I bet you that if you took your own poll, by going around asking as many women as you could in a week, "Would you like to know how to defend yourself, and already have the skills to do it now?" assuming that you could magically give it to them in an instant, 95% of the women you ask would say, "Yes, I'd like to be able to defend myself if attacked." That's because most women inherently know they could be a victim. However, what is the number of women that actually make the effort to step foot into a self-defense school in order to learn how to protect themselves? I don't know the exact number, but I do know a reliable number that is a good indicator of how many women actually do something to make themselves a "hard target," and that is a figure from Black Belt Publishing Media Kit 2021. In this kit there is a graph that shows that "95% of Black Belt Magazine readers are male." That means only 5% of the readers are women.
Oh, you all probably thought by the headline that I meant that 95% of the men were not willing to listen to the sound self-defense advice I am about to give. No, that's not what I meant. The advice I am about to give is for the 5% women readers of Black Belt Magazine, which is a disturbingly small number considering that most women agree to the benefit of knowing self-defense.
I've been teaching my original Women's Survival course since 1986, and for four decades I have trained thousands of women in several countries, not to mention being a street cop having responded to hundreds of crimes against girls and women. Some may call me a "science denier," but from my experience "men and women are different." I know, what a shocking statement, but allow me to explain.
In my opinion, most women cannot go toe to toe, that is to say hand-to-hand combat, with a male criminal. Add a second unarmed male attacker to the mix, and defeat for a woman is almost certain! Even most men do not survive multiple attackers. I know, because I have run hundreds of full contact scenarios with multiple unarmed attackers against unarmed men and women in my Crime Survival course, and not just in civilian self-defense schools, but with military units, prison guards, and police officers. The results are predictable. Of course, many criminals carry a weapon, and then where does that leave you?
So, what is the answer? How can a woman be guaranteed to survive a violent attack against a male criminal who uses violence regularly as a tool to get what he wants? Other than avoiding getting into the situation, the answer is a WEAPON.
Now, before I'm accused me of being "sexist," stereotyping someone based on their sex, let me flip the roles for a moment to make a point.
Several years ago, In New York City, the oldest person in my Defensive Tactics course, a 70-year-old man, came up to me during a break and asked me, "Jim, as you can see, I am old. Yes, I am healthy for my age, just by the fact that I am in this course participating, but I know I could not defense myself a young man, and especially not against more than one. When I am riding the subway each day, I confess, I'm afraid. Although it is illegal to carry a gun in New York City, I still do, because I'd rather survive an attack, and risk going to jail for the firearms violation, then getting seriously hurt or killed by a young thud. I am very proficient with a gun, and I am not afraid to use it. What is your advice?"
Knowing that he was a very intelligent, responsible, man I said to him, "As a law enforcement officer, my official advice to you is to obey all local, state, and federal laws. Don't break the law. However, as your self-defense instructor, I'll tell you what I personally will do when I am 70 years old. I am going to carry a gun on me, and the only time that gun is coming out is if my life is in danger. You must ask yourself, who are you afraid of most, the criminals or the government?"
This advice was specifically for him, and not everybody, because his weapon of choice was a pistol. Plus, he was right. At his age he didn't stand a chance against a young thug who would beat him. Reality is reality, and this is why I named my system Reality-Based Personal Protection.
I'm not telling you women to carry a gun, unless you are legally able to so, and only if you are well trained with it. Obviously, a firearm is the best self-defense weapon a person can have, but if you're a woman living in France, Ireland, Australia or some other very restrictive jurisdictions, then having such a weapon can get you into a lot of serious trouble. However, my martial arts philosophy is NEVER BE WITHOUT A WEAPON, which means that there are always options when it comes to your personal safety.
This is not a pretty picture. I took it myself in Cologne, Germany. Two "rapists" (male assistant instructors) take this unarmed female student to the floor easily. By the end of my Women's Survival course all the women students are firm believers in having a weapon on them in order to survive an attack.
If you are legally allowed to carry a knife, for example, then get instructions from your local martial arts instructor, buy one, and carry it on you. If you are not allowed to legally carry a knife in your jurisdiction, then go online and order a tactical pen. If tactical pens are not authorized, then order a sturdy business metal writing pen, which is a good stabbing "tool." Then, if you ever have to use it, and if the police ever ask you, "Why did you stab him with a pen?" Don't ever say, "I carry it for self-defense." Rather, say, "He attacked me. I was unable to escape (if this were actually the case). I was in fear for my life. I remembered I had my writing pen on me, and so I pulled it out and hit him with it. Is he okay? I really didn't want to hurt him."
The next question will inevitable be, "Why did you stab him three times?" or whatever the actual number was.
Your answer will be, "Because he would not stop attacking me after hitting him twice. After the third strike he stopped, and so I stopped. Then I was able to get away."
Remember, your goal is not to hurt or kill someone, even if it is a mass killing terrorist, but to STOP the attack and escape. You want to employ "hit and run" tactics, and not go toe to toe with an attacker, because every second you're in a fight the tables may end up turning on you again.
"What about pepper spray?" some of you may be asking. "Is that a good weapon?" After all, that seems to be the "weapon," that, and a set of keys, that many people recommend for women to use to protect themselves.
Pepper spray is better than nothing, but it is very low on the use-of-force rung, known as "controlling force" on the legal scale. For law enforcement officers pepper spray is at the same level of force as grabbing onto an uncooperative person and escorting him or her to another location. Plus, many criminals purposely spray themselves to build up a tolerance to it. I know I have. In training courses, I have been sprayed with it many times, and I am able to keep fighting after a good dousing. I actually had to fight two men full contact in a federal counterterrorism school after the instructor sprayed my face with pepper spray. It was part of the training.
I could spend hours writing you about the pros and cons of various weapon systems, but the main point for you women learning, or soon to learn self-defense, which is also the same advice I give to my male students, is that "80% of your training should be with weapons, and 20% empty hand."
Some women can "hold their own" when fighting with a male criminal, such as my Dutch female police student here doing a Head Butt Strike during a Defensive Tactics course I taught to the Amsterdam Police Department instructor cadre in Holland. However, you'll notice that on her right hip she is armed (with a training gun). She knows that a weapon, in some situations, may be the only thing that helps her survive an attack.
Now, if any of you martial arts men read this blog, even though I wrote it for the 5% Black Belt Magazine women readers, I'm sure you know a lot of women in your life that you wish knew how to protect themselves. The only way you're going to get them to take action is by persuasion and persistence. Tangible action on your part may be in the form of paying for a few private lessons, let her know about an upcoming women's self-defense seminar you saw advertised, or if you are a self-defense instructor, offer a four-hour Saturday course at a very low price. Many women will think, I can do that, because everybody is short of time these days. Once a woman gets into the self-defense school, I have never seen one regret it.
Next year, when I take a look at the Black Belt Publishing Media Kit 2022, I hope to see the number of women readers be much higher than merely 5%, and I'm doing my part by writing this blog.
BE A HARD TARGET
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CLICK HERE for a full German translation of this article, courtesy of Martina Bork.
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