Muscle & Fitness Hers - March/April 2009 Excerpt: So You Want To... Defend Yourself?

What can you do to defend yourself? Whether you spend weeks learning martial arts moves or an afternoon practicing fight and flight strategies, your preparation will help... Learn more.


So You Want To... Defend Yourself?

What can you do to defend yourself? Whether you spend weeks learning martial arts moves or an afternoon practicing fight and flight strategies, your preparation will help you recognize and escape from a potentially violent altercation.

The following is an excerpt from the March/April issue of Muscle & Fitness Hers, on newsstands now.

Patrick Kelly, MS, martial arts program coordinator at Indiana University (Bloomington), says women can train for self-defense by developing boxing and sprinting skills. "There's no one physical attribute you can build for a fight. It all has to come together," he says. "But you can build explosive strength and speed, and learn what to expect."

That fight will usually be a blitz and last only a short time, Kelly points out. "People are naturally tense in a fight, but try to stay as relaxed as possible," he says, adding that tension reduces your ability to use your muscles efficiently. Work on relaxation skills at the gym between sets during your normal strength routine. Relaxing and then unleashing a burst of power is one of the hardest skills to learn, Kelly notes.

Relaxing And Then Unleashing A Burst Of Power Is One Of The Hardest Skills To Learn.
+ Click To Enlarge.
Relaxing And Then Unleashing A Burst Of Power
Is One Of The Hardest Skills To Learn.

Train the way you fight & practice under stressors that reenact the reality you may face one day - it will help you overcome your fear of fighting. Kelly suggests that you and a partner develop a training regimen at a track or basketball gym that involves three primary elements: physical exhaustion, boxing and sprinting.

"You don't need special equipment to learn self-defense," Kelly says. "The drill I do with my students helps them get used to what their bodies will feel like in a high-stress environment." Your training will help you deal with overcoming tunnel vision so you can think clearly as your thought processes diminish. It will also help your body cope with the adrenaline-induced fatigue.

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Once you've improved your sprinting and boxing moves, it's time to build your core and back strength. Rebecca Arner-Brown, MSPT, CSCS, OCS, a physical therapist at the Boston University Physical Therapy Center, notes that no matter which self-defense moves you use, all require core strength for balance and sustaining your momentum for a punch. She says three muscle groups play starring roles: abdominals, back and glutes. "Having strong biceps won't help you throw a punch. Having a strong core will."

For the rest of our story on strengthening your body to avoid and/or conquer confrontation pick up the March/April issue of M&F Hers, on newsstands now.

For more articles like these, head over to www.muscleandfitnesshers.com.