The adage “Practice makes perfect” applies to women’s self-defense as much as it does to learning spelling and arithmetic. Women’s self-defense is a combination of both mental and physical training. Every women’s self-defense instructor will tell you to continue practicing the techniques taught so that you can develop what’s called “body memory”. This means that the defenses, both mental and physical, become reflex. But there’s more to it. Here are the top three reasons why women need to practice self-defense:
1. Train to Not Freeze in Fear
Once a criminal has selected a victim, the attack is usually fast and often chaotic. When a woman responds to an attack with cognitive freezing, the technical term for freezing in fear, she has no ability to think or respond coherently. When this happens, it does not end well for the woman. Training with simulated attacks retrains the mind to consciously fight back instead of panic when surprised, greatly increasing the likelihood the woman will get away safely.
2. Condition to Not Be a Victim
It can be very hard for women to learn to be “not nice”. Women are conditioned to be compliant. They are taught it’s not feminine to be tough or strong, and they often fear social consequences when they stand up for themselves. This results in poor boundary setting and maintenance which result in situations that can actually put women in danger.
Criminals look for women who are likely to be fearful, likely to be compliant when they attack. They look for easy targets. Women might feel bad for thinking someone may be dangerous, and are prone to letting someone dangerous get closer than they should. Learning to say “No” and “Stop” with authority is fundamental to being safe. Mindset is the number-one factor in determining a woman’s self-defense effectiveness in a violent confrontation. Getting the mindset right takes practice.
Prevention strategies can and should account for most of real-life self-defense. Knowing why, how, and where attacks against women occur enables them to minimize opportunities for attack. If women can see an attack coming, they can often circumvent the violence by making it clear that they are not an easy target. Women need to condition themselves to think defensively, and be prepared to fight for themselves.
3. Develop a Good Set of Self-Defense Techniques
The objective of a good tool belt is a sizable set of quality self-defense techniques, especially for the most common attacks against women, that are practiced to the point where they become reflex. This means practicing to perfect the technique then practicing the technique under duress in a realistic yet controlled environment. When a defense has become reflex, it helps ensure escape with both successful escape execution and elimination of panic.
At a minimum, every woman should be able to successfully escape from:
- Wrist and Arm Grabs
- Hair Grabs
- Bear Hugs
- Being Knocked to the Ground
- Someone on Top of You
- Someone Between Your Legs