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You and Me > Think Quick, Defend Hard
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With violence and abuse against women on the rise, self-defence has become the need of the hour. Irrespective of how you are built, with these self-defence techniques and presence of mind, it is entirely possible to protect yourself from violence

Approximately, 93 women are being raped in India every day. The number of rape incidents has gone up from 25,000 in 2012 to 33,000 in 2013. But these are just statistics at the end of the day. While rape is one part of the problem, sexual assault and domestic violence are other deep-rooted evils that happen on a daily basis in our society. It is frivolous to typify one city as being unsafe for women because of the large number of crimes reported there, considering violence against women is not restricted to a state or a nation, it is indeed a universal malice. It’s unfortunate, but as women we need to prepare ourselves for danger, given the current state of affairs. While a paradigm shift has to take place in terms of gender equality, the first and the foremost thing to do is to learn to think on our feet and fight back. Self defense is one of the many ways in which women can protect themselves from the social perils that prevail against them. A few experts tell us everything we ought to know about self defense:

Sense of Awareness
Before learning to kick on the crotch and punch on the face, the first step to self defense is to be totally aware of yourself and your surroundings. Studies reveal that assailants always attack targets who seem to be less aware of what is happening around them. Self defense begins even before the actual physical contact happens between the assailant and the victim. S. Sreeram, coordinator and instructor of KravMaga’s Tamil Nadu Chapter says, “Sometimes women are so engrossed in their mobiles, that they don’t sense the imminent jeopardy that is about to take place. Attacks usually happen in fringe areas such as car parks and dark alleyways. When women come face-to-face with their assailants, they don’t know how to react and are helpless.”

Cary Edwards, instructor and owner of First Contact MMA, Chennai says, “Women should start observing their surroundings. They should analyse the patterns of criminal behaviour and start recognising familiar faces in the crowd, ponder if they are being followed and constantly be on guard. When they are out all by themselves, they should be vigilant, that may help them be safer.”

De-escalating the Problem
If you find yourself in a compromising situation, then you must learn how to de-escalate it. De-escalating a situation is essentially avoiding it. “Avoid the person as much as possible; if your assailant continues to follow you, then run. If he catches up and manhandles you, talk to him—not conversationally—just say things like ‘don’t touch me’ or ‘leave me’. If you speak more than that, then he will take that as an invitation and think that you are interested. If that doesn’t stop him, then use the objects in your hand like your bag, phone or anything that you are carrying. If he continues to misbehave, that is when you should resort to physical contact and defend yourself,” says Sreeram. If you can avoid a situation then there is no question of fighting it.“Men who resort to such cheap tactics are the ones who are frustrated in life. They think women are inferior and they can easily get their way with them. Nevertheless, men are frightened of confrontation—if women assert themselves and clearly show their displeasure, then these men will back off,” he says.

Studies have shown that out of every 100 men who indulge in such crimes, 60 of them are drunk and 30 of them do sojust for the sake of it—if women take a stand, then these two categoriesnormally back off. It is the other 10 that women should be wary of, which is why it is important for women to learn the art of defending themselves and take classes.

To Spray or not to Spray?
As a measure of safety, many women have started carrying pepper sprays in their bags. However, according to Cary such sprays are not advisable. “It is very difficult to work with them. When a woman is attacked, she may panic and accidently spray it on herself; and sometimes even the weather may not be in her favour. Why use something in your hands when you can use your hands to defend yourself?”

Sreeram adds, “There are a few vulnerable points women could target, like the assailant’s eyes, nose, mouth, chin and groin. These body parts cannot be strengthened with any amount of exercise. Women should learn how to use their strengths and target these areas when they are attacked.”

The Right Moves
While women readily enrol themselves for aerobics, salsa and Zumba, self defense is the last thing on their minds. Mostly, they take self defense classes only after a bad experience. Instead, women can take classes in the following—they are whole body workouts as well as forms of self defense:

It is one of the most dynamic martial arts. A trained karateka can coordinate the mind and body perfectly, thereby unleashing tremendous physical power at will. Upon developing this ability, even the smallest person finds that she has the power to deliver a devastating blow to any would-be attacker.

Jiu Jitsu
It is a martial arts discipline that originated in Brazil. This technique uses elements of judo and ground fighting that can help a smaller fighter defeat a much larger opponent. It uses a combination of choke holds, grappling and joint locks that offer a system of self defense. It also focuses on physical and spiritual fitness.

Kick Boxing
Though kick boxing is technically a sport, some aspects of it can be used for self defense. Kick boxing is good from the standpoint of learning punching and kicking skills and applying those skills in a practical way.

Who is to Blame?
A global issue that is plaguing this world—violence against women has happened to women, known and unknown to us. A well-known social activist and co-owner ofPrajwala (NGO), Sunitha Krishnan says, “The number of rapes hasn’t increased; reporting of such incidents has increased and that is a good thing. However these women do not report of such crimes immediately; they also lose their self-confidence and self-esteem after the attack. I work towards strengthening their minds, so that they have enough courage to break their silence and seek justice.”

Women feel helpless in such situations, because in most cases, the perpetrator is known to the victim – assailants are mostly brothers, uncles, fathers or close friends. “Internet is not the only culprit. Parents and society should also take the blame. Boys and men alike view something on the internet or on television and get influenced. But parents should raise their children in such a waythat they know what is morally and socially correct.”

Every day an incident of a woman being raped or assaulted is reported. “It is unfair to rape a woman because she was dressed “provocatively”. Why should a woman learn the art of self defense? She should be able to walk on the road without fear. Every day, I strive towards that waiting for a paradigm shift to happen.”

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