Knowing self-defense can be the difference between life and death and between getting kidnapped and getting away. The ability to defend yourself against an attacker is a critical skill all women should have. And the good news is, you don't have to be a master of jiu-jitsu or krav maga to be prepared for the worst.
"When you have a sense of what you could do in the event that you were attacked and believe you could do something to help yourself, the likelihood that you'll actually do something increases," says Kelly Campbell, a third-degree black belt and director of instructor development for Krav Maga Worldwide.
Some women worry they wouldn't be able to carry out the steps in self-defense moves perfectly right. Campbell gives us a good reminder that "aggression can go a long way toward making up for technical proficiency." So even if you don't know these moves perfectly, knowing and performing them with strength can make up the difference.
Here are six simple self-defense moves to have in your tool belt.
1. Straight Punch
When a dangerous figure approaches, there are several simple moves to do before he gets too close to you. An easy, instinctive move is a straight punch. Now, typically a woman would not be able to win a boxing match with a male attacker - but remember that all rules are thrown out in this situation. In fact, you want to go against the rules as much as possible. Punch his most vulnerable facial areas - his eyes, nose, throat and ears. Avoid wasting energy on punching his chest, stomach or arms.
Another useful and basic move to defend yourself against an oncoming attacker is a front kick. Steady your feet in a solid stance and aim for his groin. Kick in an upward motion and make contact with his groin area with your shoelaces or the top of your shoe (not the toes). Don't give your attacker the opportunity to grab your foot; pull it back as quickly as possible and prepare for another kick.
3. Eye jabs
Another effective move to ward off an approaching attacker is an eye jab. With slightly curved fingers, repeatedly jab the offender in the eyeballs. Don't be afraid to use your fingernails. Repeatedly jab and gouge relentlessly until you feel you can run away safely. If he blocks your jabs, switch to front kicks to his groin, and alternate between the two.
4. Knee kick
If your attacker has gotten too close to your body to allow for punches, kicks or eye jabs, use your knee. Plant one leg back and thrust your knee up into is groin area. Aim to make contact with the bony part of your knee instead of the top of your thigh. This will cause much more pain to your attacker.
5. Bear hug defense
An assault from behind can be especially scary, but don't worry - there's a simple way to defend yourself if you are grabbed. Your first instinct might be to grab his arms and pry open his grip. This is usually ineffective and wastes crucial time and energy. Instead, make yourself as small as possible, tucking your arms at your sides, squirm and drop low. Changing your center of gravity to a lower point will make it much more difficult for him to lift you up, and you have a better chance escaping his hold by lowering yourself away from his arms.
One of the most dangerous way your attacker can assault you is choking your neck. With his thumbs pressing on your windpipe and high pressure and both sides of your throat, you only have seconds to respond before blacking out. Luckily, there's a quick and easy way to escape a chokehold. Lift your arms up high, clasping your hands together, and break down across his hold. He is helpless to stop your downward strike with both his hands busy at your throat. Remember - arms up, break down.
Fitness expert Jeff Haleny emphasizes that just reading about the moves is not going to cut it.
"What you really want to do is just get good at one of the moves and stick to that move," Haleny said. "Drill it over and over and over. It needs to really be reflexive."
In other words, practice makes perfect. And in this case, practice could save your life. So on your own or with a friend, practice the steps to these moves repeatedly. Then, if an attacker does assault you in the future, you won't need to hesitate and think - the self defense moves will be an automatic reflex, and you'll be able to escape.