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Would you be able to defend yourself and your loved ones if someone were to physically attack you? It’s a question most of us don’t want to consider, but violence is, unfortunately, a fact of life. Thankfully, regardless of strength, size, or previous training, anyone can learn several effective self-defense techniques. Here’s how to prepare for and stay safe in common real-world violent situations.
First, remember that prevention is the best self-defense. Attackers, whatever their objectives, are looking for unsuspecting, vulnerable targets. So be sure to follow general safety tips like being aware of your surroundings, only walking and parking in well-lit areas, keeping your keys in hand as you approach your door or car, varying your route and times of travel, and other personal security precautions.
Apart from avoiding confrontation, if you can defuse a situation (talk someone down from physically assaulting you) or get away—by handing over your wallet/purse or whatever they want, do that. Hand over your money rather than fight. Nothing you own is worth more than your life or health.
When you’re in a confrontation, you only have a few seconds and a few moves to try before the fight may be decided. Before an attacker has gained full control of you, you must do everything you can—conserving as much energy as possible—to inflict injury so you can get away. (This is no time to be civil. In a physical confrontation that calls for self-defense, it’s hurt or be hurt.) So aim for the parts of the body where you can do the most damage easily: the eyes, nose, ears, neck, groin, knee, and legs.
Su Ericksen, who writes the very helpful Self-Defense for Women website, offers techniques for striking these pressure points so you can defend yourself and get to safety.
Here are some photos Su offers on attacking these highly sensitive pressure points (you can view others for additional pressure points on her website):
Eyes: Gouging, poking, or scratching the attacker’s eyes with your fingers or knuckles would be effective, as you can imagine. Besides causing a lot of pain, this should also make your escape easier by at least temporarily interfering with his vision.
Nose: If the attacker is close in front of you, use the heel of your palm to strike up under his nose; throw the whole weight of your body into the move to cause the most pain and force him to loosen his grip on you. If he’s behind you, you can strike his nose (from the side or front) with your elbow. Either way, aim for the nasal bones.
Neck: The side of the neck is a bigger target, where both the carotid artery and jugular vein are located. You could possibly temporarily stun your attacker with a knife hand strike (all fingers held straight and tightly together, with thumb tucked and slightly bent at the knuckle) at the side of the neck. (For even more injury, you could thrust your elbow into your assailant’s throat while pitching the weight of your body forward. See the Target Focus Training video below.)
Knee: Su says the knee is an ideal self-defense target, vulnerable from every angle and easily kicked without risk of your foot being grabbed. Kick the side of the knee to cause injury or partially incapacitate your attacker. Kicking the front of the knee may cause more injury but is less likely to result in imbalance.