The Only Wrong Move In Self-Defense
By Tenna Perry

Over the years while teaching karate and various rape-prevention seminars, I have been asked many times, "What if I make the wrong move? What if I do something wrong?" More times than not, the person asking the question will precede her question with, "I know this is a stupid question but...?"

As always, I try to instill in the student that the only stupid question is the one she leaves unasked. Along the same line of thinking, the only wrong move in self-defense is no move at all. Now, I am talking about actual SELF-defense. Not the loss of a purse, wallet, watch or whatever other material thing someone may be robbing from you. One thing to remember is that NO material possession is worth human life, specifically your life.

If you are in a parking garage or coming out of a movie theater and someone pulls a knife or firearm and demands your money, your only question should be if he wants it airmailed or hand-delivered. Whenever possible, you should go for airmailed. This means placating the assailant and tossing him whatever he wants. If all he wants is a simple robbery, count yourself lucky and allow him to go on his way as soon as possible. Even martial artists who have trained for years prefer not to go up against a knife or a firearm. All too often, when a knife is involved, blood is going to be let and it usually belongs to the one defending against the knife. As for firearms, a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson can beat 38 years of training in a matter of a split second, simply because firearms are made to kill from a distance.

On the other hand, if your life or the life of someone else is in danger, that is when it is time to attempt to fight back. When you decide to fight back, do it in earnest. Kick, claw, bite, punch, knee, stomp and do whatever is necessary to enable you to get away as quickly as possible. There are no fair fights on the street and, remember, once you are away from the assailant, keep going. Don't stop to see if he is hurt. Don't wait for him to get up and have another go-round. Don't pass go. Don't collect $200 or anything else. Run to the nearest safe area and then call for police assistance. You are not Steven Segal or Chuck Norris, and a Hollywood choreographer didn't write every step and punch.

The most important thing to remember when faced by any assailant is to keep your head. Hysterics, fainting, freezing in fear or curling up in a fetal ball won't help you in the least. By staying as calm as possible, you are able to weigh your various options and take advantage of the first sign of diversion, distraction or letting down of his guard.

Perhaps the assailant is a man with rape on his mind. While rape is a violent crime involving sex, it is also a crime of power and intimidation. If he seems the type to be even more turned on the harder you may fight, take a chance and accost him in return. Rip your shirt or blouse off and say something like, "Oh baby! After that last test came up positive, it has been so long since anyone has wanted me! Come on, right here, right now!" Sound ridiculous or embarrassing? It beats the heck out of living with the physical and mental after-effects of rape.

Tenna Perry is a native Texan who lives happily in the country with her husband, three children, five collies, a snobbish cat and one temperamental hedgehog. She holds black belts in both Bushido Kai and American Freestyle Karate (AFK). Along with her husband (who holds a second degree black in AFK), Tenna has taught karate, self-defense and rape prevention for ten years. In addition to a background in karate, Tenna has more than 13 years experience in small animal veterinary medicine and seven years in equine medicine. She is also a survivor of child sexual abuse and rape with extensive writings online concerning all of the subjects mentioned above. She is the Abuse and Safety Editor here at Busy Parents Online as well as the founder/editor of the ezine Survivor Haven and has a column at on Child Sexual Abuse. Hers is a strong voice that never hesitates to speak out against any form of child or domestic abuse and rape.


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