Could You Fight for Your Life?

Police have found evidence that California teenager Chelsea King was raped and murdered along her favorite jogging trail by a known sex offender. We don’t know if Ms. King fought against her killer, was rendered unable to fight, or froze in terror. Whatever the case, she should never have needed to defend herself in the first place.

A  few weeks prior to Ms. King’s attack, another young woman was assaulted on the same path, apparently by the same man. How did Candice Moncayo survive and escape? She fought until she could get away.

Moncayo was running along the trail when, without warning, she was tackled from the side and thrown to the ground. She said later, “I thought he was going to rape me, so I told him he’d have to kill me first.”

Whether these words had any effect on her attacker, I don’t know. But I do know that they reflected Moncayo’s willingness to fight for her life. And the very act of voicing them helped her survive. How? Because speaking or, even better, yelling, during extremely stressful situations keeps us breathing. Rather than gasping for shallow breaths, when we vocalize, we automatically take air in more deeply. This allows oxygen to reach our brains, so we can think clearly and make split-second decisions necessary for survival. It also ensures we get enough oxygen into our arms and legs, so we can run when an opportunity opens up.

The attacker grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her hard, for what seemed an eternity. Still trapped in his arms but unwilling to give up, she executed an elbow strike–and hit pay dirt. She landed the blow right smack into his nose, smashing it.

Stunned by the sudden pain, he stopped shaking her and loosened his grip momentarily. Seeing her chance to escape, she ran for her life and made it to safety.

I don’t know how Moncayo learned to use the elbow strike to defend herself. But I know how you can. Find a good Women’s Self-Defense class and take it. In RAD classes, we go over (and over again) how to yell and not scream… what to yell… and how to deliver effective elbow strikes–as well as many other techniques. We also cover ground-fighting and rape-reversals, so important for women to know. I realize you’re busy; I understand that the last thing you have the time and money for right now is a self-defense course. But this is your life we’re talking about here. Make your safety a priority.

An added bonus to Moncayo’s use of the elbow strike–it left a sample of the perpetrator’s DNA on her arm that police were able to swab for identification and evidence. Knowing how to fight for yourself–it’s empowering.


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