This past week, the Post and Courier ran a story about me and the success of our ATT Lowcountry free
Women’s Self-Defense seminars. The same icy cold January day that the reporter came out to observe,
another 100+ women of all ages came to learn the basics of real self-defense.
In the seminar I began as I always do with advice on how not to become an unsuspecting target of an
attack. I always preach situational awareness. Simply knowing what is going on around you is the first
line of self-defense. Simple concept, yet easy to forget or dismiss because we can’t imagine anything
happening to us at the time. The truth is we do not know when an attack will happen, but do know that
1 in 6 women will be attacked in their lifetime. This is an insane statistic, and the motivating reason for
this seminar and the reason I am so very careful about what information I provide and which techniques
I cannot say the same for many other self-defense courses and internet videos. I especially warn against
thinking that taking a 6-day course is equivalent to a magic pill. The knowledge and prevention gained in
a short course is only the first step. If you ever have the necessity to employ the self-defense techniques
you learned, I guarantee you will be in an adrenalized state which makes calmly remembering
techniques very difficult and can lead to panicking. A five or six week course where you train once a
week is simply not enough.
I’ve got a beef with Women’s Self-Defense taught using so many fun games you might think you were at
a kid’s birthday party. These courses are cash grabs that wrongly give women a false sense of self
confidence in thinking they can defend themselves because they screamed and bounced off of target
throwing elbows and knees. Sure, this might be a rush of high energy, but there is zero science behind
what is being taught. We tried to use some of the popular moves to get out of a hold from behind. Check out the results below.
Here I have some effective moves to actual get out of this situation
Be loud, yes, but be loud while escaping. I object to teaching women to roleplay a beat-up-the-bad-guy
scenario, when such a display of bravado only increases their odds of being sexually assaulted or
jeopardizes the chances of saving their own life. This is completely unacceptable. Giving improper advice
on such a serious subject is totally irresponsible. To learn of an assault against a student who followed
that advice would be a terrible fate for any legitimate instructor. But the truth is that most women will
not discuss their attack, so the probability of this getting back to the instructor is minute.
In some short courses where they claim to teach easy-to-apply street-fighting techniques, they actually
bring out a bad guy dressed in a suit at the end. The women are encouraged to have at him, punching,
kicking and kneeing him in the groin to the cheers of their classmates. I find that carnival atmosphere
deeply disturbing because at best it’s silly and at worst, it is extremely dangerous.
I’m told about other schools basing their techniques on the premise that women should always stay on
their feet. Wow! People are also attacked on the sitting at bus stop, at their desk, sitting in the park,
lying on a picnic blanket or in their dorm room. People are quickly knocked to the ground too. It
happens in a heartbeat. It’s not a place you would intentionally bring the fight unless you are skilled in
ground combat like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I am and would never suggest to a beginner to take their attacker
to the ground as a defense, but let’s face it, sometimes you end up there.
Yes, in an ideal world, instructors want women to remain on their feet and escape an attack. Here is
what they don’t tell you at those other courses. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu uses body mechanics, so that a smaller, weaker person, using leverage and mechanics can create strong frames with their body, and
break free from someone choking them, grabbing them, and yes, from someone on top of them.
Knowing how to mechanically free yourself, will win you the critical advantage. The goal is always to
break free and escape.
I preach striking has its place, but it is lower on the list of defenses. Why? Because when you hit, your
attacker hits back. If a larger, aggressive male hits you back, he may beat you badly or knock you
unconscious whether you know technique or not. A fight is one you can lose, so we never willingly enter
a fight; we always look to escape with our life.
Learning leverage and frames takes focus and may not be as much fun as bouncing off targets. Not every
day spent drilling self-defense techniques feels like a day at Skyzone. Still, there are empowering
moments like getting to choke someone with their own shirt, or learning how to break an arm of
someone grabbing you. BJJ is an insanely fun hobby once you learn to utilize concepts and techniques
against a resisting opponent. BJJ enthusiasts mix it up, using self-defense techniques against friendly
opponents in highly charged games of human chess. It’s an incredible rush.
What is the ultimate solution to protecting yourself? I believe any of my women students who take Jiu-
Jitsu seriously will be able to protect themselves. What else? A gun? Maybe. We know that can go bad
fast. What if you are attacked before you can use it or it is taken from you? Use weapon retention?
What is the basis of true weapon retention? Well it involves levers, angles, leverage, and body
mechanics. In other words, Jiu-Jitsu with a weapon.
In December, we will be holding a Free Women’s Self-Defense in West Ashley.
1850 Wallace School Rd. (Behind Barnes and Noble)