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Simple self-defence tips

When it comes to self-defence, prepare for the unexpected.

Two women punch a punching bag in a garage
Two women punch a punching bag in a garage

You’re walking down a dark street alone heading towards home, when suddenly you feel movement behind you. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Your heart starts racing. Your palms are sweaty.

You hear a branch snap and spin around ready to face an attacker, and…

Most of the time, it will be a stray cat or possum, but if you were faced with someone, would you know how to defend yourself?

We spoke with the team from nib foundation partner Got Your Back Sista to get 10 basic self-defence tips that could one day save your life.

1. Improve your body language

Walk and move with confidence by standing tall with your chin up and shoulders back. When you walk with your shoulders back, your lungs receive more oxygen and you’ll be able to better see your surroundings.

2. Use your eye contact

Eye contact is a powerful thing and by making eye contact with someone, you’re letting them know that you’re aware they’re there. Avoiding eye contact can show that you’re intimidated and attackers may see you as an easier target.

3. Go with your gut instinct

Focus on how you respond in different situations and learn to read your body’s cues – these cues make up what we call our ‘gut instinct’ and they’re not often wrong. If you're in a situation where you need to defend yourself, trust your intuition.

4. Be aware of your environment

One of the reasons it’s so important to stand up straight with your shoulders back and head up is so that you can be aware of what’s going on around you. If you see a potential danger, you can avoid it or be prepared to defend yourself. Stick to well-lit areas, don’t get distracted scrolling through Instagram and look for exits or alternate paths.

A woman walking alone at night with a man wearing hood following close behind

5. Negotiate out of a situation

Be confident and practise what you’d say if you had to talk your way out of a potential situation. Mentioning that you have friends and family nearby, or talking on the phone to someone and letting them know exactly where you are can create a deterrence for your would-be attacker.

6. Learn safe boundaries

If a potential attacker comes into your personal space, don’t be reluctant to take action. It’s important to have safe boundaries and when someone makes you feel uncomfortable or uneasy.

7. Use your voice

One of your most valuable assets when it comes to self-defence is your voice. Take a deep breath and yell ‘NO’ or ‘STOP’ as loudly as you can. Not only will this draw attention to your situation and potentially get you help, but it can also startle the offender. Using your voice can also improve your breathing pattern, focus and strength – all of which can help you escape.

8. Make it difficult

Get light on your feet and move around as much as possible – try not to be a deer caught in headlights. If there is more than one attacker, pick one to focus on and move around using them as a shield between you and the other attacker. If you’re on the floor, roll around and use your body as a dead weight – this makes it so much harder for someone to move you.

9. Know vital target areas

Know which areas of the offender’s body to target. Some of the most common sensitive areas to aim for (with a punch, kick or scratch) include eyes, ears, temples, nose, throat, groin and knees.

10. Learn self-defence

The best way to learn how to physically defend yourself is to head to a self-defence class. Not only is it a great way to meet other people, get fit and have fun, but you’ll learn practical tips and tricks that will leave you feeling more confident if you ever feel threatened.

When it comes to looking after yourself, it’s important to remember that size doesn’t always matter. If your attacker is larger and stronger than you, use what you DO have to your advantage. Whether it’s your voice, your agility or your wit, keep calm and stay confident.

Got Your Back Sista offers support and relief to women and children escaping domestic violence and at risk of living below the poverty line. For more information on the partnership with Got Your Back Sista, visit the nib foundation website.

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