Refinery 29: Self-Defense Moves Every Woman Should Know

Refinery 29 spoke with Gabrielle Rubin, founder of Female Awareness Self Defense about self-defense moves every woman should know. Gabrielle is spot on when she said, “attacks begin before it’s physical.” Attackers look for easy targets. When you aren’t paying attention, or have your sense of hearing impaired by headphones, attackers can leverage the element of surprise, which makes you a more desirable target.

Gabrielle recommends striking the moment an attacker puts their hands on you to startle them and create a small window of opportunity to consider your next move. She details the upward elbow strike to the bottom of the chin (an excellent strike that can easily injure an attacker), the big slap (this can be excruciating when delivered well to an ear), an elbow strike to the ribs, and a donkey kick that might hit the groin (read our take on groin strikes here).

Gabrielle’s advice to deliver a strike the moment an attacker puts their hands could be good advice. She doesn’t mention that once you deliver a strike, it’s important to understand that you are in a striking altercation. While a single strike may be effective in dissuading an attacker, it also may not. Once you deliver a strike, you must be prepared to deliver multiple strikes to create the space you need to get away. She also doesn’t mention that the ultimate objective of delivering a strike is to create enough space to get away.

Gabrielle places hands around the neck, grabbing by the collar, and putting a hand on the shoulder in the same attack bucket. When someone puts their hands around your neck or grabs you by the collar, it is clearly an attack. When someone puts their hand on your shoulder, it may not be. If you deliver an injuring strike to a non-threatening stranger who is trying to get your attention, perhaps to tell you that you have toilet paper on your shoe, you could be charged with assault.

If you are ever faced with a self-defense situation, keep these tips in mind.

  1. Delivering a quality strike at the beginning of an attack can make the attacker retreat.
  2. Using strong voice commands with the strike (i.e. “No”, “Stop”) help startle the attacker as well as call attention to the attack.
  3. Do not deliver a strike when you can execute an escape to create space unless you are prepared to engage in a striking altercation.
  4. If are engaged in a striking altercation, be prepared to deliver multiple strikes to get away.
  5. You have a legal liability if you strike someone who does not present as an imminent threat.