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6 Self-defense techniques every woman should know

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a personal trainer, freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness clients. She's the founder of the popular website, - Girls Gone Sporty, and she's the host of the High Impact Blogg...

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Self-defense moves

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Self-defense moves

No one wants to think about being the victim of a crime, particularly a violent crime, but sticking your head in the sand isn't the solution. The fact is, three women die each day in the United States at the hands of their significant other, and 1 in 5 women will be the victim of an attempted rape or rape over the course of their lifetime. 

Those are horrendous statistics. But the solution isn't fear-mongering or paranoia. The solution is education, awareness and protection. (Also, it would be great if men didn't perpetrate crimes against women in the first place... but that's a different article altogether.)

The point is, you never know if (or when) you could become the victim of a crime, so why not prepare yourself for the possibility? You don't need to become a samurai-wielding ninja warrior or a cinder block-busting karate master — you just need to learn a few simple moves that can catch an attacker off guard, giving you the opportunity to get away and save your own life.

Jarrett Arthur, a Krav Maga expert and the founder and lead instructor for M.A.M.A. (Mothers Against Malicious Acts) and Customized Self-Defense for women, suggests that even if you're not ready to sign up for a full self-defense class, you should start with these six basic moves.

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Fighting stance

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Fighting stance

Arthur says, "A solid fighting stance allows you to generate more striking power, remain balanced and be best prepared to run for help as soon as the opportunity for escape presents itself.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a natural step forward with your nondominate leg (left leg if you're right-handed, and vice versa).
  2. Make sure your toes are pointed forward and feet are equal distance apart, right to left and front to back.
  3. Bend your knees and raise your back heel slightly.
  4. Tuck your chin, shrug your shoulders slightly and bring your hands up in front of your face with palms facing forward in a "stop" gesture.
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Palm strike

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Palm strike

According to Arthur, "A palm strike is a safer alternative to sending a punch, while still effective. This strike goes to the nose or the throat of an attacker. Strike powerfully to create an opportunity for escape."

  1. From your fighting stance, explosively drive your palm forward in a straight line away from your face.
  2. Use the rotation of your hips and shoulders to generate power.
  3. Curl fingers back, but leave them open to make contact with the heel of your palm, but not your wrist.
  4. As soon as contact is made, immediately recoil your hand back to your face.
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Knee strike

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Knee strike

When you're up close and personal with an attacker, a knee strike can be an effective option. Arthur says, "This strike would go to the groin of an attacker, or even to the face if they were bent over."

  1. From your fighting stance, send a knee strike with the leg that's in the back position.
  2. Fold your leg completely so that your heel is tucked near your butt, then drive the point of your knee upward and forward into the groin.
  3. Drive both of your hips forward explosively to generate power.
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Elbow strike

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Elbow strike

Like the knee strike, the elbow strike is intended to be used when you're in close proximity to your attacker. It's designed to make contact to the face or throat. Arthur expands, "They can be sent in any direction — forward, back, side, down — or any combination of directions, but they're all performed the same way."

  1. Fold your arm as tightly as possible, so your elbow is a sharp point.
  2. Make contact with the flat 1 to 2 inches either above or below the tip of your elbow (above or below will depend on which direction you're sending the elbow strike).
  3. Rotate the hips and shoulders when sending the strike to generate big power.
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Hammerfist strike

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Hammerfist strike

Last, but not least, is the hammerfist strike. "A hammerfist strike is another safe alternative to punching. It involves making contact with the bottom part (pinky side) of a closed fist and can be sent to the nose, chin, cheekbone, collarbone or even the throat," says Arthur.

  1. Make a tight fist (ensuring your thumb is outside your fingers, not tucked into the fist).
  2. Bring your fist to your head and raise your elbow slightly upward.
  3. Explosively drive your fist forward and downward, allowing your elbow to rotate downward.
  4. Rotate the hips and shoulders to generate power. This motion is very similar to throwing a ball or hammering in a nail.
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