Wednesday, June 08, 2005



My local paper, the Times Union, ran this article:
Iannuzzi, a town police officer, was showcasing the skills taught in a new, Rape Aggression Defense class that police are offering at no charge to women in Guilderland.

The class, which has been offered for years at the University at Albany, is designed to teach women basic self-defense and, more importantly, they say, how to avoid dangerous situations in the first place.

Consisting of three, four-hour sessions, the secretive classes are held away from the eyes of men and provide women the rare opportunity to defend themselves in full-contact simulated attacks.
I was one of the very first people to be invited by the police in Tucson, Arizona, to talk about self defense for women. I developed a standard lecture which I taught several police women. This is how the class was run here in Albany:
In this scenario, Iannuzzi was alone and vulnerable and had little choice when she was accosted at an ATM. She waited, screaming "No! Get Back!" Until they grabbed her. A slight but powerful woman, she let fly a precision flurry of open-fisted punches, stunning elbows and punishing knee jabs that sent the larger men wilting to the ground.
OK. This ended up being the typical "fist fighting/karate/judo" lesson which is utterly useless for teaching self defense. They did get my lesson number one right: be very loud. The louder the better. "Stop. You are breaking the law. You will be arrested. The police are coming right now!" I always explain, psychological warfare is tons better than trying to muscle your way out of trouble. These people are very paranoid about the police. "Look, they are coming! Ha!" is very effective especially if you point behind them. Works wonders.

I would tell women, once someone touches you it is much more difficult to stop the confrontation so this is why yelling the above is very effective if there is some distance.

Second, arm yourself. With what? Anything near by. I have used garbage cans, chairs, bricks, all sorts of odds and ends. I sweep them up and scream, "You are under arrest". Why that?

Because again, the assaulters are terrified of being arrested. This always causes them to hesitate. Now, where did I get all this experience?

I used to be part of a patrol seeking sexual assaulters. When I was in college, we young women were frequent prey of predator males. At first, I taught some self defense because I am a trained fighter. But then we decided to do night patrols. I took exclusive territory over the "dark alley/near bars" sector. This was very active. We used to laugh over how frequent the attacks on my decoy was. I would wear a miniskirt and heels. I deliberately experimented with different word combinations and things to use. I found the ultimate way to deal with a man was to destroy his car. One guy jumped out af a fancy car to sexually assault me in one very dark alley. Heh.

I ran around his car, swept up a garbage can and began to whale away at it. He screamed, "Stop wrecking my car" and jumped back in, drove around the block and came back to attack me only I followed him and when he left his car, I put a board with a nail in it under the back tire. I then clapped my hands, he ran after me...straight into the police. He ran back, gunned the engine, drove a short ways and had to give up because of the board nailed into his rear tire.

I loved doing this. I called it "cheap thrills". The police terminated this because of lawsuit possibilities so they had me show the new women police "decoys" how to operate. So this one month experiment ended. But I will assure you, each night I was attacked at least three times! Boy.

More psychological warfare: yelling, "I know who you are and where you live!" This plays on paranoia. Swinging the arm out yelling, "back, back, back" is useful. I use this on 2 ton oxen. All my big animals know this order and surprizingly, many humans respond the same way, they automatically step back. Even one step is enough.

The main thing today is to have a cell phone. I have used this with great delight. It is very simple. Someone looks even slightly suspicious, don't be shy. Whip out the cell phone and be ready to dial 911. If, god forbid, you are attacked, hit the 911 and immediately start yelling your location and describe who is attacking you. I have a long record of citizen arrests. One chief tool I used was to rationally ID the criminal suspect. I discovered if I begin to describe them outloud, nearly always, they run away due to paranoia of being caught. The litany runs like this: weight, height, haircolor, pants, shirt/suit and lastly, shoes.

If the person has a gun: there is only so much one can do. One man actually emptied a .45 on me and missed, by inches, each shot. He went to prison, of course. When someone pulls a gun, assume you are going to die. This means, make tremendous noise, yelling. Nothing is lost. And of course, go bezerk. Again, this is literal life and death.

True story: one guy I nailed I tricked. I was painting with red paint when he tried to steal a bicycle chained to the porch. I lunged at him, stabbed him in the chest with the paint brush yelling, "This is a knife!" and he saw the red and fainted. I then got him in an arm/neck lock.

Another time, three of us stopped a kidnapping next to the U of A. The girl screamed, dropped her books as three men hauled her into their car at a stoplight where I was walking. My girlfriends ran to summon the police while I threw a garbage can in front of the car while screaming at other cars to stop, thus tying up the traffic. The men bailed out and ran and I ran after them, ID'ing them. They were caught.

In NYC a man with a baseball bat assaulted a Chinese couple. I happened to be going to sword practice so I drew my sword and forced him at sword point to surrender until the police came and arrested him.

Knowledge is power. And the best protector of a woman is contact with others and the greatest invention for this is the cell phone. I think all people who are vulnerable should have these. When I was doing citizen's arrests, I had a radio so I could contact the 84th Precinct in Brooklyn but a cell phone would have been better by far.

One big mistake all the classes on self defense make is to teach smaller people and women to hit low. All men attacking women expect this and can easily defend from this, they grab a woman's hair nearly always. This is why I tell women that if they are going for blood, they must attack the nose. Yes, the nose. Since one is shorter, a swift upper cut to the nose is very effective and to do this, the man grabs the woman's hair, yanks her forwards and she slices him on the nose, he lets go, reflexively. I know this for a fact because I have won 100% of my hand to hand battles this way. To do an upper cut, one clutches the right fist to the chest and then as the man pulls inwards, shoot upwards. If you hit the jaw, it still causes him to let go so he can hit back.

If you are really horrible like me, this is when you grab both ears. A sudden jerk, twisting the head.

Brutal details. But fighting is a brutal fact. I know of a number of women in the NRA who think carrying a gun in a purse is a good idea. It is not. Purses are often the target of attackers who want the purse. Why arm them, too? Second, if you hae a gun on your body, don't pull it unless you have the will to kill. If you do pull it, you can end up in prison if the person isn't really a danger to yourself and if you panic and pull, all is over. Way too dangerous and I never ever carried a gun.

Again, calling 911 on a cell phone is tons easier and quicker and most highly recommended.