My brother-in-law was attacked in the Phillipines a week ago while walking with his wife. A man with a crowbar began striking him.
My brother-in-law suddenly became focused on one thing -- get the crowbar away from the attacker. He was struck several times. Before he got the weapon away, his wife had retrieved a knife from the car and stabbed the attacker in the neck.
Both men involved in the attack went to the hospital and both survived. My brother-in-law was very lucky.
I attended a workshop yesterday conducted by my old teacher, Pete Starr, founder of the Yiliquan system and author of books such as The Making of a Butterfly, Martial Mechanics, Martial Maneuvers, and Hidden Hands.
He made a great point during the workshop that's important especially for women to understand, but is also helpful for anyone facing a sudden need to protect themselves against an attacker.
Men grow up fighting -- or at least they did when I was growing up. They take a different approach against violence. Women didn't grow up defending themselves physically. In moments like that, most of them don't really know what to do other than cover up.
At the moment when an attacker moves toward you with violence, it's common for women to turn their attention inward. Their main concern is to not get hurt -- to cover up.
What you need to be concerned about in those situations is to break the attacker.
You must face one fact -- you are going to be hit. You might even be hurt. But you must also have a single-minded focus to break and hurt the attacker. I believe my brother-in-law survived because he was focused not on covering up against the crowbar, but to get it away.
In the second photo, she strikes a pose you see commonly when people assume a "fighting position." She's focused inward -- her hands are so close to her body, it would be much more difficult to block or deflect an attack.
Practicing martial arts isn't just about techniques or forms or sparring. You must also practice the mindset of a martial artist. That is, you must practice removing the concern of getting hurt from your mind. It should no longer be your focus. Your focus is the attacker, and what you must do to break him.
In a real-life situation, you will both go to the hospital. Your goal is to walk into the hospital while your attacker goes in feet first.