Content Warning: Reference to self-defense while being attacked and put in a vulnerable position.
One of the most empowering things I’ve done for myself is to learn martial arts. I’ve tried many, many sports over the years but I never found one that stuck. Each practice seemed like a chore and I was never invested into the games. Last year, a friend told me about kickboxing classes at the university. So I decided to give it a try. It was so difficult. I was sore after every session. Some days I couldn’t lift my arms and other days it was torture to walk up the stairs. But I loved every minute of it. Even now, I’m continuing to build strength. Both mentally and physically. I’m completely exhausted by the end of it, but I feel amazing. I still need a lot of beginner modifications and I likely will for a while. But I'm happy knowing that each workout, I’m pushing myself to the limit. Because of it, I'm experiencing personal growth every day.
When I first started, I was lucky to have two extraordinary male instructors. They were both always open to conversation and helping me progress at my own pace. They also knew that self-defense was a priceless skill for any woman. And that uncomfortable or dangerous situations are a possibility for anyone at any time. Sometimes knowing that you can defend yourself makes the biggest difference. I’ve learned many techniques under their guidance, but these are the three main points I try to remember for any situation.
Aim for vulnerable areas.
The priority is not to fight back but to get away safely. At any opportunity, and I mean any, where you can aim for vulnerable areas, TAKE IT. Nothing matters more than creating distance between you and your attacker. Some vulnerable areas are the eyes, throat, groin, and knee. You can take a look at this article for more information along with photo guides. But after you’ve thrown them off balance, run. Run as fast as you can.
Remember your elbows and knees.
When I first started learning martial arts, I learned from a style called Muay Thai. In Muay Thai, there are eight limbs you can use for attack. While other styles only use punches and kicks, Muay Thai makes use of your elbows and knees. That's the key! You don’t have to be skilled to strike with your elbows or knees. Or worry about hurting your fingers or feet. Come down with the elbow, or go up with the knee, and strike with force. If you're interested in learning more about Muay Thai, check out this article!
Use any and all other options.
If you’re not comfortable with using techniques from martial arts, there are other options. Use your voice! Scream as loudly as you can. Grab the attention of a passerby, if there are any around. It's much more effective if you call someone by their defining feature, like the colour of their shirt or their hair. There are also apps available to alert your friends and family, or the police. While using your phone may not always be a possibility - this article talks about possible approaches an attacker can take, and how you can break the hold.
This doesn’t mean you need to attend a kickboxing class but it's important for any woman to know the basics of self-defense. It never hurts to be prepared.
Be strong, be empowered and be safe.
By: Jasman Sahota