Self-protection for Asian women during the pandemic
April 1, 2021 2:55 PM   Subscribe

What are some things Asian women in big cities can do to protect themselves as targets of random street violence? This is specifically during mask-wearing, pandemic times and in cities such as NYC and SF. I am planning on purchasing a keychain alarm and wearing shoes with some height so that I appear taller.

As is clear in the news, Asian people, especially Asian people of smaller stature are being attacked and being left to fend for ourselves. Answers that do not suggest traveling in groups are appreciated, as most working adults do not have the luxury of moving around only in groups of people.
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (29 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Shortish woman from the continent of Asia here and I've thought about some of this too. Keychain alarm is a good idea. I'd pick up some pepper spray too. I might avoid the subway very late at night in NYC as well -- seems to me that a lot of the worst stuff happens at night in the subways when there aren't a ton of people around.
posted by shaademaan at 3:06 PM on April 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Hat to hide my hair, biggest face mask to hide my face, tinted glasses that hide my eyes. I carry pepper spray since its easy to get. I don't worry about my 5'3" height, lots of men and boys are my size.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 3:09 PM on April 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

Learn a couple phrases of Spanish to confuse any would-be attacker? Any attacker has to ID you as Asian first, so wear a cap, big mask, and dress casual. Blend into the crowd, so to speak.

I am fully Asian, but I don't look Asian as I'm big and stocky and tall (6 ft) and I actually speak relatively fluent Spanish. Most people are just confused as to my origins, many believing me to be Filipino-American (I'm actually Chinese American).
posted by kschang at 3:14 PM on April 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Take a self-defense class like this one, where you can learn to use your full force against a padded trainer. You will be amazed how much strength and courage you have. The years of socialization - to be nice and harmless and helpless and yielding - will crackle and fall away. It is literally life-changing.
posted by dum spiro spero at 3:59 PM on April 1, 2021 [9 favorites]

I have been thinking about this too. I haven't done this yet, but maybe curl your hair or dye your hair? Also wearing sunglasses, wearing a mask, avoiding the subway, changing the route you take if possible, not listening to music/podcasts while walking around to increase awareness of surroundings?
posted by gemutlichkeit at 4:40 PM on April 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

When deciding whether or not to carry pepper spray, a knife, etc. keep in mind that those kinds of weapons could potentially be used against you. In addition, most people will need a fair amount of practice to use such a device in the heat of the moment.
posted by oceano at 4:49 PM on April 1, 2021 [10 favorites]

As a white woman, can I just say that this question breaks my heart, and I'm so sorry you need to ask it. One of the terrible things about these attacks is they seem to completely blindside the victims ... the cowards just rush up. I'd be really happy to hear other suggestions as well ... my friend who's a small Asian woman is carrying a full-sized can of wasp spray, because it shoots farther than pepper spray.
posted by cyndigo at 5:04 PM on April 1, 2021 [17 favorites]

Pepper spray: you can't ship pepper spray in NY, you have to buy it at specific places in person, and it has to be pocket-size. I am pretty sure you can get it in NJ and PA at camping or military surplus stores, though. Practice (without actually shooting it) so you know which way it is pointing if you need it. Also check the knife laws in NY and anywhere else you travel. Knife laws are specific to the state and locality. Knives are very easy to use against you if you don't have a lot of practice. Totally legal items you can walk around with any time can include a roll of nickels or quarters or a bar of soap in a sock, a walking stick, knitting needles with a point, a metal stapler, or an umbrella. You should not use fire extinguishers except in a serious threat-to-your-life emergency, but they are very heavy and the hose is attached securely enough that you can swing them hard, or pull the pin and blow them.

Running is better than fighting, but if you must, fight "dirty"-- go for the instep and toes , knees, crotch, throat, and eyes if you can't run. Your priorities are safe, free, and alive, and anyone who attacks you and gets hurt deserves it, as far as I am concerned. In NYC, sit in the middle of the train if you can since that's where the conductor is. In SF, the driver is in the front. In both SF and NYC, walk your common routes as a dry run without time pressure to get home so you know where the dark places and pinch points are likely to be, and know the alternatives to your route (alternative trains/buses, turn offs down side streets, where the drunks typically hang out, etc.) The middle of the street is often safer than the sidewalk after midnight/when there is little traffic because it's harder to sneak up on you or block you from running away. Parked vehicles will block your line of sight and escape path, so it's best to avoid that if you can. Try to alternate your route frequently so that nobody can build a pattern. If there is someone who is behind you, turn and look at them full in the face-- it's really assertive and it becomes harder for them to take you by surprise.

I am a queer-looking, short person (white, though) and I've found that sometimes looking boring helps a lot: no logos, graphics, or pins/badges, ball cap with no logo, sunglasses, neutral colors. Walk with purpose, don't hunch, cultivate a blank but pleasant expression on the rest of your face. Flipping out and being immediately, suddenly crazy also works: think like you're trying to scare a mountain lion, so scream obscenities, wave your arms, throw trash, drool and spit, and be as big and terrifying as possible. If roll-eyes/thin courteous smile doesn't work, immediately go to screaming and dangerous if you can't just leave the situation. It is worth it to practice this before you need it. Sorry, I hope it doesn't come down to it.
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:35 PM on April 1, 2021 [10 favorites]

I am not Asian, but I am certainly quite slight, and I have had to think about this quite seriously during certain periods of my life while living in less than safe environments.

In terms of self-protection, I'd be fearful of pepper spray being used against me, especially getting into my eyes/contacts. The idea of a knife would give me an absolute nervous breakdown: I do NOT want to cut anyone. I know someone in the 70s/80s in NYC who carried a cattle prod. Hit the button and down they go, but I'd be afraid of shocking someone to death.

I've heard differing opinions about carrying a phone and being ready to dial immediately, or even feigning conversation while you walk. On the whole, it seemed a little better to do this that not. I would also absolutely always carry your keys in your hand. And, this is harder, if not impossible (or even dangerous) in pandemic times, but I've carried a whistle on my key chain for years. I like it because it can't hurt me. No one notices it. And I can keep it in my hand at all times. Anyway, I would encourage the purchase of an electronic version of a whistle that fits on a keychain, say. I've used mine once years ago, and did stop an attacker. Damn if they didn't mistake me for a policewoman! One blow and they started running. Two and they were down the block. By the third, they had disappeared.
posted by Violet Blue at 6:40 PM on April 1, 2021 [5 favorites]

Make sure your tall shoes won’t hamper your ability to run. I’m sorry you have to deal with this.
posted by Comet Bug at 7:50 PM on April 1, 2021 [11 favorites]

Lots of excellent advice above. Yes to only changing your shoes if you have ease of movement. Yes to hair tucking, and any clothing that bulks up your silhouette.

Parked vehicles will block your line of sight and escape path, so it's best to avoid that if you can.

This applies to parking lots as well. If you are a driver, avoid using parking spots where your car can be hemmed in by other cars. Park as close to the building as you can and be aware of security cameras and try to park within their coverage.

changing the route you take if possible, not listening to music/podcasts while walking around to increase awareness of surroundings?

Yes yes yes to this. It's super difficult as a small obviously vulnerable human moving through the world just trying to get where I'm going without getting hurt. "Who might be watching/stalking/planning to hurt me?" is unfortunately a helpful, healthy running mental narrative I've had to train myself to adopt. Listen to the hairs on the back of your neck. Don't ever discount them even if you're tired/running late/it makes no sense. They stand up for reasons.

Lastly, it is so beyond fucked that you are in this position. I wish I could travel with you, and I am doing so in spirit.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 8:06 PM on April 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

I've seen this Etsy link shared in a group for Viets in NYC for self-defense packs put together by an AsAm woman firefighter as a fundraiser. It includes a loud personal alarm and a window breaker. If needed, you can ask for a sponsored (free) pack on her Instagram @sarinyyya
Similar to previous comments, others in the same NYC group have mentioned getting mace, avoiding public transportation, not letting people walk behind them or approach them quickly on the street, and having keys ready in fist when reaching apartment to unlock doors quickly. (Someone even recommended that MF mainstay, The Gift of Fear.)
My AsAm friend's mom asked her to find a folding cane that she could carry in her purse as a makeshift weapon/tool.
The Center for Anti-Violence Education has an online workshop for de-escalation and self-defense techniques to respond to anti-Asian violence on Saturday, April 17.
Take care, stay safe, eat well if you can.
posted by eyeball at 8:45 PM on April 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

I keep seeing “pepper spray or a knife“ pop up. (Emphasis mine) don’t carry a knife for self defense unless you’re fully willing to kill another human being with it.

Pepper spray is super effective, but you’ll also end up taking a fair bit of it yourself if you use it. So be prepared.

I fully second taking a self defense class, I guarantee that you are stronger and more capable than you give yourself credit for and a good class helps unlock that.
posted by LastAtlanticWalrus at 9:04 PM on April 1, 2021 [7 favorites]

I dunno; I am a medium-sized (5'4'') Chinese woman in a coastal city and while I remember the instructions from my self-defense class from the town community center (shout "No" on every move, hammer fist, elbow jab, stomp, go for soft and / or painful spots...), I don't actually think most people practice enough to deploy it in an actual situation.

Is there something to be said for looking more socially privileged than other potential victims / as many potential attackers as possible? Deterrence before defense. Like suburb-wealthy. Boring clothes, neutral expression, attitude of "if someone attacks me well that's their fault".
posted by batter_my_heart at 9:25 PM on April 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

(Not Asian, but small-framed woman that has always lived in shady neighborhoods and have had multiple attempted attacks on me in public at various times, including 2 occasions of people trying to followed home/force their way into my apartment at night).

The best defense against getting attacked in these situations is to avoid them in the first place. I personally would rather be alone than with another person a lot of the time- it's easier for me to be constantly scanning the environment for anything out of place if I don't have any distractions and my companions have been idiots in the past at avoiding/deescalating conflict so I felt less safe than safer.
Be aware of what is normal around you. What are the routines of your neighbors? Who has visitors often and where do strange people tend to congregate? Make mental notes of possible escape routes and trapped areas where you can be a victim or possibly seek help. Become friendly with others in your area- people are more likely to aid those they know instead of a stranger and it's better to have a neighborhood watch group even if it's informal acquaintances that give each other heads up about stuff.
Don't trust to be alone with these people in trapped areas if you can help it. Predators use similar techniques to find their victims. Have at least 2 exits at all times you can easily get to.
Convenience stores are shady af so if you don't have to go to one don't. Get your stuff at the grocery store if you possibly can.

Self defense classes and physics activities including working out can be awesome- mostly because they give you more fitness and confidence while moving around. If it's possible for you try to be mobile enough that you can run like hell to an escape route to get away.
If you have anything that seems valuable chuck it in the other direction while running. Even if they might not be motivated to rob you it's possible they could get distracted enough to allow you to escape. Don't bring things out in public that seem easy to grab or steal.
Clothing and shoes should be comfortable and easy to move it. Ditch the massive tote purse if you have one and go for something cross body and more mobile. Get groceries delivered if it's an option in your area and you usually take public transit. go for things with zippers so if you have to bolt you're not worried about losing your keys. I keep a keychain with my pepper spray, a house key, and a stabby keychain out that are separate from my other keys (which are usually on a small pocket that's hard to lose). If I have to whip outs the spray I don't want to be fumbling for it.

If you carry pepper spray get a few extra canisters and practice with it to make sure you can quickly and easily use it without spraying yourself (do this outside on a non windy day so you don't get spray back). Don't resort to using it if you can avoid it because it'll be likely to hit you a little too and you want to be sharp so it doesn't come to a physical fight. Same with anything else you decide to carry or use. If you can't use it in the dark when your adrenaline is running and you have little time to deploy it it's more of a hinderance than safety. Better to not depend on it at all than to have it used against you when you could have used that time to maybe get away.
Wasp spray is decent but it's super awkward to carry. I'd keep that in your house by the door and your bed if you decide to use it. Maybe if you don't have any other options but it just isn't practical in my book.

Don't have headphones in or appear distracted while out and about. Most people will leave you alone if they think you're listening to music, but the people that don't are people that have no issues violating small social niceties for their own gain. You don't want them close to you if you can help it. Put as much physical distance as possible between you and suspicious others while out and about- with barriers if possible. That includes moving cars in the subway if something seems off to you. Don't worry about setting alarms off or whatever or seeming rude. Get from point a to point b as fast and efficiently as possible.

Safety is not about being nice. Being nice is how predators trap their victims. Embrace being a bitch, embrace loudly calling people on their shit if you cannot avoid them any longer. Only call people out as a last resort- at that point be ready to throw down if needed. De escalate everything that's possible to diffuse. Talked a dude out of hitting me with a bat in a road rage incident by describing what his small son might see and how as a parent I would hate for anyone's child to witness violence, how he seemed like a level headed guy that was just having a bad day and certainly we could all leave it at that (give people an out to save face if you can). Even if you are not in the wrong and are a true victim at that point it's better to lie through your teeth than to lose them.

If you do get pressed to physically engage your aim is to do whatever it takes to survive the situation. Fight dirty. I've broken fingers because I thought "well I guess this is my dateline moment and if I'm gonna get murdered I'm gonna take down this guy with me). Fight like you are willing to maim and murder the other person. Fight as if you are a cornered wild animal that will chew your way through the other person to get free. At that point you're likely to get physically hurt so just do whatever you can to incapacitate the other person before they do the same to you.

Appearing insane and erratic is also a decent last ditch method. I got rid of a guy that had followed me across several cars on the metro by barking like a dog and jumping on the seats. I guess at that point it was too weird or hard to predict. Treat the other person like a bear and be bigger and louder and weirder to try and get them to go away. Practice this at home because it feels awkward to ad lib for most people.
Practice being rude if you have to. Role play with others in your same circumstances if you can get together even virtually. Be as practiced as you can so it's all second nature if you have to rely on it on the fly.
posted by shesaysgo at 11:07 PM on April 1, 2021 [8 favorites]

I am mixed-race Asian and short. Thought that my proximity to whiteness would keep me safe, so I shouted at a man to stop physically intimidating a woman the other week when no one else was able to make a move. Then last week an asshole verbally aggressed me in front of my kid, because he claimed that my definitely old enough preschooler was too young to be wearing a mask. The way he spoke to me was so degrading and the rage on his face, frightening. We got away and my kid doesn’t seem traumatized by the event. But I’m still pretty shaken.

I’m back to wearing all black. A athletic jacket and pants that an average white woman might might wear out for a jog or to swing by a cafe before yoga, that’s trim for ease of movement but not form-fitting or at all “sexy” so I don’t draw attention. Don’t carry a purse or wear any attention-getting accessories. Running shoes so I am quicker on my feet. I want to get pepper spray as soon as I figure out a way to keep it accessible to me but out of the hands of my child.

For anyone mentioning avoiding public transportation or staying off the streets, please consider that not everyone drives or has family or friends to transport them everywhere.

I’m sorry you don’t feel safe.
posted by sunrise kingdom at 11:24 PM on April 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

+1 to Center for Anti-Violence Education's zoom class. I took one of their classes a few weeks ago and it was one out of four classes on de-escalation techniques and self-defense. One of the best tips, I thought, was to go for the knee - because everyone's knee is at about the same height and more reachable than eyes or nose. Definitely recommend their classes for everyone.
Right now, since it's still cold in NYC, wear big hoodies with the hood up and hide any identifying features with sunglasses and mask. I really fucking hate that we have to do this.
posted by hooray at 6:29 AM on April 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I’m thinking about you, OP. This is an important question you asked and I think a lot of people can benefit from the answers. I’m so sorry. You asked about shoes and I haven’t seen many answers to that element. Shoes that add height are one of my favorite topics, so here you go: Platform sneakers and athletic shoes with thick soles. Here’s a blog post with a few examples. It’s nice that bulky sneakers are in style because they add an inch or so. In warmer weather, there’s platform sandals that add a few inches and are relatively easy to walk in.
There are self defense tutorials online that may help offer some tricks. I don’t find them to be a magic solution, but for me they’re helpful to practice shouting (it’s hard to shout if you’re not used to it) and you could learn some wrist bends and quick maneuvers to gain more confidence. I like to wear headphones (not ear buds) and not have any music on to give myself an appearance of removal from street harassment. Thank you for asking this question.
posted by areaperson at 7:05 AM on April 2, 2021

One thing that I do when I walk is I carry everything I need on my person, unless I was shopping, of course.

I don't carry a purse/man-purse. If I need to carry something, I carry a sling-pack (single-shoulder half-sized backpack) and I wear it cross-body, or if I want to be a bit more intimidating, I wear a chest-pack. One can easily put some hook-n-loop reflective tape for night ops.

If I need to wear headphones, I go for bone conduction type, that does not block my ears. I actually have a baseball cap that has built-in bone conduction / Bluetooth. It's an interesting disguise.

Some of this is basic spy fieldcraft, so if you research stuff like that, you can make a game of it. Wear a different mask color (carry two on you with different colors, or even flip one inside-out if they are different colors). Carry windbreaker that are reversible, so you can have a quick change. If you go the same route each time, try changing up your look a little, or go a different route each time.

The good self-defense courses would have sections about being "aware" of your surroundings, which means don't even put yourself in dangerous areas, and approach areas with an eye for potential danger, but I'm preaching to the choir here. :D
posted by kschang at 7:56 AM on April 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Maybe also consider a bit of obfuscation via fashion. I'm not talking about a total change of dress, but just add some accents. For example, this Native owned company sells indigenous design and fashion you can wear without fear of cultural appropriation. They have nice designs, and you are supporting indigenous people. They have clothing, and things like tote bags. It can potentially be one more small thing in your protective arsenal to not be immediately identifiable as Asian/Asian American.
posted by gudrun at 11:10 AM on April 2, 2021

A blonde wig would probably make you read as non-Asian at first glance...
posted by gemutlichkeit at 2:46 PM on April 2, 2021

This is obviously not practical all the time, but how often can you carry an obviously-hot beverage on your outings?
posted by armeowda at 4:41 PM on April 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'd like to suggest a small air horn that can be concealed in your hand:
Safety Sport Admiral 8 oz air horn

I get mine from Amazon. They are used on boats, or I suppose camping.

Just press the button. You don't have to aim it. When you need to attract attention, or scare the hell out of someone. I test mine on New Year's Eve -- it is incredibly loud!

I keep a much larger version in my home as well.
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 9:33 PM on April 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Do not carry weapons you are at all hesitant to use, or have not trained practically with. "Practically" means you have tried it out on a moving attacker who is trying to avoid you.

I think situational awareness classes offer you the most benefit for the time spent. If you have more time you can go for a full length women's self defense course. Either will help direct free floating paranoia into actionable plans that keep worry at bay.
posted by benzenedream at 12:59 AM on April 3, 2021

Here's the thing with the most recent video, the one in front of the luxury apartment building. The very nature of this attack is fundamentally different from muggers and lechers. Muggers are focussed on the valuables. Lechers are grabby so you can use their proximity against them.

In this video, the attacker ran up from behind with explosive force and delivered 3 powerful kicks from a distance, in pure spiteful rage, in broad daylight, on a busy sidewalk. His face was about 4-6 feet away from her. Mace wouldn't have worked. You can't de-escalate a flying kick. The threat map has changed.

All of the above advice apply: active avoidance, situational awareness, alarms, mace, and ready access to your inner banshee. Also, give yourself full permission to cross the street, look hostile, and say f*** off internally or out loud, at any time, to anyone.
posted by dum spiro spero at 7:44 AM on April 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

Nothing will help if someone fully surprises you with a sucker punch or kick. That said, krav maga does train for exactly these kinds of situations and a good gym will pair women with larger guys so they can test if the techniques work with a stronger, heavier attacker. In person training is of course restricted during the pandemic, but virtual classes are better than nothing.
posted by benzenedream at 9:30 AM on April 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

My experiences are from several years living in risky neighborhoods plus driving a cab in Chicago for six months in the mid1990s. I started out as a vulnerable looking blonde woman. I ended up with short hair under a cap, jeans and a flannel. I dressed "tough" but not too tough as to draw attention. Shoes or boots that made me ready to run if need be. (Yeah, I know, the 90s.)

No bags, or cross body only. Pepper spray is okay, but practice using it, and know how the device works. Carry it in your hand when in spaces that seem potentially challenging. Make walking on the streets an activity where you are fully practicing using your woman-antennae. Your goal is to avoid getting too close to anyone, without looking like you're afraid. So walking fast, aware, and always looking like you have a purpose, just around the corner (even if that's not true.) I personally don't carry a knife in my hand because the whole point is to never let anyone close enough to need it. If someone pulls over to talk to you or yell at you from a vehicle, your immediate goal is to reverse direction and get to an area with other people.

The main thing I learned is to be willing to be angry and loud, even if you might be overreacting. It's easy to apologize for acting crazy afterward if, like, it turns out to be a falling down drunk dude who had no idea he was being scary. Cultivate space. Use parked cars as an object to keep between you and anyone acting a fool. I never carried alarms or whistles, because learning to yell super loud at the drop of a hat: WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT???!!! and throwing myself into the middle of the street seemed to work better. These were the days before cell phones, but I don't think i'd carry one in my hand unless I was very skilled at turning on my camera to record when I am cornered. You should always be looking at people briefly like, "I see you but you don't scare me." I effectively avoided bad situations mainly by being willing to GO OVERBOARD and apologize later. Treat it like an acting gig if these things don't sound natural for you. You might not feel like some crazy street bitch, but you can act like one if you need to.
posted by RedEmma at 9:36 AM on April 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

Here is what I've learned as a diminutive female-presenting person who's gotten frequently harassed/followed (and also mugged once) in big cities, including the one where I now live which is infamous for severe street harassment of women:

- In terms of outerwear I now basically dress like I'm going to the world's most boring funeral: black wool coat that covers the upper 2/3 of my body, large dark colored scarf, jeans or black slacks in a nondescript cut/style, flat tennis shoes or boots, hair tied back in an uninteresting style. I swear to God, even just having a brighter-colored scarf instead of navy or tights instead of pants ratchets up the harassment.

- Suggestions about walking towards the middle of the street rather than on the sidewalk after dark--where traffic allows for this--are correct. It's harder for anyone to jump out from between or behind cars, and you're not as easy to corner because you're not right in next to the wall of a building. Your field of vision is also less obstructed, and you're more visible to potential witnesses, including anyone who might look out an upper-storey window into the street (hard to see straight down onto the sidewalk on one's side of the street from an apartment above maybe the second floor).

- Walk purposefully while mostly keeping your eyes focused in the middle distance. Focused on where you're going, but still able to slide your gaze over whoever might be crossing in front of/walking past you. You're looking briefly at the person to avoid bumping into them, that's all--you read ideally as neither seeking nor avoiding eye contact.

- If someone starts following you--and I know this is REALLY hard, counterintuitive, and frightening--stop, and turn around to look them in the face if you can. This will surprise and unnerve some people enough to deter them.

- If there are people around and someone starts harassing you verbally or physically, try to embarrass the shit out of them. "FUCK YOU THAT'S DISGUSTING", "FUCK OFF PERVERT", "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU", are the sorts of things I've seen work most effectively. Anything that makes people look up in surprise/morbid curiosity and focuses the attention on whatever gross bullshit they're trying to get away with.

- If this doesn't work, and the person continues to assault you/encroach on your space, do anything you can to make physical proximity to you unpleasant or scary: drool, vomit or pretend to vomit, shriek at the top of your lungs, throw your phone or keys or coffee/water in their face, and, lastly, hurt them in any way you can in the ways suggested above.

I have personally never carried a weapon but did have a can of pepper spray for many years, and just bringing it out where the dude could see it during one incident was enough to make him leave.

It is profoundly disturbing that you even have to ask this question, and I am truly sorry and angry for you.
posted by TinyChicken at 10:22 AM on April 5, 2021 [4 favorites]

What are some things Asian women in big cities can do to protect themselves as targets of random street violence?

Do you mean reduce the risk that you'll be targeted for violence? Then not much, other than hide your appearance (for example, with hats, sunglasses, wigs); avoid speaking an Asian language; and start to build a debilitating hyper vigilance that will slowly destroy your sanity.

Or do you mean defend yourself after you've already been targeted for violence? Weapons like knives and pepper spray are useless against an even vaguely motivated attacker; you just won't have time to get them out before you've been shoved on your back, punched in the head, kicked in the stomach or tackled and stomped.

Take a street boxing course, often offered by BJJ gyms. Learn to back off defensively while shouting (and then run away); to circle step to avoid an oncoming attack; to stand defensively while you protect your head with your arms, including raising your elbows to absorb hooks; to hunch up to protect your abdomen; to push back while in a defensive position; to stand up after being knocked down; and finally, if you can't get away, to strike back, hard, even while you're being attacked. You should at least learn to jab, cross and hook.

You should drill these again and again until an instructor can shout at you, push you, strike you, knock you over, and you can either get away, get up and get away, or go down fighting hard. So many people won't do the last one - they'll just stand there, arms over their heads, motionless, and take the beating.
posted by some little punk in a rocket at 5:56 PM on April 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

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