Self Defense Strategies All Women and Kids Should Know

by Meghan Yost

It is a scary world we live in, and since I was a little kid, my parents have instilled in me to always be aware of my surroundings.

To some this topic may seem a bit morose, but as the saying goes, ‘It can happen to anyone,’ and by ‘it’ I mean a worst case scenario. I believe situational awareness and preparation can help you spring into action if you’re ever faced with danger.

I also believe that’s why four young girls in Michigan successfully fought off their attempted kidnapper.

You’ve probably heard the story in the news by now, but if not, the girls, ages 11 to 14, were leaving a gas station when Bruce Hipkins grabbed one of them, telling her, “You’re coming with me.”

The girls weren’t having any of it. They fought back by throwing hot coffee on Hipkins, kicking and yelling (girl power!)

“The girls did exactly as they should have,” said Connecticut martial artist instructor Drew Serrano.

Through the program Escape Alive, Serrano offers free self defense classes to women. Whether you’re looking for basic strategies, or to commit to long-term training, the classes can help you prepare for a worst case scenario.

“We teach people to visualize when they see a news story such as this and ask themselves the question, ‘What would I do if this happened to me?’ Serrano explained. “Not all training is physical. Mental preparation is just as important.”

Serrano says all too often people who find themselves in threatening situations freeze. In fact, one of the girls in Michigan paused for a moment wondering, ‘Is this a test?’

“Violent situations, attempted kidnappings, terrorist attacks, all put a person in a state of disbelief at first,” Serrano said. “It is surreal and our natural tendency is to freeze or rationalize. Is this really happening?”

Doing so gives a predator the opportunity to gain control, which is why training in an adrenaline-induced situation, such as a reputable self defense class like Escape Alive, is paramount. It can prepare a person to overcome the initial “mental freezing” and allow their survival skills to kick in.

“We all want to feel confident in our ability to protect ourselves and those we love, but the reality is things happen fast and without preparation,” Serrano said. “Your chances of getting out of a dangerous situation are slim. The more you do to prepare, the more prepared you will be. It is a simple formula.”

“The more you do to prepare, the more prepared you will be. It is a simple formula.”

Drew Serrano

While keeping your distance and avoiding a potentially dangerous situation is your first line of defense, if you are ever confronted with an imminent threat, here are six key things to keep in mind.


For a child, that could mean school items they may have on hand, like pens, books, backpacks, etc.

For adults, a weapon could come in the form of a purse, a cell phone, car keys, or even a grocery bag loaded with canned goods.

If you’re leaving the gym, reach for your water bottle. If it’s weighted down with water, even better.

“Almost anything can be used as a weapon, but some thought and preparation is helpful,” Serrano says.


If you come face-to-face with an attacker, yell and scream as loud as you can. Creating noise draws others to the situation, alerting them to help or get help.

“This is especially important in the case of an adult predator and a child victim because the child is at a physical disadvantage,” Serrano said.


The goal, first and foremost, is to escape a situation, but if escape is not possible, it’s critical to fight back.

Serrano says avoid hitting the torso, as some attackers may have the strength to withstand a blow in their abdomen, while others who are overweight may not feel a strike.

Instead, aim for the head, face, eyes, neck and groin, which are the most vulnerable areas.


One of the first strikes Serrano teaches involves the palm, because it’s the safest option and reduces your risk of injury while fighting back.

“Open your hand all the way, keep your fingers and thumb together, and strike with your palm heel,” Serrano explained.

People want to live with blinders on. It can happen anywhere, at anytime.

Drew Serrano


This may sound brutal to someone who has never found themselves in a vulnerable, violent position, but Serrano says remember, “We are talking about someone that is attacking you; not your friend.”

It’s important to mentally commit to whatever it takes to escape the danger. If you don’t do so and end up being abducted, Serrano says your survival decreases dramatically.


Because everyone is different, what works for one person may not work for another.

“Some people have a bad back, bad knees, bad balance,” Serrano explained. “Not everyone can use a kick efficiently. Not everyone can punch correctly.”

This is where self defense training comes in — to help you figure out your best options.

In addition to these tips, Serrano says it’s key to always keep your eyes open for potential threats, notice cars that could be following you, don’t walk alone, and don’t run with earphones or music that drowns out the noise around you. Also, limit the amount of personal information you share, whether at work or otherwise.

And don’t think it will never happen to you.

“People want to live with blinders on,” Serrano said. “It can happen anywhere, at anytime. A person can seem like the nicest person in the world when you are with them, but be a child predator behind closed doors. They can say hello to you at a store and then kill their neighbor the next day. They can be your husband’s best friend and rape you when he is away on business, as was the case with Donna Palomba founder of Jane Doe No More, who we partner with.”

The bottom line is that you must be prepared if evil ever shows up at your doorstep.

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1 comment

Mangaka. Agnes Molato September 24, 2019 - 6:19 am

thanks this was really helpful and would like to indroduce it yto my country

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