Self-Defense Story: The Blonde Haired Warrior

People sometimes ask me how much training they need to be effective in a self-defense situation. My answer?

None. Zip.

Fact: Men, women, and children defend themselves every day with no training whatsoever.

Sure, the news blasts you with stories about the crimes that get committed…but what about the crimes that don’t get committed? The crimes that get stopped before they even start?

Today, I want to tilt the scales a bit and tell you a story about a crime that was stopped dead in its tracks by someone with no self-defense training whatsoever. Here it is.

5:00 in the morning. I’m awakened by a scream. A woman’s scream. The kind of scream that stops your breath and makes the hair on your neck stand up. And it sounds like it’s right outside my window.

I run outside. The street is dark. Another scream.

I see her now. One building down. A young lady. No more than 22. Blonde hair.

She’s standing alone at the end of her driveway. Like a statue. Her eyes fixed across the street. I look to where she’s staring—nothing there but dark apartment buildings.

I inch closer, being careful not to freak her out. I say, “You okay?”

“Someone just attacked me.”

At that moment, I hear a car peeling out in the alley behind the buildings across the street. Clearly, the someone she was talking about had just run across the street, slipped between the buildings, and escaped in his car.

By now, lights on the block started to pop on, heads appeared in windows, and a few neighbors walked out to join us.

I had never met this young lady, and I don’t recall learning her name, so will call her the Blonde Haired Warrior. I say warrior because she was not only able to protect herself from what I would soon learn could have been a deadly threat, but she was also able to keep her cool the entire time afterward. She never once appeared to be a victim of anything or anyone. Her attitude, if I had to label it, was outraged.

The police arrived to take her report and begin their investigation. Over the next hour, as the sun shed light on the street, information emerged to shed light on the attack. Here’s what happened.

The Blonde Warrior worked the early shift at a store in the area. She stepped outside of her apartment to go to work and immediately got a weird feeling. She didn’t know why until later. (I’ll let you know why in a minute.)

She walked to her car in the backyard and suddenly sensed something moving behind her. At the moment she turned to look, a heavy object grazed her head. That heavy something turned out to be a bowling pin. I kid you not. They know because it was dropped at the scene.

Make no mistake–if the Blonde Warrior had not made that slight move to look back, she would have been badly injured, if not killed.

Instead, having barely dodged the pin, she spun around and came face-to-face with a man wearing a stocking over his head. They know because the stocking was found in a trashcan behind the building where the car peeled off.

Crazy.

Now, the key moment in our story. Rather than running away, the Blonde Haired Warrior started screaming. Not screaming out of fear, but screaming aggressively at her attacker. As she told the story, the attacker froze on the spot, presumably trying to decide whether or not he still had a chance at getting what he wanted.

But the Warrior made the decision for him. Using her scream as a weapon, she marched straight at him. He retreated. She kept screaming and, literally, chased him down the driveway, to where I found her at the edge of the street.

Incredible.

In a situation where I’m sure many of us would expect a person under attack—man or woman—to panic and run or curl up and cry, the Blonde Warrior summoned up righteous anger and unleashed it on her attacker.

How could someone so young, someone who told me she had no self-defense training whatsoever, instantly transform herself into a fearless, indomitable warrior? I was amazed. But–

 I don’t want you to be amazed. I want you to believe that you can do the same thing… if you don’t believe that already.

Unfortunately, this is where the story ends. I never found out if they caught the bad guy or if she quit her job. I never found out because she moved to a new apartment that same day. And I don’t blame her.

Wherever you are, Blonde Haired Warrior, I hope you are happy and healthy. Thank you for your inspiring example.

So, what’s the moral of the story? I can give you at least six.

Lesson #1: BAD GUYS PLAN AHEAD. Not only did this attacker pick up a stocking and bowling pin ahead of time, not only did he position his car for a concealed getaway, not only did he stake out our hero long enough to figure out her schedule and have confidence that she’d be alone…he also unscrewed the light bulb over the door to her apartment. Actually, he unscrewed the bulbs over all six apartments in her building. Three on the first floor and three on the second floor.

That’s why the Blonde Warrior got a “weird” feeling when she walked out to her car…she noticed it was darker than usual.

Fact: Most crimes are not spur of the moment decisions. Bad guys know exactly what they want, and exactly what they’re going to do to get it. They just need the opportunity to execute their plan. Think about it—the vast majority of criminals are repeat offenders. That means they follow a pattern of behavior. They practice. They plan. Which is why anytime you can mess up that plan, break the pattern, you’re taking the bad guy out of his or her comfort zone.

We talked about the power of the unexpected in “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise.” Never forget that you are armed right now with the ability to zig when the bad guy wants you to zag. You have the ability to say or do something to disrupt a bad guy’s plan and maybe even destroy it before it starts.

Lesson #2: RESISTANCE IN ANY FORM IS GOOD. Did you know 44-50% of women targeted for rape are able to stop their attacker by either yelling or putting up some form of resistance? And these are women with no self-defense training of any kind. If you survey women with self-defense training, that number jumps to 75-85%.

Don’t let the news fool you. Predators are not all-powerful. And prey aren’t powerless.

The life of a predator is not easy. Even in the animal kingdom. Lions, the kings of the jungle, only succeed in hunting 10-20% of the time. That means for every zebra a lion eats, eight or nine get away.

Now, to be clear, I am not here to judge anyone who has chosen to fight back under attack or chosen to not fight back. Your choices are your own. But I do hope to chip away at the stereotype of a woman, or anyone facing a criminal, as being incapable, powerless, or helpless. The Blonde Haired Warrior, with only her voice, turned the tables on a violent attacker and crushed his plans to harm her. And she’s not alone.

Lesson #3: THE SOONER YOU FIGHT BACK, THE BETTER. The bad guy in our story had five steps to his plan: approach, stun, isolate, rape, escape. The Blonde Warrior was able to disrupt that plan between the first and second step. Imagine if he had hit her fully with the pin. How much more difficult would it be to start fighting back at step three or four? I’m not saying it’s impossible, or that it’s ever too late to fight back, but obviously, the sooner you disrupt a bad guy’s plan, the better.

On the other extreme, imagine if the Blonde Warrior had seen the bad guy crouching in the bushes as soon as she opened the door to go outside. She could have just slammed the door and called the police. That’s why you’ll always hear self-defense experts preaching to be aware of your surroundings. If you see trouble coming, you can avoid it. The longer you let trouble develop, the worse it’s going to get.

So, when your instincts are telling you something is wrong, do something about it sooner than later.

Lesson #4: DON’T COUNT ON ANYONE TO HELP YOU. There’s a part of the story I haven’t told you yet. Our hero, the Blonde Warrior, did not live alone. She had a roommate. Another young lady. At the time of the attack, the roommate was sleeping on the couch right by the door.

Not sleeping, actually. She said goodbye as the Blonde Warrior left for work. But when the roommate heard her friend screaming, she didn’t open the door. Why?

She was too scared!

Think about that. The Blonde Warrior was screaming so loudly it woke me up one building away. Imagine how loud that screaming must have been just a few feet away.

I’m not asking you to judge the roommate as a good or bad person, but I do want to point out that people don’t always act how you expect them to act. Or even how they say they will act. I mean, I’m sure if you asked the roommate beforehand, “If you heard me screaming outside, what would you do?” she’d say she’d open the door and run out to help. And you’d expect her to do that, wouldn’t you?

But she didn’t.

Same goes for dogs, spouses, friends, security guards, police officers, alarm systems, guardian angels, and good Samaritans… you can’t count on them. None of them. Yes, if something or someone can help you out, great! But don’t rely on it. Don’t expect it.

Take responsibility for providing your own defense. Prepare to go it alone. Not because you want to, but because you might have to.

Lesson #5: TRUST YOUR GUT. The Blonde Warrior knew something was wrong the moment she walked out the door. Because she was on alert, she was able to sense her attacker just in time to avoid being hurt. In short, she was saved by her feelings. Her intuition. Her gut.

To be as safe as you can be, you’ve got to make a promise to yourself that you will always listen to your gut.

Make a promise that you will listen to what your gut tells you more than what other people tell you. Not because other people are bad or don’t care about you, but simply because they are not you.

Your gut is you. It cares about you. Don’t wait for someone to tell you you’re in danger. Don’t wait for someone to agree with you that it’s time to take action. If you feel it, respect it, and act on it.

Lesson #6: SPIRIT TRUMPS TECHNIQUE. If I told you it’s possible for a young woman to defend herself from a surprise attack by an armed rapist without throwing a punch or a kick, and without using a gun, knife, or stick, you might say, “No way.” And yet it happened. It happens every day.

It’s not technique that saves lives, it’s spirit. Fighting spirit.

The fact is, you can have the fastest, strongest punch in the world, but if you’re too scared to throw it, it won’t help you. If you’re not prepared emotionally to defend yourself, all the techniques you ever learn, all the hours of practice you put in, and all the black belts and trophies you collect, won’t matter one bit.

But, if you are capable of summoning all your fighting spirit when you need it, if you can stare danger in the eye, and if you can channel your powers into a single, direct action, you don’t need much skill at all.

How much skill does it take to scream? Or poke someone in the eye? Or bite? None. Spirit trumps all technique.

If you want to be safer, consider spending less time at the gym and more time in your head.

So, how much training do you need to defend yourself? The short answer is none. Don’t let anyone make you forget how powerful and capable you are already. Trust your instincts, listen to your intuition, and take action when it’s time to take action.

The long answer is you don’t need any training to defend yourself, BUT any training you do will make you more effective, more of the time. It’s like running. Or cooking. Or writing. Sure, most of us can run, cook, and write…but when we study and practice, we get better.

So, the question isn’t really, how much do I need to train to defend myself. The question is: how much do I need to train to defend myself better? And that’s up to you.

If safety is a top priority in your life, train. If not, be like the Blonde Haired Warrior and just trust your instincts. There’s a good chance that will be enough.

This article is a summary of the Fight for a Happy Life podcast, “The Blonde Haired Warrior.” Listen to the full episode here.