Under: Self-defense
17 May 2015


The title probably gives away my bias but as this is a Self-Defense Blog and I have over the years espoused the benefits of women learning self-defense as a minimum, the question by some is, “What am I learning, fighting or self-defense?” Some instructors realizing that many students taking a short-term self-defense class are not going to take a full blown martial arts class, interchange fighting with self-defense. So what? The goals of fighting and self defense are very different.


To have a win in a fight (for self defense or otherwise) one has to best their opponent. To have a win in a self-defense situation, one merely has to survive with one’s life intact. Of course coming out of the attack relatively unscathed is a plus and maybe possible if one is a highly trained martial artist (fighter) but not likely otherwise if one only has limited fighting training (read a short-term self defense class or aggressive spirit).


So for my example I will list an article of an Aussie woman with a black belt that managed to thwart an attacker with a bit of help after being caught in her unawares (walking with headphones). The article is here and I found a short video of a woman walking with headphones for your perusal.



Reading the article the woman that was attacked did not know about the attacker until he was on her. So lets consider, men are bigger, stronger, but maybe not faster or smarter (depends on the people involved). The reason I say this is if a woman walking along on a empty street, does not see a potential attacker before he attacks – she has already given away a huge advantage to her attacker.


But moving on – the guy threw her on her back and started tearing at her clothes. She had the presence of mind to look for a weapon before proceeding which means she has thought about what she would do in an attack. That gives her some advantage over being paralyzed with fear. So by her evaluation there was not as much danger and she was willing to fight back. She threw a knee to the ribs and punch to the face that had some affect, allowing her to attempt a getaway!


Luckily when the guy grabbed her ankle – pulled her back, a passer by yelled at him and he took off. So this woman was safe! It worked out ok.


Arguably this woman was able to mount a reasonable self-defense without being frozen with fear. That is probably due to her fighting training and thinking about how to get out of situations like this while taking her martial art.


So was this more of a self-defense or fighting defense? I would argue since she had martial arts training and sparring experience she was fighting.


Had she no martial arts other than maybe some self-defense training (formerly or otherwise), I would have classified this as a self-defense.


So what is better self-defense or fighting? Yes! What? Yes both are effective but I’d prefer fighting training (any formal martial art including western arts) over short term self-defense training.


Here is the deal, a woman being attacked by a man is not as big or strong so she needs any edge she can get. Awareness, flight, deception, non-lethal or lethal weapons or if all else fails – mounting a defense (self-defense or fighting) are possible tools of her trade (the trade of keeping smart and stuffing the deck in her favor).


So bravo another woman has defended herself and I hope to see more woman picking up some fighting (or at least some self-defense) tactics!

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2 Responses to “Woman Attacked – Gets Away – Self Defense or Fighting?”

  1. Dr. J Says:

    Good for her! Yes, fighting for sure. From what I’ve seen, self-defense techniques seem to focus on what to do if “this” happens to you, while fighting training is more spontaneous in nature.

    I suspect if a man didn’t come along, she would have continued to fight and do a lot more damage before someone finally rescued the assailant!

    When I’ve worked with women on self-defense, I stress different ways to strike and with what may be available to do so, and where to target these attacks.

  2. Erich Kemp Says:

    Yes, Self-defense is different and just fighting against someone is different. I have just read your article and could say its mind-opening one. Awareness regarding martial arts is very much important and you have done a great job to aware everyone related to martial arts. Good for girls article is this, a must watch girls. Thanks for sharing such an informative article.