Seven Down-to Earth Self-Defense Moves for Women

Which self-defense moves are right for you?

There are many different styles and schools to choose from.  Some teach strictly self-defense, others incorporate the martial arts.  How do you know what is right for you?

The first thing to remember is that the body is limited in what it can do and what it can take. There are only so many ribs to break, eyes to poke, shins to kick, if you get my drift. But combine the different techniques with all the different points to attack, and suddenly you have a book full of self-defense moves.

A master of the martial arts spends years of intensive training, teaching his body to respond in certain ways. Through the course of his training, he will learn a great number of techniques. But when he is old and gray, he only keeps a few favorite moves that work best for him, and they are smooth and masterful.

There is hope for us that do not have years to spend training.

A woman only interested in staying out of danger may not have the time or inclination to take a self-defense or martial arts class. At some point, though, it is a good idea to invest the time and sooner is better than later. Practical hands-on is the best teacher.

But for now, here are the top seven tips and tricks from our old and gray martial arts master, passed on to you to help keep you safe.

1. The best block is not being there.

Staying safe means staying out of situations that put you in danger. You hear this advice – park your car in a lighted area, don’t talk to strangers; but staying safe means more than avoiding an attacker on a dark and cloudy night. What about the boyfriend that beats you up or puts you down? Or the bully that harangues you? As you can see, self-defense is more than avoiding the dark alleys. But we will get into avoiding the many pitfalls of relationships in a later post.

2. Awareness.

Practice observing your surroundings. Notice the small details, take in the sights and sounds. This is a practice in mindfulness – awareness of the people and objects around you. Expand your peripheral vision. Look straight ahead and without moving your eyes, focus on what’s beside you (both sides at once). How far around your head can you see? Yes, mother did have eyes in the back of her head. And you can too. Just practice “seeing” behind you.

3. Intuition.

A great deal of awareness and protection has to do with your gut feeling. Your gut, your intuition, your sixth sense. This inner voice warns you of danger and will serve you well if you listen to it. Identify it by the “gosh-I-should-have-listened-to-myself” feeling. Listen and you will be amazed at what your body will tell you. Eventually, you will develop a sixth sense, a so-called proximity sense, where you feel the energy people give off. Intuition proves to be useful in every walk of life; in dealing with co-workers, family, and that stranger that approaches you.

4. Distraction and Evasion.

A “feint.” Smoke and mirrors. Something to take their attention from you, if only for a brief instant. This moment of their distraction is when you make your move – I hope you are running the other way! Stuck alone with someone you distrust? Fake a headache, a phone call, an appointment. Feinting – faking.

Nothing wrong with a good fake in a dangerous situation.

This is spur-of-the-moment thinking. You have to think fast on your feet to get out of the danger zone. Winning means whatever it takes. In this case, whatever it takes to get your attacker to look the other way. Pain is a great distractor; a kick to the shin, a scratch on the face; anything that will stop him for a second.

There is one place where distraction and evasion is not appropriate, though – and that is in your dealings with people. When you make it a practice to evade in a conversation, you look shifty-eyed and untrustworthy. So you see, not every technique works the same in every situation.

Are you surprised? The first four techniques do not have anything to do with physical defense, yet have everything to do with your safety.  We have yet to use “real” self-defense moves!

We covered four ways to protect yourself every day to avoid a physical confrontation; you can use these techniques in the boardroom, the family room, or the dark alley. Stay away from troublesome situations, be aware and use your intuition, and when those three fail, dodge and evade.

But you have done everything you can to keep things from turning ugly, and now …

It is time to take action!

5. Elbows.

Woman's elbow to a man's face
Using an elbow

Elbows are listed first because they are the most effective for a woman. Nothing like a sound elbow to the bridge of the nose. It takes a while to learn to punch correctly, so elbows are the best way to go. It is too easy to hurt your hands, and women’s hands are not hardened for punching. You miss, you hurt your hand, and you are at a severe disadvantage. You inflict pain on you instead of your attacker. Use elbows instead.

Elbows can be used on the bridge of the nose, anywhere on the face, to the sternum, side of neck, ribs. Get some centrifugal motion going with your hips. Imagine you are a dervish, spinning those hips and elbows. You can practice this anywhere, with or without a punching bag, though a bag will give you a realistic feel. If you have someone that doesn’t care if you miss and accidentally hurt them, then lightly practice hitting your targets.

Light and easy. No touch.

6. Knees.

Using Knees

Knees are better than kicks. Kicks take training and a misplaced kick will be to your disadvantage. A knee to the groin is a wonderful distraction. After you elbow them in the nose, bring their head down to your knee and help them on their way!

It sounds brutal, how could you hurt someone, how could you bloody their nose, or knock them out? How could they rape you, or hurt your children? There is no mercy when it comes to self-defense. Here is a perfect example of act first, think later. This is why it is important to practice, to instill your favorite self-defense moves into your muscle memory. When it comes time to protect yourself and your family, the last thing you will be doing is thinking…

7. Household items.

Walk around your house and look for weapons of self-defense. These items are scattered around the house, and many you use every day. It is neither safe nor practical to have a gun laying around, and you will not find one on this list. The weapons are unobtrusive, and a child is safe around them.

Some things in my bag of tricks:

  • Toothbrush, chopstick, pencil  –   A sharp poke to the temple, the throat, the eye, the Adam’s apple, the groin.
  • Credit card – A swipe across the eyes or throat, or a scratch to the face.
  • Cuticle scissors and spoons – Sharp little points, small enough to fit in your hand. No one knows it is there until too late. Use your imagination on this one.

Self-defense is never aggressive, but if done properly, moves and techniques using elbows, knees, and household items will inflict damage. And that is your goal. To disable your attacker enough to run away and get help.

The good news!  If you follow the first four “moves”,

you will most likely never need to use the last four.

Self-defense is a mindset, an attitude. Once you feel confident that you can handle an attack, you will find your life improves overall. The confidence spills into the rest of your life. It doesn’t take long, and as you practice, one day you will notice you are seeing the world differently, and more clearly, and perhaps more critically.

And yes, you, too, will have eyes in the back of your head.

So to answer your question, how do you know which techniques are right for you?  K.I.S.S.  Keep it safe and simple.   Remember, the best block is not being there.  Keep protection in your mind at all times, be aware, and chances are you will never have to use an elbow or a knee for self-defense.

Above all, Stay Safe.


Sensei Carol