Traveling can frazzle your brain. Between trying to remember if you locked up the house or put your ID back into your wallet, thinking about personal safety in airport parking lots is the last thing on most people’s minds. However, poorly lit parking garages, arms full of luggage, confusing parking signs, forgetting where you parked and keys buried in the bottom of an overflowing purse can make people easy targets for predators. To help people stay safe while traveling, Krav Maga Worldwide, the industry leader in self-defense and fitness, has put together a list five essential self-defense moves to know.
1. Straight Punch
The basic movement behind a straight punch is to rotate your hips and shoulders and extend your arm as if you were reaching to grab something that is just out of reach in front of you. It’s this movement through your hips, shoulders, and arms that sends the punch out and generates power. Your fist is what delivers the punch. When delivering a straight punch it’s ideal to punch with the “top two” knuckles of the fist, which are the pointer and middle finger. Hips and shoulders rotate forward explosively, use the “top two” knuckles to make contact with the to the soft targets of the attacker’s face.
2. Front Kick to the Groin
The front kick to the groin travels on a vertical plane up the “A frame” form of an attackers legs and lower body. To deliver the kick drive your hips forward with your knee bent so your heel is back. Let your knee and leg extend and, with your foot flat (shoelaces up and toes forward gives the most striking surface), kick up and through the attacker’s groin. Imagine that your kick will travel through the attacker’s groin and out the top of their head, as if you were going to split them in two from the groin up. Recoil your leg back to it’s original position. Drive your hips forward with the knee bent, extend the leg and kick up and through the groin with the foot flat (shoelaces up).
Knee strikes are very useful for creating damage at close range. If the attacker is close enough to grab you, that means you can grab that attacker and start making damage to them using your knees. Grab as much skin, muscle (and whatever fabric the attacker is wearing) at the attacker’s trapezius (that’s the spot between the neck and shoulder). Keep the elbow of the arm grabbing the trap pointed down so you can brace yourself if the elbow of the arm grabbing the trap pointed down so you can brace yourself if the attacker comes forward. Use your other hand to wrap behind the elbow on the same side of the body you are already grabbing. This grip on the trap and elbow will help you maintain a position from which to knee…we don’t have to completely control the person we are fighting back against we just want to be able to maintain the position from which we will do damage. Drive your hips forward with your heel back (so your leg makes a triangle in profile view) and imagine that you are going to punch your knee straight through the attacker in front of you. Think about using more of the kneecap surface of your knee as the striking surface in order to deliver the knee going forward. We aren’t using the top of the knee, closer to the thigh. We aren’t kneeing up toward the ceiling unless that person has already lowered their head in front of us…mainly we think about kneeing forward, through the groin or midsection of the attacker. Recoil your knee by bringing your foot back to the ground, and continue to deliver knees until you can get away safe. Some force can be added to the knee by using our grip to give the attacker a pull toward the knee as we are delivering it. Establish your grip and position (if in close enough) drive the hips forward and strike the attacker in the groin or knee, with the knee traveling forward, recoil and continue as needed.
4. Bear Hug Defense
If you are grabbed in a bear hug, from the front or from behind, the key to getting out is to start fighting back right away. We cannot start fighting back unless we establish two things; base and space. When the attack comes on, lower your center of gravity and “base out” by bending your legs and widening your feet. You will immediately become more difficult to lift off of your feet…and just more difficult to move, in general. This is one of the afore mentioned instinctive movements that your body already knows how to make. Think about a child who is protesting going to bed or to school, they will drop their level/center of gravity and make themselves very heavy and difficult to move around. As soon as you’ve established a solid base, immediately begin striking at any open and vulnerable areas that the attacker presents. These will change depending on the direction the bear hug comes from and the position of your arms when grabbed. Krav Maga Worldwide students learn to target the groin and face whether the attack comes from the front or back. Continue to strike (headbutt, knees, kicks, punches, bites) until there is sufficient space for you to turn in (if attacked from behind) and get away, or to simply separate and run away. Base, space, fight back aggressively, get away.
5. Choke Defense
If a choke comes on from the front, back, or side and that choke happens “in place” (which is to say that we are being attacked but generally standing in the same place, not being shoved or pushed while the choke is on) Krav Maga Worldwide students are taught to “pluck” the choker’s hands away and immediately being to strike back. Your body (meaning your hands) will want to immediately go toward your neck if a choke is put on you and will most likely end up on top of the attacker’s hands as they are already on the neck. Instead of trying to pull the attacker’s hands off of the neck, which could be impossible if the defender is a much smaller person than the attacker, use your hands like meathooks (thumbs against pointer fingers, hands in a “C” shape) and explosively pluck at the attackers thumbs. The attacker cannot maintain a choke using their hands (it’s a different defense if the attacker is choking with their arm like a “rear naked choke” or similar) if their thumbs are plucked off of the defender’s neck. Immediately begin to strike back to vulnerable areas on the attackers body. Again, these targets will change depending on the direction the attack comes from. Krav Maga Worldwide students learn to identify these targets from any direction so as to maximize damage to the attacker when fighting back. Use the hands like meathooks to pluck the thumbs away, fight back aggressively, get away.
These five techniques are essential for women to know, master, and get into their self-defense tool box. Knowing how to strike with your arms, legs, and knees is fundamental to self- defense training as is dealing with common attacks like a bear hug or choke.