The best self-defense strategies and techniques work equally well for men and women, but let’s face it: Women really need them because they’re assaulted more often than men. Statistics indicate that one in three women will be the victim of some type of violent attack in her lifetime. Women also endure more incidents of verbal and sexual harassment.
Although most women’s self-defense courses focus on skills for quickly and efficiently destroying an attacker, self-defense training also should include methods for preventing a confrontation from turning physical in the first place. Learning how to steer away from a threat may not sound as exciting as ripping out an attacker’s heart, but as they say in every beginner’s class, evading an attack is almost always superior to blocking an attack.
After years of research, the staff of the Rocky Mountain Combat Applications Training center discovered a number of effective self-defense concepts and techniques and incorporated them into its curriculum. If you’re an experienced martial artist, the physical techniques may appear familiar or even surprisingly basic, but that’s fine. They’re intended to be simple because in an assault, you’ll experience fear and panic, along with a natural adrenaline rush. Despite the superhuman effects adrenaline can produce — we’ve all heard stories about the grandmother who lifted a car off her trapped grandchild — it doesn’t always work in your favor. You may experience tunnel vision, auditory exclusion and loss of fine motor skills. Consequently, it will be hard to see and hear, and complex martial arts techniques may be impossible to perform.
If you stick with proven strategies and simple gross-motor-movement techniques — such as the 10 described here — your chance of surviving will increase drastically.
1. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
Too many women enroll in a self-defense class after they’ve been assaulted. When they recount the incident, they often say the same thing: “I had this bad feeling, but I told myself not to be paranoid,” or “I knew I shouldn’t have gone, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.”
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If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t safe — that’s the bottom line. Many women have been conditioned to ignore the little voice that tells them trouble is coming. Your instinct is the best detector of danger. The next time you hear that little voice, listen to what it’s saying.
2. PRACTICE TARGET DENIAL
Don’t make yourself an accessible target. The outcome of a battle is often determined before the first blow is struck. When you have the opportunity to escape from a situation before it turns bad, take it.
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If an approaching person gives you the creeps, walk to the other side of the street. If an elevator door opens and the guy standing inside makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, wait for the next elevator. Those actions aren’t cowardly; rather, they’re a smart way to eliminate danger.
3. PRESENT YOURSELF WITH CONFIDENCE
Be aware of the message your body sends to those around you. Like animals, human predators target those they consider the weakest or most vulnerable. Attackers search for women who appear frightened, confused or distracted. They look for women who walk with their head down and their hands stuffed in their pockets, or perhaps one who’s overburdened with packages or distracted by children.
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Remember that attackers do not want to bait a fight; they want an easy mark. By walking with confidence and awareness — looking around and keeping your head up and shoulders back — you’ll dramatically reduce the likelihood of becoming a target in the first place.
4. SET STRONG VERBAL BOUNDARIES
Good verbal skills are an effective self-defense tool, one you’re likely to use more frequently and successfully than any physical technique. When a predator engages you in conversation, he’s actually “interviewing” you to see if you’ll make a good victim. An experienced attacker is practiced at using his words to freeze you with fear, thus reducing the chance that you’ll try to defend yourself.
Although an aggressive verbal confrontation can be terrifying, you have to be strong enough to show the attacker he’s picked the wrong victim. If you stand tall, remain calm and respond confidently and assertively, you’ll probably “fail” his interview. The power of …