Basic Self-Defense Moves Anyone Can Do
Would you be able to defend yourself and your loved ones if someone were to physically attack you? It’s a question most of us don’t want to consider, but violence is, unfortunately, a fact of life. Thankfully, regardless of strength, size, or previous training, anyone can learn several effective self-defense techniques. Here’s how to prepare for and stay safe in common real-world violent situations.
The Most Effective Body Parts to Hit
When you’re in a confrontation, you only have a few seconds and a few moves to try before the fight may be decided. Before an attacker has gained full control of you, you must do everything you can—conserving as much energy as possible—to inflict injury so you can get away. (This is no time to be civil. In a physical confrontation that calls for self-defense, it’s hurt or be hurt.) So aim for the parts of the body where you can do the most damage easily: the eyes, nose, ears, neck, groin, knee, and legs.
Su Ericksen, who writes the very helpful Self-Defense for Women website, offers techniques for striking these pressure points so you can defend yourself and get to safety. She writes:
Depending on the position of the attacker and how close he is will determine where you will strike and with what part of your body you will employ. Do not step in closer, say, to strike his nose with your hand, when you can reach his knee with a kick.
When striking a target on the upper half of the body you will use your hand. Effective strikes can be made with the outer edge of your hand in a knife hand position, a palm strike or knuckle blow for softer targets or a tightly curled fist.
Here are some photos Su offers on attacking these highly sensitive pressure points:
Eyes: Gouging, poking, or scratching the attacker’s eyes with your fingers or knuckles would be effective, as you can imagine. Besides causing a lot of pain, this should also make your escape easier by at least temporarily interfering with his vision.
Nose: If the attacker is close in front of you, use the heel of your palm to strike up under his nose; throw the whole weight of your body into the move to cause the most pain and force him to loosen his grip on you. If he’s behind you, you can strike his nose (from the side or front) with your elbow. Either way, aim for the nasal bones.
Neck: The side of the neck is a bigger target, where both the carotid artery and jugular vein are located. You could possibly temporarily stun your attacker with a knife hand strike (all fingers held straight and tightly together, with thumb tucked and slightly bent at the knuckle) at the side of the neck. (For even more injury, you could thrust your elbow into your assailant’s throat while pitching the weight of your body forward. See the Target Focus Training video below.)
Knee: Su says the knee is an ideal self-defense target, vulnerable from every angle and easily kicked without risk of your foot being grabbed. Kick the side of the knee to cause injury or partially incapacitate your attacker. Kicking the front of the knee may cause more injury but is less likely to result in imbalance.
How to Maximize Damage
Use your elbows, knees, and head. Those are the parts of the body that are most sensitive when hit. Now here are the parts of the body used most effectively for inflicting damage: your elbows, knees, and head (they’re your body’s bony built-in weapons). This video from Elite Defense Systems in IL explains how to defend yourself against three most common attacks by using these key body parts.
Use everyday objects. Everyday objects you carry around with you or things in your environment can also be used to your advantage as weapons. Hold a key or pen between your middle and ring finger while you’re walking home in the dark for more assurance. Outdoors, you can toss some dirt or sand into your attacker’s eyes. Women are often told to spray perfume or hairspray into an assailant’s eyes. The point is, use what ever you can to make your defense stronger (for more inspiration, watch some Jackie Chan movies).
Leverage your weight. No matter your size, weight, or strength in relation to your opponent, you can defend yourself by strategically using your body and the simple law of physics. This is the principle behind martial arts systems like Jujitsu and other self-defense programs where a smaller person is able to defeat a larger one.