Tag Archives: Self defense

Going For The Groin

Erik and me on Tsuken Island (Okinawa – 2011) Click the picture to fully appreciate Erik’s expression. :)

A while ago, I had received an entry back from a writing contest. The judged submission included a scene where my hero and heroine were caged together to breed gladiators for the Survival Race–a blood sport where the last man alive wins. My hero was eager to mate. My heroine…not so much. In fact, Addy fended off Max’s advances with a knee to the groin.

Addy’s knee-jerk reaction (sorry bad pun) was quick and effective. I liked it. The judge didn’t. Her comment was that my heroine “wouldn’t have been able to knee the hero in the groin because men protect that area all too well.”

What! Was this judge serious?

Was she really suggesting that a woman shouldn’t target the groin? Ever? Apparently she has:

  • Never taken a self-defense class. I don’t know of a self-defense instructor who doesn’t teach how to strike the groin. It’s a great target for a woman to strike because it doesn’t require strength to cause debilitating pain thanks to sensitive nerve endings.
  • Never practiced a martial art. Not only do martial artists learn how to protect their groins, they learn countless ways in which to strike them too. Seriously, it’s almost an art in and of itself. You can strike it with your heel, the ball of your foot, a knee, a shin, a hip, a punch, an uppercut, a back fist, an elbow, a ridge hand, and a slap just to name a few. We haven’t even talked about weapons yet. Oh, and don’t forget the grab and squeeze! A Chinese woman actually killed a man earlier this year by squeezing his testicles.
  • Never heard of the no hitting below the belt rule in sports. Even in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), a fighting sport that lets you get away with a lot, doesn’t stand for that. I found 31 fouls in the rulebook on the UFC website. Number seven is no groin strikes of any kind.
  • Never heard of a protective cup. Again on the UFC website, the first piece of protective equipment required is a groin protector for the men. Not to mention companies insuring martial arts schools require them too.

If men “protect that area all too well” then why is it necessary to make safety rules, and hard plastic or steel shields? Hello! The reason is because you only need a small amount of pressure to create a lot of hurt. A finger flick can make a member sore.

Granted that the groin may not be the opportune target every time. Men can and do protect that area. But not always well enough, and not when they least expect it (the latter was the case in my scene). If they protected themselves 100% of the time, there wouldn’t be hours of footage on YouTube and America’s Funniest Home Videos with surprise hits to that most tender area.

Needless to say, I didn’t change that scene. It’s a good thing too, because my editor’s comment upon reading it was, “Good Girl. Ha!”

So what do you think? Do you agree with the judge or the editor? I love hearing from you. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

By the way, if you’re interested you can read this scene in my debut novel, CAPTIVE, available now for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. Captive releases electronically April 1st and in print April 2nd.

~K.M. Fawcett

Scream And Shout

Pacific Ocean 2010

In Monday’s post, we discussed that the goal of self-defense is not to win, but to not lose. If you haven’t read the post and are wondering what the heck I’m talking about, click here.

In the comments, someone had shared her story of being attacked years ago and being so stunned at the viciousness, she couldn’t fight back. All she could do was scream. She kept screaming as he punched her in the face. She kept screaming as he yelled at her to shut-up. And because she kept screaming, he feared she’d gain attention from the on-coming cars and he ran off. In other words, she did fight back…using her voice.

When we think about self-defense, we tend to think about blocking and striking. But as we discussed in past blogs, self-defense is also about using our brains (common sense is the first step to self-defense) and heeding the warning of the little voice whispering inside us when something doesn’t feel right. Self-defense is also about using our VOICE. Screaming to gain attention from someone who can intervene or call the police is as important as striking our attacker. Remember, he does not want to get caught.

Our voice is so important to self-defense that we even have a name for it.

Kiai (Kee-eye). It’s a spirit shout. And it has a few purposes:

  1. It helps draw attention to our situation.
  2. It can scare our attacker.
  3. It tightens our muscles to prepare us to take a hit.
  4. And it fires us up. (Don’t athlete’s do this before games? “Come on!”  “We got this!”  “Go [insert team name here]!” Of course they do.

You might recognize a kiai as the “hiya” from old karate movies. However, it can be any word or sound that you want to make. Swearing a string of profanities at your attacker counts. Or shouting, “Fire!” or maybe for a child, teaching them to scream, “Stranger, stranger, 911!”

It doesn’t matter what sound you make. Just make some noise. Even if it’s a high pitch girly scream (which I admit I do when someone scares me. Yes they laugh, but I can’t help the sound. I call it my auto-response kiai.)

Like singers train their voices or drill instructors train theirs, martial artist also train their kiai. Usually a new person in the dojo has trouble making any sound at first. Perhaps they feel silly or self-conscious, but after a few weeks they are shouting with enthusiasm and much spirit.

What sound you make isn’t as important as using your voice to fight back.

~KM Fawcett

A Writer’s Favorite Game and Self-Defense

Today I was in a gym surrounded by big, muscular karate guys. Guys with many years of training under their black belts. And I started to play a writer’s favorite game, What If. What if one of these guys attacked me right here, right now? Could I really, truly defend myself? Could I beat my attacker? Could I win a fight against them?

Then I remembered that traditional Okinawan karate teaches that, “The purpose of karate is not to win, the purpose of karate is to not lose.” In other words, the goal of self-defense is not to fight until I “finish off” my attacker, the goal is to fight until the attacker loses his will to continue.

Statics show that fighting back (even with no training) gives you a 50% chance of survival. This is because your attacker has 2 fears; getting caught and getting hurt.

Therefore, I don’t have to keep fighting until I win. I have to keep fighting until I don’t lose.

Don’t believe me? Then check out this video of a seven-year-old girl who was grabbed by a stranger at a Georgia Wal-Mart.

Did she win? Well, she didn’t knock him out.  Didn’t subdue him.  Probably didn’t even hurt him much.

But did she not lose? You bet she did! And THAT is the goal of self-defense!

No matter how big, strong, or scary your attacker is, keep fighting until you don’t lose!

~KM Fawcett

Would You Fight Back?

Erik and I on Tsuken Island (Okinawa)

Recently, I had read a post on another blog about self defense, and something a commenter said struck me with surprise. She felt that if attacked, she could never fight back, as she could never hurt another mother’s son.

Wow. That’s a pretty noble statement.

Now she didn’t state her reasons for this. It could be her religious belief, or her moral code, or perhaps she recently gave birth and couldn’t imagine hurting another mother’s child. I don’t know. But it did make me think…

And my conclusion?

Yeah…umm…no…I could never be that noble.

While I’d like to believe I have high moral principles, I know absolutely, without a doubt that if I were attacked or threatened, I’d fight back. There is no turning the other cheek for this girl. I’d punch, kick, claw, bite, poke out eyes…anything to get away. No, I’m not normally a violent person..really…but if the situation comes down to my life versus the assailant’s, you can be sure I’ll fight for mine with everything I’ve got.

So my question for YOU is…would you fight back or not? If you would fight back, is there anything that you wouldn’t do (like biting or poking out eyes)? If you wouldn’t fight back, why not? I’m curious to know your thoughts, and whether or not you have martial arts or self defense experience.

Stay Safe!

~K.M. Fawcett

Your Hero/Heroine is Knocked to the Ground… Now what?

Here’s an aspect of fighting most people give consideration: how to get up off the ground.  When a fighter has been knocked to the ground, either in a MMA bout or a street self-defense situation, there is a proper way to stand up.   This is something that fighters learn and should also be covered in a good self defense class.  When I teach a Fight Like A Girl women’s self-defense classes, this is often one of the first things I cover.

Either fighter or victim, a person on the ground needs to get to her feet without risking additional injury.  The ground can be a vulnerable position, which is why bullies like to knock their victims down.  This great video from Stephan Kresting shows the way Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu students (and the women in my class!) are taught to get to their feet.

Notice that the instructor protects his face at all times. He is never out of balance.  He doesn’t rush.  He waits until his attacker is beyond striking distance to stand. A trained fighter remains cool and thinks his way through any situation. The most important weapon in any fighter’s arsenal is his brain.

Safety Tip of the Week: FIGHT BACK!

Tuesday night I gave a women’s self defense seminar at my dojo.  We practiced the techniques from the FLAG (Fight Like A Girl) program as well as some techniques from our dojo curriculum used to defend against the same attack.  So, naturally, the question arose.  “Which technique is the best?”

My answer: “Whichever works!”

Think about it.  You’re attacked.  You react.  Your reaction either stops your attacker or doesn’t.  If it stops your attacker – excellent!  But what if it doesn’t stop him?  What if it doesn’t work?  What now?  Do you coil into the fetal position and fall to the ground?  Hell, no!  You try another technique.  And another one.  And another one after that.  And you keep fighting until you’ve succeeded or until you’ve breathed your last breath.

The point is fighting back, no matter what techniques you use, will double your chances of him breaking off the attack.  Remember, every criminal fears two things – getting caught and getting hurt.

Of course, we all want a higher than 50% success rate against our attacker.  That’s why I recommend learning self-defense.  If you’ve never taken a self-defense class, please take one!  It could be the single most important thing you do.  If you have taken a self-defense class, take another one!  Repetition, repetition, repetition will help you fight back with confidence and effectiveness.

There’s more than one way to stop an attack.  The important thing is stopping it.

~KM Fawcett

Safety Tip of the Week: Learn to Defend Yourself

We’ve talked about the common sense things you can do to try and avoid becoming a victim. We’ve also talked about the various products you can use to defend yourself. This week we talk about learning to defend yourself, because  no matter how vigilant you are, you still may find yourself in the position of having to protect yourself.

There are a multitude of martial arts out there that you can learn that will teach you practical self defense techniques. Karate is a striking martial art using punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes as well as  open-handed techniques to defend yourself against an attack. Melinda, Kathy, and I study different styles of karate. Kathy studies Isshinryu Karate, a much more tradition style of karate. Melinda and I study Kenpo Karate which is sort of a hybridized style to begin with that also incorporates elements of aikido, kung fu, and jiu jitsu.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is another martial art that can be especially beneficial to woman. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a self-defense system that focuses on grappling and ground fighting. It emphasizes the principle that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themself against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique.

There are many benefits to studying a martial art such as:

  • Increased reflexes and coordination
  • Increased stamina and strength
  • Increased flexibility and balance
  • Improved concentration
  • Stress reduction
  • Increased self-esteem and self respect
  • Increased confidence levels

Plus, the regular classes will help you build muscle memory. The more you practice the movements, the more automatic they become, and the faster you’ll be able to react in the event of attack. If you’re not sure what martial art will suit you, try a variety. Call various studios and see if they offer trial classes. Sometimes, local recreation centers will offer a variety of different classes relatively inexpensively.

However, if studying a martial art really isn’t your cup of tea. There are numerous self defense classes you can take. Check with local recreation centers and police departments. They may offer or be able to suggest local self defense programs. One especially good program is the Rape Escape program developed by self defense and women’s safety expert, Steve Kardian. This is a four part program that is designed for the real world. The first part entitled Fight Like a Girl(FLAG) teaches self defense techniques that the average woman can use in realistic sexual assault situations. In other words, you don’t need to have a martial arts background to learn and remember these techniques.

As Kathy discussed in her post on Being a Hard Target, most assailants look for the person that appears to be the easy, unsuspecting target. Whether you learn a martial or take a self defense class the one thing you will gain is the confidence of knowing that should the need arise you can defend yourself. This confidence will shine through and can help lessen the likelihood of you being victimized.

The Novice Prospective

It’s my turn. The undisputed rookie of the group. I’ve only been studying karate for about three months now, so my point of view will be vastly different from Melinda’s and Kathy’s. So, if you’re looking to create a character that is just stepping on the mat for the first time, I can definitely help you out there.

For me learning karate is about self defense and physical fitness.  That’s not the case for everyone and it may not be the case for your character. So what is your character’s motivation for taking up a martial art, joining a gym, heck signing up for  pottery lessons?

Let me start by telling you a little about my first class.

The first time I went to a class it felt a bit like jumping into the deep end of the pool without any water wings. Sure, I was excited. I’d wanted to take karate for ages, so I was stoked to finally be doing it instead of just contemplating it.  I was the only white belt amongst a rainbow of other colors. Suffice it to say, I was a might bit nervous. I kept hoping that Melinda would walk through the door and there would be at least one familiar face in the room, but no such luck.

Class started with your usual warm up and stretching, of course seeing as how it had been a while since I’d done anything this high impact, let’s just say things weren’t as flexible as they used to be. Then on to bag work. One by one the students approached the bag and with confident ease executed kicks and punches with a power that moved the standing bag across the floor. Of course when my turn came, the impact barely made a sound or an indent in the foam, forget about moving the bag. About half way through this exercise my arms started to feel like rubber bands, but I pushed ahead, determined to make it through. Oh, and did I neglect to mention that interspersed with the standing bag work were series of sit ups and push ups? What had I gotten myself into?

Next we moved into the curriculum part of class. This is the fun part for me. Don’t get me wrong, the bag work can be fun and really cathartic. I remember receiving a rejection letter just before I had to head to class. After beating on the bag for a while,  I felt decidedly better. But, I digress.  During this period, we go through the various  combination and katas or forms that you need to  have learned in order to qualify to test for the next belt. This is fun because you’re finally putting those kicks, punches, etc. together in a cohesive combination of movements. It makes you feel like you actually could defend yourself if you should ever need to instead of flailing wildly at an attacker. Plus,  being the lone low man on the totem pole can have it’s advantages, because you get to learn some of the more advanced stuff a little sooner. I’m currently a yellow belt, soon to be testing for orange, and I’ve already started learning the purple belt techniques.

At any rate, I tell you all of this with a duel purpose. First, I want to demonstrate to the non-martial artists who read this blog that stepping on to the mat isn’t as scary as it initially seems. So, if you’ve ever thought about taking up a martial art, stop thinking about it and do it.

Second, I wanted to offer some food for thought when creating characters that are entering new territory whether it be martial arts or anything else. When you have years of experience your outlook is going to be vastly different from someone just starting out. You may not remember the determination that pushed you to walk into that studio,  nerves that filled you,  or the soreness in muscles you didn’t know you had after the fact. You need to keep all of this  in mind as you write so that your reader can experience all of those emotions along side of your character.

Safety Tip of the Week: BE A HARD TARGET

What do the people in the following scenarios have in common?  A mother exits a store looking at her latest purchase.  A sister stands in the parking lot rummaging through her purse in search of her car keys.  A friend walks, jogs or runs with headphones.  A niece is busy texting her friends.

Each of these people are unaware of their surroundings.  To a predator, they might as well have “Easy Target” written on their foreheads.

Criminals fear two things: being caught and being hurt.  Which is why they look for an easy target in the first place.  Unfortunately, it only takes a predator seconds to zero in on an easy target.  Fortunately, you are not an easy target.  You are a Hard Target because…

  • You are aware of your surroundings.
  • You walk with your head up and with a purpose.
  • You look confident.
  • You pay attention to the people around you.
  • You make eye contact letting people know you see them, but you don’t stare so as not to challenge them.
  • You wear headphones only while exercising at the gym.
  • You have your keys in hand when going to your car.

Feel free to share other ways you can be a Hard Target in the comments section.

Stay Safe!

~KM Fawcett