Physical Self Defense

In a perfect world we wouldn’t need to teach girls and women to defend themselves and to lower their risk of physical and sexual assault. But since we do it is imperative to teach our daughters, nieces, sisters, mothers, aunts, girlfriends, and friends how to be aggressive, smart, and safe without instilling fear. It is never a victims fault.  If she is walking alone at night and is mugged or at a party drinking and is raped it is never her fault.  

Repeat: It is never her fault!

Awareness = Prevention: Whether you are walking alone or with a group, day or night, in “good” or “bad” neighborhoods you have to BE AWARE!  If someone gets within 10 feet of you than make noise. Pull out your phone and make a call, put distance and space between you and them, wave and yell “Hi, Sarah” in the direction of an imaginary friend, cross the street, go inside a store, or start acting crazy and scare them off. If someone get too close firmly and loudly tell them to stop, yell NO, GET BACK, POLICE or FIRE and move away from them. If someone is less than 3 feet from your body that is your personal space and you have the right to fight back.

Once someone makes a move to grab you, than use a defensive strike or maneuver.

The Freeze Stance: Create a firm position by standing with your legs shoulder length apart. Put your arms up as if you were doing push ups to put space between you. This is classic stance that lets that person know that you will protect your body and it gives them a chance to pause. Either extend and straighten your arms with your palms facing out to put distance between you OR bend your elbows and keep your hands closer to your body. Yell or in a firm clear voice say, “NO”, “STOP” or “GET BACK”. If you need to draw attention from others yell “POLICE”, “I NEED HELP” or “FIRE”.

Once you have created a physical boundary with your arms you can use one or all three of the following moves in a combination to stop the attacker.

The Palm Strike: Use the heel of your palm to strike the attackers nose, eyes, cheek or forehead. Your goal is to disable the person so you can get away, so when you strike use all your strength. Step forward towards them to give yourself extra momentum. Continue to yell for help as you strike your attacker.

The Groin Kick: Kick as hard as you can. Bring your foot right up under their legs or use your knee to hit the target. Use all your might to cause enough pain so they cannot hurt you. Remember, if someone is physically attacking you they want to hurt you. Don’t hesitate to hurt them so you can get to a safe place. This is a classic defense move against men because it works!

The Head Knee Strike: This move works best if your attacker bends over from a previous hit. Grab their head or shoulders and pull them down while at the same time lifting your knee up to hit their stomach. Once you have kneed your attacker push them away from you and run to safety.

The Wrist Twist: If they grab your arm use your free hand to grab and twist their wrist. Twist it as hard a you can. This will

The Back Attack.: If you are grabbed from behind stomp your foot down and dig your heel into their foot and twist your body back and forth to get out of the hold. Stomp onto their feet as much as possible. You can also propel yourself forward to knock off their balance. Throw your head back into their face. Your skull is heavy and will cause pain. Once your hands are free use the palm strike. Use your leg to kick, and your knee to hit. Run to safety.

Scratch or Bite: Scratch your attackers face or arms to cause pain. Draw blood. Not only does it cause pain to be scratched, it also gives you DNA under your fingernails so if you want to report the crime you will have some proof of who attacked you. If they put a hand over your mouth keep moving your head around until you can bite their hand. You do not need to draw blood, but biting hurts and will help you get away. Don’t freak out about catching germs, if you get blood in your mouth spit it out.

Get Away: Never let an attacker bring you into a car or a building. Once they get you in a car or in their house you will most likely be beaten,  raped, tortured, and killed. Smart girls and women do not get in a car with a boy, a man, or a group they barely know. Even if they have a gun or knife you are more likely to survive if you stay in public.  Gang rape happens. Sex trafficking happens. Murder happens.  This information is not put here to scare you. BE AWARE, DON’T LIVE IN FEAR.

A combination of moves allows you to immobilize your attacker so they cannot run after you.  Just one hit may not be enough, so practice these combo moves.  Practice with a friend. Have them hold up a thick cushion or pillow and try different combinations of the above moves.  Remember to be aggressive. If you are attacked, use all your strength and anger to fight back and be a survivor not a victim.

There is a wonderful program for schools and colleges that was started by a teenage girl and martial arts expert named Dallas Jessup. Her goal is to teach millions of girls how to fight back and be aware of violence. Find a trainer near you at  Physical abuse often happens after a verbal assault or emotional abuse. Learn how to fight back with our Emotional Self Defense Curriculum.

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Leah Oviedo is certified to teach self-defense through the world-wide Just Yell Fire program.   Her background includes work in the areas of domestic violence, sexual assault, foster youth, violence prevention, and business management.


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