This past semester, I was lucky enough to take a PE course called Women’s Self-Defense. It was by far one of the best classes I have taken, and I would highly recommend it to all females looking to gain confidence and skills to defend themselves in intimidating situations. My goal for this article is not to scare women into being paranoid every time they go outside, but rather, to help inspire them to feel empowered and strong!
According to one student, the class made her realize that we can fight no matter our size: “I’m stronger than I thought I was” - Leasly Salazar
The PE course is taught by Diane Whitfield, or Shihan, as she is referred to in the Dojo. Shihan is Japanese for master instructor, and dojo refers to a place of instruction. She is an extremely accomplished woman and is full of passion for learning and teaching self-defense to women. She is an 8th degree black belt in Aiki-Shinkai Karate and teaches at Karate International in Durham. She was a fantastic instructor and really helped me to understand the importance of exuding confidence no matter where you are or whom you are with. Throughout the class, we learned many different techniques and skills to prepare ourselves for possible dangerous circumstances. And I want to focus on some of the most basic and important skills to have in your “toolbox” in case you are forced into a risky situation.
Now for the do’s and don’ts! Remember this is just a short list of a few easy tips. But, if you want to learn more and really feel empowered, take the class and you’ll be much better prepared!
- Do be aware of your surroundings at all times. It doesn’t matter where you are, these crimes can happen anywhere.
- Do scream and “go bananas” in order to be heard by someone who could help.
- Do check your car to make sure no one is there or nearby.
- Do believe in yourself. It’s ALL about the ATTITUDE.
- Do know that you can do something to protect yourself.
- Do set boundaries to let them know you’re not the person they want to mess with. They have a vision of who they want in mind-don’t be it.
- Do think about how bodies work. The elbow only bends one way.
- Do remember you can use everyday items as weapons. You can use your keys, credit cards, cell phone, water bottles, and anything else you find in your purse.
- Do go to your toolbox of tricks (which you will learn all about from taking the class)!
- BREATHE - you don’t want to panic or freeze, so keep a steady breath.
- Don’t talk on the cell phone; be aware and focused on your surroundings.
- Don’t get into the car no matter what they say.
- Don’t EVER go to a secondary location!!!!
- Don’t let them intimidate you.
- Don’t go to places alone. It’s always better to go places in groups, especially late at night.
- Don’t use pepper spray because there is a higher risk of them using it on you if you aren’t properly trained in how to use it.
Women should not feel scared or threatened when walking at night. But, unfortunately we live in a society where some guys do feel the need to assert some form of power against women. Therefore, we must be prepared and be ready for whatever situation is thrown at us.
Here are a few extra tips to help defend yourself if you’re ever in a situation that requires defense.
- Alligator roll - this is great for so many different situation. If your feet are being held, just roll and the attacker’s wrists will eventually not be able to keep up with you, and you will be free to run.
- Base-base is always a great position to be in. It’s when you drop your center and are in an athletic-like stance. This is especially useful when someone is trying to pull you by the wrist.
- For a two-handed choke, always try to loosen their grip by pulling their fingers away, and then rotate your head under their arms to break free.
Try a few of these tips out with friends to practice in order to be prepared. Remember to use your hips and core in everything because we hold most of our strength there. Lastly, don’t forget to breathe!
Shihan’s take-away message is: “The most important thing for women to know is that they have to respect themselves in order to demand respect from others.”
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