An attack can happen in less than 7 seconds, which is why women traveling solo (well, anyone traveling solo really) need to know some basic self defense techniques to keep themselves safe. So, since my little 107lb ass likes to wander around the globe alone, I looked into all sorts of self defense classes for women, but, most were too expensive, inconvenient, or just seemed awkward to take part in.
I put off learning self defense techniques for a really long time because of those excuses, and just assumed I would judo-chop anyone if they tried anything. But then I realized that a lot of women might be making the same excuses as me, except they might be realistic and not think they’re ninjas, and it might be a reason why they’re afraid to travel solo!
Afraid to travel solo?! Not if I can help it!!! Being the gung-ho, unofficial, self-proclaimed posterchild of solo female travel, I immediately thought of a way to help solve this problem! A video lesson that women can watch at home, and re-visit for practice or reference!
So instead of having to take an awkward, expensive self defense class, or letting lack of self defense skills be something that scares you from traveling, just check out the video I did with Ryan Adams from Mansion Fitness that shows 5 different dangerous scenarios, and techniques to protect yourself from them! …he’s not terrible to watch either.
I’ve also written out the scenarios and techniques below for a quick reference in case you’re like me and hate watching videos 🙂
With all of these techniques, the goal is to CREATE SPACE, CAUSE ATTENTION, and GET AWAY.
Scenario 1: Front Choke Attack
This is a pretty aggressive scenario that’s probably not as likely as the others, but DEFINITELY not one you want to be in and not know how to get out of. This can happen if someone is trying to rob you, kidnap you, rape you, or even kill you, so knowing the techniques before your fight or flight kicks in can definitely save you.
Technique 1: “High Ball / Low Ball” – Try to gauge their eyeballs out with your thumbs, or try to knee them in the balls.
Technique 2: “Unlock & Defend” – If you can’t reach him, unlock his arms by hitting them in the elbow crease, then using the space to go for the eye gauge.
Technique 3: “Head Diversion” – Always remember “You go where your head goes”, if you can reach his face, use your hand to push it away from you so that his body turns away as well.
Scenario 2: Back Attack
This is a scenario where someone attacks you from the back, with the intention to silence you and likely force you somewhere. Always be aware of your surroundings, but never underestimate the slickness of an attacker. If your mouth is covered, scream as soon as it is uncovered, since you know that noise is something the attacker was concerned about.
Technique 1: “Finger Trigger Point” – You know how you see cops do that cool thing to bad guys where they just grab a trigger point on their hand and they fall to their knees? You can do that with someone’s finger – just pull ONE of them back as far as you can.
Technique 2: “Bite” – It might be gross, but definitely effective. If someone is covering your mouth…BITE IT.
Technique 3: “Elbow and Kick” – if someone is holding you from behind, that means their ribs and legs are exposed. Elbow and kick backwards as hard as you can.
Scenario 3: Theft Attack
Whether the attacker has a weapon or not, the goal is to give them whatever they want to avoid injury, and get away as quickly as possible. Screaming helps, but could also potentially be dangerous depending on the attacker… It’s also a good idea to keep valuables locked away, or even carry a decoy wallet and keep your money and ID on you.
Technique 1: “Buy Time to Create Space” – In the event that the attacker has grabbed you and is demanding something from you, buy time by “searching” through your bag as you “look” for what they asked for. As you do that, back up as much as possible until you “find” the item they are demanding.
Technique 2: “Throw it Away” – Whatever the attacker is demanding, whether it’s the iPhone 6 in your hand, or your entire purse, throw it as far away from you as possible, and if you can, to the side, or behind the attacker.
Scenario 4: Back Attack Choke Hold
This scenario is especially dangerous, because the attacker holds the capability to potentially make you pass out. It can happen very quickly, and you can make it worse if you try to get away without realizing you’re making it worse!
Technique 1: “Chin Tuck” – The first thing you should do, and what you’ll likely do instinctively anyway, is tuck your chin down to create space between your neck and the attacker’s arm.
Technique 2: “Elbow, Kick, and Headbutt” – Just like the “back attack” scenario, if the attacker is using their arms to contain you, that leaves their ribs, legs, face, and balls open to be elbowed, kicked, and even head-butted.
Scenario 5: Pre-Sexual Assault
In most occasions, sexual assault doesn’t just happen when a random person attacks you and forces you to do things. There are events leading up to it that cause it, such as having drinks with a stranger, or trusting someone without really knowing their intentions or capabilities. It’s fun to meet new people when you’re traveling solo…but it’s not fun to fall victim to sexual assault.
Technique 1: “Communicate Clearly” – If someone is coming on to you and making you uncomfortable, tell them clearly and concisely that you are not looking for “any relations”, and be sure to say it loudly to alert others around you in case the person persists.
Technique 2: “Create Space Without Causing Harm” – If a potential sexual assaulter already has you in an uncomfortable position, that might mean they are also capable of causing violence. Don’t do anything (like judo-chop) that will further spark someone to do something violent, instead, push away, duck under, pinch if you have to, and them move as far away as possible.
Technique 3: “TELL SOMEONE” – Hopefully if someone sees you in an uncomfortable, possibly dangerous situation, they’ll step in and say something, but in the event that they don’t, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to tell the bartender or waiter that you feel uncomfortable, because there’s a good chance they’ll either scare the person off, or have them removed.
Hopefully these techniques help you, I do believe if you just keep practicing them and get your mind set on how you would handle a situation, that you’ll be able to self-defend yourself.
Then again I also believe that walking around with extreme confidence and a resting bitch face is enough to scare anyone away, so feel free to try that technique too!
Alyssa is a self-made, full time travel blogger who loves adventure and typically travels the world solo. She's been to 53 countries and 6 continents so far, and believes she has mastered the art of chasing waterfalls, traveling solo, wine drinking, and making budget-traveling look good. Curious to know how she started this career? Check out the About section above!