T Nation

Quick and Dirty Self Defense

My Fellow T-Nationers:

Due to the ridiculous amount of crimes against women in this country (I’m an American working in China), I’ve decided to offer any girls interested a free, “Down and Dirty Self Defense Course” which is akin to those things that LAPD and other agencies offer women for REAL LIFE protection/preservation.

These crimes are sick: From abductions from busses and sold into sex slavery, to date rape with intention of co-ercing the woman into marraige (if the girl loses her virginity, “no one will want to marry her”), to rape/murder/dissection and removal of organs for sale on the black market.

Sound insane or something from a movie? This is just a brief description of some of the crap the girls deal with out here.

While I’ve done MA for over 18 years and have taught it for 3 years (before coming here), I’m still open to suggestions for techniques/tips from people into what could be in this course.

I’m talking about simple and effective things that can be learned in a short amount of time. Please remember that the students will be Chinese women in their 20s-mid 30’s (as most are married after this time). Many are not athletic and have been conditioned for years (through culture) that being athletic is “not feminine.”

But times are changing.

Currently I have 5 sections of a 2-hour class:

  1. Lecture (tips and tricks for minimizing being a victim, as well as practical advice). Tips and ideas on “improvised weaponry” (keys between the fingers, etc). We also have “scream practice” at this time.

  2. warm up (traditional martial arts warmup/punches/kicks, followed by “ready/defense stance practice”(I call it “home”…and no one get’s into your home unless you let them). I really like to emphasize elbow strikes (as most attackers will be in close trying to grab them) and the like.

  3. stretching/rest period (brief)

  4. Actual techniques emphasizing escape or an escaping strike (eye gouges, etc) ultimately culminating into creating the opportunity to run away. This is where we practice the “Rear hair grab” attack and escape, for example.

  5. Conditioning (primarily legs and some others). Soon, I’ll actually make them do sprints…not yet though.

I would greatly appreciate anyone sharing any ideas for the class.

Specifically, while any/all ideas are appreciated, I’d greatly appreciate any techniques you would like to share that I can incorporate into the class. Of course, vivid descriptions would be appreciated.

This is *not a martial arts class…but a “preservation” class…so while an armbar may be cool, it’s not appropriate. :wink:

Please understand that if I list everything I teach them in detail, it would take hours.

I think we know that there are many ways to escape the same situation/hold, so we (myself and my students) would appreciate any input/techniques.

Very Sincerely,


Noble idea mate, good stuff!

I’d suggest the following…

  1. The sprints are a terrific idea, the sooner they can do them the better. There’s the obvious benefit of improving the ability to flee but also the less obvious benefits such as increasing ones ability to get used to giving an activity an all out 100% effort. This in itself is extremely important when working with anyone who is not from an athletic background.

  2. If you have some grappling knowledge then try to run some drills where they work to escape from an open and or closed guard, cross sides, mount and 1/2 guard. Before any RBSD’ers jump down my throat yes I know that BJJ is different from plain ol self preservation but the fact is that BJJ type drills are unequalled in their ability for helping people to get acclimated to the pressure of hsaving a resisting opponent on top of you. This type of alive training is masively important as all the simulated eye gouges in the world aren’t worth a damn if you freak out the moment that someone puts their weight on you. When I teach women’s sessions I sue this approach and then obviously cover the “add ons” such gouges, rips, tears, bites etc. The “add ons” are nice but they work much better with some good general movement ability and some acclimation to having an opponent on top of you.

  3. Emphasise the awareness aspects (being mindfuil to avoid creating a paranoid state of mind).

Get them acclimated to a little contact nice and slowly otherwise it’s likely you’ll end up scaring off the very people who need your hepl most.

Best of luck mate,

For 200 dollars, plus a box of ammo, I bought my mom a self-defense class she enjoyed so much, she carries it in her purse!

However, I don’t think concealed weapons are legal in china, so what you are doing is a very noble thing.

Make sure they don’t forget to BREATH!

Foot stomps and freakin-the-Hell-out are basics. You seem to have gone beyond that though.

It seems from what I’ve heard/read/seen that just acting like your clothes were soaked in gasoline and set on fire works wonders. The wilder the better. It’s a lot easier to remember to go beserk than to learn a specific “move”.

I think anything you can impart on these women will help though. I do my part by making the women I train as strong and conditioned as possible. That will AT LEAST help them get away fast. Maybe being able to struggle that much harder, kick with more force etc. will help thier odds as well.

research concepts like “the fence”

Look into videos and concepts developed by guys like southnarc and others on the mental aspects of confrontation.

Another thing is to focus on as few things as possible. At the end of every class redo one basic top 2 technique, like thumb in eye. Every class review the same one over and over and over and over. Get a manequin to work on. hollowing out his/her eye socket and filling with a rag. Eye gouge, eye gouge, eye gouge. It is a great way to develop the motor memory need to actually perform in a legit confrontation.

The last time I was in a street fight the only thing i thought to do was something I didn’t think about at all, clinch. I just clicnched and he bent pretty easily and had some tasty knees. This is the reason I train head butts even though they are not legal in any competition. They rule in real life, too close for him to punch you and you don’t break hands.

The key i’d say is no to teach them too many different techniques but instead a top 2 or 3 that can be done from anywhere, especially when facing away from an oponent while having your pabts ripped down, face down in the ground. This is why i advocate eye gouge. Not only can you reach about to do it but it also functions as a great ‘hand hold’. Other top tier would be finger in the nose. great for girls with small hands and low strength. a finger in the nose can be great ‘handle’ as well. Both require less strength and no athleticism like strikes ro other grappling stuff. Plus one allows for the other, one hand in eye first and then go fishing for sinuses with the other. Then you have full control of the head. where the head goes the body must follow. Womens fingernails also really make these moves fly.

Teaching awareness is the most important. Also, unarmed combat is only for those foolish enough to be unarmed. Attackers have a tendency to be armed. Shitty deal but some “on-site procurement” like pens (a good metal one will never let you down) come in handy. Then again they have to have the sack to stab someone. It requires a ton of emotional commitment and a good unclothed area.


[quote]realpeanutbutter wrote:
great advice[/quote]

-conditioning (physical and movement)
-situational practice (think like sparring. most training goes out the window in a live event, so get them acclimated to reacting)

I saw a special on a chinese girl who was kidnapped and made into a sex slave. Even when girls are recovered, their lives are ruined. What you’re doing is a great way to help stop those travesties. Good luck.

Thanks for the ideas, please keep them coming!

Also, a lot of these girls will be substantially smaller (physical size and stature) than their attackers (quite possible multiple attackers). Any ideas in this regard would be appreciated too.

get them some mace? really thats there best bet against a multiple or single attacker(s).

I would sign my daughter up for this in a heartbeat.

Well, if concealed weapons are illegal, how about swords? Nothing says “Don’t fuck with me.” like having a sword.

[quote]StevenF wrote:
Well, if concealed weapons are illegal, how about swords? Nothing says “Don’t fuck with me.” like having a sword. [/quote]

That, or you’ll get a “I’m Dungeons & Dragons convention freak” reaction.

If guns are illegal, how about a small blade. Teach them where it will cause the most damage. Nothing slows a potential rapist down like a pumping artery wound.


Great idea, and much needed as well.

What I’d suggest is not to necessarily focus on techniques per se, but instead to focus on arsenals, methods and targets. This will allow the students to not think in terms of “I know a move from a rear hair grab”, but rather “I can fight from a rear hair grab”.

Arsenals include:
Striking- punches, palm smashes, headbutts, elbows, knees, forearm smashes, etc…

Grappling- yes, you do need to teach them some grappling, if for no other reason than to learn how to get back to their feet. Also, there are plenty of grappling techniques that do not require that you first go to the ground, and act as great controlling/neutralizing techniques. Finally, things like digiting (small joint locks) can often be good equalizers for much smaller individuals.

Biting- very primal and has some great psychological merit. However, don’t get locked into only thinking of biting in terms of ripping chunks out of someone. Biting is also very useful for anchoring, controlling, creating space, and intimidating. Also, you can teach them to bite clothed areas if they are worried about blood born illnesses.

Eye attacks- Not only gouges are effective. Also, if someone closes their eyes really hard, it can be difficult to actually get an eye gouge unless you’re really strong. A better option is to learn to hit the nerve located above the eye (under the orbital ridge), as this will cause anyone to react regardless of size, and is much harder to avoid. Other good techniques include whips, rakes, covers (to allow to attack another target), and pressures.

Body handles- The nose hold mentioned works good. Some other good ones include fish hooks (either in the side(s) of the mouth or in the eye socket), grabbing hair (make sure to teach them to try to grab as close to the scalp as possible as this makes for better control), grabbing the groin, etc…

Nerve attacks- There are some points on the body that are just more sensetive than others. Now I don’t believe in the “death touch” or that hitting a point will cause them to have seven years of bad luck or any nonesense like that. But, these points on the body can be used to control, create space, and make great targets for strikes.

Environmental weapons- These include anything in, on, or around you. Really, anything and everything is a weapon, teach them to get creative. A hot cup of coffee thrown in the attacker’s face will tend to slow down most people, at least enough to run away, or to attack a target and then run. Also, as some have already suggested, find out what combat specific weapons are legal to carry around, and then teach them how to use those weapons effectively.

Finally, google Walt Lysak Jr.'s name and then contact him. He is one of the leading RBSD instructors in the world (as well as being one of the best grapplers/fighters as well for anyone who was going to try to start the old “RBSD vs. MMA” argument).

Good luck and good training,


Women are socially conditioned for passivity.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this topic from everything I’ve been through in life, there are three calculable qualities in ‘proper’ self defense, which are comprised from most relevant: awareness, to moderate relevance: ability to function, to least relevant: tactics.

If you can provide the most relevant, it is extremely unlikely the trainee will experience any physical assault in their lifetime. Of course, it is impossible to provide anyone with awareness. You can give them knowledge (The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker and teaching people what to look for in common situations is sufficient) to become aware, you cannot make them apply that information at all times.

If you can give someone the knowledge to become aware, and they are willing to apply that knowledge, and you can give them the knowledge of what to do when they become aware of basic situations and they are willing to apply that knowledge as well, your trainees will 99.9999999% of the time never end up being in any physical conflict, and they will almost never end up putting themselves in danger of entering a physical conflict.

You will never be able to teach ability to function. It is completely impossible. It is the biggest myth in martial arts, in self defense, in police work, in the military. It is the biggest lie perpetrated by experts and analysts and coaches. You do not know what is it like to be attacked until you are attacked. You do not know what it is like to shoot someone until you shoot someone. There are superior methods of training, methods that will make you respond quicker to the shock of “battle”, none can prepare you for real life completely. Not drills, not using real weapons.

The only way to get someone close is to break the law by physically assaulting them when they are unaware that you are going to do so, and going as far as you have to to break them. In the words of my dawg Michael Gerard Tyson, everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face. You can adapt the training after you see how far they go until they break, or how long it takes them to react and what force they react with. You will never be able to do that on more than one person, because after the first you’ll be in jail.

A 5’5" 130 pound woman will not know what is like to be viciously attacked by a 6’2" 250 pound male until she is viciously attacked by a 6’2" 250 pound male. You can give her tips and tricks, you can give a fucking semiautomatic, it doesn’t matter. Everyone freezes, and it is more endemic in females who are socially conditioned whether they know it or not for passivity. Freezing is death. And everyone, no matter how many years they’ve trained, how strong they are or how smart they are, will freeze the first time they interact with true human brutality that they are unaware was going to take place until the last moment. I froze the first time I had a knife pulled on me, and I had been involved in various forms of “knife defense” (really any defense and disarm techniques with weapons are pretty much bullshit) for years. I froze the first time I got hit in real life, I froze the first time I was in a big ‘brawl.’ Everyone else I have ever trained with who has been involved in physical conflict has done the same. Realistic training is a misnomer, and it is a lie. All of it.

As for the least relevant, that is presumably part of what you’re teaching along with awareness, and the best way to go about it is through talking during your lecture segment as opposed to training. I recognize that this sounds ass-backwards, and it sounds like I’m trying to override what everyone else is saying in this thread when I’m really not trying to be disrespectful, but you can’t really teach a wealth of “techniques” to people, especially untrained women.

2 techniques is practically too much information. In a time of extreme stress and fear the conscious mind shuts down to only basic actions, and the only way to coax these people into defending themselves is to spend time drilling out of their mind the fear of gore. Almost everyone has “problems” with it, it’s why people look away at times when they’re watching the SAW movies. You almost have to train people who are not going to constantly be in physical conflict to be sadistic if they want to respond to sporadic situations.

Your trainees cannot be squeamish if you want them to be able to competently defend themselves, they cannot be afraid of slamming a car key in someone’s eye socket. It is absolutely disgusting, I don’t even know if I could do half the shit you have to train people to accept, but the basics are all you have in self defense that is actually expected to work.

Getting into nerve techniques and all this other shit is certainly viable in training, and may even be viable in the real world if the person you’re working with has a wealth of experience in conflicts and will continue to be involved in them (not someone you’d want to be training unless they’re military/police anyway), but it does not play for people coming from being sedentary.

I wish you the best, but don’t teach anything advanced when none of it will be used, and don’t flood people with information when it will be filtered out by a mind under duress.

[quote]BarneyFife wrote:
For 200 dollars, plus a box of ammo, I bought my mom a self-defense class she enjoyed so much, she carries it in her purse!

However, I don’t think concealed weapons are legal in china, so what you are doing is a very noble thing.


I gave my ex a glock 27.

Constantly remind them to travel in groups, if possible. Being outnumbered is always a deterrent to an attacker.

[quote]Roy wrote:
BarneyFife wrote:
For 200 dollars, plus a box of ammo, I bought my mom a self-defense class she enjoyed so much, she carries it in her purse!

However, I don’t think concealed weapons are legal in china, so what you are doing is a very noble thing.

I gave my ex a glock 27.[/quote]

You gave your ex a gun. hrm. you have a death wish mate.

Why don’t you teach her how to cast some spells and give her some mithril armor?

Or nunchucks.

[quote]Kliplemet wrote:
my mother trains in a “self defense” course each week, with my teacher, who is proficient in filipino martial arts, jun fan, shooto and muay thai, but seriously she will never be able to execute the stuff she is learning [/quote]

Quoted from the movie “The Rock”,

“One must never hesitate.”

(After throwing a knife into a throat of an enemy soldier.)