College Bound – Protecting Our Daughters – The 4 A’s of Self Defense

As our babies, we cradled them in our arms when they were infants. We kissed them, nurtured them, supervised them, encouraged them, supported them, loved them as they grew and matured and… protected them. As loving parents, protecting our children is not just our responsibility, it’s our passion. But how do we protect them when we’re physically separated from them and they from us?

How do we insure their safety in a world growing madder, more insane, more unstable and more dangerous by the day, aka the Georgia Tech Massacre on 16 April 2007 in which thirty-three people died, mostly college students, a horrible, heart-wrenching event claiming the unwelcomed title as the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history? Even when our little girls are accomplished and mature women, even mothers, they will always be our children and our hearts can never be severed from the angst to protect them and keep them safe and out of Harm’s way.

I remember when both my daughters went off to college. It was a transformative experience. All grown up, leaving home and ready to take on the world, they were still more vulnerable than they knew, but I knew it in spite of their comforting, parting words, “Don’t worry, Dad. I’ll by okay.” As parents, “okay” is what we pray for.

Here are some sobering thoughts from

1. “Sexual assault statistics including female college students have been the subject of various studies. In a 1988 national study involving 32 college campuses, one in four students was found to be a victim of rape or attempted rape. Some studies have suggested sexual assault statistics among college students is so high because of the role of alcohol and drugs. Many women believe reporting a sexual assault against a person if they have been drinking or were intoxicated cannot occur, but this is not right. Sexual assault is a violation, and being intoxicated does not mean the law no longer applies.”

2. “Sexual assault statistics show that 17 percent of reported cases against females resulted in injured victims. The 1992 National Victim Center and Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center sexual assault statistics reported 80 percent of sexual assault survivors knew their assailant at least by sight. The impact left because of sexual assault can be physically, psychologically and emotionally damaging, and denial is particularly strong in victims who knew their assailants.”

So how do we protect our children, especially our daughters, when they’re college-bound and away from home, helping insure their peace of mind as well as ours? One way is to give them the gift of a female self-defense workshop. The odds of our girls being attacked, assaulted and potentially raped is higher when they’re alone, perhaps walking to their dorm in the evening, going shopping, even studying in a secluded library. There will be times when they will be alone… and potentially vulnerable.

Vulnerable that is if they have no skills to defend themselves. The reality is that women who fight back in an assault have a greater chance of survival than those who do not fight back. Predators prey on the weak, not the strong. When confronted with a daunting adversary, predators move on to other prey, weaker prey. Giving our girls the gift of empowerment via women’s self-defense lessons helps them protect themselves when we cannot. After all, when our children become adults, it’s their responsibility to protect themselves. Having them study martial arts or taking a self-defense workshop (perhaps with Mom) designed especially for females, is one means of helping them help themselves. It is also one means by which we, as loving parents, can help insure the safety of our beloved children and daughters, especially when they’re college bound.

The 4 As of Self-Defense

As a professional martial arts instructor and owning my own karate studio for over thirty years, here are a few valuable tips that can help any person protect their life:

Having the right Mindset is critical to survival. We call this the 4 As of Self-Defense.

1.Awareness. Don’t beware, be aware. Awareness is critical no matter where you are. It’s also important to know who’s watching you?If you’re in a grocery store, gas station, department store, at a park, wherever – always be observant of your surroundings. This is your first line of defense.

2. Attitude – To survive, you must have an attitude of survival, having made a choice beforehand that you will fight to survive and not simply acquiesce to the demands of your assailant. Be like the sun – life giving in its warmth but scorching if someone gets too close. Another analogy is to be like a lioness – loving of her cubs unless someone tries to hurt them and which point she becomes a vicious adversary. Too, keep in mind that you are not a victim. Your attacker is the victim. Flip the assault coin. Attack your attacker. Finally, you must have an undying will to survive. If your opponent’s will to harm you is stronger than your desire to live or remain safe, your chances of victory are not good. In an attack situation, your will to survive trumps all else.

3. Aggression – Being passive in a physical assault is a recipe for being assaulted or worse. In the early, non-physical, part of a potential situation, passivity may be called for, but if the action becomes physical, fighting – and being aggressive in the fight – is the remedy for survival. The famous general George Patton said: “In war, the only true defense is offense.”

He was absolutely right. From my professional point of view and tens of thousands of hours of teaching self-defense in all my decades of teaching, your chances of victory are far better when you attack. You have more options and practically an infinite number of capabilities. However, a defensive posture is limited and the potentials of defeat are increased because in being defensive we become reactive and action is always faster than reaction. Therefore, we need to be highly proactive and aggressive if we choose to survive a physical assault.

4. Acumen – These are the defense skills which include finger pokes, stabs and claws to the eyes of your opponent; palm strikes to his eyes as well or face, especially using double palm strikes under the chin; knee strikes or kicks to the groin or his knees. Taking a self-defense class at a local and reputable self-defense studio will be of great help.