Self Defense

Self Defense Tips

“Martial arts are not fighting styles, they are training styles. They do not ‘teach you to fight’ they train you how to move your body. Just because you know how to move your body doesn’t mean you know how to fight. If that were true, then both ballerinas and football players would be great fighters. More to the point, sparring is not fighting. Nor is stepping into the sports ring. In a “real fight,” there are no judges, juries, and rules to protect the participants. There are no disallowed moves. Whoever is still standing is the winner. Self-defense is doing what you must do to prevent yourself from being harmed when unjustly attacked.” – No Nonsense Self-Defense

    • Most self defense is for deterrence! Use anything nearby at your disposal – pen, keys, heel of your shoe, etc.
    • Use your skill at reading people to assess what your attacker’s goal is: your wallet, hurting or raping you or worse.
    • Prevention first! De-escalate a situation if possible.
    • Fighting is of last resort if all else fails
    • Throw wallet AWAY from you, don’t just hand it to the person
    • Use your elbow: it’s the strongest part of your body and can break bone
    • Kick your attackers’ knees
    • Poke out their eyes– use the element of surprise
  • Should someone aim a gun at you, run in a zig-zag pattern. Be a moving target since you’ll be harder to hit

Four Tiers of Self-Defense Training (copied from No Nonsense Self-Defense since it’s so eloquently explained!)

The following model was provided by Justin Kocher, 2nd Dan in Danzan Ryu Jujitsu (Westside DRJ Los Angeles). He developed this summation after many long hours of discussing, researching, training, teaching and wrestling with the problem of communicating the issues involved in self-defense. It is a simple and elegant model for explaining what we mean by “effective self-defense training must be multi-layered.”

    1. Common sense – Do you even want to go there? (This point includes knowing what behaviors will put you into conflict and moral/ethical issues involved with use of force) What are the standards you must abide by?
    1. Diplomatic – Do you need to hit or can you resolve this another way? In short, can you talk, negotiate or trick your way out of it? (This point also includes knowing the legal ramifications of hitting and weighing the repercussions vs. the need of the moment.)
    1. Strategic – When and where to hit for maximum results appropriate for the situation (justifiable use of force).
  1. Tactical – How to hit (physical application).

As you can see the issues become larger and more complex the further away one gets from just the physical. A critical issue is that many so-called “self-defense” courses/martial arts schools do not address these “higher” level skills because they assume they already are in place. We do not. We have seen countless incidents of violence that could have been avoided if they had been. – No Nonsense Self-Defense

Predict Dangerous and Controlling Behavior (advice copied from Roo Girl)

Realize that 99.9% of people have no intent of harming you; the rare few who do want to harm you will give clear signals. Most attackers don’t begin with brutal force. They begin by coaxing a woman into a secluded area and forcing her to relinquish her control. In his book The Gift of Fear, Gavin de Becker calls these signals Pre-Incident Indicators (P.I.N.S.). According to the book, not only will your instincts help you avoid dangerous situations, but you can also determine someone’s intent by knowing what to look for. These are the P.I.N.S. to look for, and examples of each. In the scenario, a woman is faced with a strange man in her apartment building.


Forced Teaming When someone tries to pretend he has something in common or is in the same predicament as you when it isn’t true. (“Let me help you with those bags of groceries. We don’t want that ice cream to melt.”)

CharmBeing polite and nice to manipulate someone. (“I can’t let you carry all these bags by yourself. Let me help you get them inside.”)

Too Many DetailsIf someone is lying they add excessive details to make them seem more credible. (“I’m going to your floor anyway. I’m meeting a friend, but I’m running late – my watch stopped working. So, we need to hurry. Come on. We have a hungry cat waiting for this cat food.”)

TypecastingAn insult to get you to talk to someone you otherwise wouldn’t. (“There is such a thing as being too proud. Now stop being silly and hand me another bag.”)

Loan SharkingGiving unsolicited help and expecting favors in return. (“I’ve carried your groceries up four flights of stairs; just let me put them on the counter.”)

Unsolicited PromiseA promise to do (or not to do) something when no such promise was asked for; this usually means the promise will be broken. (“You can leave the door open, I’ll leave as soon as I put the bags down, I promise.”)

Discounting the word “no”Refusing to accept rejection.

During the entire grocery bag incident the woman repeatedly told the strange man that she didn’t want his help, but he ignored every “no”. She gave him control of the situation and was raped for three hours. The full story can be found in book, The Gift of Fear. The book also emphasizes that “no” is a complete sentence and requires no further explanation. – Roo Girl

Know Your Strengths & His Weakness

Your elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you get close enough, use it. If you end up on the ground, use your legs to kick free from your attacker. Go for his four weakest points: eyes, throat, groin and knees. If you are grabbed around the waist from behind, pinch your attacker under the arm, in between the elbow and armpit or in the upper inner thigh… HARD. You can literally pull the muscle away from the bone in these areas. If you are forced to comply before you can fight, grab his balls, then PULL, TWIST, YANK. He will be unable to rape you after being castrated. – Roo Girl

Don’t Be Relocated

Do whatever you have to do to prevent getting taken to a second location. Predators need to get you away from people and to a location where they are less likely to get caught. Even if someone has a gun pointed at you, there is still a chance to get away. He isn’t going to shoot you with several witnesses around. His plan is to have a quiet, uninterrupted assault, not to go to jail. If he points a gun at you from a distance, run in a zigzag pattern. In the unlikely event that he does shoot, the chances of him hitting you are slim, and the chances of him hitting a vital organ are even less likely. Although you run the risk of injury, if you are taken to a second location, you are guaranteed injury or even death.

Do not be afraid to say “no” or stop at any point during an intimate encounter. You don’t need a reason. “No” is a complete sentence, and the man should stop immediately upon hearing it. If he doesn’t stop, he has crossed the line into sexual assault. – Roo Girl 

Most guys are “good” and would never consider themselves to be rapists. So if you say “no” and they continue, say, “if you continue, this is considered rape” . A good guy will stop because he will realize that you’re serious, not just playing hard to get.

A few NO’s (from a Policewoman):

  • Don’t get into a car, even if someone is armed – the alternative, being taken to a remote area and murdered, is even worse. Run, screaming.
  • If you’re driving, don’t pull over if another car signals you. Get to a populated area first.
  • Always lock your doors – car, hotel, home.
  • Rapists come in all sizes and shapes, including clean cut, well dressed, friendly, very young or very old.
  • See more here

Carrying weapons:

  • Know the law in carrying a weapon and legality of defending yourself in different countries or states
  • I learned the hard way that there are different rules for carrying chemical weapons such as pepper spray or Mace.
  • Legal tips here: US States & local govNo Nonsense Self-Defense

More safety tips: HERE

After training in several forms of martial arts, I discovered that the most empowering self defense technique for me wasn’t Muay Thai as I’d previously believed, but a full-force self defense class called IMPACT Bay Area. IMPACT teaches simple yet effective techniques against a fully-suited instructor in an adrenalized state so your body is conditioned to fight under stress and not freeze. I took their 20-hour, 3 day Basic self defense course with 13 other incredible women, that was empowering, adrenalizing, emotional, cathartic and life-changing. I highly recommend every woman and man take this course or a similar self defense course because it not only teaches you impactful techniques against verbal, physical and sexual assault but also how to de-escalate situations, be an effective bystander, and boost your own confidence navigating everyday life.

If you have other self defense tips/techniques, please let me know, and I’ll add it to this list!