Emily Harrison: Self Defense Tactics


Our lovely instructors, Noel and Laura, teaching us the proper way to regain our arm during an attack.

As part of SA awareness month, I believe that taking further precautions to protect yourself is an absolute necessity.

As a young woman myself, I have been taught most of my life how to handle strangers, places at night when I’m alone, and of course, being in unfamiliar places. I do not know if young men are taught these things as well, but I do feel everyone should have a basis of knowledge towards how to protect oneself in certain situations.

HPU, this past Monday, offered a class on self-defense tactics. Free to the students of HPU.

Not many people attended, which I do feel benefited those few women who did. We all got to work one-on-one with an instructor, and further “perfect” these tactics in our first-time lesson.

I will, as articulately as I can, describe said “attack,” and said “defense” in this post, but as you read, a key thing to remember is that sometimes you are out-weighted, sometimes leverage and a strong base isn’t always a perfect solution in order to start fighting back.

Other classes, and perhaps other fighting strategies may become more important, as well as arming yourself with another level of self-protection.

With that thought in mind, it’s important to remember that taking further lessons, improving your strength and self-awareness, and above all else, keeping yourself out of harmful situations, is best for keeping yourself safe.

But I do believe these few moves, if you can remember them in a high-intensity and stressful situation, may give you a better chance of not only life but getting away from your attacker.

Self-Defense Tactics

Self-defense tactic 1:

Attack: Unexpected shove from behind.

Now, this may not seem like much, but when you are being shoved into a vehicle, building, the arms of other people…it can result in a life-or-death situation. Being able to get a leg up on this attack may help you escape.

Defense: Turn your body towards your attacker, putting your pushed shoulder forward. Get into a sturdy base, with your back leg straight out and your front leg (closest to attacker) bent. That way you cannot be pushed or pushed out of or off your base. If this first stance is not sturdy enough, readjust your base by moving your back leg first, to get a sturdier base and sturdier feel for this defense.  

This is me, with lovely lighting, getting shoved over by my attacker. Look at my giraffe legs.

Self-defense tactic 2:

Attack: Unexpected pulling of the arms, wrists, or hands.

This can happen on its own, or in a second response if the attacker can no longer push you. The base you have currently, or for the push-based attack, will not be effective, instead it will result in your lack of ability to maintain your stability. 

Defense: If the attacker can no longer push you, and grabs your arm or wrist, reverse your base by bending your back knee and straightening your front knee. Do not strike unless you are guaranteed a successful impact. If you cannot impact a vulnerable area, your self-defense attack will most likely result with you out of your base and on the weaker side of the attack. Instead, if you cannot successfully defend yourself, grab (with free hand) your hand that is being pulled. Bring that hand to you, pulling your elbow towards your core, not your face. This angle will cause your attacker to only have their thumbs holding onto you, which will cause their grip to weaken, allowing you to break that grip with an awkward angle. Once your hands are free, if you have the ability to do so you can then choose to strike or run. 

This is me, and another student in the training class practicing this technique.

Self-defense tactic 3:

Attack: A free-standing chokehold

I hate to think how one gets their self in this situation, or worse how someone can think to get to such a drastic attack, but it does happen. 

Defense: If your attacker is choking you while you are standing, quickly, put yourself in the “push” base, scrunch your neck down, give yourself a couple chins, the whip your head down and away from attacker to break free. We call this last move the “Beyonce.” 

She about to whip that hair like she’s Beyonce.

Scrunching your neck down leaves less grip for your attacker and whipping your head down and out away from them, in a crescent like arc, helps you break free and away from your attacker. But be warned, their grip is still there, this will hurt you due to burns or clawing’s, but at least you can breathe again. 

Practice the scrunch!

Self-defense tactic 4:

Attack: Pony-tail, or hair grabbing

This isn’t the school playground kind of attack, although you could use this defense for it. But if someone form either in front or behind grabs you by the hair, and if you don’t know how to fight back, it may leave you stunned.

Defense: If your attacker has ahold of your hair, spin yourself to face them, if you are not already facing them. Grab their wrist and arm, close together so you have a firm grip. Bring your back leg back, taking a step back with that foot. Then in a swift motion pull their arm, still attached to your hair, around your body, with your hands still firmly gripped around their arm, turning your front foot in a 180-degree turn, pulling them with you. Make sure to pin their elbow against your thigh and mid-section keeping a tight pressure on their elbow. Make sure to not let their hand go at any time. This may be uncomfortable for you, if they do not let go of your hair. But be sure to take a “seat- like” position and press harder on their elbow. Elbows don’t bend this way, and it could result in a fracture of their elbow.

I promise it’s more threatening when it actually happens to you.

Self-defense tactic 5:

Attack: Pinned, or “wall” chokehold.

Unfortunately, some cases of domestic abuse do have such outcomes. Walking down alleyways, meeting the wrong kind of people, and more scenarios can result in such an attack.

Defense: If your attacker has you pinned against the wall and is choking you, get in a sturdy base, quickly of course, a subtle squat-like base. From there, claw at their hands until you get ahold of a finger. Once that finger is grabbed, tightly in your hands, bring your other, free, hand under their arms to grab the wrist of the captured finger, cup their wrist in a “C” like grip. Swiftly, bring the arm that is holding the finger swiftly down so your elbow lines up and hits the wall, dislocating their finger. Then proceed to push away on the arm that has a dislocated finger, to escape.

Now, I won’t lie, you may hurt your funny bone. And yeah, that sucks, but like you’re free and can breathe. So like, no complaining.

I also promise that she is okay.

Now, as I have said before, these moves can make a genuine and life-giving difference. But it’s also important to keep yourself out of harmful situations if at all possible. It’s also quite important to remember self-defense tactics that aren’t as…”strategic,” or types of self-protection that provide us with further protection.

Keeping yourself and your family safe is often the main goal for many of us. Spreading awareness of such events is indeed important, but spreading knowledge on self-defense and safety tactics is even more important.

Don’t forget to do your research on what is best for you and what can help make sure you stay safe in an ever changing, and let’s face it, dangerous world.

Be safe out there!

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