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Social media is a great resource and enables us to spread information really fast amongst our friends and family. However the biggest problem with this is that people just share and disseminate without checking how accurate or effective it is. We have this automatic belief that because it is published on the internet it is true. Then there is the added complication that the more times you hear or see something the more likely you are to believe it. Which is a common advertising trick.

I am on pinterest and every now and again this graphic pops up.

Counter productive self- defence

Counter productive self-defence. Please DON’T share!!

I have some really big problems with it. So this is a bit of a ranty post.

There is this notion that women should always be on their guard for the scary monster man intent on raping us and must know some form of self-defence. It is (in the UK) actually young men between the ages of 18-25 who are most at risk from a stranger attack.

These techniques done wrong or without full intent, risk escalating the situation. The whole idea of self-defence is not to get to the fight stage in the first place. There are far better ways of preventing the attacker from grabbing on in the first place.

So lets look at these steps in more detail:

Step 1

In the UK attacks from complete strangers are rare and just a small amount of struggling will usually set you free and the attacker will run off to find an easier target.

There is an even smaller minority that intend to cause harm and those people are very unlikely to attack you front on. Not only that even if you did get a frontal attack, which is most likely for women to be by their current or a former partner, they are very unlikely to assume the outstretched arm, zombie position (as one of our black belts likes to call it, with grr, argh sound effects). They are far more likely to be hiding in the bushes waiting for you to walk past so they can grab you from the side or behind.

The most common frontal attack is verbal assault with a range finding one-handed grab to the arm or throat followed by a right over-hand or haymaker hook or headbutt.

Please note I am not saying this would never happen, or trying to minimise anyone’s actual experience. Just that it would be extremely rare and therefore is fairly useless advice to the majority of people.

Step 2

Duck – hell no. Why on earth would you put yourself in this position. If you see someone coming like step 1, keep your distance, back away, move to the side, run!

Whatever you do stay on the outside of their arms.

Ducking is a good form of defence in some situations, just not this one. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have, strong legs, good balance and quick reactions. If you did duck I would recommend straight down to the fetal position so they trip over you or duck under to the outside of their arms.

Step 3

Seriously this is the picture that annoys me the most. Why the F@?k would you use your head as your first defence weapon.

Your head contains your brain and your brain is the most important thing you have in keeping yourself safe. A fight is far more mental than physical.

Sure you can use your head as a weapon and the temple is the hardest part of your skull, but when women’s bone density and thickness is less than a man’s, the likelihood of knocking yourself out is high. At the very least you will be dazed and confused. Having hit my head in various different ways, I am speaking from experience here. You do not want to cause that disorientation or risk concussion.

I would never recommend using your head as weapon unless you have nothing left to try. Sure, you could argue babies do this and they can cause a lot of damage, but why risk knocking yourself out when there are far better and simpler ways of getting out of things. We always teach protect the head and vital organs first.

Step 4

So we come to everyone’s favourite answer to self-defence for women.

I would just knee him in the nuts

or

just knee him in the nuts

The groin strike. The worst possible thing a woman can do to a man. Lets just think about that for a second.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

What is the first place a man will expect a woman to attack him?

What is the first body part a man will protect? particularly facing a woman?

Actually how easy is it to hit the target? (No – I’m not trying to say men are small down there!!)

Now I’m obviously not a guy, but I am reliably informed that this is the first place a guy will protect, not only that it is actually quite a hard target to knee, plus you have to do it in the right direction. The biggest problem with doing this, is even if this strike is done correctly and disables the guy, it won’t be for long and then the red mist rage will set in and you have just made all your problems ten times worse. So instead of fighting for freedom you will be fighting for your life.

Steps 5 & 6

I don’t have too much of a problem with these two steps, and you would need to do something like this if you had done step four. Elbows are great weapons and faces are very vulnerable. The strike shown is actually quite difficult to do as you need to be quite accurate on the back of the neck near the spine. Armpits and faces are far easier to hit with elbows.

Personally I would utilise elbow strikes and face attacks far earlier in a self-defence situation. Not only that, they can look and feel accidental to the attacker, and may help to defuse the situation.

If you were to use these two steps, I would probably swap them round so there are two knee strikes together followed by the elbow down.

Steps 7 & 8

(or 8 & 9, clearly missed out a push or pull down before these two steps)

So you’ve managed to headbutt him in the neck, chin or face, without being knocked out. Pretty painful.

Then you’ve managed to keep your wits about you, despite having a massive headache and knee him in the groin. With any luck hitting your target causing excruciating pain.

You have a few seconds, maybe minutes before the all-encompassing rage descends to get in the elbow strike and knee strike, that’s if you don’t wait to see what their reaction is. It’s surprising how many people will do this.

If you manage to get those two shots in, then you don’t really need to do a hammer foot to his body which involves raising your leg as high as you can and slamming it down. Really he’s down, just run away. Anything more and you risk going from “reasonable self-defence” to “assault”.

If you still think he’ll get up a low kick to the head is easier and more effective, then run. Escape should always be your priority.

 

If you really want to use your head

The above is really more for self-preservation when you have no other options left.

The best self-defence will enable you to see a potential attack before it even starts. Intuition and awareness will stop you getting into a situation like this in a good 90% of cases. Risk assess where you are going and what you will be doing. The Suzy Lamlugh site has a wealth of good common sense ideas. What things can you do to be safer. Like, don’t walk close past the wheelie bins in the dark. Read up about conflict communication, de-escalation techniques and practice listening to your intuition. Know your own weaknesses and triggers. This will help you manage difficult situations and you may be able to stay calm, not take it personally and talk your way out.

If you want to help other people, then educate those who cross personal boundaries, and think NO sometimes means YES. Teach children respect, emotion management and what consent really means. Don’t let them learn that persistence can change NO to Maybe to YES. Get people to really communicate and listen to each other about what they are feeling. Call out threatening and bullying behaviour. Don’t be a bystander, there are things you can do without getting too involved. Such as call the police, inform a teacher or member of staff.

Look at yourself and what you might do that upsets and angers others, is there a better way of behaving or dealing with it.

Lastly in the words of Nick Ross from Crimewatch

Don’t have nightmares. Do sleep well

As violent crime is actually quite rare and usually not about the intended target.

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