.

1: The survivor experience and its necessity in order for one to become ESD trainer. Or practitioner. Or, you know, a pupil.

Am I survivor?

As women, we are all survivors in one way or another.

As women, we all just get it.

This is why we do work we do.

I am very very happy. And very tired too.

2: The advice wise sages who begun many moons ago give to us whose beginnings’’ moons are still young.

(Stop looking backwards unless that’s where you want to go?)

You need to have business foundation. You need space. You need money but not just money.

Some participants might not tell their partners they go to self-defence class

You need to think how you will get to those women who need it.

Organise transportation.

Your teenage children can be babysitters.

You really have to make those phone calls.

It is difficult to teach alone. And do all the roles.

Find the leader of the communities and have them work with people who you want to share the workshops with.

They know who has transportations. And space.

Find the link with the important leader of community.

They have answers.

“This mother works evenings so Tuesdays might not be the best.”

Find the leaders.

Just because you start alone doesn’t mean you should continue alone.

Find the people who do things you can’t do- people who do meetings.

Support work.


We are in the best time of our career because of our hookup with all of you (ESD)

Now babysitters can be instructors as well.

There is a generational trauma which comes to play.

Stop looking backwards unless that’s where you want to go.


Carry the healthy parts of your history forward and learn from the less healthy parts.

History always gets rewritten by someone else.

We have to tell our history so we can remember where we came from.

Have someone set up a business for you.

Find the right people and keep going.

Outreach and network as much as you can.

Help one another. Stories of others helps us learn.

We all want to help women.

We all want the women to rise up. Bottom line:

We need to work together for all of this to happen.

Be there for one another.

Be patient.

Make that tent bigger.

There is a lot of work to be done.

(this is where Emmeline Pankhurst nods, from the framed poster at the top of my desk:

I incite this movement to rebellion.)

3: The thingimabob which for me sums the core of why I do what I do and I did what I did even when I was told that it is a stupid idea and that it will never work. Poem, of course.

The best fight

You teach self-defence. That is so cute.

Oh so you think you are so tough now.

Hook line and sinker. I was in.

I was an arrogant shit

There was just no way I could quit.

If you get raped, just submit and you’ll be fine.

I was afraid. I played it down. For his ego.

She stood in her strong stance and yelled really loud


He of course tried to gaslight her. But never touched her again.

Sometimes the fight takes much longer than what happens on the mat.

We changed the culture of schools where we teach.

These young women are growing up to be senators and governors and politicians.

These people are the future leaders of our world.

Now she had new tools to manage adrenaline response.

Your story ends with a divorce from your abuser.

The best fight is the one which didn’t happen.



Dr J Nolan-Roll

Writer. Researcher. Empowerment activist. Psychologist. Parent. Friend. 40 plus and still not seen Australia.