Self-Defense Tips That Actually Put You In Danger

by Yvette Manes

No matter how cautious you are, no one is immune to danger. There may come a time when you or your child will need to defend yourselves, and learning a few strategies from qualified safety professionals can give you a good foundation. However, if you're just perusing the web or getting advice from a friend you may come across some self-defense tips that can actually put you in more danger.

In a recent interview with Romper, self-defense experts Jarrett Arthur, co-founder of Jarrett & Jennie Self-Defense, Mothers Against Malicious Acts, and Customized Self-Defense for Women, Matt Romond, a 3rd Degree Krav Maga Worldwide Black Belt and the Director of Krav Maga Worldwide's KM-X Kids program, and Mike Gizzo an instructor for Krav Maga Institute NYC, shared some important tips that parents and children can use to defend themselves if they are ever in harm's way.

They shared general safety information such as stranger-danger, knowing your surroundings, and listening to your gut to help you avoid unsafe scenarios. They also discussed specific self-defense techniques and knowing where to go and how to call for help in case of an emergency can save you if you find yourself in jeopardy.

The experts are back and want to make you aware of a few dangerous tips floating around that they believe can put you in a more precarious situation.


Avoiding Eye Contact

Women and children are often advised to avoid eye contact due to the misconception that making eye contact with someone who is threatening you may engage them and escalate the situation. Arthur tells Romper that although there are certainly situations in which it’s a good idea to avoid eye contact with somebody, doing so can send a message to a potential threat that you’re unsure of yourself and that you're intimidated. This can make you seem like an easier target.

"If a stranger says, 'Hello' to your child, they can smile, make eye contact, wave, and say 'Hello' back," Romond suggests. "But they should always keep walking toward either the school or home no matter what."

Arthur recommends that parents should make eye contact with someone who is threatening them, following them, giving them an uneasy feeling, or acting inappropriately in order to set effective boundaries. Making eye contact let’s the person threatening you know that you’re strong, capable, and ready to stand up for yourself and your child. It also means that you’ll be able to more readily identify them to police, a key point not often lost on criminals.


Talking Your Way Out Is Your Only Option

Most experts will agree that avoiding getting into a physical altercation in the first place is ideal when you find yourself in an intense situation. Even if you know some moves, Gizzo warns that every technique that is taught in self-defense comes with its own risk. There are no magic moves or perfect combinations that will work every time and completely negate potential harm to the “good guy”. De-escalating an intense situation or pacifying an aggressor before violence occurs can mean that both parties will walk away physically unharmed. However, Gizzo notes that there are times when de-escalation is impossible. If the scenario is violent from the beginning, and running away isn't an option you may have no choice but to respond with aggression.

Often parents, and in particular, moms, are told that there’s no way to physically overpower someone bigger and stronger, so their only hope is to talk their way out of danger. Arthur states that this couldn’t be further from the truth. With as little a few hours of reputable, reality-based self-defense training, and the confidence to use that training, even the most petite parents can learn what they need to effectively fight back in order to create escape opportunities for themselves and their children.


Using Keys Between The Fingers

Most women have been told at one time or another to hold their keys between their index and middle fingers as a self-defense weapon. According to Urban Kombat, an Australian Krav Maga school, this is not the most effective way to implement keys in self defense. Instead you should use a key more like a knife, gripped facing downwards or between the thumb and forefinger to promotes a slashing motion rather than punching. Keys are more effective as a cutting weapon than an impact tool.


Going To The Ground

Self-defense experts try to avoid using phrases such as "always" or "never" because every situation is unique, and there is no “correct” way to survive a violent confrontation. Arthur tells her students that whatever they need to do to protect themselves and their children is fair game. However, she notes that it’s rarely a good idea to voluntarily fall to the ground or try and take an assailant to the ground.

Some people will tell you that you can’t be carried away and abducted if you’re on the ground. Arthur wants you to know that this is false. Being on the ground presents many serious, unique dangers and greatly reduces your ability to keep yourself and your child safe, in addition to making it harder to escape. Although you might not be able to prevent going to the ground in a fight (in which case you’ll have to strike to get back to your feet), staying upright with your feet on the ground is almost always the best self-defense advice to heed.


Grabbing Or Squeezing Of The Groin

Self defense experts often hear advice recommending grabbing and squeezing the groin. Arthur warns that this is rarely as effective at creating the space you would need to run away. Instead try striking powerfully and explosively to the groin with the heel of your palm, fist, knee, or shin.


Striking (If It's In An Ineffective Place)

If you’re in danger and not able to immediately escape to safety with your child, it may be necessary to fight back in order to create an opportunity to flee. Although Arthur doesn't consider striking to areas that are less likely to produce a massive pain response a waste, she recommends targeting extremely vulnerable areas.

Strikes to the solar plexus, abdomen, a stomp the top of the foot, or boxing the ears, will most likely not give you the best chance of slowing, stunning, or stopping an attacker long enough to run. Arthur suggests to opt instead for aggressive strikes to the eyes, nose, throat, and groin, which are the most vulnerable areas on someone regardless of their size and strength.


Shouting "Fire!" Instead Of "Help!"

Urban Kombat noted that shouting "fire!" to attract attention is more likely to make people run away rather than to seek out the source. Shouting "help!" is far more likely to get a bystander’s attention.