I've been reading a lot of articles recently about women's self-defense, and what women need in order to protect themselves recently. Collapsible batons, pepper sprays, tazers, and even guns are all regularly espoused as the most important thing a modern woman needs to carry at all times in order to ensure her safety.
But there's a problem.
Presumably, the authors who write these articles are based in countries and / or states where those weapons are legal and legitimate. My take on this is slightly different because I live in the UK, where any and all weapons (or items carried with the intention of using them as weapons) are completely illegal. The only weapons a student here can be responsibly encouraged to use are improvised weapons. Ie – those which are found during an encounter, or an innocent item like a handbag which can become and a weapon there and then.
So, what do women really need in order to become efficient at self-protection?
I recently wrote that the most important attribute for any fighter, martial artist, or self-defense student to develop is a strong, combative mindset. This is especially important for women, for a couple reasons.
Many women seem to defeat themselves before they begin simply because they feel as though they could not possibly defend them against a man. It's understandable because women, by their very nature, are not as comfortable with violence as men, who begin with competitive rough-and-tumble play at an early age and are encouraged to take up tough physical sports and interests more often than females are. They are also, on average, physically smaller and / or weaker than a man. But despite being understood, this fear is unfounded.
Imagine a 200lb man holding a cat. Now, someone throws ice-cold water over them both, and the man tries to hold onto the animal. What happens? The man fails to hold onto the cat, and gets injured in the process because the frenzied feline goes nuts with its teeth and claws in its determination to escape. The cat weighs probably 8-10lbs.
What's the stop women from doing the same? You're a lot bigger than the cat. You have teeth, you have nails. You have a variety of weapons. Learn to use these instead of relying upon charged weapons, which you may not always have with you (and may not always have time to deploy anyway).
But what if you still do not think you can fight back?
If you're a woman reading this, think of your children. If you do not have them, think of your friend's children, or your pets, or anything else you love. Now imagine them being attacked by a man wearing a mask. What are you doing to do?
There is a tale of a woman who was attacked in her home and, due to fear of fighting back, becoming a rape statistic. Moments later, the attacker turned his back on her and headed toward an adjacent room, where the woman's young daughter was screaming. Seeing what was about to happen, the woman leapt into action, grabbing a pair of scissors from the sideboard and introducing them to the intruder's neck. He died at the scene.
Would not you have done the same?
For many women, the idea of protecting themselves seems alien and impossible, yet the idea of protecting their child is primal and instinctive. It happens without being given a second though. Why can not you apply this to your own safety, as well as that of loved ones?
My point here is that although carrying some kind of weapon or personal safety device might be a sensible option, do not let it blind you and become your only sense of security. It is not enough. In order to maximize your safety, you have to get your mindset right. You have to train yourself physically and learn to use your natural weapons until you reach the level where you know you can defend yourself, whether you have the luxury of a rented weapon or not. You have to give yourself permission to fight back for your own safety in the same way that you would protect someone else's.
Neither of these things are a quick or easy process, but they are essential. Do not look for quick fixes. If you are genuinely concerned about your wellbeing, put in the hours.
You should only rely upon yourself.