The Importance of Self-defense in Prevention of Sexual Assault

This summer, before going off to college, the BSTS interns had the opportunity to train with black belt instructors at Kicks Karate in Potomac ( Dr. Rich feels strongly that young women and men need to understand basic self-defense strategies to avoid situations in which they may be harmed. With the epidemic of binge drinking on college campuses, she encourages all of her patients to be trained in self-defense before leaving high school.

In this BSTS session, Black Belt Master Chris and Lead Instructor Master Nick shared insights on how to be safe and make smart decisions when going out socially and taught the interns several key self-defense body moves for getting out of unavoidable danger.

Watch the video on our YouTube channel and learn those key self-defense body moves alongside us.

The most important things to keep in mind:
  • Watch your body language; predators are looking for an easy target
    • Maintain eye contact
    • Represent confidence in your posture
    • Maintain a safety distance to strangers
  • Make smart choices
    • Stay in groups
    • Park and stay in well-lit areas
    • Use your intuition, be comfortable with where you are and the people you are with
    • Be aware of your surroundings (e.g., don’t run with earbuds, you might not hear someone approach you)
    • Alcohol and other drugs impairs our mental ability to make safe choices.  Substances influence our judgment, making unsafe people or situations seem okay.
    • Alcohol impairs our physical ability to defend ourselves. Chris admitted: “If I have alcohol in my system, I can’t trust my techniques, although I have over twenty years of experience.”
    • If you drink alcohol to the point that you “black out” à ask yourself: “is this really happening?”
    • Usually we don’t expect anything “bad” happening since we live in an area protected by the law.
    • Don’t wait to second guess an assailant’s motives à Act fast!
    • If you are uneasy or comfortable with something say “NO!” loudly in a very clear voice with a different tone (high or low pitch) and intensity.
    • have the moral courage to stop dangerous things from happening (e.g., obviously drunk young women being taken advantage of; someone who overdoses on alcohol that is unconscious needs medical attention not hazing or pictures taken of him/her)
    • take care of your friends have the courage to stop something wrong (i.e., friends drinking too much or going home with strangers)
    • despite the feeling of “group okay,” have the strength to step out and to intervene (unfortunately people tend to watch and become numb if they witness something wrong happening).
Self-defense is nasty, but it’s to protect you from becoming a victim!

The self-defense stance:

  • one leg is back for stability and balance, you can get in to action mode way faster
  • elbows are bent, your hits become more effective
  • your fingers are spread symbolizing STOP

When someone approaches you:

  • keep him 2 “actions” away from you (i.e., 2 steps or leg lengths)
  • use your voice in different levels (our voice range can vary in between 10 different pitches)

If you have to defend yourself:

  • position your hips behind shoulders
  • target a palm strike under the chin or
  • aim straight in and out in the eyes
  • for the kick strike, lift up your knee first and then kick (that way your kick becomes more powerful)

We hope this video encourages you to take a self-defense class, and most importantly to have the moral courage to stop something wrong from happening to yourself or someone else.


We thank Masters Chris and Nick with Kicks Karate for talking to us about the importance of self-defense, for raising our awareness about dangerous situations, and for teaching us some basic strategies.

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