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Self Defense



You may know someone who's been bullied, physically assaulted, or even raped. Or maybe you've been in an unsafe situation where you felt threatened. Young people ages 12 to 24 are the group most likely to be victims of crimes such as rape, assault, and robbery. Many of these crimes occur at school, on the street, or at a park or playground.

The good news is that you can learn to protect yourself and you don't even need a black belt. Keep reading for tips on defending yourself, so the next time you feel threatened you'll know what you can do about it.

What Is Self-Defense?


For starters, let's shatter the myth that self-defense only means fighting, such as hitting, kicking, and punching. Professionals use the term personal safety (instead of self-defense), which is a concept where an individual has a full range of skills and tools to deal with a full range of uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situations.

Personal safety requires four things: awareness, body language, self-esteem, and boundaries. Setting boundaries is probably the most important concept for you to understand. Knowing your boundaries allows you to make better safety choices.

Boundaries come in two forms: physical boundaries represent the space between you and another person and emotional boundaries are lines you draw in terms of how you let other people treat you. For example, suppose you have a friend who constantly shares your secrets with other people. Unless you let him know how you feel, he will never know that he is invading a boundary. However, if you do make your feelings known and he continues with the behavior that bothers you, he isn't respecting your feelings - and is overstepping that boundary.

So what does this have to do with self-defense? Knowing your own boundaries puts you in a better position to recognize when you're in a potentially dangerous situation. If you're confident and you have a healthy self-esteem, you will more readily sense when trouble is near.

Reduce Your Risk

Here are a few personal safety tips
to reduce your risk in a dangerous situation:


  • If you're going to be out at night, travel in a group.

  • Don't take shortcuts, especially at night.

  • Be aware of your surroundings, and pay particular attention to possible hiding places such as stairways, alleyways, and bushes.

  • Be sure your body language shows a sense of confidence and purpose.

  • When riding on public transportation, sit near the driver or conductor and stay awake. Remember, attackers are looking for vulnerable targets.

  • If someone begins to follow you, try to make it to a safe area, such as a police station, gas station, or other public place. If necessary, scream or yell as you run away to draw attention to the pursuer.

When to Fight Back


If all else fails, it may be necessary to use physical force to protect yourself. However, you should first determine if fighting is really your only hope. If possible, you should try to get away from the dangerous situation to a safe location where someone can help you.

But if a person ignores boundaries you've set, blocks your path to safety, or if your intuition tells you something is wrong, you may have to fight.

Here are a few tips on fighting effectively:


  • Noise is always the first form of self defense. Be loud. Be very loud. Scream your ever loving head off!!! Then scream louder!! If the attack continues never ever stop screaming.

  • If you are attacked from the front, kick the attacker in the shins or groin (straight up between the legs) or jab the eyes or throat with the bird beak move (wrap your fingers around your thumb to form a beak).

  • If you are attacked from behind, stomp the attacker's foot with your heel; kick backward with your heel, aiming for the groin or knees or elbow the attacker in the head, throat, or area between the rib cage and stomach.

  • Use your natural weapons - voice, hands, and feet - to stop an attack.

  • If you're picked up, use your legs to resist. If your legs are not free, use your hands, if possible, to grab and squeeze the groin and twist until you are let go.

  • Once you have broken free, run as fast as you can to get help.


To Learn More

If you're interested in taking a self-defense course, contact your local YMCA or YWCA. Many people also study martial arts, such as karate and judo, as a means of self-defense. Your school's guidance office or gym teacher may also be a good resource. Completion of a course does not guarantee your safety, but it will arm you with knowledge and confidence to help you deal with difficult situations.

See these sites for more information:


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