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How to teach a self defense class for women

When teaching self-defense to women, it’s important to emphasize up front that the tips we’ll cover are suggestions. They are not clad in iron, as every situation will be different, and women must assess for themselves whether they have a fighting chance.

It is also important to emphasize the fact that if a woman did not follow any of the steps you will teach her, she did not necessarily do anything “wrong.” (There may be women in your class who have been assaulted in the past and you don’t want to sound like you are attacking their behavior.)

To be clear, it is indeed a sad situation that we even have to address this issue. No woman deserves to live in fear for her safety. The sad truth is that there are many sick people in this world and they take advantage of the meek.

With that said, here are some tips women can use to make them less prone to being assaulted.

1. Conduct business during the day and avoid unlit areas at night.

Women are much more likely to be attacked at night in areas where an assailant can easily hide. Always park close to your destination and in well-lit areas.

2. Travel in groups.

2 women are much less likely to be attacked than one person. The more the merrier, and the likelihood of being attacked drops dramatically.

3. Always tell someone where you are going and when to expect it to arrive.

Time is of the essence if you are kidnapped or injured due to an attack.

4. Carry your keys in your hand.

This will allow you to get into your car more quickly and can be used as a weapon if necessary. Bring them between your fingers to hit them if necessary.

5. If you are confronted, make eye contact and study your assailant’s description.

This is vital to finding the bad guy and will help prevent him from doing it again. Here’s a fine line. Let them know that you see them and that you are aware of their presence, but some guys will make too much eye contact as an invitation.

6. Make as much noise as possible if you are attacked.

You never know who may be nearby who can help you, and most attackers will flee if they think they can be caught.

7. Never let someone carry you.

Allowing someone to take you to a place where they know they will not be disturbed will never end well for you.

8. Be aware of your surroundings. Make a mental note of escape routes.

Make a game of it. I always do this wherever I go.

9. Drive with confidence. Don’t look like a victim.

Typically, muggers are looking for those who will walk away easily and will not object.

10. Don’t wear expensive jewelry or flaunt cash in public.

Particularly on vacation, people are attacked because their attacker is looking for easy money. Also, dress moderately. Unfortunately, there are sick people who could be prompted to attack you based on what you are wearing. (Again, it is important to emphasize that this is a sad reality, but dressing provocatively does not mean that it is okay for someone to attack them, it can attract someone who is unstable.)

11. Be physically fit.

You will have a much better chance of surviving an attack if you can fight HARD for more than 30 seconds.

12. Be mentally prepared to fight for your life.

Decide ahead of time that you WILL NOT BE A VICTIM. Be determined to stay away from any attacker, at all costs.

13. Scratch

Leaving a mark on your attacker and having his DNA under his fingernails is helpful in prosecuting the right person.

14. Rooster

This is not a ‘fair fight’, use all the resources you can to save yourself.

15. Look for items that can be used as weapons.

Use rocks, sticks, your bag … ANYTHING that can help you escape.


Get out of the situation as quickly as possible. You are not in a fight. If you can escape the situation, do so.

17. Find and attack inherent weaknesses.

My eyeball is not stronger than yours. Pushing the eyeball is a great goal to help you escape. Other inherent weaknesses are:

A. Throat

B. nose

C. Temple

D. Ear drums

E. Solar plexus

F. Groin

G. Shin

H. Toes and fingers

18. Hit correctly.

You can injure yourself just as badly, if not worse than your attacker, if you hit incorrectly. Practice hitting with the first two knuckles, with your wrist straight. Gain power by incorporating your torso and legs.

Use elbows and knees, as well as stomps and kicks.

19. If you carry pepper spray or any other weapon, PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT.

Do not carry a weapon in which you are not proficient. Any weapon can be taken away and used against you. Be aware of your surroundings if you use pepper spray.

The wind can blow pepper spray back into your eyes, rendering you incapacitated. You better spray it on your hand and wipe it in your attacker’s eyes.

20. Be a survivor

Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

Know that a physical altercation is going to be difficult. Stay alert and focus on surviving the attack.

Once you’ve gone over these tips, it’s good to open it up for class members to share some of their ideas. This list could easily be twice as long and it helps you think of ways you can stay safe.

Discussion topics:

1. At home, never allow someone inside your home to use the phone or for any other reason if you are home alone. Answer with a firm “NO”. Don’t start a conversation.

2. Never tell someone on the phone that you are home alone

3. Never accept a trip from strangers

* If he approaches you, say in a firm voice, ‘NO, a trip is coming’, and continue. Don’t start a conversation.

(OPTIONAL) Next, I take them through a 2 minute ‘warm-up’ phase where I get them huffing and puffing by doing simple Jumping Jacks. I inform them that they were only going to go for two minutes, and they were just doing jumps, not fighting for their lives … ‘look how tired you are’. I encourage you to participate in some type of fitness program.

Finally, I teach basic punches and a choke.

1. Fighting position

Hands up. Sunken chin Feet shoulder width apart. Comfortable walking posture. Stand on the balls of your feet. RELAX your shoulders.

*** Adopting a proper fighting stance alone could deter an attacker.

2. Palm heel strike

I teach this because someone is less likely to get hurt while learning the basics. Clicking the palm towards the nose. Pounding your nose will make your eyes fill with tears. If they can’t see you, they can’t attack you. Wear focus gloves to practice.

3. Front kick.

Aim with your knee. Pull your toe back and strike with the ball of your foot. Snap it towards your target ad and pull it back. The groin is a perfect target. Wear kick protectors to practice.

4. Knee strike

Target = muzzle. Point your toes toward the ground and lift your bent knee toward your desired target while pushing your hips forward for more power.

Put it all together. To defend against a grab, raise your hand in the air. Adjust it down. This will make your opponent move his head forward. As they do so, hit them on the nose with an open palm, then kick or knee in the groin, depending on how close they are, and run.

5. Choke (weather permitting)

Teach a simple choke gi. Show that it can be done standing up or standing guard, wearing a jacket or shirt. The right hand grasps the necklace from behind the neck. The left hand grabs the collar just below the right hand (similar to holding a baseball bat). The right hand passes over the head and squeezes it, using the forearms to cut off the blood supply to the brain.

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