Unfortunately, it seems as though you can't go a week without hearing of an attack or attempted abduction happening in areas of the city we thought were safe. Just last Thursday there was a girl leaving school in West Portal when she was grabbed and her attacker tried to force her into a car. Luckily, she had some training in self-defense and was able to fight off the man and bring attention to what was happening so that bystanders could aid her as well. All too often however, victims are not so fortunate. Would you know what to do if you had to defend yourself?
In this blog post, I will go over some basics tenets of self-defense and teach you 2 very simple techniques that could be essential if you were to be in a dangerous situation.
When it comes to staying safe, the easiest way to do that is by not being there in the first place. Usually, when someone is attacked, they knew in advance that something was going to happen. That little voice inside tells you when you might be in danger, and you can often pinpoint those around you who might mean you harm. We have been conditioned to ignore our instincts though, afraid we might offend someone if we cross the street so as not to walk by them. That is where so many victims go wrong. If someone makes you uncomfortable, get yourself to a safe place. This "spidey-sense" that we all have is an evolutionary safeguard. Just as zebras will perk up and alert their herd if they sense a predator in the grass, you know when you need to be wary of someone.
While walking alone, how many of you wear earbuds or have your eyes glued to a screen? If what we see in Noe Valley is any indication, the answer is many of us do that, and it's especially prevalent among school-age children. It is impossible to be alert if you are distracted or can't hear what's going on around you. You can't determine if you are in potential danger if you are not looking around. and you can't keep your distance from someone if you can't hear them walking up behind you, and that part is crucial. Unless you have significant self-defense training, it is unlikely that you will be equipped to react quickly to an unexpected attack if one or more of your senses is compromised.
It is imperative that you not let anyone get within several feet of you. If someone is invading your space, asking you the time, or just testing your reaction, you need to treat this as an aggressive act and be very clear that they need to back up. Bring your hands up and out in front of you (keep your hands open though as fists make it look like you're going to hit them) and tell them in a loud, confident voice that they need to back up while making strong eye contact. Most of the time, that's as far as it will go. You've brought attention to what they are trying to do and shown them that you will not be an easy victim. The key here is projecting confidence, regardless of how you are feeling inside. Don't be afraid to yell and make a scene!
If someone does get into your space and comes at you, you have to accept that you will have to hit them, and hit them hard. Ideally, you will have practiced striking a target with full force, but even if you've never done anything of the sort, you can still get away. As I mentioned above, being loud and vocal is something all of us know how to do. Draw as much attention to yourself as possible, and don't stop yelling. Don't be afraid of hurting them--after all, they are trying to do the same to you.
There are 2 basic techniques that work for almost all attack scenarios. Keep in mind that these should only be used if you don't have the option of running away and they are trying to harm you (if someone threatens you and demands your wallet, give it to them!). The two techniques are downward palm heel to the face and leg kicks. Neither takes much practice and you won't hurt yourself in the process (if you punch something hard and don't know what you are doing, you will likely break your hand). You need to strike repeatedly until you are able to get away, and then run to somewhere safe immediately.
Let's start with the palm heel. If you are big enough, you want to come down on the bridge of their nose with the base of your open palm. If your attacker is significantly taller than you, going upwards with your open palm to the bottom of their nose will also work. In addition to causing them pain, their eyes will water and they will be stunned. If one is not enough, keep hitting them.
The leg kicks can either be used on their own or in conjunction with the palm heel. You can strike to the ankle, shin, knee, or thigh. If you are aiming for the lower leg, use the tip of your shoe and just start swinging. If you are being grabbed from behind, kick back with your legs aiming for their shins. Do not stop struggling until you are free. If you are aiming for the knee, you can either do the same type of strike or turn sideways and kick to the side of the knee. When aiming for knees and thighs, we recommend using a round kick, in which you swing your shin and foot around to hit your target. You want to turn your hips and body with you to maximize impact. If you hit someone in the leg with full force, it will feel to them like their leg is broken and they will unable to pursue you when you flee.
While it is unpleasant to face the fact that we live in a world where people may try to harm you, being equipped with even the most basic self-defense can make a crucial difference. Get to a self-defense class provided by a reputable source or join a martial arts program. We offer classes for all ages and have decades of experience in self-defense training. We are also certified in the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program and SHARP (sexual harassment, assault, and rape prevention)--a program taught to prison guards and law enforcement. Please contact us through our website if you have questions or would like to come in for some training. www.atasf.com