ASSERT Yourself

ASSERT Yourself

Last week Team Green Adventures partnered with KSA Martial Academy for our first-of-three Intro to Self Defense classes. The mission of Team Green Adventures is to get our  Lightning 100 listeners and community members outdoors and active, and we emphasize safety on each of our adventures. For that reason we certify our trip leaders with Wilderness First Aid Training or First Aid Training, open these certification classes to our participants, provide an overview of Wilderness Safety on our Resources page, and finally, educate our audience about basic self-defense skills.

This week’s AdventureBlog recaps our Intro to Self Defense course, based on the ASSERT Program. ASSERT stands for Adrenal Stress Strategy Emergency Response Training. Whereas other self-defense programs focus on logical step-by-step skills for getting out of a self-defense situation, the ASSERT program is catered to the adrenal response system using natural day-to-day movements.

Understanding Adrenaline

When (if) you find yourself in a threatening situation, your adrenaline kicks in. We all know this. Our pulse quickens, our pupils dilate, and we experience a sense of panic. There are 4 responses your body will choose from. It is your body, not your mind, that will choose the response it wants. ASSERT is a program designed to work with your body’s natural response to adrenaline, and help you escape.

In each of the four responses, your body diverts its energy and resources away from some parts of the body in order to strengthen the areas you need in a threatening situation.

Loss of upper brain function is one side effect. Your ability to process logic goes out the window, and you’ll forget any step-by-step training you memorized. Loss of motor skills is another side effect. Your hands or legs will start to tremble and your grip or walking may become clumsy. Finally you may develop tunnel vision. This could range from loss of peripheral vision to complete black out.

These adrenaline side effects are setting you up for one of the following three response:

  1. Fight: physically defend yourself
  2. Flight: run/escape
  3. Freeze: lose function of all motor skills
  4. Faint: temporarily pass out

Remember,  you have no control over which response your body chooses, but you do have the ability to cope to the response and use simple, basic, and natural skills to get to the response you want (flight).

Four Basic Hits

If you have the ability to escape and your body is prepared for flight, go for it! However, if your body chooses fight, freeze or faint, it’s important to know some maneuvers to help create an opening for a safe exit.

  • Open Palm Punch: Much like the motion used to push open a very heavy swinging/rotating door, keep your palm open and use the base of the palm to hit. The cushion provided by the muscles in your hand allow for a harder hit with less damage to yourself. The targeted area for hitting is anything in the approximate location of your own head (so for a short person this might mean hitting someone in the chest, or for kids it could mean hitting someone in the groin). The open palm is also an internationally recognized symbol for “stop” so bystanders witness to the confrontation will know you’re the victim, not the attacker.At the end of our one-hour workshop the instructors at KSA Martial Academy asked if any participants were still unsure of their strength in a self defense situation. Check out this video showing just how much impact an open palm punch can have!
  • Elbow Punch: Much like the motion of holding a purse strap, rotate your elbow up and around to hit your attacker. Instead of holding onto a purse strap, the individual could also hold onto a fistful of shirt, or a bra strap.
  • Knee Hit: Much like the motion of walking up the stairs, use the knee to attack lower parts of the body such as a groin or upper leg.
  • Shin Kick: Much like the motion of putting on skinny jeans, kick your foot out to hit the shins, ankles or top of the foot of your attacker.

Show Clear Intentions

As mentioned above, it’s important that the confrontation have clear intentions. Avoid any body language or verbal language that could create the appearance of you being the attacker. When taking a boxer stance with closed fists, and your attacker standing straight making verbal threats, who would appear to be the attacker from a witness who can’t hear the conversation?

You would.

For this reason, hold your hands up in a defensive position. Give your attacker verbal confirmation that you are not interested in their attention. “Please step back, I’m feeling uncomfortable.” Only resort to physical defense tactics when it’s clear your attacker has no intentions to back off.

Be sure to avoid aggressive language or language that could escalate the attack. “Back off, I don’t trust you.” A phrase like this could escalate the confrontation (“You don’t trust me? What do you have against me?”) and when a the aggressor or backed off, don’t use dialog that turns you into the new aggressor (“That’s right, you better back off!”)

Be aware of your aggressor’s tactics to get closer. In a simulation during class, the “attacker” pointed out a participants ring (“Ok. Ok. I don’t mean harm… Hey nice ring by the way…”). This comment caught the participant off guard, and the attacker stepped closer when she glanced at her ring.

That being said. Don’t hesitate to lie to your aggressor. Your aggressor is lying to you and may use lies to create a false sense of safety. Lie in any way that will protect yourself or give yourself a chance for escape. (“Escuse me, I need to meet up with my friends around the corner. HEY GUYS! WAIT UP!” or “Oh no! I need a toilet! Where’s the toilet?!”)

Learn More

Our Intro to Self Defense class was a one-hour session that covered just an overview of the full ASSERT Class. KSA Martial Academy offers a full 4-hour class coming up on Saturday, March 5th from 1-5pm. Spots are still available for this co-ed class.

Team Green Adventures is also offering two more one-hour Intro to Self Defense classes this year. On Friday, July 8th is our Co-Ed/Family-Friendly* class. An additional class will be offered this fall, and will either be a Women’s-Only or Co-Ed/Family-Friendly class depending on overall reviews.

*This class is open to ages 10 and older. There will be brief references and discussions about emotionally difficult topics, so parents should start these conversations with their children before attending class (ie. molestation, rape, incest, stalking, etc).

-Keeley (Team Green Adventure Director)


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