Protect Yourself: 4 Self-Defense Tips From a Martial Artist (for Non-Martial Artists)

As we begin a new year, we seem to be inundated with health and wellness resolutions and information. Yet, January is also home to National Personal Self-Defense Awareness Month. A month to help us increase our personal safety and make it a priority to build safety habits into our daily routines to keep us safer all year long.

If you hear the words self-defense and automatically tune out because you associate it with people training in martial arts, wearing uniforms and shouting “hiyah”, then this article is for you. Self-defense simply refers to the art of self-protection from all kinds of danger. That’s why it is so important for us to discuss personal self-defense habits with people of all ages because it’s never too early to learn how to protect yourself.

As a third-degree black belt in Hapkido (a Korean martial art), I trained for countless hours in the physical realm of self-defense. However, the art in martial arts can also be referred to as the mental and spiritual practice that helps increase our awareness. This in turn helps us to become more strong, safe and confident from the streets to the boardroom. I’ve also learned that most people do not have time to practice martial arts for a long period of time. Therefore, I’ve developed programs for the average person (both male and female) on how to enhance their safety.

Here are a few things that everyone can do to enhance their personal safety this year and beyond without having to learn and practice martial arts for years:


Predators are looking for a weak or vulnerable target. The first signal a predator looks for is body language. Your body language will communicate non-verbally with the predator and will either tell the predator that you are aware and alert or distracted, scared and/or vulnerable.

Vulnerability looks like rounded shoulders and slouched posture. Vulnerable could also look distracted, which is most of us as we look at our phones while walking down the street or getting into our cars. Strong body language includes great posture with shoulders back and head up, as well as making direct eye contact with everyone around you. This alone could deter a potential attack.


When you own and carry a Mace Brand pepper spray or gel, you automatically think about your safety when you touch or see that product. The pepper spray in your hands heightens your awareness when you are out running, commuting, walking, or running errands. It sends a signal to your brain that you bought this or were given this product for a reason; to be safe.


When I teach physical self-defense, this is one of the first physical lessons. You need to know how your body can act as a weapon, if you were grabbed, attacked or threatened.

Hands, elbows, knees and feet are going to be our most powerful weapons and knowing how to strike with them can save your life in many situations. This is where a self-defense lesson or two will definitely come in handy. Even if you do not want to take martial arts as a practice, many schools will offer one-off or a series of self-defense classes to teach you the basics. I highly recommend putting this on your to-do list for 2018 as soon as possible. Not only will you learn how to defend yourself physically but will also leave feeling a little more confident than when you walked in. It’s a byproduct of self-defense training.

It goes without saying that not being in a dangerous situation in the first place, is the best place to be. That’s not always an option, especially when it comes to surprise attacks. With that being said, there are some situations where we may have the ability to avoid and that usually happens by listening to our intuition. If you have a gut feeling that tells you to not go somewhere, or not trust someone, then it is definitely worth listening to. You never know when your gut may save your life!

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