Why We Women Owe It To Ourselves To Learn Self-Defence

I catch a glimpse in the mirror.

I see the mark of the hand of a man who had no right to touch me.

It’s a distinctly uneasy feeling. How dare he lay a hand on me?

The people we meet in life often leave emotional marks; these remain on the inside. That someone I didn’t know was able to disfigure me in a way that is visible to the entire world is new and disconcerting.

It was an opportunistic robbery. He saw me say goodbye to my friends before getting into his taxi. He may have noticed that we were all a little drunk. I was wearing high heels and a short leather skirt. It was 2am and there was no-one in the street in front of my house.

The heel of his right hand made contact with my left eye. He promptly felt my right knee hit hard between his legs. He recoiled and I was able to run to safety.

Had I not have had the reflex to put two hands on his shoulder and my knee firmly in his groin, the story may have had a different outcome. I was lucky. His swing hit my bone socket rather than the eye or nose. It hurt but not too badly. I am absolutely sure that he was not expecting me to fight back.

Women are considered easy targets. Using my hands, knees and feet as weapons is not something that comes naturally to me. I can solve an algebraic equation, walk confidently in stiletto heels and I can weasel my way out of a situation with the right words and a good dollop of sangfroid. Yet to curl my hand into a fist and use it to harm another person is completely foreign.

That’s not to say that guys too don’t get beaten up. Of course they do. Macho logic, however, says that men are stronger physically than women. It’s therefore easier for a man to assert his power (however momentarily) over a woman than another man.

We owe it to ourselves. To be taught that our elbows and knees are the strongest points of our bodies. That used effectively they can halt an attack and give us a chance to escape. Problematically, it takes practice to override our inherent instinct to freeze.

I am certain that I would not have fought back had I not have had several training sessions (at Ladies System Defense Paris and with Krav Maga instructor, Max Gorner.) Still, I am hopeful that if enough women are able to defend themselves in the face of their aggressor, maybe those jerks would remember that sharp pain and be less likely to pick on us in future.

All I can hope is that my taxi driver will think twice before trying that again.

Further reading: Suzan Schorn’s “How To Kick A Guy In The Balls