A Facebook friend of mine posted a picture recently of defense moves that a woman could use if attacked by a man. It was sincerely intentioned, but I felt strongly that I should reply. This post is based upon the response I gave him.
I hate to be a spoil sport, but as a former Judo instructor, I do have some insight into self-defense and full contact fighting and I always worry that people think moves like these are practical for untrained people, let alone a untrained smaller woman facing down a larger male adversary.
Most people, not just women, will freeze when attacked. This is unfortunately why most attacks succeed. This is because everyone reverts to training under extreme stress and most people have no training so they do nothing.
There is also a statistic I’ve seen (verified, but don’t have a link right now) that when attacked by an attacker with a direct rush attack from even twenty feet away an armed police officer will usually fail to draw their service weapon and engage the attacker in the time it takes for the distance between them to be closed.
Defending yourself is an art. Screaming and running away as fast as possible is actually not a bad strategy. Most people can run faster scared than the assailant can angry. Concealed carry of a handgun is good, but many, many repetition drills are required for the draw and fire to be second nature enough that someone can do it in a high stress situation. Also defending yourself in some jurisdictions can bring more legal troubles than a sane human being would expect. The UK is particularly bad in this respect. Of course, better to be judged by twelve than carried by six, but many people are still mentally and physically unprepared for the aftermath of a violent confrontation.
My self-defense advice for anyone is a four-step plan and pray that you never get to step four. The worst I’ve experienced is about step 2 1/2.
1. Don’t be there.
2. Leave before trouble happens.
3. Talk your way out of the situation.
Certainly a class in full-contact martial arts is useful, but diligent practice is required to make the moves and techniques second nature, because if they aren’t, you will freeze with indecision.