4 Ways Women Can Sharpen Their Self-Defense Skills

Although self-defense is an essential skill for anyone to master, it is vital that women, in particular, acquire and hone their self-defense skills to maintain their safety. In fact, reports show that women account for the majority of victims of both sexual and violent assault in the United States, regardless of race, location and income.

But there is no need to remain helpless in the face of these statistics. The following habits and self-defense techniques can help you sharpen and increase your self-defense capabilities and significantly reduce your chances of becoming a target.


1. Learn the Basics

Learning basic self-defense moves is the first step to enabling yourself against an attacker. Some of the skills you should master include:

The heel-palm strike

Striking with an open palm mitigates your chances of injuring your hands and is an easy strike to use from a non-confrontational pose. As soon as your attacker advances within reach, strike upward with the heel of your palm, aiming to break the nose.

The eye-strike

The eye strike is another move that can be easily administered from a prone or standing position. Once the assailant advances within reach, keep your fingers firm and your palm facing downward and direct your fingers at the assailant’s eyes with a jabbing motion.

Going for an attacker’s eyes will typically cause them to recoil, even if you fail to make contact, which gives you room to either flee, reach for your knife or another striking weapon or set up a more devastating blow.

The knee-strike

The knee-strike is an important skill to master because it can be used from a standing position as well as ground combat. It also destabilizes your assailant, as you lunge toward rather than away from them.

Lean into the attacker and grab hold of both shoulders or clothing for momentum. Then, using the core, strike upward into the groin with your knee with the maximum amount of force possible.

For women who already practice some form of martial arts, keep in mind that, in a self-defense situation, adrenaline can inhibit your fine motor skills. This makes it challenging to execute more complicated strikes, so it is always best to stick to basic strikes in self-defense situations.

If you are knocked to the ground, don’t panic. Women are typically smaller than men and being knocked to the ground is common. Most assailants are not skilled ground fighters and expect women to give up once they are down.

This is the perfect time to use any of the above strikes, but if you do not have an opening to execute the perfect eye-strike, don’t worry. Simply continue to strike at vulnerable points—i.e., the groin, eyes and nose—with your legs, knees, fists, nails and weapons until you make contact.

A confrontation isn’t over until the threat is completely immobilized and, once you commit to a fight, you will need to follow through. Hesitating gives your opponent an advantage and, once your assailant is aware that you can defend yourself, it will become more difficult to prevail.

2. Become Familiar with Weapons

The saying goes: Certainty is a machine gun. While carrying around a machine gun for self-defense would certainly ward off wannabe-assailants, there are plenty of other, more discreet (and more convenient) self-defense weapons that women can and should carry daily.


A concealed-carry is an excellent way to stop an assailant dead in their tracks, and there are plenty of models available that are designed expressly for female use and concealment.

However, a weapon is only useful if you know how to use it and, no matter how advanced the gun you choose to carry is, it won’t do you any good if you can’t quickly and expertly access, aim and shoot it.

After purchasing a handgun, get to the gun range for some rounds. Practice drawing and shooting your weapon from your preferred carry-position in your work or everyday wear.


Learning to use a knife as a self-defense weapon, especially in combination with martial arts strikes, can be a potentially life-saving skill to have.


Unlike handguns, a tactical knife is a perfect weapon for hand-to-hand and close combat, which make up the majority of self-defense situations. Many tactical knives also include various survival features, such as prybar blades, screwdrivers, pry hooks, glass breakers and rope cutters.

Tasers, pepper spray and stun guns are also excellent choices for self-defense carry situations.

If you find yourself in a situation where your weapon is not readily available, get creative. There are plenty of everyday objects that can be found in your purse or on the street that you can use as a weapon, such as a pen, a flashlight, your keys and even a broken glass bottle.

3. Trust Your Instincts

Too often, women feel the society-enforced need to remain “polite” and “non-confrontational,” and they end up in a dangerous situation. If something is telling that a situation does not feel right or safe, trust that feeling—it probably isn’t. Your natural gut instincts are the best indicator as to whether a situation is dangerous.

Trusting that little voice also gives you the time to anticipate a dangerous situation and practice target denial, or the act of removing yourself from a circumstance before an attack. If you anticipate the possibility of danger and have the opportunity to escape that situation before it becomes dangerous, take it.

If the stranger walking toward you on the sidewalk seems menacing, cross the street. If you are entering an elevator at any point during the day alone with someone who gives you a bad feeling, wait for the next elevator. Avoiding danger is not cowardly; it’s the best way to protect yourself.

Finally, one of the more-overlooked commonsense defense mechanisms is to use the services of people who are paid to protect you. When walking alone to your car at night, choose police-patrolled areas or ask your building’s security guard to escort you.

4. Remain Alert and Use Your Words

It is important that every woman, regardless of their size or age, remains aware of the message their body language is sending at any given time. Just like animal predators, human predators seek out individuals who seem weak, disoriented or distracted in order to maintain the advantage.

Many attackers look for women who show tell-tale signs of being that easy target, such as walking with their head down and their hands in their pockets or full of packages. This is because they don’t want a fight; they want easy prey. Walking confidently and not avoiding eye contact will reduce the likelihood that you are approached.

Verbal skills and warnings can also be used to ward off attackers. Many assailants conduct an “interview” with their targets to assess whether or not they are easy prey and can catch them off-guard or intimidate them.

This is one interview you want to fail, and you can do so by remaining calm and responding assertively. The power of your voice alone can be enough to make an aggressor decide against pursuing an attack.

The Takeaway

Having command of these weapons and skills is just the beginning, and there are various self-defense tools and resources online that can help you equip yourself in the event of a dangerous situation.

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