5 Defense Tools
Haipha Simon: What are some items every woman should have in their purse or on their person at all times to fend off an assault?
AJ Tucker: Every woman should have two items: mace and a kubaton on her keychain. Mace is effective when sprayed in the eyes. Do not spray at the attacker’s hands or feet. It will eventually cause discomfort but it will not immediately get you out of harm’s way. Spraying the mace in the eyes or towards the face gets you immediate results and to safety. A kubaton is a small item that you can get as a keychain that looks like a spike with grips on it. There are various types. Again, go for the attacker’s eyes. If he is grabbing your wrist, and you try to stab his hand, you may not get an effective stab on him, you may even stab yourself. If you go for his face, scream, yell and draw attention while one of his hands is distracted and it will increase your chances of escaping.
If you are walking to your car, or anywhere, practice the habit of holding the kubaton or mace in your hand. If you are attacked, it happens very fast. You may not have time to reach into your purse or if you are going into a dangerous environment, you may forget to put it in your hand. A mace bottle or kubaton is just as useless inches away from you if it is not readily usable. If you are holding mace, make sure the opening is pointing away from you. Go to a tree or wall and practice spraying a few times. Learn how to turn the safety on if it has that mechanism. I have taught women who admitted they had mace in their purse, but it was still in the case or they never tried it before.
H: What is the biggest misconception women tend to have when it comes to self-defense? How would you remedy that misconception?
AJ: The biggest misconception women tend to have when it comes to self-defense is that it is best to comply and not fight back. Most women think that “if I fight back, he is just going to get angry and then he will make it worse for me.” This could not be any further from the truth. To remedy this misconception at Athena Strategies we do three things.
1) We give statistics from the F.B.I. on assaults and attempted assaults. The women who fight back have a significant chance of escaping compared to the women who did not fight back. The statistics brings things to light and fills them with a sense of confidence.
2) We give our “Gold Star Award” analogy. We paint out a scenario of a man holding a gun to a woman and telling her to get in the car. The entire time through the assault she does everything that he wants and he does not fight back. This man who had plans to murder her after the assault then says “You know what? I was going to kill you today, but since you were such a great victim I am going to let you go. I really appreciate how accommodating you were today. Here is a Gold-Star!” After we give that analogy everyone laughs at how ridiculous it sounds. To drive home the point that the person who would assault you has no empathy—he does not care how you feel. He is not going to feel remorse no matter how much you beg or plead. The only thing that will make him stop is physical pain or the psychological pressure that this is not going to be easy. An attacker is not looking for a difficult victim. The last thing he wants you to do is fight back.
3) We show the vulnerable points on a person and how easy they are to get to. We take them through simulated attacks and show them that they can hit those points from any angle: standing, laying down or while being carried.
3 Best Technique
H: What is the #1 self-defense move that women need to know? Please describe the technique.
AJ: Go for the eyes while screaming your head off. It sounds simple, but it is the most effective self-defense move. Once I got out of the Army, I started teach women’s self-defense. Being a Jui Jitsu practitioner, I know all of these great ways to subdue a person within seconds even if he is bigger and stronger. I used to show moves like the arm bar, triangle-choke, ankle-locks etc… And they are all great to take down a bigger and stronger person. The only problem was that all of these moves take time and drilling them over and over to be able to use it in a real life situation. A few years later I started working with Athena Strategies, a company geared towards women’s self-defense, and found that the best techniques are the easiest. When you put anything in a person’s eyes the fight is over. It does not matter how big and strong he is, or if he is amped out on drugs. Getting a finger, a pen, mace, anything in the eyes ends it. If you hit him in the groin or the torso, chances are that he will keep coming. The best thing about this technique is that there is not much technique to it. It does not require strength or any kind of accuracy.
1) Make your hand into a claw, fingers curled in their most animalistic form.
2) Claw with all four fingers into his eyes, or if you are in close take your thumb and gouge his eyes.
3) If he grabs one of your hands then use the other hand. If he grabs both wrist, kick him in the groin or head-butt him. Once he lets go, then gouge his eyes.
4) If you are not able to make him slacken his grip, remember you are screaming your head off. So if both hands are grabbing your wrist, then he cannot cover your mouth. In a public place he either has to let go of your wrist to quiet you, or he has to run.
2 Staying Positive
H: What do you say to women in your self-defense class that get discouraged and want to quit because they feel it is either too hard or they are too scared?
AJ: If a woman gets discouraged and wants to quit I lay out a fork in the road for them. I asked them which one is better, to struggle in class a little bit and be prepared and nothing ever happens, or quit the class and something does happen. I remind them that the techniques work, and statistically increase her chances of escape by 96%.
If a woman is scared then I start them off very slow. I have them practice using only their voice, and practice hitting the dummy or focus mitts more. I motivate and remind them that these moves work. I also congratulate them for getting scared. That means that they are normal—it is normal to be scared. I explain to them that with good parents and a good upbringing, that they have probably never been yelled at, or in a fight, so it is normal to be scared at first. I have them start out slow and they normally come around.
1 Technique vs. Tool
H: Which are more beneficial, self-defense products (like Mace or a Taser) or taking self-defense lessons? Why?
AJ: Taking self-defense lessons are more beneficial than having self-defense products. A woman should have both. I break down self-defense into three categories: psychological, standing and ground. The psychological portion is the most important part of self-defense—to stop an attack before it starts. A woman can psychologically deter someone from assaulting them if they do a few simple things: make eye-contact, be assertive and make noise if the situation escalates. The standing portion of self-defense covers the area of when the psychological portion does not work, and a woman has to defend herself. She either has to strike first or learn how to react if she is grabbed a certain way. The ground portion is how to defend yourself when you are pinned to the ground. Having mace and a Taser is a small portion within a full self-defense strategy. There are times in an assault where the woman does not have access to her mace. 75% of sexual assaults happen with someone you know. So if a woman is assaulted, chances are it will be a date-rape situation instead of the man in the dark alley. Who hangs around in dark allies anyway?