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Do the women in your life have basic self-defense skills

Question – are the women in your life prepared to defend themselves?

This question may sound sexist but it’s not, it speaks to the reality that women remain targets of unwanted aggression and assault. CDC statistics indicate that about 1 in 4 North American women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. So it’s important that women possess the skills and confidence needed to defend against attack and the knowledge necessary to extract themselves from potentially dangerous situations.

There are many ways and opinions on the subject of female self-defense. Some rely on pepper or OC spray, stun guns, or other devices; however these are often not allowed everywhere and even if used may not be a completely effective deterrent. Everyone should be mentally and physically prepared to defend themselves if attacked.

You don’t have to be “Black-belt” level martial artist to defend yourself; though I do advise everyone try to take a basic self-defense course and periodic refresher courses. I respect everyone that participates in martial arts and especially those that have the desire and willpower to advance in the discipline. However, for basic protection, being vigilant and knowing a few simple self-defense maneuvers and fighting techniques may well determine the outcome of a dangerous encounter. Let me illustrate what I mean using events from my daughters’ personal experiences in stopping aggression.

I have 5 children; 3 boys, 2 girls. My oldest daughter was a cheerleader in high-school tall, lean, and athletic. She has always been outgoing, self-confident, and sociable. Several years ago, as she was leaving a friend’s house one evening, a man attacked her, pinning her against the wall of a darkened exterior stairway – she deftly blocked his attack and flipped his butt over the handrail and left.

Last year my youngest daughter was a high school senior and captain of the school dance team. She is less gregarious than her sister, petite, reserved, and quite. Near the end of the school year a boy pushed his way into the group of friends she was sitting with at a lunchroom table and started making rude comments and inappropriate remarks to her. She politely but firmly asked the guy to leave her alone and left the table. As she was placing the lunch tray in the bin, she felt the guy’s arm grab her around the waist and though he was much larger than her, she instinctively grabbed the guy’s hand and deftly puts him on the floor using a wristlock takedown. So picture the scene; here is a diminutive 5’3” girl (who doesn’t curse or speak harshly to anyone) holding a lunch tray in one hand, and with her other she has a wristlock on a very startled 6ft tall boy who’s on the floor begging her to let go. She calmly looks down at him and very pleasantly asks - “now if I let go, are you going to be a good boy and leave me alone?” He responded matter-of-factly “yes; yes I will”. As she released him, she noticed the entire lunch room had come to a dead stop and was watching as he sheepishly got up. As the boy got up, the security officer arrived from across the room where he’d seen the incident unfolding, and smiling he asked if everything was alright; she said “oh yeah, everything is fine, he (the boy) was just being reminded to use his manners” and calmly walked away. The guy later apologized, thanked her for not filing a complaint with the school, and never came near her again. However, she was always cognizant that he was publicly embarrassed and remains “aware” of her surroundings and vigilant.

In both incidents, the combination of attitude, coupled with a simple self-defense technique, made the difference between a continuing harassment/assault and a quick decisive resolution. It took me about 20 minutes to teach each of the techniques they used to defend themselves.

Can you stop all attacks? - No. But if you can show that you’re capable and willing to inflict pain on your assailant, you may be able to stop the attack and make your escape. Remember the goal is to stop the attack or beat the assailant down, but to make an effective get away.

For my oldest girl, once he went over the rail, getting up was his problem; her job was to get away. So she made good her escape while he was still trying to figure out what the hell happened.

For my youngest, though she is normally quiet and shy, her decisive action showed that, if the situation warranted, she was very capable of, and willing to, inflict pain to stop an aggressor. After the fact some easy-chair quarterbacks have said she overacted, she didn’t; once someone aggressively breaches your personal space, not responding, freezing-up, or underreacting places you in the roll of "victim"; and opens the door to ongoing and growing harassment and increased violence.

At the point where someone aggressively places their hands on you without your consent, you should immediately respond to quickly and decisively stop their actions. You don’t have to say “Stop”, but if you do, say it once – then act (or better while acting).

For the record, both of my daughters are well-mannered, Christian, Southern ladies with sweet dispositions; but like the old song says; “don’t hand me no lines, and keep your hands to yourself.”



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