Post Chandigarh Case: Self Defence Tips Police Trainers Taught Me
Vani via Quint
Even as the stalking ordeal of Varnika Kundu makes headlines with Chandigarh Police taking the flak from national media and common men alike for losing crucial CCTV evidence – and then miraculously finding it this morning, here are some tips that they shared with me (and my batch mates) at a self-defense training programme organised by them in June this year. “The police will protect you,” said my trainer, without mincing words, “but first, you need to protect yourself.”— True that, especially when observed in the light of the Varnika Kundu car chase case. She refused to lose her nerve that night, and continues to hold her own. And while a political (and a media slugfest) continues over this issue, I share some tips from my training programme that, of course, go beyond the obvious ones like a safety app on your phone.
- Knowing your personal space is important and the moment you feel threatened – REACT! It might start with something as innocent as someone whispering in your ear (at a friend’s party, a boy once asked me if I liked to masturbate, and once again, I didn’t know what to say), or someone brushing his arm against yours in a marketplace, but if it makes you feel uncomfortable, make it known. “Be aware of your body language and facial expressions at all times,” said my trainer. “More often than not, a frown on your face is all that you need to make an assailant back off.”
- Your body is well-equipped to fend off an attack, provided you remember to – STRIKE! Depending on how close your assailant is, you could use your fingers, knuckles, elbows, nails, teeth, head, hands and knees to your advantage. Reminds me of an incident from my childhood. I’d just received a letter from a friend that fell into the hands of my cousin who insisted on reading it, until I bit him so hard, he dropped the letter on the floor. If the purple bruise on his arm made me realise the power of my teeth – my trainer made me aware of other body parts that I could also use for my defence. “If you poke your fingers in to the eyes of your assailant, for instance, then ‘that’s it’ for him,” said my trainer, adding as to how this was to be used only in extreme situations. “Smashing an assailant’s nose with the heel of your palm, head-butting him in the face, kicking him in the groin, or striking his face with your elbow are also powerful ways to stun him for a few minutes.”
- SCREAM! – but not as a girl who has been denied a toy by her mother. “Shouting not only alerts other people in your vicinity, but it also prepares your body for an attack and shows your fighting spirit,” said my trainer, insisting that the sound come from the abdomen, rather than the throat (wasn’t easy for me considering as how I was brought up on a constant dose of “Be Polite!”). “Here, the point is to be completely shameless! The tone of your voice when you shout has to be such as to frighten your assailant,” my trainer said, asking me to yell the word ‘Kiai’ while performing an attacking move (a variant ‘Hi-yah’ is popular in movies).
- Ever hated those heels for being too high. You could use them as a WEAPON, too, so also anything that is in your purse: a ball point pen, hairpin, chain, packets of chilli powder, pepper spray, comb. This reminds me of an incident that my grandmother narrated to me. Early sixties, she was travelling in a near-empty bogey of a train with her three children when it stopped at a station and a ruffian climbed inside it and started heckling her for money. Having just bought a cup of tea from a chaiwallah, she threw its contents on his face giving him such a fright, he was still squealing in pain as he jumped off the train at the next station. And while you need not resort to such extreme measures, merely “stomping on the foot of your assailant or jabbing a pen in his side is enough to scare him,” said my trainer.
- Know the weak points of your assailant and stay focused when you – ATTACK. “Face (eyes, nose, temples, ears, ridge of the chin), throat, top of the head, solar plexus, knees and shins – these are the weakest points on a human body,” my trainer explained, saving the last one for me to guess. Interestingly, it wasn’t until I turned 21, that I realised that a man’s “groin” area was so weak. “If you are ever caught up in a dangerous situation,” said my trainer, “all you need to do is to kick, jab your knee or the heel of your palm at your assailant’s private parts, and that will give you enough time to escape” – unless, of course, you are so strong and muscular as to “beat the shit” out of him.
This article is also available to read at: https://www.thequint.com/women/2017/08/08/how-to-protect-yourself-from-stalking-and-sexual-harassment-self-defence-tips-from-chandigarh-police