Miss Congeniality is a classic film for various reasons. If you haven’t seen it, I will bypass the judgment phase and just give a brief synopsis. It depicts an incredibly talented FBI agent, Gracie Hart, played by Sandra Bullock, who doesn’t fit society’s prototype of desirability, but even when she allows herself to be transformed by the powers that be to compete in the Miss America pageant, she retains her true character and finds genuine sisterhood. My favorite scene is the SING demonstration in which Gracie beats up her future boyfriend/future-future ex-boyfriend by targeting his solar plex, instep, nose, and groin. Her fellow competitors and the audience were incredibly enthusiastic about the ease with which Gracie incapacitated her hypothetical attacker. The great thing is, you don’t have to be a trained FBI agent to master such an effective self-defense technique. There are actually many “user-friendly” self-defense tactics all of us can learn to prepare ourselves for a dangerous situation.
First, the Fist
Matan Gavish, the founder of the Krav Maga Academy in New York insists that aiming for soft parts of the body such as the eyes, throat, jaw, and knees, is the key to effective contact. In order to make that contact meaningful, you need a strong base. Form your fist by folding your fingers so that the tips press into the center of your palm. Then fold your thumb over your index and middle fingers. When executing a punch, make sure to keep your wrist firm and straight and strike with the knuckles of the index and middle fingers. Rotate your body into the punch to stabilize and maximize the force.
Breaking a Hold
The most common instinct when one’s wrist is grabbed is to bend the elbow and pull ones forearm parallel toward one’s body. This is often ineffective as it only leads to an instinctual response from the attacker to tighten the hold. Instead of rotating at the elbow to pull the forearm parallel to the body, rotate the wrist so that your thumb lines up with where the attacker’s thumb meets his index finger and jerk your wrist perpendicularly toward your body. This way, the thick part of your palm that forms the base of your thumb will break the hold.
Obviously, attacks can occur in a variety of environments and positions. Fortunately, you don’t need all of your limbs to be free to respond effectively. As mentioned earlier, the eyes, nose, and jaw are some of the most vulnerable body parts, and all are parts of the face. If you have at least one hand free, thrusting the heel of your palm upward into the nose, jaw, or eye socket of the attacker is always a good option. You can also aim to strike these areas with the head if your hands are not free. This will obviously be less precise but can still have significant consequences if backed by enough force.
If your mouth is free and you can breathe, don’t forget to use your voice. Whether in an ambiguous, potentially dangerous situation or in the midst of a crisis, whether surrounded by people or alone, your voice can sometimes reach much further than your limbs. Sometimes, targets of an attack have the power to use their voice taken away from them, so please make sure to use yours when you can.