Let’s face it: when it comes to self-defense, we could probably all be more prepared. On average and according to traditional gender roles, men are encouraged when they are young to be more combative and to fight with one another to develop strength. For women, these behaviors are less encouraged. Add to that the fact that women are often smaller than men and there is a real need for knowledge of basic self-defense. Fortunately, a little goes a long way.
Here are eight simple self-defense tips that every woman should know.
1. Start by identifying the vulnerable places on the human body.
Although you may be at a size disadvantage, knowing a person’s weak spots can help to overcome these disadvantages. Above all, attacks should be focused on the eyes, nose, throat, chest, knees and the groin. Rather than try to attack in any other areas, go for all these weak spots first.
2. Practice several of the simplest and most damaging moves.
Although we often think we need a Tae Kwon Do or Karate blackbelt to be effective at self-defense. In reality, all you need is to think strategically and have a few moves mastered. Three of the best are wrist, neck and groin attacks.
The first one is to control the wrist and spread the fingers apart. Using both hands, grab the pinky and the ring in one hand and the middle and index finger in the other. With control of the hand, pull the fingers in opposite directions and bend the wrist backward.
In the second move, aim for your attacker’s throat with a fist or pointed fingers, specifically between the collarbones or into the Adam’s apple. Finally, the third move is the most universal: knee or punch the attacker in the groin and use the distraction to get away.
3. If grabbed from the front, get space and attack the forehead.
If you have little room and can’t lift your hands, thrust your hands forward and make a fist in front of your pelvis to get a little room from your attacker. After that, headbutt your attacker in the nose and follow that with a knee attack to the groin.
If you do have a little room, straighten out one arm and use the heel of your palm to hit your attacker in the nose, again followed by a groin attack.
4. Use simple escapes to free your hands.
If your attacker grabs your wrist to control your hands from above, roll your wrist toward their thumb, up and through to break the grip. If your arm is underneath, you can also pull to throw the attacker off-balance.
5. Attack from behind.
If you are grabbed from behind, bend back to try and attack the nose with the back of the leg. Even if you miss, that’s ok—your opponent will put one of his legs forward. From this position, bend down and grab the leg and try to pull it out from underneath him.
6. Attacking from the side.
If someone comes at you from the side, use elbow strikes to the face and groin. A well-placed strike to the side of the temple will also do a lot of damage and buy time.
7. Attacking while cornered against a wall.
What you do here largely depends on their body language and your position relative to them. The main rule is: attack the most vulnerable position. If their arms are up, attack the armpits. If one of your arms is low and free, us it to attack the neck or jaw. If you’re pinned, attack with your head.
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8. Attacking from the ground.
Finally, if an attacker is on top of you on the ground, the best thing to do is to use jiu-jitsu techniques. The main principles are to manage the distance between you and your attacker. If you are pinned with someone mounted on top of you and their hands on your throat, grab one of arms by the tricep and wrist, hooking your foot behind his on the same side. After that, bridge your hips and roll your attacker off to the side.
If this is impossible, it may be better to “hug” your attacker as close to you as possible to wear them out—and so they can’t land an attack on you. In these positions, wait for an opening to attack, try to choke the opponent or kick them backward to get away.
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