Every woman has been in at least one situation where she feels vulnerable, and way too many of us have been attacked for our purse or jewelry or worse. But the good news is you don't need to be a serious ass-kicking action hero a la Angelina Jolie to know how to save your own life.
Learning self-defense techniques doesn't mean flipping a guy twice your size over your head or having a deadly roundhouse kick (although if you can do those things, so much the better, and also, will you go work out with me?). It just means knowing how to defend yourself sufficiently that you can buy a few precious seconds to get to a safer place, start screaming for help, or run.
I live in a pretty crime-ridden city and used to work long hours, so I have taken a few self-defense classes, and I have cop friends who have given me good advice.
The most important thing I learned? Trust your instincts. If a situation doesn't feel right to you, do whatever you have to to get away. One instructor told me that attackers prey on women's desire to be nice and not hurt anyone's feelings. Don't blow off that prickling sense that something's not right, and don't worry about looking silly if you're wrong.
Here are others:
Learn the vulnerable points on the body: eyes, nose, groin, and knees, and how to target them. Use the palm strike: Put your hand out in front of you as if to say "Stop" with your fingers back, and go for the attacker's nose. If someone attacks you, he's probably going to be so surprised to have you physically fight back that he'll either get scared and run or at least not react quickly.
Your purse, jewelry, or car is replaceable.Your life is not. If someone is just after your stuff, give it to him.
- Don't let the threat of being shot or stabbed stop you from defending yourself against an armed attacker. An instructor told me you actually have a decent chance of survival if that happens. Horrible to think about, good to know.
- Heels can make you vulnerable but can also be a weapon. If someone grabs you from behind, scrape that heel down his leg and stomp on his foot with it, which will probably be enough to make him let you go. And if he does, ditch those shoes and run ... I don't care if they are Louboutins, run.
- Don't behave like a victim. Stay aware of your surroundings, look people in the eye, and don't get distracted. If someone gets too close for comfort, tell him to back off. Have your keys in your hand (preferably sticking out through your fingers like Wolverine) when you walk to your car or your building; dithering around hunting for them in your purse puts a big target on your back.
- Take a self-defense class, and practice what you learn. Your husband, boyfriend, or friends might think you're nuts, but they want you to be able to protect yourself and should willingly let you practice your ass-kicking ways. Even practicing yelling "STAY BACK" at someone who's making you nervous can feel empowering.
That's the point of learning how to fend off an attacker, after all. Feeling confident and safe is very empowering. Just don't flip your husband over your head.
Image via adamjackson1984/Flickr