I recently did a quick segment on a local daytime talk show about women’s self-defense. With the upcoming holiday season, it’s a good time to go over some important aspects to keep people safe. Thefts skyrocket around this time due to all the holiday shopping and the first thing I want to point out is self-defense of any kind (for both women and men) is about protecting yourself and your loved ones, DO NOT RISK YOUR LIFE OVER STUFF! There is nothing you own that can’t be replaced. You are irreplaceable!
That’s the biggest takeaway concerning self-defense, the other thing I try to hammer out of people’s heads are the misconceptions placed there by movies and TV. There is no such thing as a violent criminal mastermind. The genius criminals are white collar criminals. Someone that is threatening you with violence is a an idiot whose poor life choices led him to this desperate act. Think of him as a starving lion circling the herd of gazelles. Understanding his mindset will help you understand two facts:
- If you don’t make yourself an easy target, you’re less likely to get selected (don’t be the wounded gazelle).
- He spent a lot of time psyching himself up and visualizing how it’s going to go. If you “flip the script” and interrupt what he thinks is supposed to happen, he is very likely to panic and run away.
With some basic concepts, you can drastically increase your odds of coming out of an unpleasant confrontation unharmed.
Always be aware of your surroundings
With women’s self-defense especially (but also with any cowardly criminal), an attacker is not going to square off with your like a boxer and tell you an attack is coming. He is going to attempt to sneak up on you and grab you to initiate the attack. Wandering around with your attention on your cell phone instead of your surroundings or digging in your purse with no concept of what’s going on around you is a good way to look like an easy target (the wounded gazelle). Walking around terrified is another great way to look like an easy victim. A scared target is far less likely to disrupt the script in his head. Even if you are scared, put on your angry face and try to act like you have nothing to worry about. You’ll confuse any predators and cause them to move on to easier prey.
It isn’t enough to be aware of any threats around you, but you also want to be aware of all your escape routes. Women’s self-defense is about creating an opening that will allow you to run away. Since that’s the plan, you need to know where you’re going to run to at all times. You only have an instant to act, so figure out where you’re going long before confrontation comes. Also, have anything you may need in hand. If your plan is to run to the car, have your keys in hand. If you plan to run to a public area and call the police, have your phone in hand and run screaming to get attention.
Like I said, your attacker has it all figured out in his head how it’s going to go long before he makes his move. Like any bully, the best way to throw off the plan is to hit first and hit hard. I won’t go into all the ways you can respond. If you want to learn some simple and effective ways to protect yourself, find an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) gym. They have taken the best of what works from dozens of different martial arts and combined them into the most effective form. I always recommend the simplest techniques to make sure you can pull them out of your surprised brain (and you will be surprised) without having to think about it.
Don’t try to wail away on your attacker until he falls. All you need to do is hit once or twice in some tender spots (eyes, nose, throat, fingers, toes, groin, etc.) and run. It will take him a second to figure out what went wrong and if you run screaming the other way, he is more likely to flee himself than chase you down.
Don’t be civil
This goes along with respond aggressively. People don’t understand how much damage a human being can do when they respond with full animalistic fury. We don’t realize it because we’ve collectively decided what the civil ways to fight are. We can punch, kick, and wrestle, but biting, eye gouging, and bending fingers back until they snap is considered uncivil. People have heard the horrible stories of chimps attacking people and they assume the maiming damage occurs because they’re so much stronger than humans. They do have impressive strength, but the real damage occurs because they have no civility holding them back. Assume your life is in danger and respond with every vicious impulse you can think of. He violated the rules of our civil society by attacking you, and you are fully in your rights to do anything you need to survive.
I have to talk women out of the idea of punching in the face because untrained women (and many men) are more likely to break a hand than stop an attacker. However, gouging fingernails into someone’s eyes or biting a chunk out of his cheek is going to stop anyone cold. Maiming damage to the face triggers an instinctual drive to flee. He’s going to be far more concerned about preserving his face than chasing you down.
Check out the video for some quick ideas on how to get out of a few common situations.