BY ERIN WEED
Erin Weed is the author of Girls Fight Back! The College Girl’s Guide to Protecting Herself. Girls Fight Back! outlines how to trust your intuition, avoid bad situations, and if necessary, defend yourself – specifically for women who have gone off to college. The following is an excerpt from Weed’s book, with a focus on self-defense.*
There are many great concepts in women’s self-defense, but here I will summarize seven of my favorite strategies to keep in mind when protecting yourself. A good self-defense class will elaborate on these concepts.
#1: You gotta believe!
No matter what and under the most severe circumstances, we must always believe we will survive. It’s got to be our most steadfast thought, even in the midst of a horrible situation. Thinking strong, positive thoughts and being committed to saving ourselves is one of the best ways to ensure self-preservation, even in a worst-case scenario. In many self-defense courses, you will take the time to discuss what in your life is worth fighting for. Why do you need to live? Why do you need to fight? For some it’s the people they love, for others it’s a principle or goal they are committed to. Regardless of the reason, we all need to make a commitment to our own survival.
#2: Act quickly.
The way men attack women is extremely predatory – pouncing when we least expect it. Sometimes they attack us in our homes, even while we’re sleeping. Others wait until they have trusting friendships or relationships with us and then make their move. The first few moments of any violent confrontation tend to set the tone for how the situation will go down. If your immediate reaction is one of intolerance, boundary settings and physical resistance, you will spend less time thinking and more time reacting. Learning self-defense has been proven to shorten the freeze response, making it possible to act as soon as possible.
#3: Embrace your fear.
It sounds odd, but many people fear their own fear. They become frightened of the intoxicating feeling that encompasses their entire body with a sense of urgency and action. Remember that adrenaline is power and allowing yourself to experience fear does not equate to being helpless. Adrenaline helps you feel no pain and become capable of strength you never knew possible. Harness your fear and it will make you stronger.
#4: Avoid the second crime scene.
Ever thought how you might handle a situation in which a van pulls up next to you and a person in it demands you come inside? If you resist or run, there’s the risk of being attacked, shot or killed. Comply, and you may have to endure the realities that many police officers refer to as the “second crime scene.” Nearly all safety experts agree that you should run or fight to escape. If anyone ever pulls up next to you on the street or tries to force or manipulate you into going somewhere unfamiliar, it’s time to resist or run like the dickens. In most cases, it’s bound to become more violent and chances of escape decrease as the area becomes more secluded.
#5: Fight in threes.
By fighting using various series of three moves, you will be more likely to escape a confrontation because you’ll do triple the damage you would have accomplished with just one strike. We can never be too confident that one jab to the eyes or strike to the face is going to end the fight, so we must always follow up.
Ironically, it’s one of the hardest things to do during a fight but also the most important. Sometimes a response to fear is the sucking in of breath and holding it in. For example, have you ever been in a near-miss car accident? Right after you realize that you’re not actually going to hit someone, all of a sudden you let out an enormous sigh of relief. Though you didn’t realize it, you had taken in that deep breath and didn’t let go. Hold the breath long enough and you will surely pass out. Unfortunately, I don’t teach unconscious self-defense, so you’ll just need to obey the breathing rule. A great way to do this is by yelling “no” with every strike to keep air flowing.
Your responsibility in a self-defense scenario is to defend yourself until the bad guy is no longer a threat. In many self-defense schools, they refer to this theory as “Stun and Run.” Sticking around and fighting to the point where you can make sure he’s down could lead to “overkill” and consequently legal problems. If someone attacks you, the safest thing to do is execute techniques necessary to open up an opportunity to get the hell away from this person, and escape to a safe place.
Erin Weed’s sorority sister was murdered while at college in June 2001. Since then, Erin has studied with the best experts in campus security, personal safety, violence prevention and self-defense. In addition to owning her own women’s self-defense studio in New Jersey, Erin travels the nation giving personal safety seminars and has spoken to over 100,000 women nationwide. She has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Marie Claire, Ladies Home Journal, Glamour, on The John Walsh Show, and CNN.
*Reprinted with permission from Girls Fight Back! The College Girl’s Guide to Protecting Herself by Erin Weed.