Haley Criger Shares Her Experience Learning Self Defense


Ariela, Fresh Face Editor

Senior Haley Criger used her younger brother to demonstrate her new skills – taking down or escaping from a predator. For her senior project, Haley decided to join a self-defense class to be able to defend herself if necessary in the future. Haley, who will be going to NAU in the Fall heard of women being attacked on campus at the U of A and it made her want to join a class. “It’s scary to think about having to defend myself against a grown man because I am not as strong as most of them, but I want to be prepared in case I have to at one point in my life,” Haley said.

On January 4th she joined a free woman’s self-defense class called R.A.D. (rape, aggression, and defense) at Pima Community College. Her instructor was a woman who first talked about being aware of your surroundings.  Her instructor told them to walk with confidence, attackers look for easy targets. Also. women are advised to make eye contact because you are more likely to identify the attacker later if they were to attack you. At the class they taught three different standing positions: a regular stance, a fighting stance (which is when your hand is in a fist while protecting your face), and a defense stance – this is “where your hands are flat with fingers together and your arms are extended with your elbows slightly bent and your chin tucked in.” The defensive stance is going to be the best stance because you are making it obvious you don’t want difficulty, but you’re also prepared to defend yourself.

Haley also learned upper body strikes, one being punching, the second being using your elbow, and the third is using the base of your palm. There is a risk when punching someone though because your wrist is not very stable, there is a chance of breaking your hand/wrist or hurting it. Using your elbow or palm will do more damage and have less chance of risk of hurting yourself. Now that you know what parts of your body to use when defending yourself, you can now learn the best places to strike the attacker. The nose, jaw, and cheekbones are the best places on the face to hit and a place to try and avoid hitting in the forehead.

Haley said,  “Another technique to use is to cup your hands and slam them into the person’s ear, causing wind to be pushed into the ear canal and rupture the eardrum and will cause them to drop to the ground allowing you to escape from the potential attack.” One of the most important things Haley learned was that women get most of their strength from their hips, so it’s important to lead with your hip and let the power come from there.

Her instructor also taught them how to get out of holds.  If your arms are pinned you will want to use a “hammer fist” on their groin, after that you will want to step on their feet and run away as fast as you can. If your hands are free you should try to elbow them in the face to try and cause the most damage, then once again step on their feet and get away as quickly as possible.

Haley is thankful that she has experienced and gained confidence in defending herself if necessary. She said that it is still scary to think about her getting into a physical altercation with a man with her only being 18 and female, but knowing the most damaging spots and what techniques to use puts her at ease. She learned that she is strong enough to defend herself, either mentally or physically. The main thing Haley took from her self defense classes is to use her common sense and to just pay attention to what’s around her, “it just might save my life.”