In today?s diverse society, violence is a dominant issue on the social front, especially for women, who lack the physical strength and size of their human counterparts, making self-defense a continual concern. Self-defense is the act of defending one?s person against attack by the use of physical force. In order for a person to defend himself/herself properly against a variety of attacks, it is necessary to analyze the various types of attacks, and the techniques available to defend against them. Also important is to know the strengths and weaknesses of these different techniques, as well as one?s own limitations. Self defense is a conscious, proactive, methodical approach to living life, and according to the FBI, since one in three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, self-defense is key for all women.
The rules of self-defense are very simple. Self-defense is, after all, common sense. Common sense goes a long way in the prevention of attack. So the first rule of self-defense is avoidance. Common sense dictates that a person should avoid placing him or herself in a situation so that attack is unavoidable or invited. Traveling in numbers and having your car keys in your hand before you even leave the building also help to ensure that your journey is a safe one. Avoidance also means that when an attack comes, avoid the weapon by moving yourself outside the line of attack. Another rule to remember is that in a self-defense situation, one should take advantage of their surroundings, being careful not to be cornered or flanked by their opponents. Look around the area. Remember; practically anything can be used as a weapon to give the victim the advantage. In addition, don?t focus only on distraction techniques in a critical situation. Instead, try to use a technique to neutralize the situation. This is where it helps to have self-defense training.
The teachings of self-defense provide the keys to survival in today?s world where violence prevails more than it did in the past and has grown to become a place where only the fittest survive. There are six main keys to survival, which are necessary ingredients in the teaching and use of self-defense as defined by the Women Defending Ourselves (WDO) Organization. They include mental toughness, spiritual strength, self-reliance, mental calmness, pain tolerance, and instinct. By following these fundamental guidelines to survival, women will learn self-defense, as well as how to use it successfully at a crucial moment in time. Of these keys, however, self-reliance and instinct are the two most significant. It is common knowledge that the more self-reliant one is the less one falls victim to the mercy of others. According to the Women Kick?in It Martial Arts Center, ?Self-defense training increases confidence and self-control, improves self-esteem, and instills a positive mental attitude while developing muscle, strength, and physical endurance.? Having confidence in one?s ability to come out of a dangerous situation alive is most often the driving force needed to obtain that outcome. In addition, through self-defense training, one will intensify their instincts by being aware of, and acting on, hunches and insights that one would normally ignore. Instinct is very different from intelligence, in that intelligence is logical, analytical, and rational while instinct is none of these. This is by natural design to prove additional self-awareness, called intuition. Researchers agree that intuition is one of the most vital elements to survival, along with having a ?survival mindset.? Deciding that one will do whatever it takes to protect himself/herself is the foundation of a strong mindset. A sergeant with the Oklahoma City Police Department and instructor in defense tactics recalls:
A year ago, my wife, a MD in internal medicine, was attacked by a convicted rapist who attempted to kidnap her from the hospital. That incident really made me see how important it was to continue teaching women’s self defense. My wife hadn’t been through any training at that time, but being married to a cop she knew enough to fight the attacker off, and to know the mind-set that women — or anyone — must have. She said that the one thing that kept her fighting was the fact that she knew she could not go anywhere with anyone.
This mental strength comes partially form fear, but mostly from anger. A potential victim becomes furious thinking about what the suspect is about to do, and turns that anger and fear into power. According to Patrick Lee, a self-defense class instructor, ?the biggest thing we teach in our course, and ask you right off the bat, is to make a decision. That decision is to either be a victim or a survivor. Everybody wants to be a survivor. Tell yourself that repeatedly, `I am a survivor!?? This kind of technique builds self-confidence and helps one think more clearly in a critical situation. ?Your person and your body is the most valuable thing in your life,? says Lee. ?No one has the right to violate that. Therefore, decide to act.?
During these increasingly violent times, more and more women are searching for ways to stay safe. On July 7, 1993, 27 year-old singer Mia Zapata was strangled. Less than two hours before her body was found, she had spent an evening in her local pub ? with many friends. One though came back over and over to her friends afterward: ?If she knew how to throw a punch, would she be here now?? For some women, self-defense training may not be the first option that comes to mind, but according to Frank Sahlein, owner of the Wings Center, women?s interests in self-defense classes has noticeably increased. Sahlein, who holds a black belt in Kempo Karate, says self defense training ?does not make a more violent person. Instead, there is a more confident understanding of your options and capabilities. You need to accept the fact that there are impending dangers and that it can happen to you.? He adds, ?You must take responsibility for your own safety, in effect becoming your own body guard.? Self-defense provides both the power and opportunity to do just that?take the security of your body and soul into your own hands. There are many forms of self-defense, including mental and physical techniques ranging from personal protection devices to karate or kickboxing. The most important thing to remember when choosing a technique is this: nothing in 100% guaranteed to work. In addition, any weapon that one carries can be easily taken away and used against them in any situation. Also, one must maintain a high level of proficiency with the weapon, or else it may just be an extra bauble taking up space in their bag. Guns are an especially sensitive topic in today?s society when it comes to self-defense. I am against the use of guns in such situations, arguing that guns accentuate any given situation to an extreme measure, one which his unnecessary in dealing with crime and violence. According to a 1990 FBI report on assaults, a person is 3 times more likely to kill or be killed by a gun than if a knife or other weapon is used. I do, however, believe that with the right attitude and accountability, any of the following personal protection devices could be an essential tool in self-protection repertoire. Pepper spray is a product that carries with it a high dose of pain and a low propensity for injury. Stun guns are hand held devices that deliver an incredible electrical shock to the attacker, while a Kubaton is a low profile, high impact tool designed to attack vital and vulnerable targets such as the ribs, sternum, face, and various pressure points. Besides these devices, the defender has a wide range of natural weapons at their disposal. The human body has two hands, two feet, two knees, two elbows, and the most important weapon of all, a brain. Even the forehead can be effective at close range. The human body also has a number of pressure points and nerve points throughout the body. Each should be struck in a different manner as to have the maximum effect. One should learn and practice as many of these as possible so that their counter-attacks are quick and decisive. With so many techniques of self-defense at society?s disposal, the opportunities to learn to fight back in a violent or abusive situation are practically endless, making self-defense a significant and valuable asset.
Self-defense is a mindful, hands-on, systematic approach to living life, and because our world today is not the comforting sanctuary it once was, self-defense is virtually essential for every woman. It is comprised of a series of both learned and intristic behavioral and cognitive options that a person must choose to put to work for themselves. And it may include a series of physical self defense options which could be used, as a last resort, if one were to be physically attacked. There is an incredible power in learning this new set of options that can literally bring people from a sense of hopelessness to the powerful realization that they do have control over their own vulnerability, and, particularly for women, that they could, indeed defend themselves against a man if attacked. Although much of the best practical, usable physical self defense information is, indeed, routed in the martial arts, there are many forms of self defense that are less physical and more routed in awareness. The threat of physical violence affects us all, whether it makes us afraid to go out at night or unable to stand up for ourselves in the workplace. Effective self-defense training can empower one to move more freely in the world and not let fear restrict their life. After all, we can never forget that everyone has the right to defend themselves.