Are your worried about your ability to defend yourself if you’re attacked for whatever reason? If you’re looking to improve your knowledge on the subject, we’ve got some ideas that will help you work toward feeling safer and more secure as you navigate the outside world.
Obviously self-defense is far too complicated of a topic to comprehensively cover in one blog post. There are different schools of thought, different martial arts influences, and different techniques that will work for different individuals and their needs – and there’s no substitute for hands-on self-defense training and practice – but here are some tips to get you started:
Like we said above, the best way to learn how to defend yourself from an attack is to learn and practice the moves in a hands-on setting with a reputable teacher. Exactly what kind of training you want to take is up to you. Martial arts classes and specific self-defense training lessons are both feasible options, so do some research to see what kind of discipline and what techniques will work best for you and your concerns. Once you’ve decided that, you’ll also need to do some research to find the right instructor or school for you. Self-defense is a big business, and there are plenty of un- and underqualified people out there trying to make a quick buck off of your fear, so make sure that you’re taking your lessons from a place with a solid reputation.
Once that’s settled, learn your techniques. Then practice them. Then practice them some more. The goal is to make sure that your mind and body know these techniques so well that you’ll be able to rely on reflexes and muscle memory if, heaven forbid, you ever have to use them for real in the street.
As many self-defense experts will tell you, anything that you have on you when you’re being attacked can be used as a weapon. If you’re carrying an umbrella, or even a pen? Throw it at them. Are your keys easily accessible? Scratch or jab your attacker with them if he gets close to you.
That said, if you’re looking for something more than makeshift weapons and whatever martial arts and self-defense training you have to keep you safe, you can also purchase and carry self-defense aids like a whistle or even pepper spray to help you feel more prepared and more confident when you’re out alone. Be sure to check with your state laws regarding pepper spray before purchasing.
Good self-defense doesn’t just start the moment you’re attacked. Defending yourself is also about being aware of your surroundings and potential dangers and preventing a future attack if at all possible. Stay on guard in parking lots, garages, stairwells, alleys, and other secluded places where an attacker might hide. It can also help to keep an eye on your own body language and behavior.
“Attackers tend to look for women who appear insecure or unsuspecting. Hunching over, chatting on your cell, or being distracted by your iPod or text messages make you an easy target for a bad guy. Instead, walk confidently with your shoulders back and chin up. Make eye contact,” Cassandra Kapp wrote for Cosmopolitan in 2009. “You want to send the signal that you’re a secure [person] who could kick anyone’s a**.”
Remember the basics.
If you can’t remember a detailed technique or move when you’re feeling threatened or when you’re attacked, don’t blame yourself and don’t panic! There’s a reason why instructors insist that you practice self-defense moves repeatedly. Your brain isn’t going to respond perfectly methodically when you’re in fight, flight, or freeze mode. So if all else fails you, try to remember the most basic tenants of self-defense: Make noise. Use whatever you have on hand as a weapon. Use pepper spray if it’s on hand and easily accessible. Aim for weak spots like knee-caps, eyes, and the groin. Strike with your elbows and knees or even an open palm instead of a fist. If your fist isn’t large or prone to striking, you could end up hurting yourself even more. And once you’ve freed yourself or hurt your attacker, run and/or remove yourself from the situation through any means necessary. The goal of good self-defense isn’t just to beat up your attacker; it’s to allow you to hurt them or push them back enough to allow you to get away.
Trust your gut.
Writer and security expert Gavin de Becker’s 1997 book The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence remains a best seller and an extremely important resource for a reason. When it comes to self-defense, few things are more important and more effective than trusting your instincts. If you feel nervous about going somewhere or participating in a certain situation, there could be a good reason. Don’t ignore what your gut is trying to tell you.