Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Why Self-Defense is a Joke for Petite Women (alt. title: Why Jasmin Should Carry a Gun)

I took a class in college called "Self-Defense for Women". The first day of class, I walk in and there are about 25 women and three men. One guy was this muscle-bound Mexican guy (just COVERED in tattoos)- obviously there to meet chicks. The second was Mr. Martial Arts, in the class to show off his mad skillz to the ladies (I was not impressed that he was trying to show off in a beginner class).

The third was a heartwarmingly geeky guy who looked like he STILL got beat up for his lunch money, even in college. (I LOVED him, but anytime any woman would approach him he would blush, look at his feet, and mumble an answer. Men like this are my KRYPTONITE. I find myself powerless to resist them. My forward nature tends to scare them away, or you know, turn them on. In this case, he maintained his distance.

So, for the first three weeks, all we did was practice screaming things like "FIRE!" and "STOP RIGHT THERE!" and "NO! DON'T COME ANY CLOSER!" (or in my smart-ass case, terrified shrieking of "SHARK!"), since nobody will come and help you if you scream "HELP!" because you may be in the process of being raped, and that is messy business for an innocent bystander. Property damage is what gets upstanding citizens to come and lend a hand.

So, after having people repeatedly running out of the showers (since they could hear screams of "FIRE!"), the teacher decided to teach us some actual self-defense maneuvers. There was one move that stuck in my mind, where the assailant grabs you (the Damsel In Distress) from behind around the throat with both hands. The teacher showed us this neat whippy-around move to remove the hands from your throat so that you can scream and run away to safety.

After class I went STRAIGHT to Andrew's house, aiming to kick his ass with my newfound self-defending skills. Because I'm 5' 1 ½" and he is 6' 3" and badly in need of an ass-whooping, of course.

Instead of doing the smart thing, and just kicking in the door and kicking his ass, I say to him, "Hey, grab me around the throat from behind!"

He does, half-assedly, and I easily do my little move and I'm free. Since I'm brilliant, and eager to test this new trick (since I'm ALWAYS being grabbed from behind by the throat), I say to him, "Now, REALLY, grab me around the throat like you mean it."

So he does.

I try my move. It doesn't work! My life flashes before my eyes while I gasp for enough air to hiss "let… me… go!" and there are light handprint bruises around my foolish little neck. I was furious.

I went into class the next day, spitting mad

"Why didn't this work on my 6'3" boyfriend?" I ask angrily, "I was practicing at home, and I told him to really try, and it DIDN'T WORK!"

What did the teacher say? "It only works if your assailant is your size."

I say, "How many hardened muggers and criminals top out at 5' 1", ma'am?" So I dropped the class, since I obviously can't protect myself unless I'm being attacked by an exceptionally shrimpy kindergartener with the skills this class had armed me with.

So how does a woman protect herself? Pepper spray means he has to be within eight feet of you. And this girl has an itchy trigger finger, since it's not fatal. (Yes, I threatened to pepper spray a guy in class once, but he threatened me and was being stupid. So I pulled out my pepper spray and said, "It's 8 AM and you are pissing me off. You DON'T think I'm going to pepper spray you?")

But if someone is seriously threatening you, pepper spray only makes them angry (according to my all-knowing father). So remember kids, pepper spray is for fun, not self-defense.

So, I casually mentioned to my father that he should take me to the shooting range so that I could learn how to safely operate firearms. He was outwardly enthusiastic, but I could tell that he was entirely uncomfortable with either (a) my inappropriate gender behavior (girls shouldn't shoot guns), or (b) me operating firearms, safely or otherwise.

He blew me off, never took me, never bought me a gun. This is the man who, after a VERY casual comment on my part about perhaps, maybe wanting to start mountain biking, bought me an expensive mountain bike. For my 18th birthday. Which I have yet to ride. In my defense it was dark when I left the house and dark when I got back, and when it wasn't, I was up at Mills, where an expensive bike was a liability. I'll really start riding it. Really!

So anyway, since hand-to-hand combat is out for me, I thought "Maybe I should carry a gun."

It seems like a good idea, but there are problems with carrying a gun. For example, sometimes I can't find my cell phone in my purse. Now, it's a good deal smaller than a gun, but the phone vibrates and glows when I need it. If I had a gun in my purse and I was accosted, it would go like this:

Assailant: "Give me your money, lady! Or I'll kill you!" or "If you scream, I'll kill you."

Me: "Hang on one second…. [digs in purse] Where is it…"

Assailant: "Give me your purse! Stop digging!"

Me: "Screw it." [Hits Assailant with purse, knocking him unconscious. Steals his wallet.]

You see, sticking the gun in my purse wouldn't work. So I would have to wear it. Since I would want my holster to match my belt and shoes, I would have to get one in brown AND one in black. A girl has got to look good defending herself.

Then there is that whole issue of my accident-proneness. I would be shooting some vandal, and I might burn myself on the gun. Or something. Ok, so maybe no gun.

So, after great thought, I have decided to keep carrying anvils in my purse.

Proof that I Spend Too Much Time in an Office

I noticed that staples out of a regular staple have little bumps on the back. Documents out of the photocopier that it staples are flat. One only notices this when you have two piles; one lays perfectly flat and the other one has a hugely raised corner.

I'm sure that the reason for this is that I don't have the vast strength of a thousand pound machine. Imagine that. At 5' 1 ½" and I don't have super-strength. So unfair. And the staples mock me.


  1. Decided to randomly search for "Best martial arts technique for petite girls" and this was really helpful. They make it look so easy on tv, like just spin and duck and you're out of a hold. Didn't know it worked by height. Now I need to start wearing high tower heels to bring my height up. Poo :/

  2. To be fair, I think your father's partially full of it, since I successfully maced my way out of a mugging with a significantly larger guy. HOWEVER, to be fair, I have seen marines (who train to be able to function while maced) totally shrug it the fuck off, just squinting and blinking a lot, so... If you're being attacked by a marine, you're shit outta luck with mace.

  3. Karate is most imperative for each youngster, karate helps a kid develop his initial life. I meant that every parent need to know its advantage and hindrance before admitting any karate prepare.Best karate in Connecticut

  4. Well, in defense of self-defense, you had a short exposure. For women, self-defense typically means months of practice before you get anywhere. A woman needs months before she can subdue an untrained, larger man. Then if you really want to get anywhere you need to work on your strength as well.

    A good martial art is Gracie Barra Jiu Jitsu (brazilian jiu jitsu is close enough) but Helio Gracie was a small(ish) dude that came up with a variation of bjj that helped him defeat much larger opponents. The problem with any martial arts is that there are rules, whereas in a street fight there are none. BJJ also focuses on ground grappling which leaves a bit to be desired. But it's a very important foundation to have. That and some sort of good self-defense class for women that factors in the element of surprise and drills, practiced for a few months, would be what is needed. Just by understanding how the the body moves by instinct, and why certain things you do out of instinct would be wrong are a step in the right direction. Obviously you're not guaranteed absolute safety. I still see it as worthwhile because we should all be spending time at a gym, right? Why not work out with a purpose.

  5. As a man of 5'7", 165lbs, with my mother's small bones; I can sympathize. Most self-defense classes are taught by the big people for big people. You are paired with similar sized partners and allowed to successfully perform the move in order for you to get the technique correct, not get hurt, and produce muscle memory. Good for classe, but not good for real life.

    1. Learn techniques that are advantageous to your size. For instance, most mixed martial arts will teach you to blade your body and use a standard "arms up" technique for blocking. The problem here is that, if you have thin bones and not so much muscle mass (like me), then your block will be ineffective because the larger and stronger opponent will punch right through it. For smaller people a better block is the Keysi technique, where you create a cage around your head and upper body with your arms. Keysi also does not have you blade your body. This allows you to put more of your body behind your blows.

    2. The twisty method of getting out of a chokehold looks cool in class, but rarely works when someone is determined to strangle the life out of you. In fact, I'm surprised they are still teaching it. Instead, I recommend the Krav Maga technique of slamming your forearm into the side of the person's neck (assuming the person is standing in front of you).

    3. Small people can't afford to go blow by blow with a larger opponent. The objective of for us is to kill the opponent (if we feel our lives are in danger), severly disable them and run, or show them that you can take care of yourself by hurting them enough to scare them away.

    To avoid confrontation, I find the word please works well. For instance, if someone is blocking my way, instead of saying, "move bitch," I will say, "please move,” in a dismissive tone. Many people will hear the word "please" and it will stroke their ego enough for them to be satisfied with the standoff.

    4. Size people up before there is trouble. When sparring with a partner of equal size, my muscle memory is to strike a blow straight on. However, if the person I am sizing up is taller, then I make a mental note to adjust my strikes upward (or downward if he is shorter).

    5. I recommend that you forget standard self-defense courses or mixed martial arts, most of it is BS. It’s better to study forms of defense where many of the techniques are optimized for smaller people. These would be Krav Maga (you learn it and are effective with it quickly) NOTE: Krav Maga is deadly, so you would only use it in life or death situations. Then move on to Keysi (based on Spanish street fighting). Officially, Keysi. These days gyms called "Defense Lab" teach Keysi under the name “DNA – Defense iN Attack). At the very least, you should Google the blocking technique called the pensador. I find that most Krav Maga moves can be executed from a Keysi defensive stance.

    6. You should also learn Brazilian Jujitsu, so you can get up quickly when the fight goes to the ground (as most do).

    7. Never use a gun unless your life is in danger, and never take it out unless you are willing to use it. The good news is 70% of violent attackers are usually scared off just by the sight of a gun. If you decide to go that route, then I would suggest getting a Baretta PX4 Storm. This .40 cal automatic pistol has plenty of stopping power with the best recoil suppression.

    You can also consider a pepper gun. If so, I would recommend the Kimber Pepper Blaster II, which is the most powerful and effective at temporarily disabling an opponent, giving you the time to get away.


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