Shocking Self Defense Rules for Women

5 Shocking Rules for Women’s Self Defense should you need to go physical. Because – let’s face it, ladies– talk and empathy aren’t always saving graces.

(1) Unless you’re a prize fighter, don’t trade punches with a dude. That’s playing into his game and wholly unwise. If you get clocked real good and knocked out, it’s awfully hard to fight back. (Said wryly.)

(2) Never just smush your elbow into an aggressors face. This isn’t kissy face- its smashy face. Whip-crack that elbow, smash it hard into the nose, throat, neck. To get free, you’ll need to put a hurting on a fella. Ditch the icky-poo feeling!

(3) As part of your goal, especially in opening moves, aim to shock his nervous system and consciousness, using surprise and speed. Be the hand grenade that goes off INTO your target. This will buy you a second or more to continue then escape.

(4) In close range assaults, for example, an upright pin, BE the “animal” not the pleading terrified woman. (Send her out for a drink.) Choose smart timing. Are his hands busy at your boobs? The good news is that you know where his hands are– so counterattack straight away. Zero to one hundred percent into a vulnerable face / throat or head target. Consider shredding and ripping- eyes nose lips face- and even biting and letting loose loud guttural animal sounds right into his ear. In other words: Go Primal. A ten pound monkey can shred a man’s face in seconds. Grab and torque the head; crack and use ears to crank the head around or slam it into a hard surface. Unleash yourself in order to escape. This is “defensive counterattack.”

(5) Get with the power of coiling and springing. Example, if you’re lying down (or in an upright pin position) and you can free your hands and engage the power of your hips…Spring It! Release like a coiled cobra. Don’t waste precious time pounding on he-mans’ chest. (That’s why Tarzan pounds his chest; it doesn’t really hurt.) Be a jack-in-the-box…on steroids! Open with a shock to the system that you can continue to capitalize on.

Remember, the goal is escape. Every situation is different and ONLY YOU can make the decision to resist or not. But if you do, abide by reality, not wishful thinking. Exploit smart timing and stay focused on what you need to do in order to escape. Then do it.

One final note for the uninitiated: Let me assure you. Scary as it may sound, this fierce fighting capacity already exists within you. It may be dormant or buried, covered over by layers of fear or socialization or by doubts and internal conflict about the use of force, or by social conditioning that keeps women tied to their fears of men and their powers.

It needs to be awakened, turned back ON and called out of hiding – which is part of my job.  Ultimately only you can give yourself permission to do what may otherwise be unthinkable.  But understand: this is nothing new.

Back in prehistory, say 40,000 years ago we coddled our young one minute then speared marauding bears the next. Our aggressive and nurturing natures seamlessly entwined. In other words, this power pre-exists in much the same way that fire lies dormant in a matchbox– until the first strike.

 

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Ringing it In. Where Power Comes From.

“There are times when it becomes imperative to release a rage that shakes the skies.  There is a time–though rare–to let loose all the firepower one has.  It has to be in response to a serious offense; the offense has to be big and is against the soul or spirit.  All other reasonable avenues for change have to be tried first.  If these fail, then we have to choose the right time.  There’s definitely a right time for full-bore rage. … And it is right.  Right as rain.”

Clarissa Pinkola Estes: Women Who Run With the Wolves

How did you get into this? Where does this ferocity come from? Did… [insert polite pause here] … something happen to you?

They are questions I’ve been asked countless times. Given my enthusiasm for teaching women how to morph their bodies into weapons, and to penetrate targets and say damn, this feels good! well, I suppose it’s reasonable.

But it’s telling too. It betrays the assumption that something bad- e.g., a sexual assault– MUST have happened to me because why else would I– an evolved female and believer in empathy and compassion– be so passionate about helping women learn to be fierce,  and embrace their aggressive capacities.

Honestly, can we imagine asking a fella the same thing? “Hey there manly man, what in tar nation would possess you to learn to protect yourself from all manner of assault or attack?” What a silly question that would be! In man’s world self defense is deemed natural. It comes with beer and nachos and having a penis.

While we, the vagina people, are still principally taught (yeah, it’s changing) to “watch out!” as a primary means of defense. As rape “prevention.”

My answer is complex. My passion and fire stems from many sources, including my (former) work as a psychotherapist specializing in trauma recovery. And yes I’ve had my share – or more- of incidents: violent groping, manhandling, assorted close encounters, attempted rapes, a vicious street attack and a terrifying “it happened to me” nightmare scenario. In 1985 I was awakened in the dead of night by the sound of creaking floorboards from the footsteps of man I did not know. He, the shadowy figure down my hallway, was approaching, heading for my bed blade in hand. That would be after first cutting the phone lines and electric power. (For the record, I foiled that attempt with quick timing and war cries. What? .. .You didn’t hear me? Fay Raye’s KING KONG scream had nothing on me. No no dear with feeeling this time.)

There were follow up calls from this mystery man saying that he knew my whereabouts and the patterns of my and my then fiance’s life. I was terrified. I know what it’s like to be scared to death. 

This was the final initiation that led me from Martial Arts to more practical down dirty methods which would become me.

Still, sometimes the question– where does this come from?- does not always compute. Because how do I trace the genesis of something so deeply embedded in the bone of my being, that the mere asking unleashes sensations that leave my loins simmering with a knowing heat. You might as well ask me, “Where does LOVE come from, or the kindness of strangers, or the female desire to want or to have?”

The truest thing I can say is that IT– this power, capacity, and female warrior spirit– has NEVER ceased to be. It has always existed, it is eternal, unconditional. It is a life-force that we plug into. A bell in the distance waiting to be rung. Often it is rung at the behest or urging of fear terror.

It also comes from the female desire to be safe, self possessed and to have power.

As far as I can remember, including a girlhood incident that first sparked the desire (I’ll share that story in a future post; hint: boy tried to set my hair on fire), I have always hungered for this feeling and the potential it engenders. It wasn’t always a conscious desire, but it was invisibly moving me toward a capacity I would later call FIERCE.

Fast forward from my girlhood assault. One night, years later, on a midnight train churning through India, when a Man In A White Shirt wouldn’t take NO for an answer << insert repeated violent groping here>> it crystallized. The membrane around this inchoate power broke. When I struck back, cracking him about the head and busting his offending hand, a power I did not know I possessed sprung loose, as if released from dormancy, from potential into being. It was an epic moment. A memory, a whiff of something lost but not forgotten rushed back into my body. Like a ghost limb re-membered. The experience was as numinous as primitive.

The match was struck. The fire ignited.

Eventually this realization would become the basis of my philosophy:

Some part of you already knows how to do this…

In the end, this isn’t just my story, my truth or wake up call– it’s YOUR story too. And that is why I tell it.

about-bottom                        YOU’LL KNOW IT WHEN YOU FEEL IT!

9296_920846741262665_2662112249301133413_n          RINGING IT IN WITH THE GIRLS OF INDIA’S RED BRIGADE LUCKNOW.

Raising Fire From Fear: A Screed. A Revolution. A Manifesto in the Makings.


With a little alchemy and will power we raise fire from fear.

“The tribe that possessed fire possessed life.” — 1982 film, Quest for Fire

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”  Gustav Mahler

I love these quotes. They speak of truth and a deep reverence for what has come before.

They also speak to the power of fire as pivotal to life, as primordial. Easy to see if we zip back in time… In prehistoric days fire meant life: it meant warmth, cooked food, better tools and community. Life gathered and unfolded around fire. “Watch fires” set around dens and camps is also what helped keep predators at bay. It enabled survival, allowing our kin  to literally “take back the night.”

So vital was fire to life that tribes had literal keepers of the flame. Their task was to carry  still smoldering embers wrapped in grassy leaves and bark-wrapped bundles from camp to camp. In this manner fire was kept at the ready– ready to be re-stoked and brought back to life at the tribe’s new digs. (I imagine its classified job listing. Wanted: Reliable fellow with good lungs for ultimate BLOW JOB.)

It’s no exaggeration to say that once our ancestors learned to make fire at will and were no longer dependent upon lightning strikes or stealing fire from rival clans, it changed the course of evolution. It enabled our ancestors to then turn their attention to higher pursuits — to culture and community and to a little thing called LOVE. This all started with knowing how to kindle a flame; a flame which became a portal to a whole new life.

This is also the potential power of women’s self defense: to liberate women from their deepest survival fears–at least alleviate undue fear by being armed with skill, strategy keenly cultivated instincts – so that we can nurture and manifest our full 3-D  potential.

Mahler’s quote also relates to my urging for the preserving of fire – more specifically its UTILITY as a self defense weapon and why women need to turn this flame up a notch

In my Dharma Of Defense I speak of the elements of FIRE and ICE. This combo of forces was best described to me once by a teacher and former combatant as a need to be “on fire from the neck down and ice cold from the neck up.”

Or as I prefer to say, we need a HOT body and a COOL head. Amen to that sistahs.

Here’s the deal: If confronted or frightened you want to keep a cool head, yes! (De-escalate. Lower an aggressor’s arousal. Calmly, swiftly extricate yourself.) But if a woman has to GO PHYSICAL to escape a larger, stronger, pumped up creature intent on harm, she best be packing a charge of primal power and heat, armed with the know-how to explode into a target with the ability to source this power from loins and limbs, from her sex and her soul– and to bring it in a heartbeat. It’s a power that must be kindled from the inside out. A knowing to be kept aglow in the heart, ON at all times.

Think of this as a pilot light to be adjusted as needed–from the luminous kindle (no particular threat, life at large) to a suddenly, violently ignited whoosh. (When it’s time to go ballistic on someone’s ass.) It’s a power born of love, fury and primal survival instinct. It dwells in heart and hide; it can quicken your pulse, flash a mean heat across your face  and feed deeper life forces and desires– from the carnal to the spiritual.

Not too shabby!

Let me say: I don’t shake my head and tsk tsk or merely view this as a necessary evil as in– Isn’t it a terrible shame that women have to learn self defense stuff, have this switch turned On? NO! On the contrary I view this readied charge and female-animal potency as part of the larger constellation of life forces, as downright womanly, as part of THE FIGHTING EROS OF LIFE.

If you don’t already know this facet of yourself, let me assure you: It’s a beautiful thing – and it can save your pretty ass.

Finding and switching on this fierce female source is personal to each of us, but it’s also political with far-reaching ripple effects. When this tool is alighted by women en masse we can burn down myths and burn IN ownership of our own courageous and outrageous warrior nature- which might otherwise be crippled by fear.

A FIERY LITTLE HISTORY HERSTORY OF WOMEN’S SELF DEFENSE

It was precisely this fighting spirit that gave birth to WOMEN’S SELF DEFENSE as a movement and consciousness which was spawned in the 70’s, born of the coupling between martial arts and feminism. This was no nebbishy exercise! It arose as a   RESISTANCE MOVEMENT to combat rape, as a viable means of “taking our bodies back” and to paraphrase Black Belt Women’s Nancy Lehman, from the need to feel our force. (Oh how I love this phrase: Feel Our Force. That something as elemental as learning to protect our boundaries and bodies was deemed “RADICAL” by many… is a  telling statement indeed.)

And so this phrase coined by feminist Andrea Dworkin became an emerging war-cry:

 Resist do not comply.

Which brings me back to the quotes about FIRE and another reason WHY we need to turn this flame up a notch: When any discipline or “movement” (Yoga for example) crosses over from grassroots to mainstream and becomes commercialized, something inevitably gets lost or diminished in the process of proliferation. So too, as women’s self defense has become mainstreamed, has become Big “profit center” Business –with franchises and licenses, with weekend and online certifications–and as its been exposed to the dampening winds of political correctness, some of its ORIGINAL FIRE has dimmed, fallen by the wayside in favor of “ten easy steps” or reduced to mere exercise (don’t even get me started) or subsumed by the ubiquitous language of ‘personal safety’ —a term I fiercely resist. Not because it isn’t an accurate umbrella (who among us doesn’t want to be safer?), but because it distances from the primal heart and martial bloodline of self defense, dispatching what belongs in the realm of the senses to a higher headier mount. To a more sanitized, gentrified mindset of cautionary tips and do’s and don’ts whereby FEMALE FEROCITY– its ire and blood-pulsing might -is easily deemed irrelevant, a mere PS in the equation of “what works.”

Nonsense!

Put another way SELF DEFENSE LITE subjugates the need to feel and cultivate our force, to nurture our will and authority for “applied violence” (when needed), to ennoble and verify our own dangerous capacities and female fighting instincts.

And honestly now… personal safety?... what a lustless term. Feh! (We can do better!)

Here’s the bottom-line, my call to arms if you will, a bit trumpeting albeit:   

“As long as men are the sole agents of aggression and women are the casualties of their actions, the victims on the pointy end of men’s violent entitlements, there will NEVER be a balance of power between the sexes. Women will remain relegated to a subordinate status, too powerless or simply too fearful to resist the dominance and brutalities of others, limited by social contract and constraint in the ways in which we can express our own ferocities, yearnings, and fighting spirit.

The gig is up. We must no longer outsource our protection to men– to fathers, husbands, brothers, boyfriends or saviors in khaki or uniform blue. It’s time to bring this power home, refasten it to our womanly roots, to reap its fruits, harvest its furies and acquire the skills to Self Defend. It’s time to rekindle this flame, lionize ourselves, and raise FIRE FROM FEAR.

       Each and together may we become outposts of courage.”

BUT FIRST. SOMETIMES THE CURE LIES IN THE ILL.  

To arrive at a cure (on OUR end I mean) we need to brave the scary places, the dark corners and basement of our “what if” fears- which isn’t always unfounded mind you. Only by confronting our vulnerability – which, face it ladies, we all feel to one extent or another; we all know fear’s imprint, the toll it takes, the signature tracks it leaves in the female psyche and soma; it’s ills, indigntiies and dimiinishing effects…only THEN can we release the POWER that lies in its wake.

Let this journey happen. Grab a torch and dig in. We’re going DOWN TOWN into the primal zone where Fear and Power not only co-exist but often entwine like lovers enmeshed. And from this savage union FEROCITY awakens.

COPYRIGHT – MELISSA SOALT, 2011. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO REPRODUCTION OR COPYING WITH EXPLICIT WRITTEN CONSENT.

 

Five Fierce Rules For Fight-Back Self Defense

Let’s Call it What It Is– EMERGENCY Last Resort Self Defense 

By last resort, I mean that risk reduction, assault deterring, boundary setting and repelling strategies naturally come first. Now log this tip: To greatly reduce your risks, you must deny two things: PRIVACY & CONTROL.

Translation? As much as realistically possible, don’t allow yourself to become isolated with a would-be attacker/ victimizer/ criminal or predator. (TRUST YOUR GUT HERE!) And do not allow “them” to control your behavior- in other words to lead you where you do NOT want to go or otherwise manipulate your movements against your will.

Remember: Do NOT allow a criminal or would-be rapist to force you into a vehicle or otherwise move your from crime scene A to crime scene B. It will always be to a far more isolated location where it will be more difficult to attract attention or breakaway. This includes NOT allowing an assailant or thug to forcibly move you from the visible jogging trail seen by passing motorists and others into the more desolate woods. Or from the parking lot and front of the building to the remote back of the building. This all constitutes forcible movement from one place to another.

So you may have to go physical with whatever skills you have in order to free yourself.

Even with the best of risk reduction and prevention strategies, it happens – so here’s FIVE basic rules if you must fight back. 

1) Explode and penetrate into your target, do not just give a smack. Explode like a bullet directly into your target, not like a firecracker dispersing energy in all directions at once. 

(2) Technique AND fighting spirit count, so tap and funnel raw animal ferocity.

(3) Focus. Focus. Focus. FORCE it if you must but do not allow your mind to splinter, waver or freeze. Breathing helps!

(4) YELL! It oxygenates the tissues, rallies the fighting spirit and can add as much as 33 % more power to your moves.

(5) OWN you world and use your environment. From utilizing walls and counter-tops to shove off of or slam (him) into, to using blunt and pointy objects as weapons, to wielding trash cans and furniture as shields and barriers. My motto? “WHADDYA GOT?”

When it’s GO TIME, get fierce!  And get cracking!

MORE MINDFULNESS PLEASE!!!

TWO BEEFS  (Come now. Does Momma look like she’s joking?)

(1) Those in WSD need to stop wielding this awful phrase as your promo: “Don’t be a victim!” Or worse: “Choose NOT to be a victim!”

Let’s be clear: YES to sensible risk reduction, heightened awareness, early recognition of danger and behavioral clues, good body language and intuitive faculties turned on. Now this: NO woman chooses to be a victim or to be attacked. Women can “do everything right” (and be Black Belts and kick-ass power feminists) and still be be violated or raped. And not at fault.

(2) Ditch last century verbiage: Some in Women’s Self Defense still promote that self defense is all about knowing “YOU’RE WORTH FIGHTING FOR!” 

Really? You don’t say!

As one who is steeped in SD and as a former psychotherapist, while I appreciate where this is coming from, I find this comment insulting; the insinuation is that most women DON’T think they’re worth fighting for. I disagree. To me this smacks of a victim mentality pinned onto and often attributed to women.

Sure. It may in fact be relevant for women struggling with DEEP self esteem issues or domestic abuse whereby they’ve internalized the doubts of their abusers and diminishing self perceptions. But most women today KNOW they’re worth fighting for and WANT to protect their bodily sovereignty. They need to learn HOW and how to overcome fear and other inhibitions.

Let’s MOVE the conversation forward- not backward!

That’s Me with INVESTIGATIVE DISCOVERY TV producer CHRIS. I was recently interviewed for a forthcoming (late June or early July) episode for a new show on “Dates From Hell.” (Seriously.  These are remarkable real life stories of women’s resolve, smarts, fighting hearts and fight back powers. The episode I was called in for is the amazing Keri Potts, who heroically, daringly escaped from a rapist who’d locked her in his studio apt. in Rome. A predator not only intent on brutal rape but possible a killer….. Stay tuned and I’ll share more.