Self-Defense Tips Every Woman Should Know

Self-Defense Tips Every Woman Should Know

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Self-defense isn’t as easy as taking an hour course, but it can be as simple as one word — awareness.

“Don’t be oblivious to your surroundings or buried in a cell phone conversation,” Cincinnati Police Specialist John Rose says. “If you’re attacked, it shouldn’t be a surprise.”

Rose works with police-in-training and also teaches self-defense classes at the Cincinnati Police Academy. “I tell women to use their intuition,” he says. “If something just doesn’t feel right to you, even if you don’t know why, listen to yourself and get out of that situation.”

Whether it’s taking an alley shortcut or thinking someone might be following you, Rose advised that the best defense is to avoid having to defend yourself at all — a concept he shares with those following the martial arts.

Mike Simmons, owner and instructor at Tracy’s Martial Arts, says in most martial arts disciplines, physical contact is a last resort used for defense. His theory on self-defense is that it the ability to respond is far more important than form and sport.

“I want people to walk away (from training) knowing how to react and how to stop someone from hurting them,” Simmons says. Although he teaches on a belt-class system, he says everyone should have a least some training in defense, even if it’s only a few weeks of classes.

“If you don’t know anything about protecting yourself, you’ll freeze if something happens,” he says. “A person with knowledge and true confidence is less likely to become a victim.”

Actually, they are less likely to even be attacked.

Forensic psychologist Tony Farrenkopf told WebMD, that even looking strong and confident can prevent you from being approached.

“Criminals don’t want to get caught,” Farrenkopf says. “They will ask themselves, ‘Does this person look attackable?…Vulnerable? Can I get away with something here?”

However, all parties agreed that a two-hour class is not enough to be really prepared. “I can teach you all the basics in a couple of hours,” Rose says. “But you won’t retain any of it and it won’t be ingrained enough to be useful if you are actually attacked.”

Rose says that the most important thing he tells women is, if you find yourself in a situation where you have to defend yourself, remember to breathe. He says that the body experiences two kinds of stress: the one where you’re on the treadmill and can reach over to change the song on your iPod, and the kind of stress you undergo when you’re literally “scared to death.”

“Once the body starts dumping adrenaline into your system, all your analytical thinking and motor skills are gone,” Rose says. “All you’re left with is any repetitive training your body has learned and your fight or flight instinct — and those are really your only two options.”

Simmons added that your brain becomes pretty much numb when you’re attacked — the most important reason you need repetitive training to be confident.
“To really be able to defend yourself your body has to be thinking,” he says. “Because you’re brain might not be able to.”

But there are other reasons your brain can’t focus. Rose warned that drugs and alcohol can not only make you an obvious and easy target, but they can also hinder your ability to defend yourself if you’re attacked.

The 2000 US Bureau of Justice Statistics stated that 70 percent of assaults and sexual crimes occur within 5 miles of the victim’s home. So, even if you’re just having a few drinks at the neighborhood bar, don’t leave with a false sense of security.

You physical condition can also be a hindrance to your health and safety.

“A big part of defending yourself is actually being able to,” Rose says. “If you aren’t in shape enough to physically defend yourself, classes won’t really help.”

But regardless of how you got into the situation, if you think you’re in danger, call the police.

“Most good people don’t want to call the police because they think they’re bugging us,” Rose says. “But that’s the No. 1 thing you should do. If you call and say, ‘I think I’m being followed,’ you get seven cars respond. That’s real police work, that’s what we want to do.”

He added that if you call and give a description of the person, the police will pick that person up, ask them a few questions and take a photo. Then they’ll pass that photo on to an investigator who will see if the description matches any previous crimes. “If someone is following you, chances are it’s not their first time,” Rose says.