Focus on Targets
Using Your Physical Self-Defense Basic Skills
Physical self-defense is your tool of last resort. But should you need to use force to defend yourself, commit 110% to your goal.
Your one and only goal is to disable your attacker long enough for you to escape.
The core skills are strikes to vulnerable targets. We’ll be focusing on the “decisive” targets, those most likely to have the immediate effect of disabling your attacker long enough for you to escape.
These are the most basic and essential of the physical skills, because these are the skills most often used by women in effective physical self-defense.
The human body has many vulnerable points, but we focus about a small subset. These are the “decisive” targets. These are decisive because they are the targets are most likely to disable your attacker long enough for you to escape. They are chosen because:
- These targets are easy to find,
- You can cause a significant and disabling impact, even without a whole lot of speed, strength, or aim, and
- They have a physiologic effect, which means they work even if the attacker has been drinking, using most types of recreational drugs, or has a higher pain threshold.
These targets are:
- Eyes – these soft and moist orbs are vulnerable to jabs and pokes. Injured eyes tear up and want to close. If the attacker’s eyes are closed, he cannot see you and cannot follow you as you escape.
- Throat – the windpipe is essential for breathing. If hit, it is likely to go into spasm and close up. The attacker will struggle to breathe, giving you a short window to escape.
- Groin – strike up between the legs to the testicles. If the attacker does not lose consciousness, he will wish he did. And you escape.
- Knees – all joints are vulnerable, and the knees are particularly significant for self-defense. If you make a knee bend in a direction the joint does not move, tendons and ligaments will begin tearing. That will make it highly unlikely the attacker will be able to chase you as you escape.
And the half taget? The nose. Because of how getting hit in the nose affects your eyes. If you’ve ever taken a soccer ball, basketball, or dodge ball in the nose, you’ll know what I mean.
Other Effective and Pain Targets
There are many other targets. Some are excellent pain targets, others have the potential to be decisive if your power, speed, or aim are better. These are most useful:
- Ears can be struck, grabbed, and pulled. If the attacker has earrings, you can pull them out.
- Cheekbones often are rich in nerves. But not on everyone.
- Striking the temple, that spot behind the eye and before the ear, hard enough can cause dizzyness, blurry vision, and loss of balance.
- The anterior triangle is the muscle group between the neck and shoulder, and if stuck hard can make the whole arm go limp.
- Striking the solar plexus, that spot just below the sternum and above the abdominal muscles, can knock the wind out of the attacker.
- Like any other joint, fingers can be manipulated in painful ways. Easiest is to just pull the pinkie backwards.
- Stomping on a foot will do more than sting.
- Remember the last time you found some furniture in the dark with your shin?
Self-defense law is different in every state, so you may want to do some research. In Washington state, you can use physical self-defense if you have a “reasonable” person’s fear of imminent physical harm.
After you learn and practice your strikes to decisive and good pain targets, you will put them together into combos of 3 or more techniques. Your 3+ combo strikes have to follow each other in quick succession — BAM BAM BAM . . . — for maximum effectiveness.
The good news is that most stranger and acquaintance attackers are looking for victims — women who are more likely to be easily intimidated and scared into silence. If you recognize that you need to fight — and do fight back — there’s a really good chance the attacker will back off and find an easier target.
But the most essential reason to learn physical self-defense is for that confidence that you have a back-up plan. When you have that confidence, your posture, eye contact, and voice will show it, your body language will be more assertive, and you are less likely to be selected by a potential attacker as a target. And less likely to have to use physical self-defense.