This weekend is the 10th Annual Brittany Willis Memorial Soccer Showcase, an event I’ve posted about before. One of the most important aspects of this tournament every year is the awareness it brings to the topic of self-defense. Prior to the summer Brittany was killed I was completely naïve about personal safety, and the experience of both losing such a close friend and of feeling unsafe was completely overwhelming and terrifying. Educating myself about self defense and minimizing risk helped me to overcome this fear and I feel very strongly about urging everyone- but especially women- about this topic. So, in honor of the Brittany this weekend I thought I’d share the top 5 things I’ve learned about self-defense for 5 on Friday.
Don’t allow yourself to be taken to a second location.
We’ve all seen movies and TV shows where someone is kidnapped and complies with requests throughout the ordeal before they’re eventually saved or released. In reality, your odds are much worse once you are taken to a second location. Additionally, you are much more likely to be a victim of other crimes (e.g., rape) before you are killed.
Create a scene.
This goes along with not allowing yourself to be taken to a second location. Scream, honk the horn, wreck the car, do whatever you can to attract attention to yourself—and as a result, the offender. When someone comes up to you with a weapon and says they’ll kill you if you scream we like to think we can just comply and hope for the best. In reality, they’re much less likely to actually kill you when you draw attention to them because their first instinct will be to escape. Additionally, you’re much more likely to receive help if you’re injured at the scene of the attack rather than wherever they take you.
Have a plan.
Noone wants to think about being a victim of an attack, and certainly you could slip into a spiral of causing yourself more stress than the benefits of being prepared would bring you, but a certain amount of forethought can be beneficial. Think of it in terms of athletic training—you practice skills in isolation, visualize yourself carrying out the skills in a real situation and then actually compete. Building fluency is the same with any skill you are learning and if you are ever in a real attack situation your problem solving skills will be compromised from fear and you’ll need to rely on procedural memory to respond appropriately.
On a daily basis there are simple, easy to carryout behaviors you can build into your daily life. Lock your car doors as soon as you get in, scan the area as you walk to your car or door, hold your keys with the biggest key in between your fingers (to be used as a weapon), don’t talk on the cell phone as you’re walking to your car/door, etc. At first you’ll have to consciously think about doing these things, so you could start with one change. As you do it every day it will become second nature, making a situation where you’re busy or distracted and forget to do them much less likely. Locking my car doors the second I get into the car has become so habitual to me that I often lock my husband out of the car before he has a chance to even get in.
I’ve taken a few self-defense classes and not once did I learn to punch someone in the face because let’s be real-I’m probably not going to cause any damage that way. Furthermore, people expect a punch in the face and will be much better prepared to defend against that. I know everyone likes to think a swift kick to the privates is the way to go, but again that’s an expected move. Personally, in my mind my go-to move would be jamming my thumbs through someone’s eyeballs. Disgusting, yes, but very likely to be effective and doesn’t require a lot of strength or skill. That person is most defiantly going to be shocked and their hands will fly to their face, allowing me a chance to run. Yanking hard on sensitive areas could be a good call too—don’t think just of traditional attack points-for example, armpits are pretty sensitive. This all goes back to number three-you’re not going be doing a lot of problem solving so have a plan to turn to when in crisis.