Learn how to defend yourself

March 12, 2009 8:49:39 PM PDT
Random acts of violence, like the murder of Susana DeJesus, have many women around Houston thinking about their own protection. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

If you are ever attacked, what would you do?

Two local women were abducted recently, both taken by force in a parking lot. Both later were found dead.

"I'm just concerned about how I would react in a situation, if somebody attacked me," said Ann Erard of Houston.

She's not alone.

"I just keep seeing it on the news, and I'm not happy about that," said Rebecca Mallory.

So what can a woman do to stop an attacker? We went to an expert to find out.

Phil Cardella is an instructor and mixed martial arts black belt champion. He has trained some of the militaries' finest in hand-to-hand combat. Now, he's teaching women to defend themselves.

"It's not a laughing matter. It's something people need to really focus on, the correct ways to prevent it and avoid it, and give resistance," said Cardella.

Step one in self-defense is "to be aware of your surroundings, recognize what's going on, and start to prepare yourself to defend yourself," said Cardella.

Cardella explained, "If someone grabbed you, and wanted to run off with you, first thing is to get in a good stance, keep your base. Be ready to grab your fist over the top pull it towards your opposite shoulder and you have an opportunity to strike and then just take off. Take off."

He added that "if you give some sort of resistance, most of the time they are just going to let go and look for a real victim. You're not a victim if you're fighting back."

What if someone tried to tackle you?

"If I wanted to tackle you, you're going to stiff-arm my shoulders, hop back with your hips and place a knee anywhere you can, whether it's the groin, the stomach or the face," said Cardella.

If someone approaches you, "stiff-arm the shoulders, draw back, knee. And then just go, just take off. You stun them then you leave," said Cardella.

With practice, you can even take an attacker down.

"You would wrap up their neck, you would cut off the blood supply, and cut off the air supply and choke the person out," said Cardella.

So, within four seconds you can choke an attacker.

What about a situation when a gun is involved? What should a person do?

"When a gun is involved, the first and best thing to do is make as much distance as possible," said Cardella.

As for the concerns of a woman being smaller and pulling off these moves, he said, "Gracie Ju Jitsu is designed for a weaker, smaller opponent, to beat a larger attacker."

"You don't have to remember much, other than you must give resistance, you will not comply with what they're doing. You are not a victim and you will fight to defend yourself," said Cardella.

If you want to learn more, there are classes throughout the Houston area specializing in self-defense. Many of the classes are free.

      Headline check | 100 most recent local stories | News alerts
            Slideshow archive | ABC13 wireless | Help solve crimes