- Run: If you are able to do so, run away from a dangerous situation. Do everything in your power to escape from a perpetrator and find help.
Fight: Only after a woman has exhausted the above strategies should she fight. In self-defense, the intention is to find ways to defend one's self in a way that places us in the least amount of harm and does the least amount of harm to another person. With that said, it is vital to do what is necessary to get out of danger. If you are in danger, target the knees, eyes and nose. Knees are low and accessible. It doesn't take a lot of pressure to cause injury, rendering an attacker unable to chase you. The eyes are vulnerable, no matter how tough a person may be. The nose can be easily broken, causing the eyes to water. No matter how tough an attacker may seem, there are vulnerable parts on every person's body.
It is important to understand that the decision to fight or not fight is based on the individual and situation. According to Susan Carbon, director of the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice, "While the responsibility to prevent an attack is clearly on the perpetrator, there are steps runners can take to help reduce the risk of being sexually assaulted. Self-defense classes taught by trained professionals who understand the dynamics of sexual violence can be helpful. But, ultimately, the victim is in the best position to assess the level of danger posed by the perpetrator and decide what action or inaction presents the best chance for her physical safety and survival."
Should every woman take a self-defense class?
Yes. The real benefit of a self-defense class is empowering women. I am committed to the concept of big picture self-defense, which includes mental, verbal and physical strategies. Physical skills are valuable, but the mental and verbal strategies can prevent a physical altercation from occurring in the first place. Self-defense training can shift your mindset and allow you to know what you are capable of, which is half the battle.
Lynne Marie Wanamaker has been training in martial arts and selfdefense for 22 years. She is a first-degree black belt in Goju karate, a second-degree black belt in Shuri-Ryu karate and a National Women's Martial Arts Federation-certified women's self-defense instructor. She holds a B.A. in Women's Studies from the City University of New York and certificates in Group Exercise Instruction and Personal Fitness Training from Holyoke Community College, as well as industry certification in Personal Fitness Training and Perinatal Fitness. Visit her blog at blog. mindbodymama.com.