Women today are becoming more independent and self-reliant. From living alone to travelling solo, there is nothing a woman can’t do. However, we are still decades away from an era where women don’t need to be scared of walking down a deserted lane or not thinking twice before wearing certain clothes. Hence, until we have reached that time where we don’t need a #metoo movement, we as women need to learn some self-defence moves to continue our independence without fear.
Self-Defence And Martial Arts
Self-defence and martial arts are not the same thing. However, most forms of martial arts have evolved into self-defence techniques. Anybody can learn basic self-defence skills, even someone out of shape, overweight, disabled and even those who have a small physique. Martial arts, on the other hand, are a form of exercise and can get you in shape.
Benefits Of Learning Self-Defence From Martial Arts
- Protection from danger, obviously
- Improves balance, focus and control
- Develops discipline
- Creates a strong mind-body connection
- Helps in improving street awareness
- Improves physical strength
- Builds confidence and self-esteem
- Develops flexibility
- Teaches values like humility, respect, integrity and honour
- Improves agility and reflexes
- It can be an alternative form of physical exercise
- Provides an overall positive impact on life
Types Of Martial Arts
There are several types of martial arts – armed and unarmed. All of them have beginner to advanced levels. Let’s discuss some basic-level unarmed martial art types that can be used by any woman at any time.
1. Krav Maga
Krav Maga roughly translates to ‘unarmed combat’ or ‘contact combat’. It is one of the best martial arts for self-defence. Developed and used by the Israeli Defence Force, Krav Maga is combined with several other forms of martial arts like Boxing, Karate, Jiu-Jitsu, Wing Chun, Muay Thai, Aikido, Taekwondo, Judo, Street-Fighting and it’s the only martial art that is in continuous development. Krav Maga for self-defence doesn’t focus on fighting as much as taking prevention and being aware; it’s not about winning a fight but doing enough to get away. The main principle is – to avoid, prevent, de-escalate, defend, fight if necessary, and run. It emphasises on real-situations and how to use the body’s natural reactions and instincts to defend, making it effective for anyone irrespective of size, strength and level of fitness to execute this. You are taught the vulnerabilities of the attacker like eye-gouging, foot stomps, and kicks to the groin. They are all practised effectively and repeatedly so it becomes your body’s second nature. It is also one of the fastest forms of martial arts to learn for self-defence. Krav Maga also teaches defensive techniques against weapons.
2. Muay Thai
Muay Thai, also known as ‘The Art Of Eight Limbs’, uses elbows, fists, knees and legs to fight. It is also known as Thai Boxing or more commonly known as Kickboxing. This is a great martial art to learn for self-defence as well as a form of exercise to get fit. Unlike kickboxing or any other form of martial art, Muay Thai teaches one to also use knees, shins, and elbows to attack. It’s not a very easy art to learn, but once you do, you could seriously injure your attacker and buy yourself enough time to run away. It teaches you a variety of techniques such as jabs, hooks, uppercuts, superman punches, cross punches, straight kicks, shin kicks, knee strikes, elbow strikes, and much more. It even teaches you round kicks, which take out the legs of your attacker without letting him get too close. Advanced levels of Muay Thai also teach defending oneself from weapons such as knives.
There are two kinds of Jiu-Jitsu in martial arts. One is the Japanese and the other, gaining more popularity is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It’s a form of fighting that was developed when weapons were unavailable or ineffective.
- Japanese Jiu-Jitsu is closely related to wrestling, chokeholds, armbars, joint locks, ankle locks, and immobilisation.
- Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teaches how a small person can defend a much bigger, stronger and heavier attacker using the body as leverage. Similar methods of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu are taught along with techniques like – trapping the legs and arms, tripping the attacker, putting the attacker off balance, and how to get on top and take charge when you are pinned to the floor.
However, a drawback to Jiu-Jitsu is being unable to defend oneself when in contact with a weapon like a knife, or when attacked by a group.
4. Keysi Fighting Method (KFM)
Keysi is often described as a Spanish street fighting style of martial art. It is particularly designed for defending against multiple attackers. It emphasises using our body as a weapon and it doesn’t consist of any kicks. Instead, it teaches a variation of hammer fists, sharp elbow strikes and head butts, all of which are proven to be more lethal than punches and kicks in real-life situations. The Keysi Fighting Method was distinctively used in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins.
Judo is a Japanese form of martial art that translates to, ‘a gentler way’, which may be confusing considering it’s a fighting style. But as the name suggests, it focuses less on attacking and more on redirecting and disarming. It doesn’t teach any blocks or strikes but it will teach you to do maximum damage with very fewer efforts. Techniques to throw, pin, choke, grapple, and arm-lock will be taught. In Judo, the majority of the lessons will be on how to throw down your attacker, in a way that can cause some serious injuries.
Boxing is one of the original martial arts and it is one of the most popular sports in the world. It focuses entirely on punches. It teaches you a variety of effective punches from different ranges with precision. You also learn how to evade or block an attack. Boxing sharpens your awareness, makes you quick on your feet, and enables you to make quick decisions in choosing which moves to use during a fight or an attack, which is of utmost importance on the street. It improves your instincts and reflex time.
The movie Karate Kid is sufficient to inspire someone to learn this Japanese fighting style. Karate translates to ‘empty hand’ which majorly teaches one to fight open-hand techniques such as palm-heel strikes and spear hands. It also predominantly teaches a striking art of punching, kicking, knee strikes, and elbow strikes. Karate can increase a person’s physical strength. Anyone who has been trained in Karate can hit or kick exceptionally hard. It is a great way to become fit and at the same time, powerful. Karate is going to make a debut in this year’s 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
8. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
Mixed Martial Arts is a combination that takes the best of every martial art technique and blends them together. This style of fighting gives you an array of fighting styles and techniques to use when under attack. You can learn how to fight standing up, learning how to defend yourself on the ground, grapple, spar, strike, leg and arm locks, and so much more. It prepares you for everything. The only downside is that it doesn’t teach you a lot about defending yourself from weapons.
6 Self-Defence Moves Every Woman Should Know
Other than learning martial arts for self-defence, below are some basic moves that you can start to learn and practice.
1. Self-Defence 101 Shown In The Movie, Miss Congeniality
- When there is a frontal assault, use the heel of the palm to punch his nose and thrust it upwards in full force. A nose break can instantly tear up the eyes, which gives you enough time to run.
- When the assault is from behind, you SING – Solar Plexus, In-Step, Nose, and Groin. Hitting in the solar plexus (chest area) can leave the attacker breathless. In case the attacker has grabbed you in a bear hug, then do the in-step before the solar plexus. Ladies, if you are wearing stilettos, it’s a great opportunity to inflict intense pain on the attacker’s foot and shin; simply scrape your heels down his shin. When you punch the nose next, ensure your fist form is correct. The thumb should be outside the fist, not inside. And lastly, knee, punch or kick the groin of the attacker. It is one of the most sensitive and painful spots for a man. It will instantly immobilise him, which should give you sufficient time to run away.
2. When You Are Pinned Down And Held By Your Neck/Chest
When the attacker pins you down and holds your neck or chest, you should grab his wrist with your opposite hand, and grab the back of his elbow with your other hand. At the same time, grab his leg on the same side of the trapped arm with your leg and angle your knee outwards. After you’ve grabbed his arm and leg, bridge your hips high and roll over to the trapped arm side. This will get you up, making him lose his balance. Once you are up, avoid fighting and run.
3. When You Are Pinned Down And Held By Your Wrists
When a man pins you down by holding both your wrists, you should form a bridge with your pelvis and throw him upwards towards your face, this will free your wrists as he tries to gain balance using his palms. While you are raising your pelvis, ensure your hands are on the side and your face is turned on the side – otherwise, his body will fall straight on your face injuring you. Next, swiftly hug him like a tree, burying your face in his chest, this is essential as his hands are no longer occupied holding your wrists and it’s free to punch your face. If the man has held your wrists straight above the head instead of the side, wiggle yourself up so his hands come on the side and you can follow the above steps. After the hug, you climb a little upward and grab one arm and toss him on his side, getting you on the top. If the arm is too strong, grab his wrist, and follow the steps from point number two. This whole technique should take a few seconds; you have to be really quick.
4. Escaping When Held By Your Wrist
When an attacker holds you by the wrist, instead of pulling away and trying to get away, position your leg forward; the same leg as the trapped arm giving you a strong base to the ground, and move the arm towards the attacker’s body, so it becomes difficult for him to continue holding. If you try pulling away or breaking the grip, the attacker’s hold will only get tighter.
5. Escaping A Side Headlock
While escaping from a side headlock, move your head as close as possible towards the attacker, to avoid getting choked. And then, with your open hands, target his groin, and kick his calf down, so he falls on his knees.
6. During A Sexual Assault
During a sexual assault, convince the attacker, that you are exhausted and falsely surrender. The attacker is just waiting for his target to get tired, so he can have full control. Instead of actually exhausting yourself, pretend to be exhausted and completely surrender yourself to him. This will ensure him loosening his grips, adjusting his positions so he can go ahead with his plans. That is when you try and escape.
10 Additional Self-Defence Tips
- The two important rules of self-defence are – Avoidance and Survival. Self-defence is not a sport, and you can’t win it.
- Use your environment as your weapon; pick up stones, rods, and anything that you can find.
- Stab the attacker with keys, or pens if you have access.
- Always shout. Shout loud. Let him know he chose the wrong target.
- Carry pepper spray or stun guns with you at all times.
- Remember the vulnerabilities – nose, ears, groin, knees, and solar plexus.
- If all fails, eye-gouging, pulling his arm and body hair, pulling his ears down, and punching his nose and groin will buy you some time to run.
- If using Ola or Uber, share your ride with at least 2 people. Keep your GPS settings on, and keep their security panic button open on standby.
- Practice Practice Practice – Self-defence techniques will only be helpful if you practice. Till you don’t get the knack for it, till it doesn’t become your second nature, keep practising at home, with your partner or friend.
- It’s difficult to stay calm in such situations, but try to remember what you learned and use it smartly.
Women Help-Line Numbers
The women’s helpline number is 1091 and for domestic abuse, it is 181. Below are links to some additional numbers, categorised by state and type of abuse. Memorise them and feed them as speed-dials on your mobile.