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A Lesson In Self-Defense: Handle Mishaps Like A Pro

  • Women Specific


If you were born with the weakness to fall, you were born with the strength to rise.

– Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey

Knowing how to physically ward off an attacker is great, but expertly maneuvering yourself out of those dreadful situations before they even happen is better. Self-defense per se is not based on gender, as strategies that work against various kinds of attacks and situations are the same whether you’re male or female. Let’s be real, though – women get the muddy end of the stick most of the time, and it’s about time we pave the way to a world that’s void of such atrocities.

An incredible way to know yourself and channel all that energy and strength within you into the purposeful moment is investing in self-defense. Women’s self-defense classes usually focus on prevention, since men usually attack easy targets — if they believe the woman can’t or won’t fight back. What may be more effective self-defense for women is “feminist” or “empowerment-based.” Instead of showing women how to combat evil strangers, feminist self-defense considers that women are more likely to be harassed by someone familiar, like an acquaintance or an officemate.

The emphasis is on setting boundaries, assertiveness, and handling common hassles like cat-calling or creepy coworkers.

Setting Your Boundaries

The stigma that labels women to be agreeable “good girls” and people pleasers needs to die down, and by building a nation with women who aren’t afraid of standing up for themselves and saying “No,” we are successful in doing exactly that. Ever had to say ‘no’ to an officemate who was trying to ‘pasa-load’ you their work? Saying ‘no’ is not so much about physical safety but it has loads to do with setting boundaries and establishing what you are and aren’t okay with.

Boundary-setting is key to self-defense as it can help women prevent circumstances where an attack could happen. If the bully knows you’re not a pushover, you won’t be considered a target.

Exercising Assertiveness

Lauren Taylor, a DC instructor behind the program Defend Yourself, teaches verbal self-defense tips like, “Tell them what you want. Say, for example, ‘Stand over there’ or ‘Stop touching me.’”

Carol Middleton, Taylor’s former instructor, runs DC Impact Self Defense and role-plays scenarios to make it more automatic for women to know what to say or do. Women are taught how to walk with confidence — heads high, eyes focused, a pace not too fast or too slow — with a nod and a relaxed “hey.”

Managing Mishaps Like A Pro

Suddenly find yourself in a tricky situation on the street? Taylor advisees sending a quick greeting to your harasser to avert a rude remark; it acknowledges the catcaller as human and makes you human, hopefully making him less likely to say something disrespectful.

Appeasing an aggressor? De-escalate the situation verbally, especially if someone can be violent, says Middleton. “Don’t make them wrong, don’t disrespect them, don’t challenge them, don’t try to control them, don’t threaten them.” Arguing with an aggressor “just gives them the emotional energy to start a full-out fight.”

Feminist self-defense is not just about nifty techniques and effectively fighting back. It’s about not being a target at all. Sadly, attacks against women will always be a threat, so physical skills are still important to know should it come to it. Be patient as it takes consistent, regular practice and time to get comfortable and confident with the moves.

Self-Care – Choose Yourself Every day

Choose a class that emphasizes techniques designed for your body type, focusing on kicking and kneeing attackers as women’s legs are typically stronger than their upper body. A great type of martial arts to consider is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; an art of fighting that features a lot of ground fighting moves to better help women learn escape and fight back when trapped underneath a usually heavier male aggressor. Remember that your confidence or the way you carry yourself can save you from being a target. Stay aware and head off an assault before things get physical. Keep your head up and your spirit strong like the Shero you always were.

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AUTHOR BIO Your friendly neighborhood Shero.

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