(image credit: Solidarity For All)

In part I: BORDERS we want to question the paradigm of security that constructs identities, through the separation of bodies, the demarcation of boundaries, property claims and a ‘right for self defense’. At the same time, given that such liberties often rely on the restriction of the other, we need to ask how bodies can become resilient and ‘take space’ beyond what is granted to them.

Karins workshop explores our bodies as sites where cultural borders and limitations are inscribed, negotiated and rewritten.

Karin Verelst
, a biologist and philosopher who teaches at RITCS School of Arts and Brussels Free University (VUB), practices Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) and martial arts per se since more than two decennia. She was founding president of the Belgian historical fencing Federation SBSN, and holds the IFHEMA (international historical fencing federation) presidency. Karin’s main practice focus is on medieval longsword and unarmed combat (“ringen”). Her further martial experience includes Olympic boxing, Tai Jutsu and Shaolin Kung Fu. She moreover acquired the basic professional qualification of the British Academy of Dramatic Combat (BADC) in 2016. She also followed several digital workshops with the well known fight choreographer Tony Wolf. She developed a comprehensive Self Defence program based on her martial experience, focusing especially (though not exclusively) on the needs of women.


‘Self defense and spatial freedom against cultural norms’ by Karin Verelst

14 November 18h - 21h
workshop with philosopher and martial arts trainer Karin Verelst 

Free with donation. Bring comfortable clothes.
Snacks and drinks are provided.

Culture shapes bodies and the identities that go with them. It defines and imposes the way we sit, stand, move, look, behave, touch. It even shapes to a large extend the body’s physical shape and capacities, way beyond biology. When the cultural power structures that shape our bodies are violent or oppressive, the results can be devastating. Especially gender differences are strongly amplified and ingrained from the moment infants are born. Under the age of 13, there is no biologically determined physiological difference in the development of capacity between the sexes at all — so everything that presents itself as such before that age is 100% cultural — nevertheless the physical impact is very real.

In this initiation workshop we will explore in a hands-on manner the basics of the theory and practice of this understanding of the link between body and culture, with self-defense and gender as our focus.Through specific physical and psychological exercises, we will learn to see why this is relevant in daily life, and to understand what to do to become more free of such deeply ingrained bodily constraints. People from all genders are welcome.