View Full Version : Teaching self defense (God help me)

May 28, 2006, 01:35 PM
First off, my apologies if this is in the wrong section... mods please feel free to move it to a more appropriate location... 'ppreciate it. :)

OK, so a friend of mine's coworker got mugged in a parking lot last night while getting some medication for her daughter. Got beaten up pretty badly, but she'll be okay (physically anyway). My friend and I have now been charged with teaching all the other employees a little about self defense. We're talking approximately 8 people, all women, most mid-twenties, some with their heads in the clouds (which I suspect is the main cause of this mugging). Here are my thoughts:

- I'm not a trained instructor, I've never been in a fight. I have managed to escape several possible situations by using my noodle and my feet.

- Because I'm not a trained instructor, I'm going to be laying the ol' disclaimers on VERY heavily. I fully intend to inform them to seek actual training through an accredited school (any ideas there, btw?) and that, while I'm going to give them the best knowledge I have, it may not be perfect. They will know that I expect them to think these things through on their own and form some of their own conclusions as well.

- Some of them are anti-gun... I'll see what I can do about that. But I don't want them carrying "because I told 'em to" knowing full well that they aren't going to be able to use it in a confrontation. I will at least try to plant the seed, though, and point them to someone that can answer their questions (or a forum, perhaps. ;) )

- Pepper spray seems to be wanted by most... I like fox labs personally, any other opinions?

- Some basic self defense strikes (eyes mostly, throat if possible, ... I'll probably put some tempering on the old "go for the groin" approach).

- Mostly though, what I intend to talk about is situational awareness and attitude. Personally, I think it's somewhere around a 60/20/20 percent situational awareness/attitude/defensive skills division... I think the SA and attitude are what these people probably need most... of course, I reserve final judgment until later.

So what do y'all think? Any other areas to cover? Any other disclaimers to include? Opinions on specific products/techniques/ideas? I appreciate any and all input on this one... it's definitely going to be a long, hard road.

May 28, 2006, 02:13 PM
Well, I'm a lady into martial arts and a gun owner so how about this. Pepper spray is an option but it doesn't work when rainy, windy, or if the attacker has glasses. It may also not work if one can't find it in time and attacks happen fast. A gun is the great equalizer but it requires training, and just because you have one, doesn't mean you can use it. As for martial arts: great target areas for women, solar plex, groin, collar bone, throat, eyes, instep, etc.

Teach awareness training: look around you, don't leave your car in poorly lit or isolated areas. Look under the car before entering and the back seat. If a truck/van is right next to your car, get an escort. Don't park near vans. Be aware of who's around you and don't let anyone get that close. Always walk with the flow of people - no short cuts. Avoid going out alone at night; always go home with friends. Come together, leave together. Encourage martial art study: Wing Tsun, Jeet Kune Do, Aikido, Judo, etc., as seminars do not drill the material in you like going to regular classes.

Always carry a cell phone; do not accept help from good samaritans. If approached by a plainclothed cop who tries to get you to go with him/her - request a uniformed officer in a marked car. Avoid public restooms or use one that is busy. There's a lot you could cover.


May 28, 2006, 04:44 PM
I would say "awareness" might be the most appropriate thing to teach.

That and the criminal mindset of "predator vs. prey."

If you're not qualified to teach an actual class, I don't know if I'd want that responsibility on my shoulders. Give them pointers, but promptly direct them to an actual defense class.

In honesty, it is up to them to continue their training, mindset, and lifestyle. If they do not want to alter it in order to deal with certain situations, nothing you can teach them or anyone else for that matter will help them.

Again...if they don't want to alter their lives...no product, magic ninja technique, gun, knife, light saber, etc will help them. Do not try to convert. Try to support. That will help them much more than anything someone can teach them and might encourge further training or interest. Self protection is just not for everyone these days.

Just be there for support and avoid liability. Again, I am not advocating "cowardess" it's just not your responsibility to train people if you aren't qualified past a point. You can give them a wealth of information, but it is up to them to determine what to do with it and what mileage they are willing to put in to be prepared.

May 28, 2006, 05:46 PM
I know this sounds bad, but consider a liability waver. With today's society all gung-ho on suing everybody for anything; I'd be worried, God forbid,

1. If something bad happens that one of them will come after you because your advise didn't work. They may not have even tried to defend themselves, but may see it as an oppurtunity to gain some $ through a bit of crying in front of a jury.

2. If this is a work place environment, careful with any hands on instruction; as sexual harrassment law suits seem to be as common as trees these days.

It's a sad thing when someone who wants to do good has to watch their own behind because of the selfish nature of others.

But as for teaching them situational awareness, it may just be best to take a walk with them and point things that you see and what level of threat you see them as. That might be able to open their eyes a bit.

Good luck!

May 28, 2006, 06:05 PM
The mind has to be educated before any discussion of tool. Unfortunately groups like NOW tell women don't have weapons [they'll be taken and used against you !!], don't defend yourself , just submit .There are some good books out there , perhaps someone can suggest titles.

May 28, 2006, 06:43 PM
I'm not exactly sure I would want to get stuck with that responsiblilty either. Exactly how did you and your friend get "charged" with this self defense seminar? I guess if you already agreed, it is hard to back out of.

You have the right idea...

1. Situational awareness is key to not becoming a victim in the first place. Teach them potential hiding places and what scams to avoid. Use common sense such as having their keys handy when going to the parking lot. Ask security to escort if the parking lot is not busy at the mall. Us the buddy system since a single person is easier to attack. Teach them to constantly look around for potential threats.

2. I like the idea of pepper spray before anything else. Even if the attacker is wearing glasses, it will sting the attacker's nose and mouth. Mace has a triple action formula that has pepper spray, mace, and a UV marker. The Mace vapors will be effective even if it is not through direct contact. Consider buying the mace that sprays in a stream instead of a mist if your are afraind of the wind blowing it back. Streams also have much greater range. Teach the women to carry it in their hands if they are going into dark areas or unpopulated parking lots. Who cares if they look paranoid? Their safety is at stake.

3. You could consider basic, and I stress the word basic, self defense strikes. You are not a martial arts instructor and a single seminar will not impart any useful knowledge. Teach them that as women, anything goes. That means pulling hair, scratching, eye gouges, and groin shots are all fair game. Be sure to teach them to make as much noise to attract as much attention as possible while they are at it. I hate to sound like a sexist pig, but unless the women are unusually strong or have trained in martial arts for a long time, their strikes are most likely going to be ineffective against a strong male attacker.

4. The women should only get guns if they commit to training and practicing. This should be done only by qualified instructors as you don't need that kind of liability.

5. Teach them common sense things like not getting out of the car if they are bumped on a quiet road. Always carry a cell phone and a car charger in case the battery runs low. Do not pull over for unmarked police cars. They should put on their hazards and drive slowly to a gas station or other populated area.

Good luck with the class!

May 28, 2006, 06:48 PM
One thing I really like when dealing with women, and I'm also not a "certified" instructor, is to speak as vulgarly as possible, especially when doing any hands-on training.

Time and again, I've run into all kinds of people, women in particular, that are not acclimated to crude language, the type of lingo that street people use. When confronted with vulgarity, they freeze up. The attacker gets inside their OODA loop and has free reign.

When you use derogatory language, you either get an angry response or the student collapses in a heap of tears. They need to know how they will react.

May 28, 2006, 08:10 PM
I didn't know women were that fragile that swearing could reduce them to tears....:rolleyes:

Personally, you'll get further if you avoid dwelling on handguns and focus on common sense and situations to avoid. Some women may not go for the guns or the self defense so you might have to settle with giving them tips for safety. You may want to contact someone in your local police just to get ideas. I'm sure they deal with this all the time.


May 28, 2006, 08:15 PM
Have you looked into NRA's Refuse to be a victim (http://www.nrahq.org/rtbav/) material? Looks like a turn-key presentation.

May 28, 2006, 09:05 PM
Contact the NRA and they will give you the name of a Refuse To Be A Victim instructor in your area.

Class takes about 4 hours max, cost is very low.

This class has nothing to do with guns, defensive tactics, etc.

It teaches avoidance.

May 29, 2006, 08:26 AM
Awareness, Awareness, Awareness, Awareness, Awareness, Awareness, and finally tell them to get professional training.

Self Defense is exactly that: If the "self" doesn't care enough to go get the training it needs, then it doesn't need to "defense" itself.

Awareness is the single best tool we have. Guns, Knives, OC's, and unarmed are all risky at best and any of which can cost severely in legal fees.

Here is a good read: Bitches with Guns (not like it sounds) from Aware.org (http://www.aware.org/success/bwg.shtml)

And another with VERY catch slogans/posters that spark thought: http://www.a-human-right.com/introduction.html

May 29, 2006, 12:37 PM
You could approach it a different way:

My friend and I have now been charged with teaching all the other employees a little about self defense.

If you are doing this for your employer, then I would provide information to the employees about security and preventing crime at work, and see what your employer can do to improve security at work (parking lot, etc.). Call your local P.D. (or the NRA) and invite an officer to give a presentation to your group about self defense, and information on self-defense training, too.

May 29, 2006, 02:36 PM
Yes, point them to a Professional.

May 29, 2006, 10:28 PM
it it was me I would contact local law enforcment agencies to see if some of thier trainers have any classes they give or recommendations for qualified persons or groups who do it. The first time somebody does something you tell them and gets hurt....you could be looking at a lawsuit since wou dont have any qualifications in the subject.

May 29, 2006, 10:53 PM
Tell the company to pony up and pay for professional training. All else is just a waste of time. If someone I trained got hurt because I didn't train them properly, I could'nt live with myself. Again, get professional training.

May 29, 2006, 10:55 PM
I have been in MANY fights on the street. I don't know what your level of training is but my suggestion for quick fix is pepper spray ( Karate in a can ) I have used BODY GUARD brand pepper spay for a long time to good effect on all sorts of critters . Hand to hand combat training a a dangerous thing when given in small quantites. You will teach them enough to anger an attacker but not enough to defend themselves. If you arm an unsure shooter you are only providing a gun to the attacker. Give them pepper spray and teach them how to use it . How to keep it readily available and most importantly to be aware of their surroundings. Teach them that if they are uncomfortable with a situation (gut feeling) then vacate the area. Any minimal hand to hand training will make you (The instructer) look cool but will ultimately place your students in danger. If they are that serious about it then direct them to some real training that teaches what to do when the first defensive move fails. If they only learn one -move- and it fails then what? Pepper spray is your best short answer. Good luck.

May 30, 2006, 03:19 AM
You are right on the money when you suggested to guide your co-workers to professionals. If it were me...I would avoid trying to teach a class that I was not qualified to teach. Guidance to professionals is the answer.
As a former LEO and DT instructor, I would recommend that these classes be video taped to cover your own butt.
I have a friend who was asked to teach some girls simple self defense and escape maneuvers to help protect themselves. Now he is in need of protection...He has been charged with a sex crime because he allegedly touched a breast during the excercise. A video would have cleared him of any wrong doing.

Please be careful in what you say and do.

May 30, 2006, 07:58 AM
I'm no lawyer, but I see the whole training employees with an unqualified persons as being risky. See if the company is willing to hire an expert or rent/buy a video tape. Where my wife works they had a judo instructor from a local school come in for an hour to teach just some very basic moves. Its cheaper than you think, I think they paid the guy $50, but he had the chance to promote his school.

May 30, 2006, 08:06 AM
Try the local Sherrif/PD to see if they have people who will come out free of charge. We work in concert with the local sherrif's office to give a self-defense class to students and staff.

And +1 on the liability waiver, especially from the company. If they're asking you to do this, they need to provide all the legal paperwork for you. At the very least, ask for a written directive asking you to perform this duty.

And the #1 thing to teach is situational awareness. The #2 thing to teach is confidence. I've found that in the self-defense classes I've been to and helped teach that changing the mindset from "oh no! what do I do?!?" to "hey, I CAN do something" is probably the best they can get from 4 hours worth of seminar. Beyond that, they need to individually get into a self-defense class/martial art.

May 30, 2006, 08:46 AM
Well almark if I were you I would make it very clear to them that you are NOT instructing them but , simply giving them advice . I would prepare a typed statement to that effect and have them sign it and a witness , giving them a carbon copy of it and making darn sure I kept my copy in a safe place for several years just in case .

This is a subject I am sure many of us has done a bit of reading on over the years , so let me say that while I have no proof of this fact but I have read that for a woman to kick an intended rapist "where it counts" isn't always a good idea because there are a fair number of sickos out there who are actually turned on by this .

I would advise them to always go for the eyes if it can be done , kicks to the knees , shins , or open handed strike to the nose and try to get them to understand that they need to follow through with their blows and make them as straight on as possable , not a glancing blow say to the side of the head . A straight on shot to the middle of the chest , or throat would be very effective .

Never never yell help Rape people may mind their own busines and keep going , instead yell FIRE and people will stop and look if nothing else .

Many years ago a friend of mines girlfriend asked me about this because someone had been Raped in the parking garage where she worked , she was very anti gun so that was out in the end I suggested to her she keep a full can of lighter fluid in her purse along with a full zipo lighter . Open the can and keep it in one hand while she was walking to her car and the lighter in the other if attacked hose the guy down with fluid and light the lighter and see how fast he runs away from that flame . As Richard Pryor said "Fire is inspirational!!"

May 30, 2006, 09:57 AM
Karate in a can

hahaha....nice, very nice.

Everyone has given you pretty good advice. You must be careful of two things since you are not giving this "class" in a professional capacity -

You should try to avoid teaching specific techniques or escalation of force
You should be VERY cognizant of the legal implications of what you say/do, or inadvertantly dispensing legal advice.

If you are not able to find a local PD/Sherriff's Dept to have an officer come in and help, then I would say to focus on TWO things that are more important than any arm-bar or groin kick (as others have stated) - and that is SITUATIONAL AWARENESS and AVOIDANCE.
There are some very low level counter-terrorist items that the military teaches that might be applicable. Actually, counter-terrorist is a a bit misleading, but that's what they called it :rolleyes: We teach these as passive measures to minimize the chances of getting kidnapped while we're working in foriegn countries, especially if we're going to be walking around in plain clothes. Americans are always juicy targets for SOMETHING.
In a nutshell, the idea is to always be at least somewhat aware of your surroundings, try to vary your patterns at least a little (don't park in the same spot everyday, change your route to/from home once in a while, walk with your keys in your hand coz you can use them as a weapon, etc), trust your instincts, and avoid placing yourself in situations where you are not in a good position to react.
It's sounds amazingly like common sense, but you'll find that most people don't think this way.

You will help more people by teaching them to be aware of their actions and the actions of people around them than by showing them how to poke someone in the eye.
This will also help keep you out of the spotlight in terms of liability.

Ok, good luck man!

Many years ago a friend of mines girlfriend asked me about this because someone had been Raped in the parking garage where she worked , she was very anti gun so that was out
Man, that whole mentality just doesn't compute, y'know? I don't want to get raped/beaten/murdered, but I don't want to shoot anyone to keep it from happening.
I have a really difficult time wrapping my little brain around that :)

May 30, 2006, 10:34 AM
many Law Enforcement Agency's offer just the sort of training you have been tasked with. Why not give your local and state guys a call, they are pro's?

May 30, 2006, 11:10 AM

1. I think the no. 1 focus has to be avoiding places or circumstances which expose you to potential physical danger. Avoiding bars, seedy part of town, being in a private/secluded places alone, staying out late alone, etc.

2. Situational awareness comes after 1...being aware of people around you at all times (people behind you, people coming in and out).

3. no. 1 factor in self-defense is distancing...making sure you keep just beyond arm's length...otherwise, if the other person is quick and start moving first, they may be able to strike or grab you before one can react.

4. I would add in basic strikes combined with everyday items such as keys or pen/pencil on soft part of the body...one is always likely to have it with you no matter what.


May 30, 2006, 01:45 PM
Why not a pocket taser? most use a 9 volt and are small enough they can be carried while walking in a parking lot. Most anti gun women will like it, my wife likes hers and her friends all want one now. Easy to use too.