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  • Writer's pictureWSDC

Why Jeannie is Important For Self-Defense

Updated: Aug 14, 2022

Barbara Eden in "I Dream of Jeannie".
The iconic "I Dream of Jeannie" pose.

It's a pop culture reference which is highly identifiable and incredibly helpful for us as instructors. And for you as a student.

The original I Dream of Jeannie television series ran for five seasons from 1965 to 1970. And then for a zillion times as re-runs on syndicated television for years later. For those who are unfamiliar with the show, usually Jeannie uses her genie powers to create all sorts of hilarious situations even though she is only try to help her love interest, astronaut Major Tony Nelson. Take a look for a sampling of the pose in the video below:

The iconic pose Jeannie adopts by folding her arms on top of each other, and then blinking, allows her to grant wishes or make things happen.

Why I Dream of Jeannie Helps us Teach Self-Defense

The pose is so familiar to many of us it creates a strong teaching device which allows students to link a visual cue to a physical performance. In other words, when we call out the I Dream of Jeannie reference, students then know to fold both arms on top of each other.

A visual reference like this quickly communicates to a student what the performance points should be. Their brain says, it should look like this. It also allows for the quick recall of the task.

Woman defending against a front strangle.
I Dream of Jeannie!

When you think about how toddlers learn, they mostly do it by imitating others. Then by trying the action. Over and over.

We can now use this reference point to teach one of the techniques used to defend against a front strangle and a lapel grab. You will be seeing this technique used repeatedly in the Stay with People and Go to People curriculums.

But Brad, what if our younger students don't know the pop culture reference?

I know, it's becoming more common with our younger students. Same with references to things like:

  • A landline

  • A phone booth

  • A broken record

  • A rollodex

What I have done successfully is to ask the group if they know the reference. Invariably, at least one person will know it. I ask her to get up and show the rest of group. This usually gets a good laugh and we can move forward. You might get a group where you as the instructor have to demonstrate the reference so you can prepare them to start defending against the front lapel grab and the front strangle.

Interestingly, some of the younger students will say they know the pop culture reference, even if they never watched the show. Their consumption of videos and memes give them a wide breadth of knowledge across a variety of subjects.

Give this visual anchor a try in your classes. Or if you are learning women's self-defense, you'll know why we are referencing this image for some of our techniques.

AS A SIDE NOTE: I was fortunate enough to have dinner with Barbara Eden at an awards ceremony in Los Angeles a number of years ago. Yes, she is as gracious, engaging, and beautiful as you would have hoped her to be.


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