by Sensei Nancy Chmay
June, 1993

One of the most popular forms of martial arts is Karate which is a form of self defence for men and women. Karate is a self defence weapon that must be used with caution and common sense. A woman's self defence is knowing how to protect herself from harm when she is confronted with danger. She is not required to stand toe to toe with her attacker and fight it out. Women Karateka should use Karate only when it is absolutely necessary, as when her attacker is twice her size, stronger or when there is more than one person attacking her.

My Senseis have taught me that it is better to simply run away, if possible, from a confrontation. Fighting is always the last resort.

Women must realize that no matter what the size of her assailant is, he has vulnerable areas: his eyes, throat, and groin are unprotected and his knees are very vulnerable and can be broken.

Just knowing what is really dangerous may make it possible for a woman to avoid these situations. But, if you do find yourself in a dangerous situation it is imperative to know how to pull yourself together, face the situation head on and get through the confrontation alive and sane.

Remember, our self defence weapons are the first two knuckles of the fist, open hands, elbows and various types of kicks as well as screaming. Believe it or not, screaming itself is a martial art technique, meant to inflict fear in the heart of your attacker. The scream comes from the tightening of the lower stomach. Screaming causes confusion which in turn becomes an advantage which allows a woman to strike.

The following is a scenario of how I would react if a man grabbed me from behind. Once the man had grabbed me, I would raise my knee straight up as if I were going to throw a kick and then, while breathing out, I would then stomp on his foot. Without hesitation, I would twist away from him and strike his chest with an elbow. My elbow strike would be hard and swift and I would be stepping in towards my attacker. This will wind my assailant and throw him off balance, so that I can run to safety.

If you sense that someone is following you, look around discreetly to assess your situation and be prepared to act quickly. If there is someone following you, take a glance at him and notice the distance between him and you. Next, cross the street and quickly look to see if he crosses the street. If he does cross the street, you should cross the street again. This would give you enough time to consider your options. If I felt that I could out-run him, then that is the option I would take and I would run to the nearest well-lit area. If I didn't think that I could out-run him, I would try to get to the nearest home which was well-lit and ring the doorbell. If he grabbed me, I wouldn't struggle, because by me struggling he would have a more powerful grip. As he pulled me toward him, I would give him a sharp jab under his nose with the heel of my palm. This will inflict considerable pain and his eyes will water profusely. Next, I would quickly twist out of his hold, throw a downward thrusting kick just below his knee cap. The severe pain causes my attacker to lean forward and as he does, I would grab him by the back of his head and bring his head down to wards the ground as I was raising my knee to his face. Then I would throw him down away from me and run to safety.

Once you are in action, commit yourself 100 percent. Always use an entire combination when defending yourself. One technique is never good enough--be sure to follow through with a combination of techniques.

The bottom line is that when I am in training, I feel good and I am on top of things which gives me a feeling of being able to cope. I know that if something were to happen, I could do something to defend myself. It is most important that we carry this confidence out of the dojo and with us in all areas of our lives.

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