Self-Defense: What Every Woman Needs to Know
Stay strong, confident, and safe with these expert tips
"Personal safety is about choices and circumstance," says Don Seiler, owner of Kodokan-Seiler Dojo in Minnesota and author of Karate Do: Traditional Training for All Styles. "And while you can't always control the latter, you certainly can control the former. You need to have a complete personal protection strategy and embed that into your lifestyle so it simply becomes habit."
Other self-defense experts agree. "Knowledge is power. You will have more confidence if you know where and how to strike if you need to defend yourself," says Robert Fletcher, MMA strength and conditioning coach and founder of America's Next Great Trainer.
To help you come up with a personal protection strategy of your own, our experts offer their best advice, complete with must-know moves to pull out of any threatening situation.
"Pay attention to your surroundings at all times," Fletcher says. "Not a paranoid fear, but a healthy awareness." Seiler agrees, adding that "criminals pick out their victims. They're looking for someone who is distracted, doesn't make eye contact, has a posture of weakness, and has visible valuables."
While it's never your fault if you are the victim of a violent crime, you can reduce your risk by staying engaged and vigilant, Seiler says. He recommends practicing "what if" scenarios.
"Look around you and think 'What would I do right now if someone were following me?' and then make sure you're equipped to carry out your plans."
More expert tips: Keep your cell phone ready (but don't be texting or talking on it), carry a purse with a body strap to keep your hands free, know where your keys are before you get to your car, and keep a pair of flats in your purse so you don't have to run in heels.