One night I almost became a victim.
It had been a long grueling evening of martial arts training. Tired and sweaty, I was still determined to make it to my friend’s 21st birthday party, so I changed out of my uniform and I was off. When I arrived, no one answered the doorbell and I finally found everyone in the backyard celebrating. I approached my friend to give her the present I’d brought for her and to wish her a happy birthday. I was about to tell her that I’d worn myself out and wouldn’t be able to stay for very long when my intoxicated friend announced to the crowd of people, “This girl can kick anyone’s ass!”
I was embarrassed and not in the mood for a crowd of drunk party goers, so I went inside the house. I was walking down the hall looking for the restroom when someone shoved me from behind. I turned around to find a very tall man looming over me.
“So, do you know martial arts or something?”
At the time, I avoided talking about my martial arts skills with strangers and I replied, “No, she’s just drunk. I don’t know what she’s talking about.”
Now this next part is Self-Defense 101. NEVER GIVE YOUR BACK TO YOUR OPPONENT! But I did! I turned away from him to walk into the restroom. Next thing I know I’m in a full nelson hold. He pulled my arms over my head and his reach was long enough to even get his hands around my neck. He started pushing me into a bedroom, pressing his pelvis into my back.
My mind was clear, and I felt eerily relaxed, which automatically made me a heavier and more centered object. A flood of thoughts came into my head, like “I can break his knee, but I don’t want to hurt him that badly.”
When he lifted me off the ground to move more quickly into the dark room, I took advantage of his error. This is where the story turned, and I was ALMOST a victim. As he picked me up, it gave me a perfect opportunity to mule kick him in the groin. As he dropped me, he released his grip a little from my throat. I was able to do a joint manipulation with his wrist and spiral his arm backward like a baseball bat. I broke his arm in 3 places.
I’m not a huge fan of baseball, but I guess you could say that was a homerun!
The funny thing was, throughout the brief ordeal, I never called out as I now teach my students to do. Instead, he was on the ground screaming and trying to hold his arm together. People came running in, and a party guest who was with SDPD said that they had to take him to the hospital before putting him in jail.
Although it was a traumatic experience (for that guy), I am grateful that I know what I am teaching is real and it can save lives. I believe if I didn’t have the Ki principle training, I wouldn’t have been able to keep calm and make the right choices, to see the openings when the moment came.
It was a turning point in my evolution as an instructor. From that point on, I focused on both mental and physical preparedness. You can learn all of the fanciest kicks and strikes, but if you don’t have the Ki developed, you won’t have a calm mind to make the split-second decisions you’ll need in a crisis situation.
Practice is key, as is prevention. Here are a few reminders to help keep you safe:
- When possible, walk with others or with a medium to large-sized dog.
- Always walk in well-lit, high traffic areas with plenty of other people around. Avoid being isolated from others as much as possible. In particular, avoid closed stairways, alleys, industrial areas, and some elevators. Plan your route and avoid short cuts through parks, vacant lots, or poorly lit areas.
- Be aware of potential hiding spots for attackers.
- When possible, walk on the side of the street facing traffic to avoid being followed by an automobile.
- Avoid wearing headphones. Studies have shown that our ability to focus on our surroundings are significantly reduced when walking or running with headphones on.
- If you feel you are being followed, turn and look back to see who it is. If you feel threatened, run or walk briskly to a group of people and tell them your concern; or go to the nearest home or open business and call the police.
- If someone attempts to attack you in a public area, yell at the top of your lungs. Shout “FIRE” instead of “HELP.” Studies have shown that people are more likely to respond if they feel threatened by fire.
- If absolutely necessary, use your shoe or belt to break a window to get attention more quickly.
I’m going to be completely honest. Women have told me that they are too old, so no one will attack them. Or I’ve even heard, “I am a large woman and too heavy to carry.” The truth is, anyone can be a victim. Sexual assault has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with power. Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And every 8 minutes, that victim is a child. Meanwhile, only 6 out of every 1,000 sexual assault perpetrators will end up in prison. Many of them are still out there walking among us.
I am obviously an advocate of self-defense, because it can do so much more than protect you from attackers. It helps build self-esteem, creates strength and flexibility, teaches mental focus, and the list goes on and on. However, be wary of quick fix lessons. Knowledge and awareness are helpful, but minimal training may be just enough to give you a false sense of security and lead you into trouble.
When choosing a facility, be mindful of who your instructor will be. Is it a 6’5”, 270 pound man who believes that if you just sit down, an attacker won’t be able to pick you up? (I have actually witnessed a teacher saying this on a television news story.) Look for a school that offers a well-rounded curriculum with opportunities for all levels. Start with the basics and keep practicing to expand your skills and sharpen your reactions. Be consistent and train as though you are in the moment.
“When the moment of truth has arrived, the time for preparation has passed.”
Be smart and don’t become a victim!
Start your self-defense training with a workshop to teach you the basics and then hone the skills you learn with regular classes. Our next Othentik Women’s Self-Defense Workshop will be held on Tuesday, March 27th from 6:30-8:00 p.m. We offer a variety of self-defense classes each week, so there’s sure to be one that fits your schedule.