I took martial arts classes for eight years, and although there were several trips to urgent care and one to the hospital, I am very grateful for everything I learned. I have always thought that every woman should at least know the basics to protect herself, so here are a few easy-to-use tips to help a woman stay safe.

Know your surroundings

We can be so distracted when we are out in public, and that can be dangerous. If you are in public, take out your headphones, look up from your phone, and pay attention to what and who is around you. Park your car around other cars where you can be easily seen. Before you put groceries in your trunk, take another look around. Carry your keys in your hand, and if someone comes too close, turn on the panic button.

Avoid an issue

There are places and times of day when you are more likely to be in danger than others. Travel with friends and family, and always let someone know where you will be. Criminals are looking for easy targets that aren’t going to cause too much trouble. Our sensei, (teacher), used to tell us don’t look like a shiny piece of candy to a criminal. He also told us the minute we felt threatened was the time we could react, so start making noise.

Use your voice

If you feel threatened, you can start by saying, “Back off”, but it is o.k. to scream, or yell for help. When I was a teenager in France, my friend and I were hitchhiking, and we got into the wrong car. My friend jumped out the window, and the driver started to drive off. I yelled, “Stop!”, and luckily, he did.

If you are grabbed, grab back

This is to throw the attacker off-center and give you some stability to attack back. When you grab back, your options for attack open up.

Hit soft targets

Soft targets are the eyes, nose, throat, and groin. If you can hit these areas, you have more of a chance to inflict enough pain to run away.

Use what’s around you

Is there sand, or dirt you can throw in an attacker’s eyes? Can you throw rocks? Can you close a car door on his hands? Think of everything around you as something that could potentially save you.

Never agree to go to another location

Even if someone is threatening you with a weapon, do not go to another location. Your chances for harm double if you do that.

Your whole body is a weapon

Use your elbows, knees, nails, arms, legs, feet, and teeth to fight someone off.

Running away is a great defense

If you can safely run away, do it.

I strongly recommend women take advantage of self-defense training.

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