As a black belt in martial arts, as well as a former martial arts instructor, ladies self-defense instructor, and a female solo traveller, I highly recommend that some form of self-defense class be taken before taking your first solo trip.
It is always beneficial to have some self-defense moves stowed away in your back pocket and get some much needed self-defense tips for women. Not that I want to scare you off from travelling alone, but so many things can happen. It’s not uncommon to get lost at some point during your travels, and pickpocketing is a huge problem in many countries. It is wise to know how to deal with these issues by knowing basic safety tips.
Should I Take a Self-Defense Class if Travelling Solo?
I know that this is a subject that not many women want to hear about, but my motto is “better safe than sorry”. I truly believe that most people in this world are kind and honorable, but there is the odd badass out there. My intention certainly is not to scare you off of travelling solo. That is the last thing that I want to do, as travelling solo is the most liberating thing that you will ever do, and for the most part it is extremely safe. I am also not saying that something bad will happen to you because it likely won’t, but there is always that very slight chance and when you are a woman travelling solo it is best to be as prepared as possible.
When travelling solo, we are completely dependent on ourselves for our own safety. The best form of self-defense is always first and foremost … AVOIDANCE! For basic precautions to take when travelling alone, or even when travelling with a travel partner, refer to Let’s Get Ready for Takeoff. Together with AVOIDANCE, it is also extremely important to be aware of your surroundings at all times and show an extreme amount of confidence (whether you feel it or not). Attackers usually seek out vulnerable looking people, which unfortunately are typically solo female travellers, so it is important to always look alert.
In the unfortunate event that you find yourself in a precarious situation, it is helpful to know some of the following self-defense moves. These self-defense moves are basic and can be learned in depth by taking a women’s basic self-defense class.
Self-Defense Awareness for the Female Solo Traveller
Before I begin, you should be aware that if you are a female travelling alone and you are physically attacked, there is more than a pretty good chance that it won’t be by another female. It is only natural for our male counterparts to out-perform us women with their superior physical strength. Because of this, it is imperative that we always remain calm and out-think our attacker. Here are some basic self-defense tips to put in your bag of tricks should you find yourself in trouble during your travels:
Self Defense for Frontal Attacks
If you are attacked from the front, it is always important to keep your balance throughout the attack. The last place you want to end up is on the ground! In order to do this effectively, make every attempt to keep your upper body centered over your feet. If at all possible, make yourself more stable by keeping your feet spread approximately 1 foot apart, with your upper body centered in between your feet. This is known as the center of gravity. If you are not centered, there is a very good chance that you will be thrown off balance, and potentially even fall.
If your attacker is close and you are unable to escape, make him become your best friend. Stay as close to him as you possibly can! By doing this you will be in a position to utilize your maximum amount of strength. Imagine yourself picking up a heavy package with your arms out-stretched in front of you. How difficult is that? How much strength do you have just using your arms? The same theory is applied in this situation. Since it is likely that your attacker will have superior physical strength, you will need to use your maximum strength, engaging your entire body as you defend yourself.
JUST ONE TIP: If you are unable to escape, stay as close to your attacker as possible. He has now just become your new best friend.
In addition, the closer you are to your attacker the less opportunity he will have to strike out at you, grab you or choke you. You will be limiting his attack options.
The following are some basic self-defense tips that can greatly increase your chances of escaping your attacker:
- STAY CALM and be patient
- Wait until your attacker is slightly distracted and “shock the system”. See below for various ways to “shock the system”.
- Take advantage of his loosened grip and run like hell
- Make lots of noise when running away to bring attention to the situation. Do not yell “rape”, as most people do not respond to that.
As you may have already guessed, a frontal attack is the easiest attack to defend yourself against.
Self-Defense for Rear Attacks
Being attacked from the rear is much more difficult to defend against, as it is the attacker’s intention to take you by surprise. This is where AVOIDANCE and AWARENESS come in handy. However, if you do find yourself in this situation, the same rules apply as with frontal attacks.
- Maintain your balance
- Stay as close as you can. This is extremely important if attacked from the rear. Since you wont be able to see your attacker, you want to be able to feel him so you know what he is doing. Remember who your best friend is
- Keep your chin tucked down towards your chest to avoid being choked
- Stay calm
- Shock the system
- Once the attacker’s grip is loosened slightly, run
- Make as much noise as possible
Self-Defense for Ground Attacks
If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself on the ground and having to defend yourself, don’t give up hope yet.
- Stay close
- Stay calm and be patient
- Shock the system
- Do not turn over onto your stomach
- While lying on your back, keep your legs bent with feet planted firmly on the ground approximately 1 foot apart. When the attacker’s grip is loosened, or he becomes distracted, thrust your hips into the air while pushing your feet into the ground, with as much force as possible. The goal is to throw the attacker off balance enough so that you are able to escape. This is most effective if done immediately after shocking the system
- Get up and run when his grip is loosened
- make plenty of noise
In all types of attacks, if you are fortunate enough to escape your attacker whatever you do, do not stick around. Escape the situation as soon as feasibly possible.
Shock the System
I have talked a great deal of the importance of “shocking the system”. There are various ways you can shock the system, none of which are for the faint of heart. The trick to shocking the system is to catch your attacker off guard so that his grip will loosen enough for you to escape. It you are able to achieve this, don’t waste time. Run for your life! The following are some simple ways to shock your attackers system and through him off guard:
- Spit in your attackers face
- Poke or eye gouge
- Punch your attacker in the throat
- Punch or elbow your attacker in the kidneys
- Clap your attacker’s ears with both of your hands as hard as you can
- Hit/kick to the groin. CAUTION: If you choose to shock the system this way, be sure you hit the groin square on, otherwise, you will just make him angry
- Kick the shins
- Stomp on the top of his foot (especially effective if wearing high heels)
- Head butt. This is best when being attacked from the rear
JUST ONE TIP: The most important thing to remember when having to defend yourself as a woman is to “shock the system”
The body has numerous sensitive spots, which are the spots you want to aim for whenever you are shocking the system. Some of the most vulnerable spots are:
- throat (adams apple)
- bottom of nose
- top of foot
If you are able to shock the system in any of these vulnerable areas, you will have a better chance of escaping.
Women’s Self-Defense for the Solo Traveller
This article is intended to outline the bare basics of women’s self-defense that you should be aware of when travelling solo (in addition to the precautions outlined in Let’s Get Ready for Take-off.) If you choose to travel solo, it is always advisable to take a ladies self-defense class so that you can practice the moves, and learn how to effectively perform the self-defense techniques. A black belt is not necessary when travelling solo, however having knowledge of some self-defense basics is not only smart, it is necessary.
It doesn’t matter how adept you are at self-defense, always remember that the best self-defense is AVOIDANCE, AWARENESS and CONFIDENCE.
SAFE TRAVELS! 🙂
PIN TO STAY SAFE!