The Best Self-Defense Moves Every Woman Needs to Know

Self-defense master Nelson Nio shows us what to do to protect ourselves if we’re attacked

Mar Yvette learns the life-saving self-defense moves from Nelson Nio

Did you know that every two minutes a woman is sexually assaulted in the United States? It’s a staggering statistic and one that LA-based self-defense master Nelson Nio is dedicated to eradicating. Since 2003, Nelson has been empowering women with his renowned SHIELD Women’s Self Defense System, a method which includes elements of tae kwon do, Krav Maga, Wing-chun (Chinese kung fu specializing in close-range combat) and some straight-up street fighting.

His teachings have been featured internationally, from BBC World News to Good Morning America, so I jumped at the chance when I was invited to a private class, which was actually a tie-in promotion for the new suspense series called 100 Code airing on WGN America about a serial killer who targets young women. I got to learn some of Nelson’s techniques and talk to this incredible guy who is giving girls and women a fighting chance.

Read on to find out which self-defense moves you need to know that will possibly save your life.

Is there one thing or one move or technique that women need to know about when it comes to self-defense?
Yes. The easiest thing to tell women when they’re attacked is always to bite. When you incorporate biting anywhere, you become a lot more dangerous. It’s very hard to contain someone who keeps biting.

You said during the class that if you’re attacked, keep your body parts close to you (for protection) and stay steady on both of your feet because that gives you more grounding and creates more stability for your body.
Yes, the moment you feel off balance, you always widen your feet and drop your center of gravity so you’re a lot more balanced. And you always grab and hang on to someone. So when someone attacks you, you grab something first so you have more control.

When and why did you decide to teach self defense? And why did you decide to work exclusively with women?
A friend, a co-worker of mine was attacked in her apartment parking lot. Someone grabbed her neck from behind and smashed her head into the wall, beat her up and ripped her clothes off. Good thing a car drove by so he took off, but by that time she was already a mess. After that, I started teaching her, she brought her friends and it just keeps going.

How many women have you trained over the years?
Roughly maybe about 12,000 to 13,000.

Nelson Nio talking about life-saving self-defense moves

You’ve worked with celebrities and everyday women as well.
Yes, I’ve worked with celebrities like Kim Kardashian and I work with homeless shelters with homeless women who have been assaulted.

You also offer classes for kids and teens. Is it ever too early to learn self defense?
Now we’re starting girls training at six years old. Just for them to learn how to be grounded, to kick a little bit.

You also shared an interesting statistic about a study between a group of women who were raped and women who were not raped. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
There was a study interviewing 426 rape survivors here in Southern California, and they split them up into two different groups: The women who got raped, and the women who got away. The group who got away from the rape had one similarity: When they were attacked, they were really, really angry. They were enraged. You need that to fight. You need that rage.

Our private group training with Nelson Nio

You say that training is so important because when you’re being attacked, you don’t have time to think. In my case, when something shocking happens, I freeze up. I can’t move, I can’t do anything even though my mind realizes that something is happening.
Yeah, in real life it happens so quickly that you don’t have time to think. You just have to respond. That’s why training is necessary.

Watch the video below to learn the one move you need to save your life!

One more helpful tip: Nelson recommends the SABRE Red Pepper Spray that police offers use. It’s best to use the pepper spray that streams–not sprays–so that you can directly target the attacker’s eyes and it won’t fly back into your face. If you find yourself in a situation that requires pepper spray, remember to spray it in an ear-to-ear motion so that the pepper spray gets directly in the assailant’s eyes. Nelson sells it at his Culver City studio or you can find it on Amazon, although it can’t be shipped to certain states.

SABRE Red 2.0 oz Crossfire Stream Pepper Spray

For more information, visit Nelson Nio’s website for SHIELD Women’s Self-Defense System and 100 Code on WGN America.

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Written by Mar Yvette

Mar Yvette is an on-air host, lifestyle expert, writer and editor with 10+ years of experience working with some of the world’s most recognized media companies.