I have trained a lot of people. One of the most common questions I get in self defence classes is something along the lines of “So how do I get out if he grabs me like this?” Ladies especially are very concerned about how to escape if a male attacker is on top of them during a rape situation. I have found that ladies often question their ability to escape from attackers in guard or mount position and that they believe that because they are smaller and sometimes physically weaker than males, that they will not be able to escape. There are various effective techniques we teach them to escape. Some ladies master the escapes faster than others and some ladies really struggle to get out.
The idea is not to end up in a compromised position
But the most important lesson is not only learning how to escape but rather how not to end up in that position in the first place. You see, while it may be possible to escape some of the time, it is not always possible as there may be various factors at play. The attacker may just be physically stronger than you. He may be more experienced at physical violence. You may be injured and unable to fight back etc. But if you are not there in the first place, this is not a concern. A rape situation does not start on the ground when you are pinned down and unable to escape. A rape situation starts way earlier when the attacker is planning to make his move. A carjacking does not start with the attacker sticking a gun in your face through your window. It starts way earlier when he is selecting you as a potential victim and following you to a possible choke point where you can be ambushed. Often the attacker will display pre-attack indicators. This could range from physical indicators to verbal indicators. The better you become at recognizing and correctly interpreting pre-attack indicators, the better the chances are that you will act appropriately to avoid/avert the initial approach of the attacker. If you can manage to avoid/avert the approach, it may not be necessary to escape from a pinned down position on the ground.
If your first thought is how do I get out when he holds me like this or like that, it means that you are in a victim mindset. You have already become the prey. You are the baby impala desperately trying to escape the suffocating neck-bite of a lion who just caught you. Instead, you should be the alert impala who spots the lion approaching, the one snorting a warning signal to warn the others to get out of there before the lion strikes.
Self defence classes should focus on much more than physical techniques
When learning self-defense, learning how the criminal predator’s mind works, how he selects his victims, the pre-attack indicators he displays and the modus operandi he uses to overpower his victim should be your first priority. If you can avoid it or de-escalate it without physical confrontation, you have actively defended yourself. That is what you want right? If you have to lift your hands, apply a strike, escape from a choke, grab or hold, it means that several things went wrong and can still go wrong for you. You either did not pay attention to what was going on around you or you did not respond to the situation correctly. Granted, sometimes it is impossible to see an attack coming as you may be ambushed and the only thing you can do then is to apply physical techniques. However, the vast majority of attacks can be avoided.
I visited Johannesburg this week to train a large corporate company and I was alarmed at seeing how almost every person in traffic next to me were busy with their phones. If I was a smash and grab robber or hi-jacker I would have had a field day. Nobody would see me coming. I saw people walking on the side walks with their faces buried in their phones. Some listened to music with their phones connected to earphones. To a criminal this means: EASY OPPORTUNITY.