Thursday, February 21, 2013

Self Defense For The Female #WeGoSolo Traveler

#WeGoSolo is Badass

Hello! My name is Eartha, I am about to go on a trip around the world by myself, and I support the #WeGoSolo movement. :)

The recent tragedy involving Sarai Sierra, an American woman who was murdered while traveling in Turkey, caused an uproar in the online travel community, not just because of what happened (which really was awful) but because of the seemingly unanimous conclusion that women should never travel alone... That the murder would have been prevented, had she not been by herself.

This lunacy is what prompted +Breathedreamgo to birth the idea of the #WeGoSolo crusade... To promote, encourage, and empower females to travel solo, and to shine a light on the real issue which is violence against women.

As a female about to go on a solo RTW trip myself, I fully support #WeGoSolo and everything they stand for. I think that there are so many ways women can stay safe while traveling if we just keep our wits about ourselves, stay smart, and prepare ourselves for absolutely anything.

Self Defense is one of the things I made sure I learned before going on this trip. I have been boxing on and off for more than 10 years, and recently just started Muay Thai training at my local gym, Punch Kick Grapple - so I guess you could say I might already have some of the "tools" to defend myself. I don't like to brag, but I have been told I have a killer right elbow. :)

My Muay Thai Class at Punch Kick Grapple

My right elbow. Haha

I do know that self defense takes more than a few punches and kicks, and training in the classroom is completely different from an assault in real life... So, I took the liberty of soliciting the help of a few of my trainers (who are experts in  Mixed Martial Arts, Jiu Jitsu, Krav Maga, Boxing and Muay Thai) in simple tips and techniques I could use in keeping myself safe and away from harm while traveling alone.


Well obviously, I'm hoping that I never have to use my karate chop moves on anyone. If I can go through this travel year without any menacing incidents, all the better. I can't be naive though, and it's always better to be over-prepared than under. Females are easier targets for any form of violence than men --- but there are simple things that we can do to avoid having to deal with disagreeable situations.

1. Do not walk alone at night (in an unfamiliar territory)
2. Do not walk alone at night, drunk (in any territory)
3. Do not wear revealing clothing that might invite unwanted attention (especially in an unfamiliar territory)
4. Walk with purpose - head up, eyes forward, good pace. This makes you seem confident and less likely to be a prey.
5. Try to stay in public as much as you can
6. Do your research (seriously!) and make sure your accommodations (hotel, hostel, etc) is in a safe area.
7. Carry a rubber doorstop with you and wedge it on your hotel room door to prevent intruders.
8. If you are alone, as much as possible, try not to arrive at an unfamiliar location at night. Pay more for a flight/train/bus ride that arrives in the day.

Wedging a rubber doorstop inside your hotel room door.


If even after doing all the steps above, you still find yourself face to face with a potential assailant...
Be ready. Be alert. Be aware.

First thing's first. Run.

If you can't get away, remember that you have a really powerful weapon at your disposal: Your Voice. If an assailant is approaching you with a purposeful walk, yell out at the top of your lungs, "STOP RIGHT THERE", or "BACK OFF!" and hold your hand out in a "Stop" position. I was told that making a loud noise like that will ward off those looking for an easy prey. It could also signal help from people nearby, so warm up those vocal chords, ladies! Don't be afraid to scream and shout!

If what they want from you is money or your purse -- just give it to them. Throw it at them or throw it away from you, and run towards the other direction. NOTHING you own will ever be more valuable than your own life. 

If that still doesn't work, then it's time to pull some of the moves that my PKG trainers have taught me.

My personal PKG defense experts, Eric Steans and Jeremy Umphries


The first thing that one of the trainers, Jeremy Umphries, said to me was, "Kick him in the nuts". I laughed but he was being absolutely serious. A man's groin is the one thing that they can't 'condition', unlike say, the arms or the abs, therefore making it completely sensitive and vulnerable. I once watched my sparring partner kneel down and yell for his momma after I accidentally kicked him down there, and it wasn't even a strong kick! Imagine what kind of damage we could do if we attacked with conviction!
If you are grabbed from behind, you can aim for the groin too by bending down and hitting it with your elbow.

Me, kicking my trainer, Dominic, in the groin!

Eric Steans, another trainer, chimed in and said - "When you're close enough, remember these words: GRAB, TWIST and PULL!" It only took me a second to generate a visual of what he was talking about. It's brilliant! Ladies, may we never have to do this, but if we are close enough, just GRAB, TWIST and PULL! While they are down and crying from the pain, run for your life!


Dominic doubled over from the pain of being hit in the groin, giving me the perfect opportunity to punch him in the eyes!

"Poke him in the eye" was the next tip I received. Apparently, the groin and the eyes are your best shot at inflicting the most damage to give you enough time to escape. "Punch 'em, poke 'em, claw 'em with your nails", Eric continued. A good combination to use is a kick in the nuts, then when he kneels from the pain, jab him in the eyes, then run!


A blow to the solar plexus causes a psychological reaction that seizes the lungs, and makes it very difficult for one to breathe. If you are facing your assailant, give him a strong punch or upper cut on that area. If he is behind you, elbow it with as much force as you could muster. If you are of the right height, you can also strike it with your knee (like in the photo below)! While he is choking --- run!

Giving a knee strike to Trainer Eric to the Solar Plexus


Attacking the throat - which is another one of the more sensitive areas, could also prove to be an effective way to stupefy your assailant. Eric suggests a poke or a punch to the trachea or the windpipe. Doing this will close the air passage, making it difficult for one to breathe. The idea is for him to clasp his throat and gasp for air, allowing you the chance to escape and run away!

Looks like I'm shooting him on the throat

A good tip is to hold key or a pen, sharp side outward from in between your fingers while walking (like photo below)... This gives you an automatic weapon, and allows you to inflict more pain and damage should you need to punch an assailant in the eyes, face, solar plexus or throat! If you don't have a key, there's always some good old mace spray to fall back on! I'd always keep it handy!

Deadly Key Fist!

And there you have it, ladies (and gents, come to think of it). I hope these tips help keep you safe while you're on the road. The most important thing to remember is to always have a keen sense of awareness wherever you are. I still have a few more weeks before I go off on my journey, and I fully intend to make use of that time to keep myself strong and fit. If any of you guys are going off on a solo trip like me, I wish you all the best! Be safe, #WeGoSolo ladies... Travel wise and travel well... And may we never have to test our new defensive skills on anyone.
On the off chance that we do, we'll be ready. :)

Hi There! Have we met before? You look familiar! Those shoes look great on you, by the way! I’m Eartha and I recently decided to quit my job to travel the worrrrld! Join me in my adventures by checking back on my blog, and leaving me a comment or two!

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