Fight like a Chicagoan: Self-defense for the streets of Chicago

No one likes to think about getting attacked, let alone getting mugged, sexually assaulted or just plain punched in the face. But, if you’re walking the streets of Chicago solo, you need to be prepared to protect yourself. A few self-defense tactics can help keep you out of harm’s way.

You don’t need a black belt to fend off an attacker, even if they’re twice your size. Read on for kickass instructions on how to, er, kick ass.

Be aware
No need to raise your fists for these first few steps. The most important thing to do before you leave the house or leave the store is choose to be aware of what’s going on around you.

Hide your valuables
Keep your iPod, phone, Kindle and any other electronics out of sight. If a potential attacker sees you’ve got these goods, that gives them incentive to mug you. Besides, if you’re playing with electronics as you walk you aren’t staying alert to your surroundings.

…but keep your pockets full of weapons
A ballpoint pen, rattail comb or a key can be used to stab an attacker. Some people hold their keys between their fingers as they walk home — bad idea. If you stab someone with your keys between your fingers, the key pointing out will go through your fingers and slice your tendons. Instead create a fist around a group of keys with one protruding out, so you can use more of a hacking motion and avoid hurting yourself.

You could also use a cellphone to strike an attacker; just keep it secure so it doesn’t fly out of your hand. Hold the phone and hit the bridge of the nose. Got a hairbrush? Swipe an attacker’s eyes with the bristles.

Change your route
Take in your surroundings and listen to your gut — this can provide you with a safer route home. Walk in areas that are well lit and well populated. Varying your route can keep someone from knowing where you’re going.

Be a bad victim
If someone is approaching you or giving you bad vibes, make sure they know you’re paying attention. Stand up straight with your gaze up. Many aggressors will back down if you maintain eye contact with them and aren’t intimidated. Walk with confidence.

Bad Victim from Girls Fight Back! on Vimeo.

Set a verbal boundary
When an attacker approaches, put your hands up and tell them ‘Stop. Leave me alone. I don’t want any problems.’ Use commands rather than questions to help prevent potential conflict.

Yell “fire!”
People may not come to your aid if you yell “help!” because they could think you’re joking or may not want to get involved. Yelling “fire!”, however, concerns the people around you and they will try to figure out what’s going on. Not to mention yelling something as loud as you can helps you recognize danger and will fuel your get-away instincts.

…and if that fails, it’s time to get scrappy
An attacker can come out of nowhere, giving you little time to think and react. You can get attacked in different ways and from different directions.  You need to go for their weakest points with the strongest parts of your body to deliver the most damage, so you can escape. I’ve summarized some tactics from three self-defense groups: Fight Like a Girl and Win, Girls Fight Back and Just Yell Fire. Don’t let the titles fool you. These aren’t just for the ladies. Man or woman, strong or weak, young or old — anyone can benefit from knowing how to open a can of whoopass.

Your attacker comes at you from the front

Palm strike
Feel the heel of your palm — that’s hard bone. Curl your fingers, pull down quickly and strike your attacker’s nose with the heel of your hand.

Knee to the groin
After the palm strike, your attacker may lean back, exposing the groin. Grab their shoulder and pull them toward you and then strike upwards with your thigh. Pulling your attacker towards you actually gives this move more power because you have two forces going in opposite directions.

Too far away? Try the scoop kick
Kick up into the groin and pull back with your toes.

Knee to the face
Your attacker could buckle over from the knee to the groin, giving you an opportunity to knee them in the face. Hold onto their head for stability and accuracy.

Elbow to the back
Another option if your attacker is buckled over is to strike the back with the point of your elbow.

Go for the eyes and ears
The eyes and ears are vulnerable. Stabbing one eye with the index, middle and ring finger slightly bent will temporary blind your attacker. Pulling the ear will cause incredible pain.

They attack you from the front and grab your arms

Flip your elbows out to give yourself more space and strike with a knee to the groin.

Fight – Part 1 from Girls Fight Back! on Vimeo.

They attack you from behind and put their hands on your neck

Stick ‘em up
Swing your arms straight up towards the sky. It’s physically impossible for them to keep their grip on your neck.

Comb your hair
You can also bend your arm and move it up and back, as though you’re combing your hair, and move away from the attacker. This move releases their grip on your neck.

They attack you from behind and cover your arms

Slap the groin
If you’ve still got movement in your lower body, you can move your hips to one side, exposing their groin. Swing your arm backward slapping the groin (and possibly pulling forward).

Stomp the foot
Stomping on an attacker’s foot could cause them to let go if they have you in a bear hold.

Booty strike
If an attacker covers your arms, your lower half is still free. Swing your pelvis forward and strike them in the groin with your booty. This will knock the wind out of your attacker, man or woman. They may release you, allowing you to fend them off from the front.

Your attacker pushed you to the ground

Kick your attacker in the groin and then the face. They grabbed your foot? Use the other one. They grabbed both feet? Throw a tantrum like a two-year-old to get out of this hold or roll to one side like a steamroller.

Fight – Part 2 from Girls Fight Back! on Vimeo.

If you want to learn more, you can watch the Human Weapon series on the History Channel or Just Yell Fire. Just Yell Fire is a self-defense film created for 11- to 19-year-old girls. The film’s creator, Dallas Jessup, wanted to teach girls how to escape bad situations and help prevent sexual assault and child abduction. Peruse these resources and (maybe) practice some moves with your friends and family. And with that, I’ll leave you to your badass self.

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