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  • Rowan

You Are Never Defenseless

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

In my last article I talked about how you are never helpless, with two examples of people who persevered through incredible odds. This time I'd like to build on that to say you are never defenseless.

In my experience, many people see a weapon as something of a safety blanket. "I'm carrying my gun, so I'm safe" or, "I'm going on a jog and I have my pepper spray, I'm good". There are plenty of women's self-defense courses that stress having your keys in your hand as a makeshift weapon or having something like a keychain kubaton at the ready, just in case.

There's nothing wrong with that, any advantage that you can give yourself is good but the flip side of this belief that it is the tool that makes you safe is a thought I've definitely had before, "I don't have my gun on me, I am unarmed." There can be a feeling of helplessness when you don't have your preferred defensive tool, whatever that might be.

It is important to remember that these are just tools. Think of it like this, someone could give me a framing hammer and I could carry it around with me every day, but, if after 6 months they came up to me and said ok, it's time to frame a house...I would have no idea what to do. I might be able to make something vaguely resembling a house, but I certainly wouldn't want to live in it.

The same can be said for a firearm or any kind of weapon. Your skill with that tool, and the mindset you have, play more of a part than how much it costs, what caliber it is, or what doodads and accessories you have added to it.

The perfect example of this is a woman named Kelly Herron. Kelly was

out for a 10-mile run in a popular Seattle park. After running four miles she stopped to use the bathroom. As she was drying her hands she realized something was wrong. Gary Steiner, a 40-year-old registered sex offender, was standing behind her in the bathroom.

Steiner attacked Kelly, "he immediately took me down to the ground, hit both my knees and legs, and then it was a fight on the bathroom floor..."

Kelly was "unarmed", had just run four miles, and was trapped in a bathroom with a determined assailant. I'm sure Kelly would have loved to have a firearm, pepper spray, or a knife in that moment, but Kelly had none of those things. What she did have was a will to survive and the weapons she was born with.

Throughout the attack, Kelly screamed "Not today mother fucker!" repeatedly as her own impromptu battle cry. What a perfect way to let Steiner know that she was no easy target, and a reminder for herself that today was her day.

"I got into that stall, flipped on my back, and I tried to kick the door lock shut with my foot," Herron said. But she missed the lock and jammed the door. Steiner entered the stall from the side and, she said, "started beating me in the face with his hand."

Kelly recalled a self-defense class she had taken 3 weeks earlier and realized "this doesn't have to be a fair fight" and began to scratch her attacker in the face.

Woman punching

"All those little things that I learned in my life... how to punch and everything came back to me," she said. "I started to feel like I was going to lose consciousness...but I got another surge of adrenaline, and I reached for the door and was able to get out."

Kelly was able to escape her attacker and luckily a passerby happened to have a carabiner on hand that they used to lock Steiner in the bathroom.

Kelly was faced with an extremely difficult situation. She was assaulted by a man who was larger, stronger, and had a long criminal history of assaulting women. She was trapped in a small, enclosed space without the ability to run away. Her only option was to fight, and that's exactly what she did. I'm sure her fighting spirit was always with her, but it was the knowledge from her brief self-defense class that came to her in that moment and reminded her that there is no such thing as a fair fight. Going for the eyes, throat, groin, and other sensitive areas are all valid targets when your life depends on it. Having training can give you the edge by channeling that will to fight into a plan for survival.

Kelly did one of the other most important things you can do in an attack, and that's being loud. Screaming not only alerts other people to your plight but it can be extremely off-putting to someone looking for an easy conquest. For all of human history we have rushed into battle with war cries, "not today motherfucker" should rank up there somewhere.

It is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security when you have a weapon, but don't forget you are never "unarmed". Look at a professional UFC fighter for example. A trained MMA fighter will absolutely demolish the average person, and they can do it without a gun, knife, or pink keychain pepper spray. The difference is they have trained to use their own bodies as effective weapons and they have a confidence in their abilities born of hours of rigorous training. You might not be a trained MMA fighter but you would be amazed what you are truly capable of.

Female MMA fighter

Whether you have some kind of self-defense tool or not, you are never truly unarmed and you are never defenseless. In a following article I will discuss what you can do to prepare yourself to deal with a violent encounter even if you have nothing at hand.

Stay safe and keep training!

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