Gracie Jiu Jitsu

Myths About Women's Self Defense Tactics

When it comes to women's self defense tactics and strategies, here are the common ones you tend to hear about:

1. Kick him in the groin!

2. Poke him in the eyes!

3. Scratch him!

4. Bite him!

5. Punch him in the throat!

Well, these MIGHT work. But really, it's not likely. What is more likely is that it will make the attacker more angry, and want him to further impose his will on her. What is more likely is that she will miss, or not generate enough power to do damage, thus further aggravating the attacker.

Instead, the following concepts are far more reliable:

1. Manage the distance to manage the damage. Either be all the way out of striking range (2 arms length distance away), or all the way in, clinching (like a hug), because strikes have very little effectiveness there.

2. Use leverage-based submissions to subdue them. This means techniques such as breaking the arm or shoulder (e.g. armbars, figure four locks, shoulder cranks) or chokes (e.g. rear naked choke, guillotine choke, & triangle choke). These submissions don't really look like they are attacks, but they wind up severely damaging the opponent. Breaking the arm/shoulder and chokes are universal ideas that apply to all human bodies. In other words, a punch or a kick's effectiveness depends on how much power is behind it and how much force the opponent can absorb. An arm break or choke will happen, regardless of how much punishment the attacker can take -  a break is a break and no oxygen to the brain is no oxygen to the brain!

These ideas are much more accessible to practice. The more you practice this in a simulated experience, the more natural these movements become. Here is an example of one of these practice sessions. Keep in mind, she has been training with private lessons for several months:

Women's Self Defense Video

A Little About Combat Strategy

When we watch martial arts in movies or TV shows or YouTube clips, we tend to see a lot of kicking and punching. That is kind of the hallmark of the visual representation of martial arts.

In a real self defense situation, while punching and kicking do have their place, and can serve you, it is best and safest to neutralize any type of striking exchange with a clinch. A clinch is basically a hug! 

When you have clinched the opponent, you have dramatically decreased their striking arsenal. They cannot effectively punch or kick at you when you are hugged on to them tightly. You have essentially taken their fight away from them. It is an incredible technical concept!

Now, once you have them in the clinch, their behaviors are quite predictable. And with each predictable behavior comes an effective response. Let's go through some, shall we?

1. If they decide to try to punch you while you are clinched onto them, they will have to lean back a little bit. In that lean, you drop your shoulder into their chest and pull their hips in, and that is called a "Body Fold Takedown".

2. If they decide to try to push on you, they have to stabilize their stance, so that means their stance is wider. In that case, hook their leg, dip your shoulder into them, and turn, and that is called the "Leg Hook Takedown".

3. If they decide to bring their hips away in an attempt to escape out of the clinch, walk your hands up to the back of their shoulders, bring both of your feet up next to theirs, then squat, shoot back, and wrap your legs around them, and then one at a time, wrap one arm around the back of their neck, and another on one of their arms. This is called "Pulling Guard".

4. If they decide to try to wrap your head/neck out of desperation, you pop your head up like a turtle, turn around, get to their back, then bring one foot up next to theirs, and straighten the other leg out, while blocking their other foot and pull them down. This is called the "Rear Takedown".

5. If they break out of the clinch somehow, and it is hard to get back into the clinch, drop down, grab and pull behind their knees, put your foot in between theirs, and drive your shoulder into their midsection. This is called the "Double Leg Takedown".

These are all extremely effective strategies. They are not the flashiest moves, but they work very reliably well. These are all concepts that come from Gracie Jiu Jitsu. We teach and practice these concepts at Austin Kung-Fu Academy. In addition to the great training you get in traditional Kung-Fu, we want everyone to have a very reliable self defense strategy that doesn't involve too much of the kicking and punching, but rather work more towards neutralizing, controlling, and exhausting aggressive energy, rather than over-power it.

What Does Tai Chi and Jiu Jitsu Have in Common?

This is a fun question!

If you know nothing much about either of the arts, no problem! Just keep reading, I think you'll find this fascinating.

If you know a little something about both arts, you might reason that they both go with what ever energy is given. And more advanced, they use joint locks and leverage mechanics as a way to neutralize, redirect, misdirect, and submit the attacker.

Those are all not false at all! But that's not where I'm going with this. My idea is a little broader.

Gracie or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu uses the ground as a leverage principle. They connect their body to to the ground and use that to gain an advantage. So, a big part of the strategy is to clinch the opponent, take them to the ground, control them with strategic, leverage based principles, and ultimately submit the opponent.

While Tai Chi doesn't generally take the fight to the ground, it uses the ground as a leverage base point, as well. You see, in order to generate more energy/power, you push your foot into the ground to transfer weight to the other leg. There is an isometric tension going on that increases the more you do it.

So the more you push off your foot (not unlike a track athlete who pushes off of support for the sprint), the stronger your legs get, and more grounded you become in your executions.

There is a whole-body effect that happens when you start all of your motions from the push of your foot on the ground. 

So the ground is an incredible place to build your skills from!

If you'd like to understand more about how we do this, contact us to try a Tai Chi class!

What Tai Chi Can Teach You

I'm guessing when I say Tai Chi, you probably picture elderly people moving slowly in a park in China/town. 

And, you're not wrong! That is probably the dominant image people have of Tai Chi. Going a little further, you might classify it in the category of yoga, pilates, meditation, holistic health healing.

You're not wrong about that either! Tai Chi very much has a meditation component to it. It is referred to as a 'moving meditation'. And I do not disparage that one bit! I think meditation is awesome, and a very necessary tool for life. The stress reduction component of it is one of its best benefits.

But....I'm not talking about that. 

For those of you who are already into the world of martial arts or even, Chinese martial arts, I can hear you breathing! I know you think I'm going to talk about Tai Chi as a martial art, and how it functions in combat.'re not entirely wrong. But you're not entirely right, either. 

So, yes, if you did not know, Tai Chi was originally intended and used as a form of self defense. All of the slow, fluid movements you see have martial applications (generally done sped up).

But I'm not even referring to its combat principles, strategies, or techniques. Personally, I don't really prefer them. 

Well, except for one idea, and that is the principle of Peng energy. Peng energy means to ward off/uproot the assailant off of their balance. But....don't even worry about that.

It is more about the body structure you need to create that Peng energy is what I am most interested, find the most useful, and find the most scalable. 

The connected structure in Tai Chi movements are brilliant. You pay very close attention to the alignment of specific body parts in a given motion, to maximize your body's potential to generate force. The more you work on that alignment through training your awareness, the more robust your body structure becomes. You start feeling your body mechanics, especially when in contact with, say, a heavy door, or a grocery cart, as a connected whole! Everything from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head, there is a connection and an alignment that you practice and develop, so that your limbs don't isolate. All pieces are working together.

Pilates has a focus on developing your core. This is part of it. But in Tai Chi, there is so much more to add to the equation of putting pieces together for one really effectively connected motion! 

The more you train this, the more efficient your overall motions become. From a combative perspective, you can certainly use this connectedness to improve your relaxed power in strikes & kicks, and your ability to maneuver efficiently when transitioning positions in grappling.

So, Tai Chi is one of the best ways to get your body connected to itself! 
Contact us and try a class today!