I once made a booklet on self-defense for women, but i wanted to re-do it. So goes? Self-defense is what we do to make our lives safer on a daily basis. It s taking control of situations in which you re to be made a victim- this ranges from comments to physical attack. It s realizing that if someone does not respect your boundaries, you should stop them. There are many different strategies for this- saying something, yelling, leaving, fighting- the important thing is you do something!
Staring at the ground, hunched shoulders, hiding your hands in your pockets, making yourself small, carries the message I m weak and vulnerable! Women get targeted as easy prey. So having strong body language decreases our risk of being fucked around. Make eye contact with people in a way that lets them know you ve seen them. Swing your arms when walking, take up space. Strong body language not only affects how others see us, it increases our own confidence.
Asserting yourself is an important part of taking control of your life. If some behavior is making you feel bad, uncomfortable, scared, confront the person. you can
name the behavior
tell them what you want them to do- you re constantly touching me. I don t like it. Stop it. Repeat if needed!
This is a direct, non-engaging way of establishing what you want and saying please etc. when asserting yourself.
If someone is bothering you in a public place, make a scene! It will be much more embarrassing for that person than for you! Our voice is a weapon too. Yelling alerts other people and can freak an attacker out. It can also help channel your fear into aggression. Shout No! or Fuck off! Loudly, deeply from your stomach.
Remember, if your gut feeling tells you something dodgy s going on- say someone unpleasant is following you- trust it and do something. Whether it s confronting the person, getting to safety, calling someone or getting a weapon ready.
Getting right into someone s face and screaming will throw them.
There are some twists and tricks to get out of certain grabs. I ll show you some basic, simple ones- i think all self-defense should be kept as simple as possible. You can practice these moves with a friend. with some practice they become an automatic reaction. They don t depend on strength, just quick reaction and swift movement.
And don t worry if you can t remember them/ they don t make any sense to you. You can also try and get out of a grab in other ways. E.Q. by striking a primary target (see next page).
If someone grabs your wrist, get out by doing a quick twist against the thumb (the weakest part of the grab), up and over the arm. You can do this with both wrists at the same time, too.
This one is for if someone grabs your shirt or throat with both hands. Push one hand through their arms, hold your other hand and push quickly from one side to the other. Twist your hips and shoulders too to add power.
This one is for when someone gets you into a half-nelson. Get your hand up into their face from behind their shoulder. Then jerk their head back while coming up.
Grabbed with Two Hands
Make a fist, then pull it up with your free hand, towards your face
If you choose to physically fight, you have to commit 100% and be as fierce as possible. Believing in yourself is an important part of this! Channel the adrenaline rush of fear into anger to make yourself stronger. Strike, don t wrestle. The moves shown are for use against the weak parts of the body- any attacker, no matter how big and strong, has these weak spots. Shout with each strike.
The Straight Jab
Making fists, bring your arm out straight, hitting with the knuckles first, bring your shoulder and hip into the punch, too.
Pull the elbow back high and bring across to your other shoulder. Move the hips too! This is good against the temple or throat. Or drive your elbow into someone behind you. Push with the other hand.
Pull your knee up into the groin if you re in close. From further away- bring your knee up in front of you, then let your foot snap out. Keep the toes pointed so that you re hitting with the top of your foot.
A Strong Stance
If you fight, do so from a strong, stable stance arms up, knees slightly bent, feet shoulder-width apart
Practice strikes at home with a sleeping bag.
Stomp to Knee
Bring the knee up and then drive the foot out, hitting the knee with your heel. This can be done from the side or from in front or even from behind
Stomp to Foot
Scrape your heel down from the knee onto the top of the foot with a strong stomp either from behind/ in front/ the side
Strike at primary targets when you re on the ground.
Also Bringing your knee up will help keep someone off you.
A few well landed strikes will surprise the attacker and hurt and you can leg it and get to safety.
This is just to give you some ideas and encourage you to look at issues around self-defense. Discuss it with your girlfriends, practice some stuff and look around for self-defense / martial art classes. Some classes are run by annoyingly patronizing blokes or they teach dead complicated moves or they neglect the psychological aspect and verbal strategies. But the important thing is that you build up your confidence in your body and that you are prepared to assert and defend yourself. Remember you re worth it!
Why not start your own self-defense sessions with some mates? Explore the issues, warm-up and practice some moves. Do role plays, share any martial arts skills, check out female self defense books, swap ideas. Have a laugh too.
If we want to improve our lives as women, we need to look at our realities, learn survival skills and support each other. With this, we can fight back against intimidation and being pushed around, and take back control over our lives!