Photo Credit: Mickey Z.
Mickey Z. -- World News Trust
September 25, 2020
To begin, let me clarify what “self-defense” means. I’ll do so by paraphrasing this from the Center for Anti-Violence Education (from whom I’ve learned plenty):
Self-defense is everything and anything we do to protect and take care of ourselves. This may include, for example, trusting our instincts, avoiding danger by getting away, fighting back using verbal and physical skills, understanding prevention and safety strategies, finding support and healing after an attack.
At its core, I believe self-defense = survival. There are no secrets or magic formulas; “self-defense” makes no promises. Far more often than not, pre-planned “moves” don’t work. If anyone tells you otherwise, practice real self-defense and get away from them as quickly as possible!
If I were to be hired to offer a self-defense seminar (hint, hint), here are some of the basic guidelines I’d aim for during the session:
A worthwhile seminar would consist of three loosely delineated sections:
Q. Who can practice self-defense?
A. Everyone and anyone.
Contrary to YouTube, you don’t have to be strong, fast, experienced, “sexy,” or super fit. But you do have to be committed. Arguably, the three most important words in self-defense are “choose to commit.”
Which brings me to the pledge: “I will resist and I will survive, by any means necessary.”
I’d ask all participants to state this pledge, several times during the session. The idea is to recognize that, with self-defense, nothing is more important than this commitment:
I’ll say it again: There are no secrets, no magic formulas, no promises. More often than not, pre-planned “moves” don’t work. If I regularly practiced fire drills, would you believe I was “ready” to deal with any type of fire, anywhere, at any time? Of course not. Practically anything else I could be teaching would offer a template of outcomes and situations. With self-defense, there is no script. It’s all improv. If (when?) your turn to be attacked arrives, first and foremost: be committed to fighting back.
It begins with a pledge: “I will resist and I will survive, by any means necessary.”
Photo Credit: Mickey Z.
Alongside commitment is awareness. We must recognize and accept the realities of what we’re up against and then do the work to stay as safe as possible within the confines of such pervasive danger.
This is not victim-blaming, e.g. “Why was she in that neighborhood or wearing her headphones?” Predators are predators. It’s not you, your outfit, how much you drank, the way you danced, or the route home you took. The predator is the only one to blame. Always.
Thus, a major part of awareness = understanding more about predators. For the record, when I discuss predators, I refer to them as males. This reason for this is frighteningly simple and accurate: the vast majority of predators are male. To state otherwise is to deny the evidence and potentially put oneself at increased risk.
Since I’m certain that at least one person out there will take offense at this line of thought, I’ll offer some basic statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice (hardly a feminist or “radical” outpost). Here is a brief list of different types of murders following by the percentage of which are committed by males:
Okay, moving right along…
The predator almost always has the advantage of surprise. He knows when and where he will attack and he is not looking for a fair fight. Therefore, we can never, ever be 100 percent ready against such predators. How about 50 percent? That’s doable, but we must really prepare.
This means studying and never underestimating predators. It’s a lot to stomach but the more you know about predators, the quicker you’ll recognize and thus avoid them.
Predators target, stalk, and plan. If this sounds paranoid or extreme to you, I invite you to peruse “advice” books and blogs from so-called “pick-up artists” (PUAs). I’ve read such manifestoes (including the PUA bible, The Game) and discovered how these men dedicate much of their waking hours to developing, testing, and then passing on methods of malicious manipulation to trap their targets.
More to consider:
Remember the pledge: “I will resist and I will survive, by any means necessary.”
Simultaneously, you must learn about yourself. You must study your own daily routines and environments. You can practice role reversal via self-stalking: meticulously analyze your own patterns. Try to see yourself the way a predator may see you.
More awareness advice:
It’s not easy to become aware and to accept what you’ll learn. Perhaps this is why so few people do it. But please know this: Whether or not you do the work to commit and expand awareness, predators will be doing the work to seek out what they perceive as easy prey.
Remember the pledge: I will resist and I will survive, by any means necessary.
Photo Credit: Mickey Z.
The Practical and the Tactical
By now, you’d perhaps characterize my presentation as, um… discouraging? But this time around, I have some good news.
You’re left to wonder:
Q. What should we do?
A. Whatever works.
Q. How do we know what works?
A. We don’t.
(that’s obviously not the good news)
Since practiced and memorized “moves” are usually forgotten in high-stress situations, the number one choice (if possible) is GET AWAY or at least create distance — even though almost all YouTube “self-defense” videos seem based on the treacherous idea of you sticking around to kick ass. (still not the good news)
First bit of good news: Your mind and body are hard-wired for such situations. It’s called the “fight or flight” response and the physiological changes it automatically activates may save your life. Here are a few of those changes:
So, with all that evolution on your side, please choose “flight” whenever and wherever possible. If you imagine running is dangerous or ill-advised — especially if the predator is armed — I have more good news for you:
But what if we can’t get away and have to “fight”?
1. Create as much distance as possible.
2. Recognize your voice as your next of defense.
Speak in LOUD statements, not questions. You are not negotiating with the human excrement confronting you. No! Stop! STOP! I don’t know you and I want you to leave. I want you to leave now! Go Away! Get Back. GET BACK! I said “NO”!
He might threaten you. He might try manipulating (“Calm down, relax, I’m not gonna hurt you”). He might get loud. Expect the worst because that’s probably what you will get. But keep creating distance and keep staying loud.
Yet more good news: We are never unarmed. Activate your search engine — even better, your imagination — to conjure up a list of potential weapons improvised from everyday items. Stick-like, pointy, or sharp things, of course. Blunt objects, liquid or powdered chemicals, and boiling water. A backpack or jacket rapidly waved in tight figure-8s is an excellent way to create an all-important distance. Anything and everything that can inflict massive injury are open to you.
(Side note #1: Pepper spray. Buy it, carry it, and use it—without warning or mercy.)
Your attacker is not looking for a fair fight so please don’t ever feel obligated to give him one. Predators are willing to commit all levels of atrocities. Therefore, in resisting them: Anything goes. There is and will never be such a thing as fighting “dirty.”
Predators have earned zero respect so please — I implore you — act accordingly. This not only increases your chances of survival but may leave identifying marks: bites, an earring ripped from an ear, visible scratches, damaged or gouged eyes, etc. That will make it more likely the predator is found should he escape your fury.
If a physical confrontation appears inevitable, a possible first step is to assume a protective stance. I’m not going to offer much how-to via an article but this one is fundamental: firm footing, constant eye contact (while using peripheral vision), and hands up in front of you like sort of a “surrender” position. This will give the (false) impression that you’re not planning to defend yourself while also keeping your hands in a position to quickly block and/or strike.
(Side note #2: This would be a good time to try noticing identifying marks like tattoos, birthmarks, etc.)
Again, it’s ill-advised to attempt too much instruction in an article. So, for now, I’ll highlight some primary targets and strikes:
(Side note #3: Kicks look great in movies and MMA matches but the safest choice in a street situation is to keep both feet on the ground and thus maintain balance.)
Some basics if faced with a knife:
(Side note #4: Facing a non-ballistic weapon can be frightening but some weapons serve to “limit” the attacker’s psychological approach thus, his options. Weapon wielding predators often focus solely on using this singular weapon. Contemplate that advantage in advance so you can exploit it when and if necessary.)
Since self-defense bares little resemblance to what we see in movies or how-to videos, please allow me to sum up the basic lessons herein:
Mostly, I hope I’ve helped deconstruct some dangerous myths and inspired you to contemplate this crucial topic more intensely and frequently. And, of course, please remember the pledge:
I will resist and I will survive, by any means necessary.
Mickey Z. can be found here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on the streets of New York City. To help him grow this project, CLICK HERE and make a donation right now. And please spread the word!