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Self Defense Courses/Options for Women

Updated on September 30, 2007
Photo credit: Google images
Photo credit: Google images

Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," and perhaps he was right. For it is fear that is the most damaging to our mental faculties, that robs of us of rational thought and leaves us at the mercy of our own terror. However, it is important to realize that the adrenaline that is released as a consequence of fear can also be a surprising ally.

Remember, it's flight... or fight.

According to the training philosophy of Robert Koga and Model Mugging, there are four steps to self-defense that can be summarized by the acronym - P.A.R.R.

  • Prepare for danger through proper training.
  • Anticipate potential threats by being fully aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Recognize actual dangerous locales and threatening people.
  • Respond properly, using rapid evaluation of the immediate threat and knowing your own capabilities and available options.

The application of PARR allows you to not only avoid dangerous situations whenever possible, but also to apply necessary physical self-protection.

Know What You're Up Against

The natural effect of real aggression causes an "adrenaline dump". This fear induced high volume of adrenaline is normal and natural, but treacherous because it cannot be completely stopped, even by experienced black belts. Therefore your first opponent, unfortunately, will be yourself. However, all experts agree that women who fight back early will double their chances of escape from an attacker of any size or strength.

There are four "types" of rapists:

The power-assertive rapist thinks himself "the man" and is most likely to commit date rapes. This type makes up 44% of sexual deviants and will try to con their victims and gain their trust, but will have no scruples about using physical force to dominate.

Power-reassurance rapists often begin as voyeurs who stalk women because they believe they lack the confidence to have a "normal" relationship with them. In their twisted reality, they see themselves and their victims as lovers, and will view the attack as an intimate act. These rapists are also not adverse to using violence to get what they want.

The Anger-retaliatory rapist is misogynistic (hates women) and views rape as justified vengeance and punishment. This type makes up 33% of rapists and is easily enraged.

Last and worse is the anger-excitation rapist, who commits 5% of all sexual assaults. Their attacks are premeditated and the victims can either be previously known or chosen at random. He derives sexual pleasure from inflicting pain and will even film or photograph his victims so he can relive the attacks.

The Benefits of Learning any Form of Self-Defense

  • Boost your confidence - Women feel stronger, empowered, and ready to take back control. While it is true that anyone can become a victim, it has been proven that attackers primarily target people appearing timid, scared, or easily overpowered. Appearing confident will make you less likely to become a victim.
  • Keeping physically and mentally active - Defense classes provide cardio and muscle training and an increase in energy levels. Moreover, there are many ways these courses teach women to be more mindful of their surroundings. At a one-night course held at my college by the directors of SARP, we learned how to scan the area for suspicious-looking people, and being aware of everyone who is near you at a given moment. Although this may seem like common sense, it is amazing how oblivious we can be to what's around us.
  • Develop Instincts - For some women who are too naïve and trusting, self-defense courses train them to follow their intuition, learn to sense danger, and "go with their gut." If something feels wrong, it probably is, so there's no point in waiting to find out if you're right.

General Defense Strategies if You are Attacked

  • Let the person know you are aware of their presence. Immediately turn around and loudly say, "I hear you. I don't want any trouble. Beat it!"
  • If they still follow, ready yourself... and your hair. Bring your hands up in front of your chest and put one leg slightly in front of the other, shoulder-width apart, with your weight evenly distributed. This stance allows you to move easily and defiantly. If you have long hair, tuck it away and take it out of its ponytail, that way your attacker has less to grab.
  • Figure out what you have available. Do you have an umbrella? Books? A pen? Remember, anything can become a weapon, but hang on to it, lest it become something used against you. If you're empty-handed, try to grab anything nearby that with which you can jab or poke.
  • Yell "FIRE!" to get the attention of anybody nearby, but keep moving. If you do find people nearby, be specific to avoid causing them to panic. Use details like "Hey, you in the yellow shirt, call 911! This man won't leave me alone!"
  • Wait for your moment to explode and escape. If you've been pinned to the ground, be temporarily complacent; in order for him to hit you, or for a sexual assault to take place, he will have to let go of you somewhere. When he does, use your free arm or leg to hit, gouge, kick or scratch as hard and as fast as you can. If on your stomach, try to get your arms and hands under your chest; try to bend a leg to the side and rest on your hip. At the right moment, you can kick the bent leg straight back and smash his groin.

Above all, never lose your determination or underestimate your own capabilities.

If facing your attacker, attempt to turn your fingers into claws and reach for the attacker's forehead and dig in as deep as possible while raking downward toward the chin. Don't be squeamish and let up on the pressure as you reach the eyes. This person obviously isn't worried about your safety so there is no reason to worry about theirs.

Do this as fast and strong as you possibly can and build up a momentum behind your attack. As you are raking downward allow your arms and hands to follow the given course and pop back up towards the assailant's neck and facial region. At this point you again have choices: Go for the face, the throat, the nose, the groin, the knees, or the insteps of your assailant's feet.

More Tips:

For Personal Security:

  • When walking, do not carry your purse by the handle or strap. Keep it close to your body.
  • Walk only on well-lighted, well traveled streets. Avoid parks, dark parking lots and construction areas after dark.
  • Walk near the curb rather than near buildings, alleys or shrubbery.
  • If, while you are walking, you are accosted by someone in a car, run in a direction opposite to the way the car is traveling. In the time it takes the car to turn around, you can be gone.

When Driving

  • Always check the back seat of your car for intruders before entering.
  • If you are being followed in a car, do not drive home. Drive to a police, fire or gas station, or any other well-lighted area.
  • When stopped in traffic, leave enough space between your car and the car ahead for quick departure.
  • If another driver bumps your vehicle, do not stop. Either drive to a well-traveled area to inspect the damage or attempt to get the vehicle's license plate number and report it immediately to the police.
  • If available, take freeways rather than streets through high crime areas.
  • Stay in the center lane; avoid being blocked into the curb lane.

Home Security

  • Use strong locks on every door of your home, and a chain lock or peephole on all windowless doors.
  • Do not put your first name on your mailbox or in the telephone directory. Use your first name initials.
  • If you are hesitant about entering an elevator with a stranger, wait for the next elevator. When in the elevator, stand close to the control panel and know where the alarm is located.
  • Do not allow anyone to follow you into your building. Just because the person is holding a key, it does not mean the key fits the door to your building.
  • If you receive an obscene phone call, hang up immediately and notify the police. If calls persist, keep a whistle near the phone. At the next obscene call, blow the whistle loudly into the mouthpiece.


  • Be aware of those times and places where there is a potential for attack and be prepared to defend yourself: parking lots, walking at night, waiting for a bus, elevators, etc.
  • Articles common to your handbag that make useful defense weapons: nail file, rat tail comb, teasing brush, pens and pencils, keys, etc.

Finally, here are some Wikipedia links to self defense and forms of martial arts that are commonly offered by your local college, YMCA, or sexual assault prevention center: Capoeria, Muay Thai Kickboxing, Shorin Ryu Karate, and Tae Kwon Do.


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    • PassinItAlong profile image


      8 years ago

      The 2nd and 3rd points have to do with being mentally aware of one's surroundings and the people there. Always be aware of your surroundings. Always be aware of the people around you.

    • guardyourselfnow profile image


      11 years ago from New York

      Great tips for your safety Love the elevators most people don't even think about this. Keep up the great articals Thanks Donna

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Good advice about the elevator - I usually move to the back, but see where that could be unsafe.


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