Does Size Really Matter in Self Defense?

by andrina on March 17, 2013

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Boxing Class!

Slight change from our usual criminal legal blogs: here is a guest post discussing defending yourself from physical assault.

If you’re a smaller person, especially if you’re a woman, nothing can be more intimidating than the idea of a tall, burly attacker coming at you. The potential to face a criminal who is capable of physically overpowering you is there for virtually everyone, but short and light people may wonder what the right self-defense techniques really are in that situation. Thankfully, physical size is definitely not everything. Even if your assailant is bigger and stronger than you, they can still be stopped with some quick thinking and calm, courageous action. According to, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men has been sexually assaulted in America, and the FBI investigates over 1 million violent crimes every year. These are the important things you need to know to keep yourself safe from violence, wherever it may strike.

1. Attitude is Everything

Obviously, prevention is the best defense against crime, and you should always be aware of your surroundings and take the right safety precautions. But violence can happen to anyone when they least expect it. The most important thing for smaller people to understand is that criminals look for easy targets. That doesn’t just mean victims who are easy to overpower, it also means targets who won’t put up a fight. If you assert yourself and prove that you will put up a fight despite your size, that could be all you need to spook the assailant. If someone is trying to grab you, push them hard and shout! Making a lot of noise will signal for help, and it’ll also let your attacker know you’re not going to be controlled by fear and you’re not an easy mark.

2. Know Where to Strike

The most effective method of hitting or striking an attacker will depend on his proximity to you and what kind of hold he’s attempting to get on you. The basic rule is never step closer to your assailant if you don’t have to. That’s why the knee is a perfect target for self-defense – one well-aimed kick can effectively give you time to run away. If your attacker is already quite close to you, you should go for the eyes or attempt to break his nose with the heel of your hand. A karate chop to the neck or knee to the groin are also effective ways to strike. No matter how big your assailant is, the most vulnerable body parts are the same. If you can hit him in a sensitive spot, you’ll greatly increase your chances for survival.

3. Use Your Size to Your Advantage

Self-defense courses teach people to leverage their weight, no matter how small they are or how big their attacker is. By using simply principals of physics to cause the most damage, you can defeat anyone. Your small stature may also give you an advantage when it comes to wriggling out of holds, You may be able to free yourself from bear hugs, wrist holds, and choke holds with simple movements that force the attacker to loosen his grip. There are many different strategies for breaking holds you can learn in a self defense course at a community college or local martial arts center.

Don’t let anyone attempt to tell you that a short, lightweight, or otherwise physically weaker person can’t defend themselves from violent crime. The truth is that anyone can learn the right methods to fight back, and the first step to self defense is refusing to see yourself as a victim. Arm yourself with the tools you need to guard your own safety and it’s possible you can avoid becoming a statistic, even in the toughest situation.

Celine Backus blogs for If you’re looking into learning self defense moves, look at




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