This article, Simple Self Defense Tips for Women, was written from a Canadian perspective, but it’s a one stop shop for a lot of standard self defense misinformation.
Do not panic, think, be aware and strike hard, it might be the only chance you have of saving your life.
Keeping a cool head during a crisis is always a desirable thing, yet many people have extreme difficulty doing that. Panic can be avoided by having a well rehearsed plan.
Typically during confrontations you are not thinking straight, and your imagination will not usually be fast enough to invent weapons. This is why intended objects should be carried at all times.
The best way to prevent confrontation is to avoid it all together.
Awareness is very important in Self Defense, and by being aware of the environment around you many threats on the streets can be avoided.
The best thing to do if you see or sense something that is not right is to change the route you are taking or enter someplace that will make you feel safe. If you cannot change routes, then go to the opposite side of the street and prepare to defend yourself or run if you need to.
This is just the standard disclaimer. I think everyone can agree that staying alert and not looking for trouble is a good idea. The “intended objects” term is amusing. What the author really means is “weapons”.
Be cautious of what you wear when you are walking in the street, do not bring any attention to yourself.
Certainly, revealing clothing will get you attention, some of it unwanted, though this will make little difference as to whether you are targeted. It will make a lot more difference as to whether you can escape effectively, because some women’s fashion does not lend itself to either running or fighting. How far and fast can you run in heels? Barefoot? Long hair looks nice but tactically speaking it is a liability. About the only positive thing about women’s fashion from a self defense perspective is that tight clothing can be difficult to grasp. Unfortunately, tight clothing also makes it difficult to move in the full range of motion and makes it harder to conceal a firearm (for those that are fortunate enough to live in the US).
Walk with confidence and carry yourself like you are not afraid. You will be less likely to be bothered with.
Pretending you have confidence when you really do not is False Confidence; it is essentially bluffing. What happens when someone calls your bluff? The biggest psychological hurdles many women face in this regard are overcoming a lack of assertiveness and a reluctance to using violence to defend themselves. Once they make up their mind that they refuse to be a victim and are comfortable with the concept of using violence in self-defense, all the other things will fall into place but until then, they are simply going through the motions.
Most aggressors will back down if you maintain eye contact with them and maintain yourself in the proper manner.
Staring someone down only works if you are perceived as having a credible threat of violence to back it up. If your bluff is called you had better have something to fall back on. All this advice about awareness and assertive body language is fine and good, but at the heart of the matter is actual fighting. If your alertness, assertiveness and conservative dress have all failed, if your bluff has been called and there is nowhere to run, you will have to fight.
Everything around you that you can pick up can be a potential weapon. There is only one rule if you are attacked, that is that you must survive. Any person being attacked will do whatever necessary to protect him or herself. This will require you to do anything you have to including screaming, scratching, biting (which is not recommended due to the diseases that can be spread), hit or kick, attack with a common object, do all that is needed to end the threat or to have sufficient time to getaway.
Striking the attacker with stones, knives, pencils, iron sticks, crochet or knitting needles, etc, anything you have available to you. Maybe using your cell phone will work as well. Sprays: Any aerosol cans, hair spray, spray paint, pepper sprays, mace, tear gas etc.
Knives are excellent weapons, although depending on the jurisdiction, there can be a lot of laws regulating their carry. More on that in a moment. I am not sure what the author means by “iron sticks” but I will assume they mean a yawara/Kubotan. I like the Kubotan, but it’s not something that most people intuitively know how to use. It is much more useful if you have some training and some skill. Pencils do not make very good weapons (they break far too easily) but a sturdy pen can be used in a manner similar to a Kubotan. Using your cell phone as a weapon is not something I recommend. Smashing your tiny cell phone on some man’s head is a dubious tactic, and it is quite likely to destroy your most available means to call for help. Chemical irritants are useful, but I don’t recommend anything but OC (pepper) spray. I’m not sure how many women are in the habit of carrying spray paint, but I am going to guess that it’s almost none. Hair spray is unlikely to do much to stop an attacker and like many of these suggestions, is only useful as a distraction tactic; something that you do to create an opening for something else that is more effective. Chemical sprays should not be viewed as fight ending devices and like any other tool, you are better off getting some training rather than trying to figure it out during an attack.
Unfortunately, due to the awareness of violence, people take it upon themselves to carry illegal self-defense weapons. This is not a good idea and can definitely ward off attackers, but they can bring a lot of legal difficulties for the user. In many states, the use of a firearm even in a perceived use of self-defense can land you three years in jail if you are convicted of aggravated assault. There are many effective, perfectly legal weapons which still produce the same results, should be carried instead.
The statement that there are plenty of other weapons that produce the same result as firearms is misleading. There simply aren’t any that are in the same league. If there were, they would be illegal too. The only possible exception are knives. Knives can create a lot of trauma very quickly, but they are still not in the same category as firearms (and like other deadly weapons, there are laws regulating them as well). That said, I think knives are an excellent choice for self defense and the laws regulating them tend to be far less draconian than the laws regulating firearms. In addition, although using knives as defensive weapons is fairly intuitive, there are martial arts disciplines that specialize in knife training (in particular, the Filipino martial arts – FMA) if you choose to pursue it. As always, it is your responsibility to become familiar with your local laws.
The ugly truth is that effective weapons tend to be regulated out of the reach of ordinary citizens, forcing them to improvise poor substitutes while criminals enjoy the option of arming themselves however they see fit. Often, this is simply accepted as “being for the good of society” but nothing could be further from the the truth. Disarming citizens has precisely the opposite effect. It simply makes life easier for criminal predators.
If you stop and look at what is in your bag or purse you will find that unconsciously you have been carrying many potential weapons. For example, if you have an accessible belt it may be used like a whip with the buckle. Or maybe you can stun them by throwing coins in their face. Articles of clothing are known to be used as choking items. Let’s not forget the bag itself can be used to strike the attacker.
Belt buckles can be viable improvised weapons, but how many women have ever trained to use their belts this way? Not only that, but many women’s belts are merely fashion accessories, and are not constructed in a way that makes them suitable as a weapon. Throwing coins in someone’s face is merely a distraction, it is not a weapon. Articles of clothing can certainly be used to choke, in fact some martial arts specialize in that (Judo and it’s derivatives). However, that takes some dedicated training and is not something you can learn from an article or figure out in the middle of an attack. Hitting someone with your purse is not likely to accomplish a great deal, unless you are in the habit of carrying a brick in your purse. The problem with most of these suggestions is that they are assuming that there is going to be physical parity between a woman and a male attacker.
Being quick and efficient in using weapons is very important; so when you are in danger, do not be uncertain about using them.
Being decisive is important, but using improvised weapons is not quick and efficient, it is an act of desperation. Real weapons are quick and efficient. That is the whole point of having a weapon: it’s faster and easier than using your bare hands, hitting someone with your cell phone or throwing coins.
Hit quickly, and if doable, attack weak points by using a lot of power, for instance, the groin, effective against both men and women.
The groin strike is not the Achilles Heel that it is portrayed to be. Along with eye gouges and biting, this makes up the Holy Trinity of “self defense” moves that are endlessly touted as being fight stoppers. The truth is that they are mostly softening techniques, a way to create an opening in order to escape or use other, more decisive techniques. They frequently don’t work because most women do not practice these techniques on dynamic, resisting training partners and don’t understand their application or their shortcomings. Many novices think they can escape a chokehold by using one of these three easy techniques, until they actually try it and realize that it’s not quite as simple as they first imagined. The popularity of these techniques is in their perceived simplicity; the notion that one doesn’t need to spend hours, weeks, months or years in training is appealing to many people.
The key component that is missing in all of the advice in the article is training. A woman is far better off learning proper (modern) weapons use and serious, full contact martial arts than relying on untested advice. Unless you practice these techniques and rehearse self defense scenarios, it is not likely that you will fare very well. There is an old saying about functioning under extreme stress: you will not rise to the occasion, you will default to your level of training.
Remember, do not panic, think, be aware and strike hard.
The best way to avoid panic is to have real confidence that comes with sound training and preparation, not false confidence based on wishful thinking and hoping against bad odds.
This might be the only chance you have of saving your life.
Then why not arm yourself with a proper weapon and some training instead of relying on knitting needles, hair spray and bad advice?