You might be a fitness fanatic, but would you know how to protect yourself if you were assaulted? Check out these simple yet empowering self-defense tips.
As someone who has trained at all hours and in all climates around the world, I know the mindset of the elite athlete or weekend warrior. He or she is all in, putting full effort toward that big hill, that last push, that final throw. Few look around. I mean, really look around. I was one of them. Then, I was attacked. My road to recovery goes as follows: I became a black belt and a competitive fighter. I was a known headhunter in my bouts of which I won most and won quickly. I was also very angry (mostly with myself) until I began teaching self-defense. As part of my ongoing therapy, I find great peace of mind knowing that I might help one of you from ever being assaulted.
Self-defense cannot and should not be taught as a one-day course in which you are guaranteed full-proof moves that are promised to save your life. A course that charges $350 because you get to hit a person is not better than a course that is $100 if you can’t remember those “guaranteed” moves in your ultimate moment of crisis and terror. I am telling you this as a person who loves and has devoted her life to martial arts. There is no foolproof magic move for an untrained fighter. Can you really expect to take on an aggressive assailant with just a few hours of training? No. You can, however, invest in your future. Sign up for a 12-week course, or, better yet, join a dojo and learn how to actually defend yourself. It is for these reasons that I offer a one-time free class to men and women because I am not taking anything from you but, rather, giving you life-saving and practical advice. We run through some moves, but there is no expectation you will remember what to do if ever blindsided with an unexpected threat or violence. Instead, I teach three foolproof methods:
1. Situational Awareness: Oh, baby! You’ve been doing this your entire life. You have the skillset; you just need to perfect it. We people-watch. We scrutinize people for what they wear and how they wear it all the time. Now, rather than acting as the fashion police, learn to think like a police officer. Note height, hair color, and eye color. Think about the make and model of a car, where someone is parked or how they are walking. Rather than avoid eye contact with that person who gives a weird vibe, catalogue every detail you can about him or her as though you would later describe the person for a police lineup.
Predators love the unaware. Sexual predators are opportunists so when potential victims have their heads buried in their phones, completely unaware of those around them; when joggers have headphones blaring; when too much alcohol has been consumed or left unattended; when the elderly quickly befriend anyone who talks to them. In these cases, committing a crime gets much easier.
2. The Power Yell: Yeah. You think you’re in shape. You’re not. For all your burpees and bike rides, mud runs and bootcamp classes, when was the last time you practiced what your power yell would be? What’s a power yell? It is the this-is-it yell, the yell that would warn off a would-be attacker while simultaneously alerting others for help and amping yourself up for the possible fight of your life. It is the yell that could save your life.
Go to your car or in a closet. Go somewhere private and let it rip. This is not meant to be a high-pitched squeak but a loud, intimidating, back-off-Jack yell. More than some tricky four-step move to twist back an assailant’s thumb or put someone in an arm-bar (Please! You do not want to get that close to your bad guy), your power move is your most effective weapon. Straight away, it tells your predator you are not to be messed with, that perhaps you do have martial arts training, that you’ve just alerted everyone within the quarter mile of where you are.
We delude ourselves into thinking that because we lift weights and look super awesome in our aerobic kickbox class that we can hold our own in a street brawl. The reality is, the greatest fighters in the world can be blindsided. All the training in the world or your sidearm don’t mean diddly if you never see the attack coming. And, while we like to think of ourselves as confident and strong, athletes (as a collective group) are not much more situationally aware than a teenage girl in the midst of a love tryst text-a-thon.
3. Situational Training: Find your sparring partner. Or, in this case, a buddy who will begin this visual training program with you. Once you have your partner, start each training session by tuning into your surroundings and identifying different smells, people, vehicles, and animals. You and your buddy should agree upon what to look for. As silly as this might sound, it is a skill set that teaches you to become more situationally aware and more solid in your memory of where you were and what time it was when you saw the man with the beard or the woman wearing a Blank Panther t-shirt.
To sum it up, here’s how to empower yourself
- Be aware; be strong; be safe.
- Practice your power yell.
- Grab a buddy and find free or inexpensive self-defense courses offered by police or local women’s groups.