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Let me say that there is NOTHING that can compare to a good martial arts program that you participate in in person. Young children, as early as five years of age, can benefit from learning self-defense. There are many instructors that will give "women only" classes, classes for the elderly, children's and co-ed adult classes. In our area of Texas, $35-$50 a month is the average price. Most colleges also offer programs for beginners. Some offer different styles of martial arts from Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Karate as well as Tae Kwon Do. All are excellent styles but not for every body. Try them each at the colleges and then find an instructor in the style you prefer.

There are many vulnerable areas to the human body. With little or no training, a potential victim can turn the tide against an assailant. The following are just a few of the possibilities available to a person that keeps their head during an attack.

Eyes-The majority of people will stop and cover their eyes to protect them when the facial area is scratched. Do not stop at just attempting to scratch an attacker's cheeks. Start at the forehead and scratch all the way to the chin and neck. Do this in a serious manner. Try to take as much skin and blood with you as possible.

Nose- Disgusting as it sounds, two fingers hooked into an attacker's nose and ripped out works as a great deterrent. The cartilage in the nose is also easily broken. A good blow with your own head, elbow, fist or foot will cause bleeding, pain, watery eyes and swelling of both eyes.

Ears-A cupping of the hands to use as a suction type of blow to both ears simultaneously will cause pain and sometimes damage to the eardrums. If your face is anywhere near an attacker’s ear, take as much of it into your mouth as possible. Proceed to bite and rip at it in an attempt to take it off.

Base of throat (hollow area)-Finger pressure can cause severe discomfort. A hand strike can collapse the trachea and inhibit an attacker's breathing. Practice this by putting one finger of pressure on your own throat and find the area that is most sensitive. Slight pressure will make a person back off, sudden sharp hits can cause damage and severe pain to an attacker.

Solar Plexus (Bread Basket)-A hit, kick, or punch here can easily cause an attacker to "lose his breath." An umbrella, rolled up newspaper, elbow or knee can all be used in this area effectively. When hitting or kicking, try to drive through the front to the spine of the attacker. Visualize this. If you think about stopping at the belly, you will. This is one of the secrets to breaking boards. When using a newspaper or umbrella, hit the attacker with the pointed end in a stabbing manner.

Fingers- The attacker may have a superman's grip but in one finger alone, there is weakness. When bending a finger backwards to break a hold, don't settle for "a little pain." Use a sharp snapping movement to make the finger meet the back of the hand.

Elbows-God made elbows to bend one way only. It takes about 8-10 lbs. psi to the back of the elbow while pulling up at the wrist to break it. Don’t forget your own elbows. They make a great weapon to the head, throat, bread-basket and genitals.

Pelvic floor-This is the soft area 4-6 inches below the belly button. Regardless of an attacker's ability to build chest and abdominal muscles, this area is always soft and vulnerable.

Groin/genital area- A great area to inflict pain BUT all men have heard that it will be a woman's first target. They will expect it. A FEMALE attacker may not. This area, when hit or kicked causes severe discomfort to men and women. If you have an opportunity to hit in this area, take it but don't depend on it as your only self-defense. Remember there are several ways of hitting this area. Fists, knees, feet, elbows and head, just to name just a few. There is another sensitive area that is effective in getting an assailant away. If you are being held from behind, reach your hand between your body and his, then, pinch the inside of the thigh for all you are worth. Practice it on yourself to find where the most sensitive area is.

Knees- Knees are one of the most unstable joints in the human body. Again, God made these to only bend in one direction. A swift hard kick from side or front can cause breakage of this joint. This causes a certain amount of permanent damage. On the other hand, an attacker that can't stand, much less walk, can't chase you.

Instep of feet and toes- It takes very little effort to break the bones in the feet. This can be especially effective when wearing high heels or boots.

Armpits- The nerve centers in these areas cause intense pain when hit, kicked or "poked."