Women’s Self Defense

In our previous self defense article we discussed basic street fighting movements and tips that were not only generally applicable to everyone but could also help save your life in an emergency. Statistically speaking a woman who is only 21 years of age has a 25 percent risk of suffering violent crime in her life, which shows that women are significantly more susceptible to being targeted by violent offenders. We have collaborated with professional mixed martial artist Kevin ‘Kage’ Pearson to bring you a self defense guide specifically geared for women. This article specifically focuses on and addresses the common factors that a woman would face in an emergency situation and how to overcome them to defend herself. Click ‘Read More’ below to check it out.

Kevin 'Kage' Pearson teaching a standing arm bar.

Kevin ‘Kage’ Pearson teaching a standing arm bar.

For years there have been women’s self-defense classes promising a sense of security for the long and dark walk in the parking lot. These classes are typically five or less one hour long sessions. Some are at the local police station and others are offered at Karate schools. I find these classes to be impractical in real life situations. Mastering a martial art takes more than five hours. The greatest disadvantage a woman has in a fight against a man is strength. This article is breaking down the women’s self-defense methods and offering the best plan of action.


The first weapon is the stun gun, which are readily available to the public. Just the electric arcing’s menacing and intimidating appearance and sound alone is enough to scare off some attackers.  This weapon provides a good affordable sense of security when walking in the dark alley way or parking lot. A Taser is more expensive but allows for incapacitation at a distance because it shoots out corded projectiles that embeds the skin of attacker while delivering an incredibly high voltage shock. With around 9 million volts of zapping electricity, a stun gun is a must have for the damsel in distress.

Pepper spray is a more common and less lethal weapon to have. The spray is held inside a capsule, often a pressurized cylinder, and a thumb press button activates a mist of capsicum based mixture. Aim for the attackers eyes for best results. Try to spray downwind if possible to avoid mist coming back onto your face. Not only does the mist temporarily blind the attacker, but it also irritates the throat and airway which causes difficulty breathing, an intense choking sensation, and a very painful claustrophobic experience. Some have a dye which can be seen on the person who was hit and the police can use this to identify who was at the scene attacking. Pepper spray is cheap and available to the public for less than $10 and can be easily carried on in a small bottle on a key chain. Pepper spray has a reputation of being a ineffective, especially against intoxicated attackers. This is a common myth that is unsubstantiated, the new formulations of pepper spray will swell the attackers eyes shut and irritate the attackers airway even with an indirect hit, thus giving you vital seconds to stop an attack and escape.

If a concealed weapons permit is held, then one recommended gun is the hammerless Smith and Wesson air weight .38 special. It has a snub nose barrel which makes it even easier to be concealed and the hammerless design helps with quick removal from the purse without getting the hammer caught up on keys, inner pockets, or any other things a woman’s purse contains. The downfall is that this is a deadly weapon that requires extensive training for proper and safe use. Absolute safety and prudence must be exercised while wielding a firearm. The use of a deadly weapon should never be the first line of defense and should only be used if there is absolute knowledge of certain impending endangerment of your life.

Physical Self Defense  

Women typically on average have approximately have about 60-80% of the muscle mass of men. This stark disadvantage makes it imperative that a women avoid strikes and flee the attacker rather than stand and engage in a potentially dangerous combative situation. Typically, in a street fight it is advisable to close the distance if in fear of taking a blow. It is hard to deliver a damaging blow without having any space for the fists to travel and build momentum. Force equals mass times velocity squared, and thus if the velocity is next to nothing, then the resulting force will be too. Yet, it is not recommend women to close the distance because this will put them in grabbing range and this is the first goal of the attacker because it makes bodily control extremely easy, as well as putting you in jeopardy of being taken down the ground. We will now examine vulnerable bodily areas to exploit while being attacked. These key weak points allow a physically weaker opponent to extract an incredible amount of pain and discomfort with very little applied physical force.

The first tip is to aim strikes towards the groin. Typically a powerful knee, kick, or punch to the groin will cause the attacker to grab his stomach and hunch over. The pain from a direct groin hit is enough to make a man pass out if done hard enough. Once the groin hit is delivered the instinctual bodily reaction will be to hunch over in pain and an intense weakening sensation felt throughout the body.  Once the attacker hunches over after the devastating hit it is time to then run to a crowd as quickly as possible.

Knee to Groin. Credit- Bill Valentine

Knee to Groin. Credit- Bill Valentine

Another vital area is to constantly attack are the eyes in any manner possibly. It can be poking, scratching, slapping, and weaponry to the eyes. The attacks must be relentless and without hesitation to the eye region. Even with very little force, one can push through the shut eyelids and reach the eyes in order to stop an impending or on going attack. Another target are the ears. The delicate connective tissue of this body part guarantees that a small and weaker opponent will have plenty of power to rip apart an ear. The ear tear is good for when an attacker picks up a victim over his shoulders because the ear is exposed and directly reachable. If you see piercings of any type such as earrings, eyebrow rings, or lip rings, simply rip them out to cause sharp intense pain that will help distract an attacker. Small joint manipulations offer an advantage to smaller people because it takes very little power to break and dismember the small joints of the body such as the fingers. Bend the fingers back one at a time. Wrap a whole hand around one finger and torque back. Don’t target the attackers thumb because it is shorter and can pivot differently than the others because of the flexibility of joint.

One of the most common attacks, and worst transitionary positions to find your self in is the being grabbed by an attacker. In order to escape, mitigate any potential damage, and maximize the chance of you escaping, use the following tips. If you are being bear-hugged from behind over your arms: grab the small joints of the fingers and begin to rapidly snap them back as you lower your weight by dropping your hips and escaping my shifting out of the grip using total body strength against the weak link of the hands. When pulling apart the small joints of the fingers use your whole hand and pull in a downward or outward motion as quickly as you can.

Additionally, use the rear headbutt to repeatedly strike against the face of the attacker when locked in a rear bear hug. While being bear hugged in any form either front or back, reach back/forward and strike/squeeze the groin of the attacker with your hand or knee. If your are being grabbed around your waist with your hands free, use the same aforementioned method to escape. One key technique is that once the grip has loosened, and there is enough space, you can also spin around and attack the vulnerable areas of the face and throat while pushing and moving backwards against the embrace. The front bear hug allows you to also knee the groin with incredible accuracy and force while simultaneously using the arms to push away from the attack.

If grabbed by the arm or shoulder, immediately lower your center of gravity and shift your weight away from the attacker by quickly leaping way and running. If you cannot escape, use the aforementioned attacks while still motioning away from the attacker consistently with your body. Biting, spitting, and scratching at the face are also quickly accessible techniques that will allow you to hurt your opponent quickly and from multiple situations.

The fact is that the goal is not the stay and fight with your attacker and thus risk potential deadly consequences. The goal is to temporarily cause enough pain, distraction, and discomfort in order to stop the attack for enough vital seconds that will allow you to escape and run from your attacker. Using these quickly ascertainable and naturally basic techniques you can empower yourself with enough useful knowledge that will allow you to possibly save your life. Be sure to check out the basic self defense article here. 

-Papa Swole and Kevin ‘Kage’ Pearson

Kevin “Kage” Pearson is currently a fulltime firefighter in Florida. He is a former professional mixed martial artist and still teaches classes at F2 Arena & Darkside Athletics located in Gainesville, Florida. See more right here on Swolescience.com! Also check out his YouTube channel KevinKageMMA.

-Papa Swole

(This is an original post copyright to SwoleScience.com, credited to the aforementioned author. Its reproduction is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved to the original authors of any quoted or embedded material)

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