Woman Fights Back – And It WORKS!

We here at Fight Back Productions spend a lot of time not only teaching women how to be their own best protectors, but celebrating their success when they are. But the sad truth is, beyond the pages of this blog and a few others like it, women’s self-defense success doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves.

That’s why I was thrilled to see this headline in The New York Times this week:

“Woman Fights Off Attacker”

The story tells of a woman who was grabbed in a choke hold while waiting for an elevator, threatened with a piece of broken glass and ordered to “take off your clothes.” The woman refused, began to fight back and ultimately chased her attacker down the stairs and out of the building. When she told an on-duty security guard of the would-be rapist and he declined to take action, this hero of a woman continued to chase her attacker down the street, determined that he should be caught and prevented from harming other women. He eventually disappeared into the city, but what’s amazing here is the bravery and the courage that this woman showed in handling what could have been a deadly situation.

Not only did she protect herself, but she was determined to protect other women by taking this creep down. She had him literally running scared through the streets of New York! Heaven help the creepy bad guy who tries to attack a woman ready to fight back. Not only will he NOT get what he’s looking for, but he’ll piss her off in the process – and when that happens, he better look out.

This courageous New York woman reminds all of us – along with all of the creepy weirdos out there – that there is indeed NOTHING more dangerous that an angry woman.

71-year-old helps capture her attacker!

It’s not uncommon for women to question their own ability when it comes to self defense. Especially, when they have never encountered a combat situation before. With that in mind, I wanted to post a reminder that when in doubt, act it out!

71-year-old, 3 time Olympic gold medalist, Dawn Fraser, fought off and helped capture a man who tried to rob her home north of Brisbane yesterday. When asked how she did it, Fraser replied “He threatened my life and I got really annoyed. This guy came out of the gate and grabbed me and I grabbed him by the ear and I kicked him in the groin.”

Hats off to Fraser, who is a shining example that you can open up a can o’ whoop ass, at any age!!

Watch the news clip here.

S.P.E.A.R System

This past weekend, I took a Level 1 training course offered by The Realistic Female Self Defense Company in Chapel Hill, NC.  The instructors at RFSDC are certified by Blauer Tactical Systems, Inc. and teach what is commonly called the S.P.E.A.R. System.The S.P.E.A.R System is based off a ton of scientific research conducted by Tony Blauer into the physiological stress responses of human beings.  It focuses primarily on the universal way that humans flinch.A group flinches from a baseball bat

I can’t begin to describe the physiological background of the system because it is very detailed and well researched.  And it is hard to compare the system to others I have been exposed to, so I decided the best way to evaluate the training I received on the S.P.E.A.R. System was with a list of pros and cons.  Please know that these are simply my thoughts and you can form your own opinions by checking out the links above and signing up for a class if you are interesting in learning more.  You can also read this interesting interview I found with Tony Blauer in Black Belt Magazine and look for videos on YouTube.

Pros –

Cons –

  • Seems to require more upper body strength and focus more on upper body techniques
  • Not much focus on verbal de-escalation techniques (how to get out of a fight without fighting)
  • Level 1 and 2 courses are difficult to locate through the primary website

If you are interested in finding a S.P.E.A.R System class near you, my advice would be to search S.P.E.A.R System Self Defense and your homestate on google or a similar search engine.  You can also contact the Realistic Female Self-Defense Company via their website as they travel and may be offering a class near you at some point.

All-in-all I met some great, passionate people and added another tool to my self-defense toolbelt.  Keep checking the Fight Back Productions blog for info about various self-defense systems that we train in.

13 year old fights back!

There is an interesting article in the NY Post about a 13 year old girl who used feigned compliance to get her attacker to relax his grip until she could run away and get help.  What is most interesting to me is the way that this attack has affected her.  I think some times in our society we think “well, this was only an attempted kidnapping or attempted rape, so she didn’t really get hurt.”  Even though this encounter only lasted a few minutes, it has still greatly changed the way this young child feels about and perceives the world.  We as a society need to remember to have compassion with all victims and survivors regardless of what they have endured.

I hope and pray that years from now, when she has regained her trust in humanity, she will remember this final statement she made in court:

“There is only one good thing that came out of this,” she said. “I showed other little kids that they can fight back. You can always fight back to the bad person that’s trying to hurt you.”

Fall Tour Kicks Off!

This past Monday was the official kick off of our Fall 2009 Tour! I had the pleasure of speaking at the College of Notre Dame at Maryland and man, were those girls awesome!

As I was traveling to the campus, I was enjoying the sights of beautiful downtown Baltimore when I suddenly came upon a huge mass of people crossing the road.  Now, I’m not a big sports fan, but I realized immediately from their matching purple garb that they must have all been going to a game.  Oh well, I thought, I’ve got plenty of time to get there and my trusty GPS to guide me.  As I kept driving the directions I was being given like a good girl, I realized that I was getting closer and closer to the action.  I was going to drive right by the stadium where the Jets and Ravens were playing a pre-season game (ended up being an intense one with a final score of 24-23, Ravens).  And that’s when my GPS instructed me to turn right into the preferred fans parking lot (which requires a parking pass).  I knew I was in trouble.  It wasn’t long before I was frantically asking passers-by for directions while my GPS beeped wildly at me for going off course.  I finally pulled off into a gas station parking lot, my GPS reconfigured my route, and before I could shout “Go Ravens” out of my car window, I was back on the road heading towards CNDM.

Once I arrived on campus, we had a few kinks to overcome including a missing lav mic and a relocated presentation that didn’t end until 30 minutes before I was supposed to start my program. But you know what? None of that mattered one bit! I was still ready to roll a good 10 minutes prior to our start time and the technology gods were smiling on us because my powerpoint and our awesome FBP promo video both ran smoothly (well, mostly smoothly).

This group of girls was funny and so on top of it.  One girl offered to let me use her pepper spray to demo and when I started answering questions, they fired off answers so quickly I couldn’t tell who was saying what.  By the end of the night, I’d decided the best word to describe them was spunky!

All-in-all I’d say it was a great experience for my first time out.  Everybody was super nice to me and the campus was gorgeous.  All my flights were on time, my hotel had a free happy hour (I didn’t partake because I had a gig to go to, but still that’s pretty cool!), and I felt great about starting our fall tour off right!

It isn’t too late to book a fall Fight Back Productions program on your campus or for your corporation.  Check out www.fightbackproductions.com for info and let us teach your staff or students how to kick some tail!

Job Hunting Safely

Nowadays, nearly every one I know and their mama is looking for a job. Job searching used to mean scanning the classifieds in your local paper, but these days your job search probably means a lot of time spent on the Internet.  And the Internet is a fabulous place to find the latest job listings from companies right next door or all the way around the world.

If a good portion of your day is spent refreshing the pages on Craigslist, you have probably seen some listings that seem too good to be true.  Maybe your intuition has told you to be wary, but with more and more Americans running out of their unemployment benefits, you may just feel desperate enough to lower your guard and take the risk.  Unfortunately, you don’t have to look too hard to find stories of crimes that began with contact through websites like Craigslist.

A visit to the Craigslist safety page gives you the following safety tips & information:

The overwhelming majority of craigslist users are trustworthy and well-intentioned.

With billions of human interactions facilitated through craigslist, the incidence of violent crime has been extremely low.

Nevertheless, it’s very important to take the same common sense precautions online as you would offline.

When meeting someone for the first time, please remember to:

  • Insist on a public meeting place like a cafe
  • Tell a friend or family member where you’re going
  • Take your cell phone along if you have one
  • Consider having a friend accompany you
  • Trust your instincts

Taking these simple precautions helps make craigslist safer for everyone.

For more information about personal safety online, check out these resources:

These are good tips, especially for meeting someone off the personal ads, but how can we apply this information to job searching?

Since your first contact with someone posting a job listing online is probably through email, consider opening a free email account solely for the purpose of job searching.  You can create a professional looking email without using your last name for example: heatherm@gmail.com.  This way if the listing is an email phishing scam, you won’t have your regular email pounded with spam.  Likewise, you can use an answering service so that you don’t have to give out your actual phone number and a PO Box for a mailing address.  Maybe you have a few friends that could benefit from this as well?  Split the costs!  For more information about cyber-safe resumes check out: Job Hunt.org.

By the time you agree to a face-to-face interview with someone, you should have learned the name of the company and hopefully received a job description.  Be sure to check the Better Business Bureau for details about the company.  You can confirm the legitimacy of the business and find out a lot about how they run their business by the number and type of complaints issued against them.  You’ll want to find out as much as you can about the company before heading to the interview not only to assure your safety, but also to give the best and most knowledgeable interview that you can.

When you arrive for your interview, make sure the business appears legitmate and play close attention to your intuition.  Certainly, tell friends and family where you are going and take your cell phone along.  Just don’t forget to silence it for your interview.  There is nothing wrong with having a friend go with you on an interview as long as they stay out of sight (maybe in the car or at a nearby coffee shop).  Hopefully, by this point, you have done your research on the company and are ready to get that job!

Self Defense for Everyone

This past Wednesday, I had the honor of giving my very first ever Girls Fight Back presentation at the Industries for the Blind here in my hometown.  I worried so much before I got there.  I worried about offending the girls I would be speaking to, I worried about not being able to present the information in a way that would be effective for them,  I just worried… A LOT!

I presented to a small group of girls with varying degrees of vision capabilities who were a part of the IFB’s Summer Camp Experience.  When I arrived, they were chowing down on pizza and laughing about their morning adventure visiting a local farm.  I got set-up and started talking to the girls about the program.

Within 10 minutes of starting the presentation, I stopped worrying.  I stopped because these girls had already interjected a dozen or more personal stories and asked what felt like a hundred questions.  I realized that the desire to learn and the yearning to tell our own stories transcends our differences.

The gig was a huge hit with the girls and their teacher even asked if I would be willing to come back and teach the staff at IFB!

On Saturday, I presented two programs back to back.  One for teens at a local teen club and one for mommies at a local church.  Doing two gigs in a row like that was tough!  But once I got started, I found all this energy rushing into me.  Both were a great success and I couldn’t believe the amazing response I got from all the participants.

You would think that I couldn’t find three groups with greater differences than these.  I mean, high school girls, mommies, and teenagers with varying degrees of blindness, what do they have in common?  But after each presentation, at least one audience member approached me to express their fears.  One young girl at IFB said that she lived in fear of being out after dark.  One teen told me there was a certain street near her house that she didn’t dare walk down alone.  A couple of mommies talked about spending thousands of dollars on high tech alarm systems, but still being overwhelmed by the fear that someone might snatch their children away from them at the mall, grocery store or local park.

As women, we all live with these fears.  Fears that were passed down to us by our mothers and their mothers before them.  This week, in a brilliant article in the Huffington Post, writer Ellen Snortland (author of Beauty Bites Beast) suggests that we put an end to this legacy of fear by creating instead a legacy of safety.  Along with some awesome safety tips and a sweet shout-out to Girls Fight Back, she argues that self-defense training should be a mandatory part of getting a driver’s license.  What do you think?  Check out the article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-snortland/license-to-live-time-to-m_b_253316.html  and leave us your thoughts in the comments!

Wing Chun

So, I told you all I would keep you posted on the self-defense training I’m trying out these days, and I realized it’s been awhile. After taking a Krav Maga class, I started learning the basics of Wing Chun, a form of Kung Fu. Wing Chun was one of Bruce Lee’s favorite types of martial arts, and it just so happens that this style of combat was created by a woman who needed to defend herself against an abusive man. It is designed to be used against larger opponents and focuses alot on stability and relaxation. I have practiced yoga for several years and am 5’2″, so these things really appealed to me. In addition, I happen to have a friend who has been willing to teach this to me at his house once a week, in exchange for Graphic Design work. This option fits my budget and busy schedule very well, so I couldn’t pass it up.

I’ve had three or four sessions so far, and wanted to share some of my findings with you. One thing I like about Wing Chun (and the environment in which I am learning it) is that it’s very simple. The main focus is on maintaining balance, a strong foundation, and protecting the center-line of the body. If all of these things are in place and working together, it becomes much easier to remain calm in a bad situation, and if you are stable and aware, it becomes much easier to throw your opponent off balance. Though Wing Chun is considered to be a high martial art, it doesn’t focus on yelling, making funny noises, or breaking through bricks with your bare hands, none of which seem very practical to me. At this point, I have only learned the very basics, such as how to move my body in unison, with the power coming from the hips, how to throw a punch without hurting myself, and do this with maximum force, and some basic elbow strikes, blocks, and kicks. I must say, I am really enjoying these lessons and find this to be one of the more practical forms of martial arts as well as a relaxing and centering past-time. Plus, it looks really cool once you get these moves down and can do them really fast. Your friends will be totally impressed.

Another important lesson that I have learned is to keep my shoulders relaxed and learn how to use the elbows, hips, and knees to generate power. Being relaxed not only allows us to remain focused and not freak out, but also allows us to read our opponent. For example, say some scary bad guy grabs my arm. If I tense my arm, that arm is no longer serving me as a weapon and I am forgetting about all the other tools I have at hand. Also, he can feel that tension and respond by using MORE force. If I let that arm relax, then I can focus on the other parts of my body that ARE available to me. Also, if my attacker is tense, and I am relaxed, I am able to recognize the instant that he releases tension and respond by kicking his ass before he knows what hit him. This stuff is so simple and makes so much sense, some days it’s hard to believe I’m just learning it now. But, that’s kinda how it goes with self-defense, you don’t know how easy it is to be your own best protector until you find a good sparring buddy.

On that note, I want to talk a little about how this experience is affecting me. I don’t consider myself to be a very aggressive person and don’t particularly like the idea of physical confrontation, so when my friend told me a during our lesson a few weeks ago to punch him in the solerplexes, I had a rough time with that. I understand that it is necessary to put this stuff into practice and use proper form and know where to hit, but I think, like many women, the idea of fighting is just not natural to me and I don’t want to use violence. On the flip side, as a member of Girls Fight Back, I am constantly exposed to stories of violence and tragedy, so I know just how possible it is that I may be faced with a situation in which fighting could save my life. Maybe all the Kung Fu training in the world won’t protect me from all the scary bad guys out there, but maybe, just maybe, the skills I am learning now will allow me to take care of myself if the opportunity arises. I think it is better to have these tools in my toolbox in case I ever need them, than to be “stuck up shits creek without a paddle” as they say.

Be a Bad Victim . . . And Look Good Doing It!

Very recently, I took one of my favorite people to a krav maga class to put her on the path to becoming her own best protector and to show her fighting is not about strength or size (she’s “fun sized” like me), it’s about spirit and will. Well, she loved the groundfighting portion of the class and is figuring out a plan on how to fit more classes into her life and budget. Mission accomplished!

However, we were driving back from the martial studios and she asked me a very common question: How do I keep bad guys away from me? I started talking to her about being a bad victim/hard target, especially on the street when she popped in a surprising question. She asked me, “What do mean bad victim . . . like wearing pants?” Now keep in mind my friend is a strong, educated, and successful woman. However, she also proved that there are still unfounded stereotypes about how women should act in the world if they want to avoid attackers. For example, if you don’t want to be attacked, don’t do the following: wear a skirt, wear a dress (especially if it’s short), wear high heels, or go out by yourself at night. I think it’s time we put these ideas and stereotypes to rest because they’re not accurate, they’re not empowering, and they’re not even practical. I do not know one woman who never has to walk to car by herself or occasionally dress up her style with an adorable dress or skirt. And you know what? We have every right to do both of those things. That’s right, it’s your right to walk around by yourself and look fabulous doing it!

My friend and I kept talking about what it really means to be a bad victim on the street and I did my best to explain to her that it’s really not about what you wear. It’s how you carry yourself. Carry yourself with confidence, use strong body language and make a choice to be aware of what is around you and you are being a bad victim, even if you are wearing a skirt while walking to your car by yourself at night. I encourage all women to be a bad victim but I also encourage doing it with style!

Self Defense Classes

We often get asked about self-defense classes. What are the best classes to take, where can I find one, what are the differences between them…Well, I have asked all of these questions, too, and know that I am training to become an expert on personal safety and self-defense, I decided to do the research for you and share my findings on this lovely little blog!

So, I’ve heard alot about this thing called Krav Maga, an Israeli form of martial arts. People have told me that this is the only style of martial arts that applies to real world situations, so last week, I decided to check it out for myself. I contacted the Denver studio via their website and was invited to try a free class. I arrived at the studio, located in the thriving Five Points neighborhood, as the intermediate class was finishing up. While I filled out the typical sign-your-life-away paperwork that studios such as this require, I observed the class as it finished up. It seemed quite intense so I asked the receptionist if this was an intermediate class and when she responded that it was, I felt relieved. Clearly my beginner’s class wouldn’t be so intense, or so I thought…

We started, as many martial arts classes do, by lining up at the front of the room and taking a bow. Then we went right into jumping jacks (something that my muscles remember vaguely from high school) then alternated with push-ups and some basic blocks with a partner. I asked the woman I was attempting to punch if this was a self-defense class or more of a cardio-kickboxing class. She assured me that it is a self-defense class with a very intense warm-up. After this we moved to the floor for ab-work (another distant memory for my core muscles) and then did a little stretching. The tone of the warm-up was similar to what I picture boot camp to feel like; a super tough guy yelling at you and attempting to break you down. By the end of the warm-up, I was terrified, but I didn’t run.

Next we got with a partner and practiced hitting pads with our palm-heel. This was getting fun. As a student of FAST Defense, I have grown to appreciate my adrenaline as an important survival tool, and I love self-defense classes that give me an opportunity to channel it and make it work for me. Next we moved into some attack scenarios, first watching the instructor and his assistant walk through a frontal choking situation. He showed us how to get out of this and what not to do, then we broke it down into steps and practiced one step at a time with our partners. We started with a block, then added a palm strike, and finally added a knee to the groin. The order and speed in which we learned this was very easy to understand and really simplified the moves. Throughout the class, the instructor came around and offered feedback and criticism on our form and force.

We ended the class the way we started, with jumping-jacks, push-ups, and ab-work, but this time we had to move quickly from the floor into palm strikes and back again. This helped to prepare us for the idea that we may have to get off the ground and fight for our lives at some point, so we should be ready. The yelling and intensity of the class in general was also directly relevant to real-life situations. Most attackers will not walk up to you and quietly ask you to cooperate. It is much more likely that they will come in swinging or grabbing and screaming obscenities, so this type of training really helps to desensitize us. In addition to Krav Maga being a great way to get some practical self-defense training, it is also an AWESOME work out! I left the class completely in love and wanting to continue. Unfortunately, it is not cheap and I am financially challenged at the moment so I chose not to buy a membership, but if I could, I would.

The fortunate thing about not committing to one type of training is that now I can go take free classes in all sorts of martial arts studios and report back on how they differ. An artist friend of mine is an expert in Wing Chun, a form of Kung Fu. He approached me about building him a website and I agreed to trade my design services for his expertise. Last Wednesday was day one, so I don’t have alot to share yet, but as I learn more, I’ll keep you posted. So far, all I can really say about Wing Chun is that it’s main focus is on protecting the center-line of the body. It is a very slow and meditative practice and the polar opposite of Krav Maga.

That’s all for now, but check back next week for an update and take advantage of the free classes offered in your area (most studios will allow you to try one free before signing up). Peace.

Jenn Doe
Marketing Intern