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(Split from the thread on "A Gun for Home Defense" - sN)

Rational Cop, I've considered buying a gun in recent years and I'd be especially interested if you have any advice for women's self-defense, particularly outside of the house. Of course, I'm welcome to hear advice from others, also.

I'm a 31 year old single female living in a dangerous city. I've been approached by strange men many times, often during the day, or on the road when I am traveling on the interstate. The last incident was yesterday, in fact, in broad daylight in a park, and the little punk was not deterred by my dog or a nearby man with a dog, either! Assaults and robberies abound where I live. I carry a cell phone on me at most times but I find it annoying that I feel compelled to carry it for safety reasons. I doubt anyone would be able to get to me in time, anyway, if something happened.

Concealed carry is illegal in my state (surprise, surprise), but that doesn't mean I haven't considered buying and learning how to use a gun. My main concern is my safety outside the home and when I am traveling alone. I'm not a paranoid person, and I am confident, walk upright, and am of average size (5'4, 140 pounds). For some reason, though, i seem to be a freak magnet. It just seems like there are some real wackos around these days, and I'm not as fearless or hopeful as I used to be anymore.

What I'm getting at is this, for those of you who know something about self-defense - do you advise the same things for men as for women? As for a gun being turned against me, I presume the attacker has ill intent anyway. Are most men that attack women actually armed with a gun or a knife? Or do they just use their own strength to overpower a woman? This would help answer my question, I think. Because I don't see what harm there is in me having a weapon if they probably have one, also. (Perhaps I'm being a little naieve here.)

I guess an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but I'm tired of worrying about walking around in broad daylight, not to mention at night, for God's sake. Besides having common sense, taking years of martial arts lessons or buying a pit bull, what's a girl to do?

If this needs to be split to a new thread, please do.

Edited by softwareNerd
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Besides having common sense, taking years of martial arts lessons or buying a pit bull, what's a girl to do?

Maybe move somewhere safer? I'm not sure men are as intimated by dogs as women might assume, so don't make that your only thing.

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Besides having common sense, taking years of martial arts lessons or buying a pit bull, what's a girl to do?
I understand New Zealand is relatively safe. How long would it take you to decide that the guy is threatening your life and needed a solid heel of the palm to his thyroid cartilage? RC can give you professional advice, but my totally unprofessional advice is that while a weapon is handy, the palpable certainty that you are not to be messed with is handier.
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I guess an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but I'm tired of worrying about walking around in broad daylight, not to mention at night, for God's sake. Besides having common sense, taking years of martial arts lessons or buying a pit bull, what's a girl to do?

Try looking here. My wife who was really opposed to the concept of guns before taking a couple of the classes. She did learn some basic self defense stuff as well as how to shoot. They also talked about picking out guns that are appropriate for women. Of course, she went from hating guns to having picked out a $1200 Detonics Combat Master. Meanwhile, I am happily trucking along with a girlish Walther PPK.

You are very right, an ounce of prevention is well worth a pound of cure. One thing they drilled into my wife was always be aware of your surroundings. It's amazing how we go through life hardly noticing much. Once you actively pay attention, you see so much more. It's kind of like when you started understanding Objectivism, you could see so much more about and of the world with clarity.

Plus, short of driving a sports car with a stick shift, hardly anything is hotter than a chick that can shoot. ;) I am from Texas after all.

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Besides having common sense, taking years of martial arts lessons or buying a pit bull, what's a girl to do?

Well, you have actually been given some reasonable suggestions so far. Personally, I wouldn't rule out moving as someone suggested IF that is a viable option.

Do you have the option to carry less-than-lethal weapons? Specifically pepper-spray or "capstun"? Pepper sprays with oleoresin capsicum can be quite effective in stopping assailants. We use a spray that has a 5% solution and every time I have had to use it, it was like a turning off the light switch on aggression. Now, there are a few folks who have a tolerance to it, and they can just be made meaner. However most of the time, it makes grown men cry... literally. It also opens up the sinus passages (which burn like hell) and the floodgates of snot start flowing which actually makes it harder for them to breathe. It also forces folks to keep their eyes closed because of the burning. It's not a pretty sight but it takes out the fight. Here's a link with more information on sprays;

Pepper Spray

But, your first line of defense is in fact your awareness and your portrayal of confidence as you already know. This is likely to deter most would-be meanies. Most are cowards looking for easy marks.

I'm not much for giving suggestions on particular types of guns because I really don't research them much. I have my issued Glock and 2 other guns and that's it. The best general advice I can give you is if you do go the gun route, try several different brands of guns (if this is even an option) that fit comfortably in your hands. I test fired several guns a few years back as we were planning to transition from Smith and Wesson to another semi-automatic pistol. Although the department chose the Glock (17 and 19), I actually felt more comfortable with the Sig Sauer (don't remember the model number). Both are excellent choices, and caliber is important, but hitting what you are shooting at is the most important consideration.

I have one other suggestion which may or may not be of help much against determined thugs, but it is something that can help you deal with other types of conflicts with people (and potentially thugs). There are a couple of books (and in some areas training classes) on Verbal Judo. A few years back a fellow named George Thompson "developed" a way to talk with people using principles of Judo. The idea is basically to redirect behavior with words by taking your "opponent" off balance mentally. Here's a couple of links;

Verbal Judo Institute

Verbal Judo Book at Amazon

We do not train in this on my department though I wish we did. I have read a bit of one of the books, and ideas have some merit. Over the years, I have seen a number of situations diffused by "smooth talkers" who perhaps unknowingly utilized some of these techniques.

As has been demonstrated in many Hostage Negotiation situations in the past, if you can reach at least some level of reason in an attacker, you should try to make him/her see you as a person, someone they could know. They may still steal your purse (or wallet), but perhaps they won't hurt you. Clearly you want to avoid situations even going this far, but a self-defense mindset attempts to prepare for any degree of how bad the situation can get.

In the end, you have to weigh the level of resistance you are willing to put forth versus what is at risk.

I hope some of this information is useful to you. If I think of other suggestions, I will offer them.

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There are a couple of books (and in some areas training classes) on Verbal Judo.
Not to detract from the rest of the ideas here, but my opinion is that manual judo is the optimal martial art of self defense for women, in terms of time and nature. Any greater size of an opponent is, ceteris paribus, his disadvantage, and it doesn't require years and years to be useful, just months and months.
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Not to detract from the rest of the ideas here, but my opinion is that manual judo is the optimal martial art of self defense for women, in terms of time and nature. Any greater size of an opponent is, ceteris paribus, his disadvantage, and it doesn't require years and years to be useful, just months and months.

I have studied martial arts for about 12 years now and agree with the judo recommendation with one caveat. That you either study ju jutsu, its more lethal predecessor(judo is the sport version of ju jutsu) or go to a judo school that also teaches self defense techniques. A number of other styles are effective and well rounded as well. A couple rules of thumb for effectiveness to look for are well roundedness(combination of stand up and ground fighting techniques), no emphasis on high kicking or other overly flashy movie type moves, and a direct emphasis on self defense as opposed to sport competition or artistic expression. Incidentally, as a good secondary motivation for studying, I have found martial arts to be a more interesting way to get excercise and stay in shape then straight cardio or lifting(no offense to people who enjoy those things.

Something to consider when getting a weapon(gun, mace, etc) is the time required to get it out and use it especially if you keep it in a purse. A hand gun is difficult to be accurate with past 30 feet and at a full run you can close that distance in about a second. Not to mention most criminals try not to give you a lot of notice as to when they attack. Something else to consider is that you have to know that you will have the presence of mind to pull the trigger without a lot of forethought during a very stressfull moment.

A couple more immediately useful alternatives(not requiring years of study) that I am aware of on the market are brazierres(sp?) which have a lo-jack like chip in the clasp which allows you to be found as soon as you are reported missing and a ring which holds a charge of pepper spray in it-eliminates fumbling in your purse when someone grabs you suddenly.

The best thing you can do is to try to avoid(as much as possible) putting yourself in dangerous situations. Dark allies, alone at night, a frat boys room ;) , etc. When possible, pay attention to the people around you- you can often read their intentions in body posture and facial expressions. If you tilt your head down as you walk, you will significantly increase your peripheral vision, making it more difficult for someone to attack you from a rear angle. Follow more lighted areas. Ask someone you know to walk you to your car or home. That sort of thing.

Carrying a katana would be both sexy and intimidating but again, probably not legal in most places.

If I think of anything else Ill post it.

Best Regards,

Gordon

Edited by aequalsa
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Lets take it rationally:

your first choice would be to avoid any situation at all. As aequalsa said this could be done by avoiding allies ect., but as you said, even in broad daylight with a dog ou are harrased.

It seems impossible to completely avoid the situation the what do you do when you are confronted? The best option is a gun, but as you said this is illegal where you live.

The next best option is a non lethal weapon, such as mace.

I would also suggest martial arts. Im not going to put in a plug for any particular one, but I suggest looking for a school based on practical self defence. Learn how to kick a guy in the nuts, and poke him in the eyes, and you will be fine.

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I am a mixed martial artist. I do not suggest learning martial arts for self-defence. It's a joke to think martial arts would help against an attacker on the street. Criminals attack others because they have a clear advantage, whether it's a knife, a gun, or more people. You DO NOT see a knife until its inside you or around your throat. The same with a gun. This isn't the movies, they don't wave the weapon around in front of you in clear disarming distance. For more, please watch "Knife Defence Is A Myth":

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8884586003342147853

(Warning: Knife injuries are shown somewhere around the middle)

Please go to http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/ and read the articles. It teaches you how to AVOID assault situations altogether, rather than try to defend against them. Criminals prey on women who do not look confident, who are alone, or look vulnerable. They don't want a challenge or risk getting caught, they want easy prey. You want to display an image of a person who would be hard to attack. Unfortunately, this may mean avoiding strange areas or bringing another person to accompany you.

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I do not suggest learning martial arts for self-defence. It's a joke to think martial arts would help against an attacker on the street.

x10 for a woman. It's great to learn martial arts as a sport, but beyond foolish to rely on them as the sole means of self-defense.

A few questions:

1) You say concealed carry is illegal. Is open carry legal?

2) Is it legal to own a pistol in your home?

Even if you can't carry a pistol, it would be good to have one to defend your home. My advice for pistols is to rent and fire everything you can get your hands on before purchasing. You'll find a personal favorite, and that's just what it is: personal. That said, don't shy away from the higher calibers just because you're a woman. My wife is just as comfortable with .45 caliber as I am (though she prefers the HK USP over my favorite, the 1911).

Now, beyond all that, you should take some kind of self-defense classes in addition to carrying whatever they will let you (gun, mace, etc). As others have said, you need to learn both Situational Awareness, and How Not to Act Like Prey.

Finally, I will "x100" the recommendation to move to a safer area. Live in a safer area and don't even enter bad neighborhoods if you can help it. I simply can't comprehend why people think an extra $200 per month's rent is worth risking their lives over. Your very first priority, and I mean FIRST, in deciding where to live should be safety.

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I am a mixed martial artist. I do not suggest learning martial arts for self-defence. It's a joke to think martial arts would help against an attacker on the street. Criminals attack others because they have a clear advantage, whether it's a knife, a gun, or more people.

x10 for a woman. It's great to learn martial arts as a sport, but beyond foolish to rely on them as the sole means of self-defense.

We must have different criminals in the area where I work. There are many of them that simply try to "strong arm" their crimes without weapons. I have responded to many crimes where the victim was prepared to offer resistance, did so, and successfully fought off attacks, or minimized the amount of harm done to them once a crime became physical. Simple defiance alone can be enough to thwart an attack but defiance and training can also be better for thwarting an attack. To suggest that it is "a joke" assumes too much on the part of the criminal and the defender I think. Yes, they try to pick people over whom they think they have a clear advantage, but many of them are not very smart. Unless a potential victim is walking down the street wearing a shirt that says, "Hug me, I know Brazilian Ju-jitsu", the clear advantage the criminal thinks they see will be less so. And unlike Inspector suggests, I don't recall anyone on here suggesting martial arts be the sole self-defense measure. I'm certainly not advocating that. Yes, as a sole measure of self-defense it probably isn't wise, but as a tool in the self-defense toolbox, it's value is significantly increased. Clearly the individual has to decide if that is a reasonable option for them based on the cost (time and money) and the total benefit (not just the potential self-defense benefit).

I won't disagree that when facing an armed attacker that the value of martial arts may diminish, even significantly, but that is not the only self-defense situation one may face. I agree that avoiding the situation to begin with is a preferable option. Unfortunately it is not always possible. As you suggest, an appearance of confidence and preparedness can discourage criminals. Martial arts training can be a means for a person to gain confidence and a confident appearance. It easier said than done to tell someone to "look confident" when in fact they may be in a situation where they have no confidence that they can handle the situation. In other words, if I'm concerned about being attacked, and I have not prepared myself with some degree of training or ability to be able to face an attacker, it might be rather difficult to falsely portray such confidence.

Depending on the martial arts instructor (or self-defense instructor), they may teach you to avoid using the martial art until absolutely necessary. I have a hard time accepting that idea that if an attack is imminent, that I'm better off with no martial arts (or self-defense) training than I would be if I did have some martial arts training (in most cases), even if it involves facing an edged-weapon attacker. Now clearly this can depend on one's degree of competence in their chosen defense, regardless of the type of defense they employ (guns, mace, martial arts, etc.), because there is some truth to the idea that some people know just enough to get themselves hurt. However, one can also not simply accept that acquiescing to the criminals demands will always prevent them from being hurt or killed.

As I said above, self-defense as a mindset that should be a preparation to survive whatever level of threat one must face, all the way between avoiding situations to facing them head on if no other option exists. And I also maintain my position that one must know to what level they are willing to resist when faced by a criminal. Part of that is being able to accurately assess what level of resistance you are actually capable of accomplishing or "knowing your limits" as well as accurately assessing your opponent.

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Rationalcop,

I should clarify what I meant.

My concern about taking martial arts classes was within the context of a woman. What I meant by it being a "joke" was the disparity in physical strength between the vast majority of men and women is so great that it would be foolhardy for a woman to rely on martial arts as anything but an absolute last resort. (the first resorts being avoiding bad areas, situational awareness, not looking like a victim, and finally, a weapon... in that order)

Even more dangerous is to approach martial arts training with the thought that it could do anything more for a woman than gain a momentary advantage during which she would be able to flee to safety.

I wasn't criticizing martial arts because of the potential of an armed attacker. (though there is that, too)

Now, all that said, if used within the context of a last last resort, with the use of a weapon (as in, used only if the weapon fails), and used only as a means of escape with no delusions of being able to disable or overwhealm a male attacker... THEN it is a valuable tool which should be a part of your arsenal if you can manage it.

As to its value in scaring off the kind of attacker that will take one punch and then run away, that is true, but I don't think most violent criminals fall into that category. The link ex-banana eater gave is one I have read before a number of years ago and it totally changed the way I thought about criminals and womens' martial arts. It does address the point of the one-hit coward specifically and the flaw in that thinking.

There are a few problems (all with the use of the word "selfish") in that web site, but it is otherwise completely on point for what I am trying to say. Definitely worth a read.

(as to whether anyone was suggesting martial arts as a sole means, I suppose that wasn't said outright. But I did want to nip that idea in the bud, regardless)

Edited by Inspector
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Rationalcop,

I should clarify what I meant.

My concern about taking martial arts classes was within the context of a woman. What I meant by it being a "joke" was the disparity in physical strength between the vast majority of men and women is so great that it would be foolhardy for a woman to rely on martial arts as anything but an absolute last resort.

But it's worth noting that not only does martial arts training tend to narrow that disparity of the relative physical strength between men and women (by making the woman stronger and more well conditioned), but several arts narrow it even more by teaching techniques that take brute strength out of the picture to some degree. I've seen some well-trained women who could kick the behinds of many "average" men. Likewise, I've seen some men who were unable to repel the attacks of other men.

Even more dangerous is to approach martial arts training with the thought that it could do anything more for a woman than gain a momentary advantage during which she would be able to flee to safety.

Well, again I would have to say that would depend on the woman and the man. I believe it is important to be realistic, but your view seems almost "defeatist" to me. Despite that, isn't that momentary advantage enough? Who has advocated sticking around and continuing to beat on the guy?

In fact, another suggestion I was going to add was to become a well-conditioned runner.

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Rationalcop,

I should clarify what I meant.

My concern about taking martial arts classes was within the context of a woman. What I meant by it being a "joke" was the disparity in physical strength between the vast majority of men and women is so great that it would be foolhardy for a woman to rely on martial arts as anything but an absolute last resort. (the first resorts being avoiding bad areas, situational awareness, not looking like a victim, and finally, a weapon... in that order)

Even more dangerous is to approach martial arts training with the thought that it could do anything more for a woman than gain a momentary advantage during which she would be able to flee to safety.

I wasn't criticizing martial arts because of the potential of an armed attacker. (though there is that, too)

Now, all that said, if used within the context of a last last resort, with the use of a weapon (as in, used only if the weapon fails), and used only as a means of escape with no delusions of being able to disable or overwhealm a male attacker... THEN it is a valuable tool which should be a part of your arsenal if you can manage it.

As to its value in scaring off the kind of attacker that will take one punch and then run away, that is true, but I don't think most violent criminals fall into that category. The link ex-banana eater gave is one I have read before a number of years ago and it totally changed the way I thought about criminals and womens' martial arts. It does address the point of the one-hit coward specifically and the flaw in that thinking.

There are a few problems (all with the use of the word "selfish") in that web site, but it is otherwise completely on point for what I am trying to say. Definitely worth a read.

(as to whether anyone was suggesting martial arts as a sole means, I suppose that wasn't said outright. But I did want to nip that idea in the bud, regardless)

Regarding my recommendation of ju jutsu, I want to reclarify that that is not the only effective martial art for self defense. It is simply the one that I have experience with which seems to focus primarily on self defense while being well rounded and fairly quick to become proficient with. That being said, I have spent most of my time studying brazillian jiu jitsu and muay thai. Experiencially they, judo, and others more oriented to competition have a lot to offer but their focus is usually towards the mat. When someone is attacking you with a knife, hopping on your back to put them in a spider guard is probably not the best option. Any of these can, of course, be modified to be used for self defense by the instructor-who is the largest factor in any martial arts class.

I am sorry, Inspector, but I am forced to disagree with you on some of these things. The disparity of physical strength is an issue when all things are equal, but training can change 'equal' significantly. I have taken down guys that have 100lb weight advantages on me-muscle, not fat. An even better example, Helio gracie weighed in at 120 lbs and took down all manner of huge guys when he was competing in the UFC. And sports like this disallow attacks on the more delicate parts of the human body which actually gives advantage to larger sized people that would not exist in self defense. (examples:The trachea takes 3 lbs of pressure to collapse; A fast cupped hand slap to the ear causes all manner of disorientation.) Additionally smaller limbs generally allow greater speed and more mobility, in terms of manuevering inbetween body parts to attack vulnerable areas. Also, a proper understanding of body mechanics can completely alter the appearance of strength. Manuever an arm out of someones center and put it in an escort hold and it can be maintained indefinately with the strength of a single finger, regardless of the size of the participents.

Another art that I forgot to recomend(which I, unfortunately have only a little experience with, but love just the same) is Ki Aikido. It is essentially a de-mystized version of aikido which concentrates on the proper body mechanics of movement. (unbendable arm is of great help on the mat for brazillian, BTW) It helps a great deal with altering the balance of strength when you can stay out of your opponents center(s) while keeping them in yours.

I disagree that using martial arts should be a last resort. The mental aspects can be used from beginning to end. Noticing your surroundings, body posture, confidence, maintaining eye contct when necessary, etc. help you avoid the encounter in the first place. Additionally, there is a lot of carryover from martial arts to shooting or other weapon use. (keeping your body relaxed while under stress for example). Another consideration in using a firearm is self-defense laws which rational cop is probably able to comment on in more detail. As I understand it, if someone takes a swing at you and you whip out a gun and shoot them in the head, there is a good chance that you are going to jail. Martial arts gives you an intermedary step which helps you in not significantly damaging your attacker when it is not necessary. In other words it is important to differentiate the drunk guy at the company picnic from the guy with a knife in an alley. Also as I mentioned earlier, you may not have time to remove your gun from your purse or holster. Being able to perform a quick takedown might buy you the time neccessary to get it or the mace out.

I have only been assaulted a few times in my adult life(two of which were armed), but on all of those occasions martial arts has been of great help in ending it quickly and with little harm to either of us. And, for the record a well placed strike does change the attackers interest in you very quickly, especially when you move towards them to give another. If you can alter the predator-prey paradigm, they loose interest very quickly, but as RC pointed out, you have to have actual confidence in your abilities to pull this off.

Edited by aequalsa
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I think one aspect of self defense is mental preparation. Confidence has already been mentioned, but that does not guarantee that you will use your skills and tools(weapons) as you should.

The question is, how will you react if someone attacks you? Will you smash his face in without hesitation? Draw your gun and shoot him? Gut him with your knife? Use pepper spray? Or will you just freeze, or panic, and forget all about self defense?

I think its safe to assume that youre not a badass, but a good person who does not like to fight or hurt others. Those who might attack you are the opposite of that. They might be cowards who only attack girls because the think they are easy prey, but unless you fight back they will not hesitate to hurt you. Problem is, you might hesitate to return the favour.

Perhaps you get scared. Even if you dont you might start thinking; what if I hit him and it just gets worse? What if that pepper spray wont stop him? What if I kill him with my gun, or knife? What if, what if? In this situation there is no time to think, only act. Before you get there you must know what you will do.

I have been there once myself. A guy just snapped for no apparent reason and attacked me. My only reaction was to back off and push him away. Lucky for me he was not very good at punching so it never hurt me. I had been training Muy thai for about a year; in a ring, with a mouthpice and a pair of gloves I would have kicked his butt. Real life is different though. I wasnt very scared, I just did not know how to react so I stood there thinking what the hell just happened while his friend carried away the crazy person.

So whatever you choose as your means of self defense, seriously prepare yourself to use it. Imagine different scenarios in your head; how you will react, how you will feel, what you will do if things go wrong etc.

Also, dont forget to practice sprinting. Best self defense technique there is. ;)

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But it's worth noting that not only does martial arts training tend to narrow that disparity of the relative physical strength between men and women (by making the woman stronger and more well conditioned), but several arts narrow it even more by teaching techniques that take brute strength out of the picture to some degree. I've seen some well-trained women who could kick the behinds of many "average" men. Likewise, I've seen some men who were unable to repel the attacks of other men.

Well, again I would have to say that would depend on the woman and the man. I believe it is important to be realistic, but your view seems almost "defeatist" to me.

I think that most women have a severe disadvantage in any sort of hand to hand combat that cannot be overcome even with training. The size and strength simply aren't there. Holding up the example of the 10th level master woman who can kick butt is simply unrealistic. What percentage of women have the potential to become that? And for the other 99.999%, isn't talking about that just filling their heads with unrealistic overconfidence?

Realistically, the last thing a woman should do is engage an attacker in hand-to-hand. I don't have a problem with learning martial arts in its place; i.e. the last resort, after everything else I mentioned including specifically the use of a ranged weapon.

Despite that, isn't that momentary advantage enough? Who has advocated sticking around and continuing to beat on the guy?

Well, aequalsa is implying that with the right training, women can "take down" their attackers.

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Thank you, everyone! Very informative.

David, I have considered moving to NZ. Seriously. I will be moving soon, also, but there is a concern pretty much everywhere around campus. A huge problem here.

Anyway, I am not opposed to owning a gun at all. In fact, I think I would feel much safer with one. However, I think even carrying it around (whether legal or illegal, I don't really care), it might be difficult to get out in time if someone attacks quickly.

Good advice, all, on the judo and jujitsu, thank you.

Alfa, I do agree with you that mindset is key. I took Kenpo Karate awhile back and loved it. I felt constantly on guard, but without the constant training you don't maintain that mindset of vigilance all the time.

For the references to me being "easy prey" I have to say that I have a very short temper when it comes to these people and have told many people on the street off - probably not a wise choice. In those cases I was not forced to use physical violence. However, even if I was a six foot tall male, it wouldn't stop the gangs around here from attacking. I have had two male friends who were here about four years ago, walking together at night near campus, and attacked by a gang with wooden boards for their wallets. In that type of situation I fail to see how anything but a gun could put one at an advantage.

I have found in the past that a dog is definitely an advantage, especially if it has a big metal collar on. When I walked with my last dog, the gangsta types would cross over to the other side of the street. With my current dog, they don't do that: he's too skinny and happy looking. I think I need to get another big mean looking dog to take on walks.

Edited by Liriodendron Tulipifera
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I think that most women have a severe disadvantage in any sort of hand to hand combat that cannot be overcome even with training.

I think this is an issue we will probably remain in disagreement on. I'll let the lady decide whether martial arts is a viable option for her rather than telling her she's weak and it's pointless.

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I am sorry, Inspector, but I am forced to disagree with you on some of these things. The disparity of physical strength is an issue when all things are equal, but training can change 'equal' significantly.

I think that's unrealistic and completely unsuitable for 99.999% of women. Most need to own up to the fact that they don't stand a chance in a physical confrontation and get a weapon.

Now, that being said if a woman recognizes the limitations of what she can do with martial arts, it does provide many other benefits, especially with the right instructor. A good instructor will also teach what you called "Noticing your surroundings, body posture, confidence, maintaining eye contact when necessary, etc. help you avoid the encounter in the first place," which is what I called "situational awareness and how not to act like prey." I also agree that it is useful in conditioning the body and learning stance, etc. Finally, I think that having it to fall back on if all else (including your weapon) fails is definitely a good thing (if used only to provide a momentary advantage in which to escape, not under delusions that she can "win" a fight).

From nononsenseselfdefense:

"Except in occasions so rare as to be statically meaningless, male upper body strength is superior to that of the female of the same age. Men are stronger than women. There is no ideology here, it is a simple fact of human physiology. And until a woman has been physically assaulted or overwhelmed, there is very little comprehension of what kind of physical force a male can muster. Even with self-defense training, a smaller woman will be overwhelmed by an equally committed male if she tries to contest this strength."

As I understand it, if someone takes a swing at you and you whip out a gun and shoot them in the head, there is a good chance that you are going to jail. Martial arts gives you an intermediary step which helps you in not significantly damaging your attacker when it is not necessary.
I think this drops the context of a woman's self-defense. Women do not get into bar fights. If someone is "taking a swing" at a woman, be assured that he means to rob, kill, rape, or kidnap her. And any of those intents could quickly turn into all of those intents. Women have no business engaging in "intermediary steps." For a woman, any threat that is worth responding to with a judo flip is worth responding to with a bullet.

And, for the record a well placed strike does change the attackers interest in you very quickly, especially when you move towards them to give another. If you can alter the predator-prey paradigm, they loose interest very quickly, but as RC pointed out, you have to have actual confidence in your abilities to pull this off.

Beyond confidence in your abilities, you have to actually have those abilities. I agree that a well placed strike will change the attackers interest in you very quickly, the question is: into what? For a woman, the best hope offered by such a strike is to momentarily confuse or imbalance an attacker for long enough to escape. If she tries to follow up, stick around, or do anything but run, she has lost the element of surprise and will end up facing an opponent that she has little hope of winning against, regardless of training.

However, I think even carrying it around (whether legal or illegal, I don't really care), it might be difficult to get out in time if someone attacks quickly.

That's why you need training and a purse-holster.

[edit: actually, reading your description of your neighborhood, what you really need to do is get the hell out of there and don't even think about living in a place as bad as that. Such a place as you live now should be completely out of the question.]

I think this is an issue we will probably remain in disagreement on. I'll let the lady decide whether martial arts is a viable option for her rather than telling her she's weak and it's pointless.

Then I suppose we will disagree on this issue.

[edit: but, the "rather than telling her she's weak and it's pointless" part is dangerous thinking. The basis of the decision shouldn't be whether it makes her feel that she is strong or weak. Nobody wants to feel weak, but facts are facts. The temptation of choosing the better feeling option isn't one you should be using.]

Edited by Inspector
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Martials arts is a viable option but it is a second-choice option at best, especially for a woman.

The kind of martial arts training needed for a 115-pound woman to even attempt to go hand-to-hand with a 250-pound man is out of picture for most women. It requires a lot of time for training, as well as excellent physical conditioning. Women who are out of shape or older simply can't achieve the level of training required.

I agree with Inspector that the best bet is to use hand-to-hand as a means to gain the advantage of surprise, to either get hold of a weapon (gun, knife, pepper-spray) or get the hell out of the area as quickly as possible.

The best self-defense is being alert at all times, and taking preventive steps rather than relying on weaponry or martial arts to get yourself out of a bad situation.

But when it comes down to it, when actual self-defense is necessary nothing is better than a gun.

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Realistically, the last thing a woman should do is engage an attacker in hand-to-hand. I don't have a problem with learning martial arts in its place; i.e. the last resort, after everything else I mentioned including specifically the use of a ranged weapon.
I think this goes the same for men and women. Of course women have more to fear than men in such situations, but, man or woman, you are exposing yourself to mortal danger when you enter a melee.
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Hi. I haven't posted here in quite a while, but given the subject matter, I'd like to add a few thoughts.

1. If you are in a threatening situation, the goal is to get out of there as soon as possible. Running away may be the best option most of the time. Yelling for help is good, too.

2. The best defense against threatening situations is to avoid them. Changing locations can reduce the odds of them happening. Also, when and how you travel matters. I assume other women face the same hazards, so if and when possible, walking around with a few of them is probably safer than by yourself. Know your neighborhood, too.

3. I don't see anything wrong at all with taking a self-defense course, even learning a bit about a martial art. I recommend Krav Maga, as you can learn the basics quickly, it uses realistic situations for training, and it is effective. Perhaps most importantly, you'll be more confident about protecting yourself, which is the best way to project to a potential attacker that you won't be an easy mark and he should look elsewhere. That alone will help you avoid these situations, too.

Note: Martial arts are not a cure-all. Some martial arts are taught more as sports or as martial arts, with less emphasis on self-defense. In real life, an attacker will not be in the right position or attack in the right manner for some of these techniques to be effective. One thing that attracted me to Krav Maga was that it was focused on what actually works, rather than perfecting what looks pretty.

Even the best training, though, is no guarantee against injury. What it will do is increase your odds of avoiding assault, or of reducing the harm you suffer if you are attacked.

A good self-defense course should teach you techniques for identifying and defusing a threatening situation without having to get into a physical fight, which I think is the best thing for your case.

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but, the "rather than telling her she's weak and it's pointless" part is dangerous thinking. The basis of the decision shouldn't be whether it makes her feel that she is strong or weak. Nobody wants to feel weak, but facts are facts. The temptation of choosing the better feeling option isn't one you should be using.

I had planned to let this go, but I can't when you keep replying to my posts with strawmen arguments.

First, I never said anything about how she feels, nor did I imply it, nor did I suggest that it was in the least bit important to her ability to make her decision. That said, attitude (or the right mental mindset), not simply feelings, can have everything to do with surviving a dangerous encounter.

Second, I never used any example of a "10th degree master" when I made my statement that I have seen women quite capable of defending themselves against the average man. I was talking about "typical" women who fought back with little to no training and who have decided they weren't going to be punching bags any more. I also resent the fact that you even suggest the I'm being subjective and unconcerned with facts. I'm cautioning you against further such insults to me or anyone else on here.

It is facts that I am precisely concerned with, and facts in her situation that I am unwilling to assume. Whereas you do not have the facts necessary to judge her specific situation as to whether or not martial arts is a viable defense option at whatever part of the self-defense continuum she may happen to need it, it is far more likely that she does. Whereas I am trying to give her information so that she can draw her own conclusions as to her needs and options, you seem to assume that the martial arts option is a foregone conclusion for her.

Lastly, I think you are pulling that 99.999% figure out of nowhere. But even if you weren't, it could very well be that the .001% of women that can fight back successfully against men are not the women who simply acquiesced to some perception of the physically weak woman, and instead defied it by actually training and conditioning themselves for survival.

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