A few weeks ago, while walking my dog, I found myself in a confrontational situation that kicked my fight-or-flight response into high gear....

3 Self-Defense Moves Every Girl Should Know

A few weeks ago, while walking my dog, I found myself in a confrontational situation that kicked my fight-or-flight response into high gear. The moment I perceived the threat, my sympathetic nervous system began firing off, filling my body with adrenaline, stress, and aggression like I’d never experienced before. I came out of the situation unharmed, but also, with a new sense of toughness. It was time to buckle down and learn how to defend myself, once and for all. One quick Google search later, I realized there was only one woman for the job…

Jennie Trower is the co-founder of Jarrett & Jennie Self-Defense, M.A.M.A.® (Mothers Against Malicious Acts), Customized Self-Defense for Women, and other specialized self-defense and safety programs for women, moms, and kids. She’s built a career around helping women connect to their own personal power, and she’s joining us today to demonstrate three self-defense moves that we should all know.

From Jennie: While avoiding a dangerous situation in the first place is the absolute best self-defense, it’s not always possible. In cases where you need to create the opportunity to escape to safety, consider slowing, stopping or stunning an attacker by striking to vulnerable targets on their body with hard surfaces of your body — and running to safety as quickly as possible.

Your body is a powerful weapon. With some basic techniques and practice, you can learn how to enhance your personal safety and fight back, if necessary. The good news is that practicing these moves can help you feel more powerful not only physically, but in every area of life!

Self-Defense Moves Every Girl Should Know

First thing’s first: Fighting Stance


Self-Defense Moves Every Girl Should Know

A good fighting stance will help you stay on your feet, allow you to generate more power in your strikes, and be best prepared to run quickly to safety.

**Pictured is a fighting stance for right-handed people. If you are left handed, simply switch the feet.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, feet pointing forward, hands by your side.
  2. Take a natural step forward with your left leg (or right leg if you’re left-handed). All 10 toes should point forward, and your feet should now be staggered left to right, and front to back. You should feel stable in all directions.
  3. Bend both knees slightly, elevate your back heel, bring your hands up in front of your face with your palms facing forward (hands should be about twelve inches or so away from your face), tuck your chin and shrug your shoulders slightly.
  4. Your body weight should be equally distributed between your front and back legs, and should be focused more on the balls of your feet than in your heels.


1. Palm Heel Strike

Palm Heel Strike
Context: A palm heel strike is a medium-range strike (best delivered when you are about arm-distance away from your attacker). The strike is sent with an open hand and contact is made with the heel (bottom part) of your palm, closer to your thumb than your pinky.

Target: This strike is applicable in many scenarios to different targets, but particularly effective when delivered to the nose of an attacker.

Tip: To generate maximum power, use your whole body when sending palm heel strikes, driving from the ground with your feet and adding more power by rotating your hip and shoulder.

**Right-handed stance pictured; if you’re in a left-handed stance, start with your right hand.
  1. Start in your fighting stance and keep your hands up throughout the movement.
  2. Rotating your left hip and shoulder, explosively extend your left palm out away from your face in a straight line with your fingertips pointing straight up, and your elbow pointing down. Your right hand should stay up to protect your face.
  3. Immediately recoil your extended arm, shoulder and hip to return to a square fighting stance.
  4. Keeping your feet in the same position, try sending a palm strike with the right hand (being sure to rotate your right hip), then try a left-right combination.

Palm Heel Strike to Pad

Palm Heel Strike to Pad
If you have a trusted partner and a pad or shield to strike to, you can practice sending palm heel strikes to that target.
  1. Have your partner stand in front of you with their feet in a fighting stance and holding the pad to their chest. The distance between you should allow for contact with the pad when your arm is fully extended.
  2. The pad holder should grip the pad tightly with both hands through the straps on each end, pulling the pad into their chest and maintaining this position throughout the practice. [Option: elbows squeezed into their sides, with pad about 6 inches off their chest]
  3. As you send left and right strikes, aim for the center of the pad each time. The pad holder can breathe out as the strikes land, to help them absorb the impact.
Safety tip: Start slowly, building both power and speed only when both partners feel comfortable.

2. Elbow Strike

 
Elbow Strike
Context: Elbows are a close-range strike, most effective when an attacker is close to you.

Target: The nose or throat of a standing attacker in front of you. Contact is made with the flat part of your arm, just below (closer to your hand) the point of your elbow.
  1. From your fighting stance, bend your right arm and lift your elbow out to the side. Your right hand should be as close to your right-side armpit as possible. Left-hand stays up to protect your face. [If left-handed, work opposite side]
  2. Pivoting your right foot and keeping your arm folded, explosively swing your elbow forward and across your body. Rotate your right-side hip and shoulder to generate power.
  3. After the swing, immediately drop your elbow and recoil to your fighting stance, ready to send subsequent strikes or to run to safety.
Note: Elbows can be sent with either arm, from a neutral or fighting stance. Practice all variations!

3. Front Kick to the Groin

Front Kick to the Groin
Context: A front kick to the groin is a medium- to long-range strike that aims for the groin. You can make contact anywhere on your shin bone, from the very bottom of your knee to your instep (where your shoelaces knot), depending on your proximity to the attacker.
  1. Start in your fighting stance and keep your hands up throughout the movement.
  2. Folding your rear leg completely so that your foot is as close to your butt as possible, aggressively drive the point of your knee forward and upward.
  3. As soon as the knee drives above the height of your waist, unfold your lower leg in a whipping motion, keeping your toes pointed and out of the way. Extend your hips forward explosively to generate power.
  4. Immediately recoil your leg and return your foot quickly behind you so that you return to your stance, ready to send more strikes or run to safety.

Front Kick to the Groin with Pad


Front Kick to the Groin with Pad
If you have a trusted partner and a pad or shield to strike to, you can practice kicking to that target.
  1. Have your partner stand in front of you with their feet parallel and holding the pad at their groin height. The distance between you should allow for contact with the pad when your leg is fully extended.
  2. The pad holder should grip the pad tightly with both hands through the straps on each end, being sure to keep their elbows soft and the pad of their body, presented out in front and away from the pad holder’s groin.
  3. As you send the kick, the pad holder should meet the kick by “punching” the pad toward the kick.
Safety tip: Start slowly, building both power and speed only when both partners feel comfortable.

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