Self Defense for Women: What I Wish You Knew

by | Mar 22, 2016 | Moxie | 12 comments

His forearm is across my neck; I can feel his entire body weight crushing down on my throat making it hard to breathe. I’m underneath a man twice my size; my legs are wrapped tightly around his waist linked behind his back but he’s definitely got me pinned. What do I do?

One month ago my answer would’ve been to accept defeat. There’s no way out. He is going to do whatever he wants with me. I have always been a strong woman who believes I am capable of achieving virtually anything that a man can (I even believe that I can do a “man’s job” better than most men). The one major area of weakness that I never wanted to acknowledge is my petite stature; believe it or not, most men are physically stronger than me.

As a sailboat captain I have learned to overcome these weaknesses by using ropes and pulleys to assist with any tasks that require more strength than I have, often muttering “work smarter, not harder” when I successfully complete a seemingly strenuous task without a bead of sweat. But what happens if I’m in a life-threatening situation and I can’t hoist my attacker up the mast using the main halyard? This is something that I always just pushed out of my mind. That is, until now.

Today marks 1 month into my intensive training course learning Gracie Jiu Jitsu here in Dali, China. I now feel that I have the groundwork for all the skills I will need to successfully defend myself from an attacker, even one who is on top of me in the worst possible place trying to strangle me. I will spend two more months perfecting these skills and by the time I leave, I will have the confidence (and muscle memory) to defend myself from the majority of attackers I may encounter in my life.

defense for women

I’ve never been attacked, why should I care about self defense for women?

When we first started this program, I commented to my boyfriend that it was a little strange to be spending every single day constantly talking about “attackers” and “bad guys”. I felt that I lived in a very safe world and I didn’t put myself into risky situations. The mindset just didn’t seem to apply to me. I brought this up with another girl taking the class, a friend of mine, and she responded with, “I’ve been attacked 3 times in my life, this training is real for me.” That hit home. I decided to do a bit of research.

Let’s talk about Rape.

In the US, if you are a woman in a room with four other women, statistically one of you will be raped in your lifetime. That’s unbelievable, and of course you have to assume rape statistics are significantly lower than the reality because of the vast number of cases that go unreported. If you think 1 in 5 is bad, consider that the US is ranked 14th for the most rapes reported proportionate to the population. Of the top 10 worst countries, I have already visited 3 and plan to visit all of the rest.

What if you had the skills to defend yourself from a person lying on top of you trying to take advantage of you? What if you could break their arm using leverage instead of strength? What if you could choke them until they lose consciousness, giving you enough time to run away? Certainly learning Gracie Jiu Jitsu will not guarantee that you will never be raped, but it will absolutely give you more options in a worst-case scenario.

defense for women

What if I don’t care about Martial Arts or fighting? Oh, and what if I’m lazy?

That’s fair. I don’t like violence or MMA either! I have been told that I have way too much empathy. When I see videos of people fighting, bloody faces or broken limbs, I want to cry. I wince and gasp, feeling the pain as if it was inflicted on me. I certainly don’t want to spend all my time thinking about violence or worst-case scenarios. Also, I’m pretty lazy.

If this is you, then Gracie Jiu Jitsu is absolutely the right fit! The training is unlike anything I expected. We don’t spend all day punching brick walls or practicing roundhouse kicks, we talk about maneuvers that the average person can execute on any person regardless of fitness level, weight or size.

We learn 36 combative techniques; the 36 most essential skills that an ordinary person would need to know to defend themselves from an attack and finish the fight. Even though there are more than 600 techniques in the Gracie Jiu Jitsu program, the Gracie Family decided these 36 were the most important for beginners after studying street fights and evaluating typical behavior of attackers.

Where can I learn Gracie Jiu Jitsu for Self Defense?

You can find a local training center by visiting this link. You can take courses at your leisure wherever they fit into your schedule. The program is designed so that each class is a complete lesson allowing you to pop in whenever your schedule permits.

If you’re interested in turning your training experience into a real adventure, you can join a full immersion program where you learn all the necessary skills in three months flat. Gracie Immersion China, where I am currently studying is the only full immersion Gracie Jiu Jitsu program in the world, and I cannot recommend it enough. Not only am I receiving excellent training in a top-notch facility, I am also able to explore China and immerse myself in an unfamiliar culture.

defense for women
The founders of the school have serious passion for martial arts and a strong desire to ensure students receive an authentic cultural experience in China. They are dedicated to planning hikes, activities and adventures to ensure that nobody leaves China feeling like they’ve only seen the inside of a classroom. All in all, it has been an epic, life-changing experience that I will never forget.

So, his forearm is across my neck; I can feel his entire body weight crushing down on my throat making it hard to breathe. What do I do? I turn my face away from his hand, take a deep breath and smile knowing that after executing a few coordinated body movements, I will be ending the fight. I can already picture my arms wrapped around his neck, pulling my elbows to my chest while inhaling deeply. I’ll wait for my attacker to pass out and I will be free.

*This post was made possible by Gracie Immersion China but as always opinions remain my own.

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