How to Save Your Ass With Self-Defense

Did you know that only 10 percent of self-defense is actually physical? The rest of your defense is just being aware of your surroundings and taking preventive measures. Here, how to fight an attacker before he strikes...and then some sharp ideas for how to react if things really do get physical.

HOW TO PREVENT AN ATTACK

Be a hard target.
Attackers tend to look for women who appear insecure or unsuspecting. Hunching over, chatting on your cell, or being distracted by your iPod or text messages make you an easy target for a bad guy. Instead, walk confidently with your shoulders back and chin up. Make eye contact. You want to send the signal that you're a secure chick who could kick anyone's ass.

Don't get sloppy during after-hours.
Don't go to the ATM by yourself at 2 a.m., leave the windows to your house open at night, or walk home from the bar wasted. You can't control the predators but can control the opportunities you give them.
Plus: Don't give out too much info about yourself online! Here, How to Stalker-Proof Yourself Online.

Be on the lookout.
Parking lots are popular places for attacks because you're distracted, your hands are often full, and there aren't other people around. Other places attackers hide: between cars (even on streets), stairwells, bushes, and alleys.


WHAT TO DO IF IT GETS PHYSICAL

Use what's in your hands.
Whether it's an umbrella, pen, cell phone, or even hairspray, anything can be a weapon. Keys can especially do a lot of damage: If an attacker comes at you, scratch his face or jab at his eyes with the keys. Aim for weak points, like eyes and the groin.

Throw your elbow.
Your elbow is way more effective than your fists. Make sure to bend your knees, twist your hips, and put your whole body into it as you swing your hooked elbow across his jaw.

Use your palm.
A great skill to know is the palm heel strike. Get your hands in the high-five position with the palm pushed forward and your fingers back. Step into the attacker and forcefully bang your palm at the top of your attacker's nose, just below his eyes.


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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.