Self-Defense Tips and Techniques for Walking Alone at Night

The sky is long past hues of gold and red, and uniform darkness takes over instead. The street lamps flicker, casting light to brighten the night, and yet, across the brick walls the shadows lengthen. The few people that are still out and about are scattered, so distant that you can barely make out their faces. You distract yourself with the cell phone in your hand and tread a little lighter, lest the sound of your footsteps wake something unwanted.

Tonight shouldn’t feel any different from all the others.
I’ve walked this way plenty of times, what is there to be afraid of?
Nothing bad happens in this area anyway.

Reassurances flutter about in your head but are easily overpowered by that simple thought: What if?

What if tonight is not at all like the others?

You look over your shoulder and find a person following close behind, too close. Walking faster, you cross the street and seem to have lost your apparent follower until you pass an alley cloaked in darkness and a hand grabs hold of you.

What then? What could you do?

As much as I loved making that intro sound like the beginning of a good story, the events I described are no fairy tale. Muggings, assaults, and rapes are commonplace in today’s world, especially in large cities. To say that crimes like these can be easily prevented is naive, but we can’t just give up and submit to these injustices without a fight. Until these crimes stop, we have to learn how to defend ourselves.

Now I’m not saying you should take up some hard-core martial arts and beat down anyone that gives you a sideways glance, but learning to fight to at least defend yourself is a necessity. Self-defense classes are easily accessible wherever you are and we have the magnificent Internet to connect us to tons of videos and articles (like this one) about self-defense.

Here are some basic techniques that everyone should know:

1. The Knee-Kick

We all know one of the most effective places to strike a person is below the belt/between the legs. Yes, this works on both genders so don’t be afraid to use it if the situation calls for it.

The move is bringing up your knee, angled towards the attacker’s body, with enough force to really hurt them. You have to be close enough to the attacker to do this — you wouldn’t want to miss and knee air would you? — so this move is ideal if the attacker is coming straight at you or have their arms on your shoulders for example. In that case, you can use their grip to balance you and make the knee kick easier and more effective.

You can pair this with a good stomp on the attacker’s foot or a nice punch in the face but only do so if the attacker still has their grip on you.

Biggest thing to remember in self-defense: Once you’re out of the attacker’s reach, RUN. Don’t stay and try to pick a fight, just run!

2. Strike Stance

If you’re not too good with your legs, your arms are your best friends. Striking an attacker in the face, throat, gut, etc. requires a proper fist. When you curl your fist, make sure you protect your thumb and keep it curled at the bottom of your fist. Do not wrap your hand around your thumb or else you could risk breaking it when you throw a punch. Hold those fingers together tight and hit with your top knuckles (connected to the base of your hand), usually the middle two knuckles, and not the joints of your fingers, unless you want to break those fingers. Utilize both hands and form fists, your dominant hand out to strike while the other is kept back and in front of your nose in case the attacker tries to go for your face.

Again, key areas to go for are the throat, the ears (serves to unbalance the attackers), the jaw (punch upwards and into the jaw), nose, and gut. Remember, your goal is to disorient the attacker long enough for you to escape.

You can also jab someone in the throat or eyes. Form a C with your hand and, once again, keep your thumb pressed against the palm. The other four fingers should be tightly kept together and curved down so when you jab at the eye, you dig into it (sorry for the graphic image.)

Tip: Practice punches with a sort of gradient in how tight your fist is. When you pull back to punch, your fist should be loosely formed, but tighten it as you move forward so that right when you punch, your fist is at its tightest and can really make an impact.

3. The Weakest Finger

When an attacker has their hands on you and your hands are still free, immediately go for their fingers, prying one up and bending it back so that the attacker loosens their grip. At that instant, break free and use one of the other attacks mentioned above. And as brutal as it may sound, you might have to even break their finger if it means getting free.

There are many more techniques but keeping at least the ones mentioned above in mind makes you better equipped to avoid a terrible incident. Make it goal of yours to practice self-defense techniques and to learn more about how to avoid getting caught by an attacker. And don’t stop there! Self-defense isn’t just physical — you have to build up your mental strength, too. Sometimes, attacks can start out verbal and if the attacker sees you as vulnerable enough, they’ll take the next step.

Some tips:

  • Learn to speak assertively, with a loud and commanding tone.
  • Make sure your posture is straight and you do not seem to be shying away.
  • Do not let the person get too close to you, keep a hand out in front of you in case they advance abruptly. That way you can easily transition into a strike.
  • If you feel that things are getting intense, get out of there. Move to a place that is more crowded or into a store where you can call the authorities.
  • Do not try to provoke them, just answer in a serious tone and limit the extent of the conversation as much as you can.

More than anything, be alert in all situations. Don’t let your guard down completely, especially if you are alone. Be aware of your surroundings, avoid distractions like walking while texting {Editor’s Note: I got this cell phone case for a reason! Har har. -Amani} and know what to do if anything takes a turn for the worst.

God willing, you will be able to stay safe and can pass along this knowledge to other sisters and brothers alike.