Fight Like a Girl

By Della O'Sullivan

A Self Defence Handbook


KUNG FU PRINCIPLE: ‘Find the positive in the negative’.

In a crisis, I think it’s fair to say we all have a tendency to focus on the negatives. But as desperate as circumstances may seem, no matter how big or how intimidating your attacker may be, there is always an advantage if you know what to look for.

Here are some potential advantages in the disadvantages you may see:

Disadvantage : An attacker is more likely to target women because they feel more confident that you will not fight back.

Advantage : They don’t expect you to fight back, so you have the element of surprise.

Disadvantage : We often carry things (especially mothers) so our hands can be occupied. This could give the attacker the idea that you are an easy target for mugging.

Advantage : We carry more things – knowing how to use everyday objects gives you weapons you could utilise as an equaliser.

Disadvantage: We may be out wearing heels which are difficult to run in.

Advantage: Heels are one of the top weapons for self-defence, just hold them in your hand when travelling home and keep a pair of foldable, flat pumps in your purse to swap over.

Disadvantage : He has grabbed both my hands and I feel stuck.

Advantage : He has also tied up both of his weapons, exposed his most vital targets and brought them into closer proximity – this book will teach you how to isolate your nervous system and access other unexpected weapons.


· He is stronger than me BUT I know how to use his strength against him

· I am being grabbed on both shoulders BUT my elbows, wrists, fingers and legs are free and he has tied up both his hands.

· He is very close, aggressive and scary BUT he is distracted, in close proximity, and doesn’t expect me to react.

· He might hit me BUT I will do everything necessary to go home alive.


Run – if you have time, know where to run.

If it is safe to avoid a situation by running, and if you can run, find the nearest shops or somewhere busy to run to, don’t just run aimlessly. You can literally jump on a parked car or van and start jumping and screaming, setting off alarms and letting people know where you are. If they try to climb up, you have the advantage of being above them.

If you cannot run fast, move behind a parked car and keep it between you and the attacker. If there are no cars around, run to houses with lights on, to shops nearby, and use anything to slow down your attacker if he is closing the distance. Put bins, lamp posts, a tree, a fence, anything you can find between you and the attacker.

Everything and anything around you and with you is a weapon

If you cant run it’s important to know how to fight back with everything you have access to. Literally everything! There is a Chinese Kung Fu principle which is to use everything around you as a weapon and to your advantage. The best illustration of this is Jackie Chan, and the reason I love his films is because he executes this principle so well; he will literally use anything to protect himself. You will be surprised how effective this can be in real life situations.

Everyday objects you can use as weapons include:

Your phone: if you’re not strong, you can hold your phone tight and hit someone on the bridge of the nose, it will cause a lot of pain and doesn’t require much skill. It will probably break their nose, which will distort their sight and senses and give you a good amount of time to get away. A bag, umbrella, keys, a book, a newspaper, a bottle of water, windscreen wipers pulled off a nearby car or even a pen can all become an equaliser to a much larger and aggressive attacker.

Attack! –

If violence is imminent, you need to have the capacity for violence and survival in mind and body. For the mind, you need to find your ‘spark’ and your will to survive. This spark is different for everyone, but we all have something inside that is primal and that we can access for survival. I found that mine was to think about protecting my son. Once I felt that inside, I tried to access it every time I trained. Using this spark will help you execute the techniques in the most efficient way.

For physical self-defence - strike using the shortest and most direct line of attack. The shortest line is the line between you and your attacker from which you can strike and defend yourself. For example; if he goes for a round strike, one which curves around to reach you, you go straight, and defend his attack on the inside. You can react more slowly than your attacker and still land a hit first by using this principle, because you took the shorter line. Keep your hands close to the centre of the body so you can also defend your weak targets while also attacking from this position.

Understand the location of the best targets if you need to fight back. All the main targets are down the centre of the body; the closer to the centre, the better. The strength, height or gender of the person has no bearing on the vulnerability of these points. Ears are a fantastic target: strike with open and cupped palms. Damaging the eardrum does not require big muscles and will make the attacker will lose their sense of balance and feel sick and distort their senses – not to mention causing a lot of pain.

Palms are a fantastic weapon for women, requiring less muscle and strength to achieve a powerful impact. If you relax your arm and send power through your palm it will do a lot of damage. Punch power is harder to do well with without practice.

Defend and attack simultaneously. Where and when you can, defend and attack at the same time, especially with big-swing or circular types of attack. Move and attack, move and attack. This can be applied if someone is striking, holding, choking etc. If it’s a dangerous situation which requires you to fight back rather than disengaging, you need to do so with efficiency.

Call for help!

Before, during and after an attack, call out for help if you can. But especially once you are safe. Make sure you find someone or call the police immediately.

Tell your story!

You are likely to feel very shaky, and trauma often sets in soon after an attack. It’s so important to tell someone what happened, even record a voice note so that you don’t forget anything. You may feel like this is the last thing you want to do but this will increase the chances of this person being put in jail for their actions.

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