A few years ago I had the opportunity to teach some basic self-defense to a class at the Denver Seminary. Almost right away I ran into some resistance. It seems there’s this idea that Christians aren’t supposed to know how to defend themselves. That someplace, somewhere, whatever happens, you’re supposed to stand there and take it.

Well, I’m just Bible wise as the next guy, and nowhere in there does it say anything about becoming a punching bag for someone else. It says turn the other cheek, but that still doesn’t mean you can’t defend yourself. Indeed, take a look in the Bible, and more than a few of those folks knew how to kick butt and take names.

So, with that in mind, here’s some basic stuff that every woman (and for that matter, every man) should know.

FIRST RULE: Keep yourself out of harm’s way. Now one thing that is preached again and again is to always aware of what’s going on around you. Here’s what I’m talking about. I love to watch people, and most of the time when they’re walking down the street, they’re doing one of two things. Either they’re staring straight ahead or they’re on their cellphone. Both these tend to limit your attention. You’re focused on one thing, rather than what’s going on around you.

A classic example happened to my wife and daughter recently. My wife went down with my daughter on a business trip to New Orleans, and if you’ve ever been down that way, there are some areas that can be a little scary. Well in the course of getting to a restaurant, their map led them down into one of the areas you don’t want to go.

My daughter is too intent on following the map on the phone, and my wife, who’s pretty savvy out on the street realizes they’ve got a tail. A man on a bicycle is following them. She grabbed my daughter when she saw a group of other women who appeared to be tourists, walks up to them and says, “There you are. We’ve been looking for you.”  Quickly, under her breath she told them they were being followed. “You’re with us,” one said, and they walked with them. The guy broke contact at that point.

Being aware of what’s going on is always a good idea.

RULE TWO –  Nothing is worth your life. They want to rob you, hand over your money, the whole works. You can replace your money. You can’t replace you.

But suppose they want something more. You’re a young woman, and this person is rather intent on sexually assaulting you. You’ve two choices. Let them, or fight. Remember, both could come with some serious consequences. They may beat you anyway after the assault, they may even kill you. You need to know what you’ll do if that situation ever arises.

My experience with rapists tells me that many of them are after an easy target. One that fights back, even a little might easily make them go elsewhere.

And if you know some basic self defense, your options just increased.

YOUR VOICE – The human voice in of by itself, is a powerful weapon. Someone comes at you, shove back and then in as loud a voice (and if you can drop your voice an octave or two, it escalates the threat level) you can muster, shout “Back off!” This does two things. It puts your attacker on notice that you’re not to be trifled with, gives you some maneuvering room, and attracts attention. This may not work on every attacker but it will dissuade those who were looking for an easy target.

SO NOW THAT YOU’VE CHOSEN TO GET PHYSICAL –  The question becomes, where do you hit? The answer is simple. You go for the places that are going to do the most damage. If you choose to fight, understand one thing, it’s now all or nothing. You need to get plain, mad dog mean at this point and make dang sure they won’t be hurting you. In a situation like this, there are no second place winners

The groin is always a good place to go for. Kicks to the groin will incapacitate a man or a woman very quickly. My old friend Leigh, when she taught her class always put it this way, “A guy grabs you, make sure you kick him so hard, his testicles are now on the other side of his head.” Be fast when you do that. It’s really easy to go half measures on that kind of kick, only to have your foot grabbed.

The shins are another good place. If you happen to be a woman who still wears high heels, scraping them hard down shins inflicts a lot of pain. Taking a kick to the shins is also very painful, and if you don’t actually fracture the leg, they might not be in a position to pursue.

Sharp hard kicks to the knees are also good. Kick them hard enough and they may need a Doc to put it all back together again. While the knee caps are good places to go for, the sides or back of the knee are even better. Kicking to the knee cap is painful, and will cause damage, but you might also damage yourself in the process.

The face is a great place to strike. A good solid punch to the mouth can often times end a fight, or with an open hand, sweep up and into their nose hard. The idea is to hit it with a ton of force. Chances are you’ll break the nose, and that tends to end the fight. I know some people may look at it and say you could kill them doing that. There have been instances where that’s happened, but you’re fighting for your life here.

Eyes are a good to go after. Don’t worry about blinding the person. They aren’t doing you any favors, and neither should you. Hard, fast, two finger jabs will ensure damage.

Another good striking place is the ears. Cup your hands, and with all the strength you can muster, swing your hands up and pop his ears. Often times, this can break the eardrum, and at that point they’re in so much pain, they’ll stop.

So, what do you do then?

Run! That’s what you should do. Even though your attacker might be down, they might not be for long. Get out of the area, and  get where there are people, and at the top of your voice yell you need a cop. Unless you’re on the wrong side of town (and even if you are, somebody will still help you), someone will get a Police Officer for you.

Tell the officer what happened, a description of the suspect, and what you did to protect yourself (if you bust his ear drums and he shows up at ER, well, the list of suspects just got a lot shorter).

I’ll be following up shortly with some moves that can help the average person.