Fightin' Faint

Okay, ladies, this one is for you. We all know that we need to have the skills to protect ourselves on the streets and having never taken an actual self-defense class before, I signed up for one at the Chok Sabai Gym in midtown. Taught by the gym's owner, Natalie Fuz, and her colleagues, the 2.5 hour class was empowering, enlightening and very necessary.

Her colleagues demonstrate how to remove someone's hand from your neck, twist their arm down and get past them.

Her colleagues demonstrate how to remove someone's hand from your neck, twist their arm down and get past them.

And as someone who has been verbally assaulted endlessly throughout my life (and can more than relate to the recent Hollaback Catcall Video, as I'm sure most of you can) and twice physically so–once in Denver after a Broncos game where someone grabbed my ass and ran off, I gave chase but lost him in the crowd, and once on the streets of Savannah when my tush was grabbed again. This time he could not escape. I turned and confronted him, got in his face (looking down at the coward) and yelled at him so viciously that I thought my my reddened face was going to explode, to the point where he went from denying it to finally admitting it and apologizing. (The entire incident was witnessed by a group of women who'd gathered around and watched me annihilate him and clapped loudly after I'd finished with him.) As awful as those two situations were, they could have been worse and I should have taken a self-defense course much earlier in my life, but better late than never, as they say.

Sadly, I, along with countless women, can relate to this. Men, please STOP doing this. Stop. If you don't want someone speaking to your mother, sister, daughter, wife or girlfriend like this, do not speak to other women in this way. It is a turn-on to no one but you.

Natalie simulates an attack from behind.

Natalie simulates an attack from behind.

Trying to free myself from her grip.

Trying to free myself from her grip.

I don't need to provide you with the stats on how many women (and men, too) are attacked on a daily basis–you can imagine how high they are–and for as big and bad as we think we are and can "handle anything," let me tell you that after taking this class I can say that there is nothing further from the truth. Natalie and her colleagues taught us moves that you may have never dreamed could get you out of an unpleasant situation (I'll just say that the same bridge pose that's practiced in yoga holds its own merit here). But the most important thing that was stressed is that when you create a window to get away, do not continue to engage, but take your opportunity and go. Run. And holler like you mean it. And while you're taking down the coward who has chosen to attack you, also remember to breathe and kick and punch as audibly as you can. Whatever sounds you make, make them loudly to the best of your ability.

Throwing some elbow punches to her solar plexus region to inflict pain and get free. (Finally, my pointy elbows have found their purpose, as she can tell you!)

Throwing some elbow punches to her solar plexus region to inflict pain and get free. (Finally, my pointy elbows have found their purpose, as she can tell you!)

Natalie protects herself from my punches used to break away.

Natalie protects herself from my punches used to break away.

Freed enough to push her off of me before running away.

Freed enough to push her off of me before running away.

My acting as assailant, taking my victim to the ground. (We also learned how to break your fall in this scenario.)

My acting as assailant, taking my victim to the ground. (We also learned how to break your fall in this scenario.)

But a deterrent from initially being attacked is confidence. If you walk with your head held high and shoulders back, aware of your surroundings (i.e. not lost in your phone), with your keys in your hand if you're going to your car or home (they make an excellent weapon), you are less likely to become a victim. You are a strong woman and carrying yourself as such can prevent problems before they happen. Not always, of course, but it can help. So the next time you're walking around, walk with purpose and meaning and don't be afraid to make eye contact with strangers. If they know you SEE them, they may be more inclined to keep their bad intentions to themselves.

My personal protective weapon of choice, when I feel it's necessary, is a Swiss Army Knife with the cork screw between my fingers. Walk with this as such and you're bound to keep your personal space in check.

My personal protective weapon of choice, when I feel it's necessary, is a Swiss Army Knife with the cork screw between my fingers. Walk with this as such and you're bound to keep your personal space in check.