Saturday, 14 July 2012

Blogging Carneval

I wrote this as part of a blogging carneval hosted on

Image source
I have written about many things that has to do with Taekwondo over the course of this blog but I have never properly adressed the issue of self defense. This is a huge topic covering everything from "soft skills" to "hard skills". It is even difficult to know where to start with a post like this. I guess I will try doing something out of "common sense" as these days "common sense" does not seem as "common" as it used to be.

First we start with self protection skills. Many readers will believe that I am now going to cover strikes, or grappling or a mixture of these. Far from it, "self protection" is what you do before it even gets to "self defense". Here is where the "common sense" has a big part to play. The best way of not getting yourself into a self defense situation? Do not be there. So a simple form of self protection is to never be where trouble is likely to happen. This means:
  • staying out of streets with a bad reputation or high crime rate
  • never walk around dark desolate places alone
  • always let people know where you are going
  • try not to make yourself an "easy target"
  • etc
Obviously you can not always do all the above but the key thing to do if you go against the above advices is: ALWAYS BE AWARE OF YOUR SOUROUNDINGS. You are walking down a road where the crime rate is high and you see a group of men walking towards you on the sidewalk. They are loud and obviously drunk. What do you do?
  • Walk straight at them as you are going the oposite way?
  • Cross to the opposite side of the road? (if they suddenly cross the road too you might be in trouble)
  • Turn and find another route to your destination?
This way of thinking is a good example of "soft skills" that I alluded to in the beginning. The least safest option is the first one. The second buys you time and an early warning that something is off. The third one is the safest option as option four (wich I did not write) is "Do not be there in the first place".

Other examples of "soft skills" would be for women to not go alone to the night club but be with friends. Always let one in the group keep a close watch on hand bags and especially drinks while the others are dancing (rotate so everyone can have fun). This is a good way to prevent someone stealing hand bags and more importantly it is a good way to hinder people who wants to drug womens drinks.

All this is really about being aware of your sorroundings and use common sense, but you have other "soft skills" that also should be learned for self protection. Here is an interesting post from the host of this carneval explaining about how looking confident and aware while walking around actually minimises the odds of you being chosen as a victim.

If you have done all this and still find you in an unpleasant situation you need comunication skills and de-escalating skills. When all this is done and there is no way to escape the situation it is the first time to start thinking about what most people think about when it comes to self defense, namely the "hard skills" (e.g the kicks, punches, grappling etc)

"Googling" and "youtubing" women self defense you will find a ton of hits, but often they are centered around the "hard skills" and the "soft skills" are not even mentioned. The worst thing though is that most of the material seems to be comming from men who has not thought about the different disadvanteges women have versus men. The other really bad thing is that you will get a ton of material against triviell things like purse snatching and robberies etc. The thing to remember and that all "self defense" gurus out there should teach is this: There is absolutly no materialistic thing in this world that is more important than your own safety. Someone asks you to hand over your purse? Give it to him! Someone wants all your cash at gun point? Give them away.. Do not risk getting hurt, maimed or killed over a few measly dollars and a gucci bag..

I mentioned some disadvantages for women vs men. I am not going to go on length here as I think that this is common knowledge today, and I am not being sexist either. There are some disadvantages but also a few advanteges women have. We must have these in mind when dealing with "hard skills".
Disadvantages women have vs men:
  • Physical strength
  • Speed
  • Agression
The physical strenght is obvious. There are exceptions of course, but comparing a man and a women of the same weight will more often than not give the man the strenght advantage. We are simply built differently. Speed is also a physical thing that men seem to have as a gift by nature when compared to women of the same weight. Agression too is on mans side because in our society women have been brainwashed for a few thousand years to be "nice" and "a good women/wife etc". That being said, if they can come over this brainwashing women do have a lot more agression than men. There is a reason why burglars generally avoids breaking into a home with mother and children. When the mothers children are threaten we see how much aggression a women is really capable of.. So a list of advanteges in women vs men:
  • Agression (once the social brainwashing is overcommed)
  • More weapons available (you can carry a purse full of potential but legal weapons)
  • Voice
Agression I discussed briefly in an earlier paragraph. With more weapons available I mean legal items that you can put in your purse and even the purse itself. This can be anything from hairspray (spray the agressors eyes) to hitting him in the head with your purse, to long fingernails. The voice is also generally in the womens favour and they can more easily than men create high pitch screams and attract attention to themselves (sometimes this is enough to get them out of danger).

All this has to be taken into consideration when designing a self defense syllabus for women, but most of the material I have seen are as previously said not designed well for women. There is generally too much focus on the "hard skills" and too little focus on the "soft skills". Also if you search "womens self defense" on google you will get hits like these:
Here you see spectacular moves that seems to come from what I like to call "movie self defense". It has nothing to do with reality. BUT any physical training might give the trainee the confidense that makes this person less inclined to become a victim than one that does not have a great confidense. Offenders are looking for "easy targets".

One more thing to point out is the danger with high kicks (for some reason they are show up everywhere with "women self defense". Landing a high kick like that is almost impossible to do, you expose your self way to much, you sacrifice your mobility and stability. They are therefore not reccomended in any self defense settings. I have yet to hear a well respected self defense expert saying that kicking high is good, yet you see this all the time if you search for womens self defense.

KISS or Keep It Simple Stupid is everything when it comes to self defense. Be it hard or soft skills the rule to keep it simple is always the way to go. When it comes to techniques in itself I will only touch on them as they should be taught and trained by/with a competent instructor. I personally would teach techniques like punches with open hand (palm heel as some styles call them), slaps to the ear (this can take out the opponents sense of balance without much power, and the move is just like a "normal" slap), elbow strikes, fingertip strikes and the strikes/techniques would target the most voulnerable targets;
  • Eyes
  • Throat
  • Groin
  • Solar plexus
They do not need to be difficult like the inappropriate high kicks in the pictures above. A simple defense against a bear hug would be to target the eyes like in the opening picture. There is no strength involved, it is not difficult to do and you do not need to much targeting skills. I do not think that anyone believes that the man will keep on holding the women in that picture if she does that technnique for real. What makes it a good defense (or counter attack so to speak) is that it follows what I have been trying to say in this post. It takes into consideration the strength disadvantage, it feeds of the primal agression inherent in women (once the social brainwashing is overcome), it is simple and targets a voulnarable target (the eyes in this case). It is anything but pretty but there is no doubt to its effectiveness. No women in their right mind wants to be in a situation that warrants a response like that (abduction, attempt at rape, etc) so the focus (in my view anyway) should not be on "hard skills" but  "soft skills" instead. This way we try our best not to get into a nasty situation like that at all. The best fight is always the fight that is avoided. 

Here is the link to the carneval where you can read others contribution to the carneval:

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