4 Basic Self-Defense Moves Absolutely Everyone Should Know
Protect yourself (and feel empowered) with these essential safety tips and maneuvers.
Prevention Can Be the Best Protection
Self-defense actually starts before needing to react to the worst-case scenario—with self-awareness and preventive strategies. The first step is paying attention to your surroundings, says Teri Jory, PhD, fourth-degree black belt and creator of DFWM (Don't F*** With Me) Self Defense Training. That means only walking and parking in well-lit areas. Keep your keys (with a safety whistle, defense spray, or safety necklace, if you desire) easily accessible as you approach your car or front door.
Lock your car doors immediately upon entering.
While it's easy to think about obvious situations where you might be attacked, there are those that aren't so obvious, namely when you're in your car. Women have a tendency to get into their car and sit while they check messages—a habit that can actually spell trouble. "If a predator is watching you, this is the perfect opportunity for that person to get in the passenger side, [threaten you], and tell you where to go," says Jory. That's why as soon as you get in the car, as a matter of habit, you should immediately lock the doors and leave.
Be mindful of drinks around strangers.
If you're at a party, stick with friends, and if you've left a drink out of sight even for a few seconds, get a new one. "Spiking a drink with a date rape drug can happen quickly," Jory says. When going on a date, tell family or friends where you're going, especially if this is a first date or blind date. If somebody pushes you to do something you don't want to do, know that you have a right to leave. And of course, charge your cell phone and keep it and a charger on you at all times.
How to Make a Scene
The second part of prevention involves sounding the alarm. If somebody's in your face or you're in a situation where you're unsafe or uncomfortable, yell "back off" or simply scream. "You're trying to get other people's attention and let the predator know you're not an easy target," Jory says.
If ever you're in a situation like this, it's time to go into escape mode—you want to do whatever is necessary to get away and survive. And remember: "Know that you can escape even against somebody bigger or stronger than you," Jory says. The first thing you should do is try to scream and escape. If someone gets their hands on you, then try some defensive moves that could open up the opportunity for an escape.
Know the Most Vulnerable Areas (Yours and Theirs)
For starters, the areas most vulnerable to attack are those that affect seeing and breathing—the eyes, nose, mouth, and throat. You're also more vulnerable on the ground versus standing. Although ending up on the ground during an assault is a real possibility, remaining on your feet should be a priority, Arthur says.
Areas of an attacker's body that are most vulnerable include not only the eyes, nose, and throat, but also the groin. "Effective striking to these areas is most likely to slow, stun, or stop an attacker long enough to get away," says Jarrett Arthur, a self-defense expert in New York City and co-owner of Jarrett and Jennie Self-Defense.
Basic Self-Defense Moves
Fortunately, you don't have to have a black belt in karate to learn how to defend yourself. Just practice these self-defense moves at home frequently so you'll feel confident using them if you're confronted.
"Not only does basic self-defense knowledge make you safer and increase your chance of surviving a violent assault, it also contributes to feelings of confidence and personal power," Arthur says.