Our Women's Personal Defense CenterSM has been training women of all ages and from all backgrounds in the skill of self defense for over two years as a part of its community service programs. We have trained hundreds of women in simple, but effective, techniques that not only save lives but, more importantly, transform their mind-set from one of potential victim to one of authoritative conviction in their own ability to secure their personal safety.
The rules that follow are written here to help you begin your own journey of transformation in this respect. They do not supplant a course in self defense but, rather, are intended to complement such training, giving you the opportunity to view the matter of personal safety from an entirely new perspective—one of power and understanding in the stead of impotence and confusion. Moreover, they introduce to you the dynamics of, and the underlying factors requisite to, a physical assault.
To comprehend these dynamics serves to help you break with a possible pattern of activity that very well may be self-defeating when it comes to your personal safety. When reading these rules, please remember that nothing can take the place of live training in the technical skills of defending yourself.
• In order to be a predator, there must, by definition, exist a victim or the “preyed upon.” In order to change this symmetrical relationship, you must do whatever you can to empower yourself against becoming a victim. This should include arming yourself with the knowledge and aptitude of one who knows how to react to a threatened or actual assault. A true and realized sense of empowerment will emulsify a potentially dangerous situation, thus making you not only an unlikely target but an “unqualified” one too. Bear in mind that a predator is adept at sniffing out his prey. Body language that spells defenselessness, weakness, or fear is an automatic signal to the predator that you are a potential prey, and since body language arises from a like state of mind, you address this by replacing the idea of impotence in the face of an attack with know-how.
• Always take into account that all bodies have inherent weaknesses. The key is in identifying how and where to strike your attacker in such a way so as to cause the utmost pain and/or disability in the shortest period of time.
• There is an immense difference between fighting an attacker and incapacitating him quickly and efficiently. A prolonged fight with an assailant is likely to wear down your defenses and lead to eventual defeat. So the point is to become skilled at incapacitating an attacker. Your self defense must be practical, simple and direct, and your first strike may be your last so it must be immediately effective.
• So as not to overlook the obvious, expect your assailant to be stronger than you. It is uncommon to be attacked by one who is significantly smaller or weaker. The obvious exception to this is, of course, an assailant who is armed with a weapon. Therefore, practice your self defense technique as if your attacker is of King Kong proportions. Be realistic—no scrawny, Erckel-like character is going to come after you. An aggressor only attacks one he feels superior to, so you are not likely to find a short, skinny dude attacking a linebacker.
• Here, again, your body language is of critical importance; hunched, drooping shoulders, sudden, worried glances, a nervous and jerky gait are all giveaways that you are afraid and, therefore, a potential target.
• Avoid useless and ineffective defense techniques, and never underestimate the physical violence associated with an attack. Whereas even a pinch may be enough to dissuade a normal person from reaching for the cookie jar, an assailant who is strung out on an adrenaline rush or, worse, some form of a drug, will not be discouraged by a bite on the arm, for instance. Not only could this be a total waste of your energy and good teeth, but it may serve only to further anger your attacker. There are a myriad of other strikes and techniques that will better serve your purpose of escape. So once you begin training in a course of self defense, do so diligently, and take extended courses where these are available to you. Practice sufficiently so as to hard-wire your techniques as instant reactions.
Avoid striking the torso of your attacker. Although you may get lucky and knock the wind out of him, your life is much too precious to rely on luck. As with the example given above, chances are you will only further anger your assailant. Learn the targets of effective strikes: the ears, nose, throat, eyes, joints, etc. And practice these until your reaction time is to within a split second, and your target of strike is precise. It may serve to save your life.
• Expect that you will likely be injured in the process of your defense. Many women anticipate—unrealistically—that their defense techniques will provide a barrier of complete protection from injury. Nothing could be further from the truth. Chances are that you will be fortunate to emerge from an attack with only a simple scratch or a bruise. Such unrealistic expectations are likely to set you up for rapid defeat in that, in failing to anticipate an injury or at least some pain, at the first encounter with a punch, a slap or any such assault upon your person or body, you will quickly become disheartened and consequently expect that your defenses have failed and you are to be defeated. This is especially true when faced with an armed assailant. Realistic preparation is key to keeping your head on your shoulders, literally and figuratively.
• Never rely on only one technique. Since real life situations do not follow pre-set patterns, it is wise to have a back-up plan for as many possibilities as you can muster. To expect pepper spray to be your only line of defense, for instance, is folly. What if you freeze when confronted? What if you have your pepper spray on your key chain, and your keys are in your purse? For that matter, what if you locked your keys in your car?! What now? You may be very good at scratching someone’s eyes out, but this will hardly serve if you are attacked from behind, and your attacker puts you in a head-lock. Live training in a variety of techniques is a wise prescription for a complete sense of safety, and it is irreplaceable when coupled with a practical and well-grounded point of view.
Women's Personal Defense CenterSM offers low-cost introductory self defense classes for women about four times per year.