Tips for self-defense

It's that feeling that creeps in and sticks to you like a shadow. We get fearful for a lot of reasons. One that's been hard for me to escape, particularly now that I am a parent, is the fear an assault.

With all the stories you hear on the news and the ones that filter onto Facebook, it's hard not to be afraid, especially as a woman. I've gone down so many mental trails of possible scenarios that could happen while I'm home alone with my daughter. I have had that nagging unease when I am at target, turning off the lights at night and when I go for a walk by myself.

I went to a self-defense class this past weekend. It's one of those things you know you should do but don't really want to commit to. This particular class was five hours - yep, five hours. I was not really looking forward to it, but I'm so glad I did!

The tips/reminders below in no way take the place of a class. If anything, I feel even more convicted that you should get your butt in a self-defense class ASAP. But until then, here are some of my takeaways and advice for when/if you need them..

1. Be loud.

Be that annoying, crazy, wild woman or man that I know is deep down in there somewhere. As we practiced and were told to yell "stop" or anything else that came to mind, I literally felt more powerful. So don't feel dumb. Yell. Your life may depend on it.

2. Be violent.

This isn't some little squabble. If your life is in danger, then you have to choose; are you going to give it all you've got or not? Our instructor kept reminding us that if we are in this situation, it's a street fight. Play dirty. That means crotch shots, biting and going for the eyes are all tools in your toolbox. For most of us, violence is something we avoid and have been trained not to engage in. Before you are in a situation that warrants it, you need to take a moment to give yourself permission to go crazy on someone's ass if needed.

3. Keep moving.

This one felt really key to me. As I tried getting away and out from under my partner during our practice rounds, continuous movement was key. Throwing your attacker off his/her balance and plan is essential. In an attack, it's ALWAYS your turn. Don't get caught up in what you do, just keep doing it.

4. Have a plan.

I now have four(ish) chosen moves that I'm comfortable with and feel strong in (kneeing, crotch kick, elbows and going for the eyes). That doesn't mean I'll be handed the perfect opportunity to use them in an attack, but I at least have some tools now. Think through what you are comfortable and willing to do in an attack situation. An intense shove to the throat/chin area is a good place to start.

5. Be empowered.

If you are like me, your time is important. You don't want to waste it on things that don't feel aligned with your values or hobbies. Thinking through this won't be a waste. Going to a class won't be a waste. Anything that makes you feel more empowered and freer to live confidently is not a waste of time.

Go ahead and google self-defense classes in your area right now. No matter who you are, you should feel capable. Do this for yourself and for your family. No, I am not 100% free of my fear of an attack, but I do feel more knowledgeable about what to do if it happened. That makes five hours on a Saturday totally worth it.