New Times – San Luis Obispo – 1988

Fighting Back

Model Mugging: Much More than Self-Defense

New Times – San Luis Obispo County News and Entertainment Weekly
Vol. 3, No 9, October 27, 1988, page 44
Cover Story

“The last thing I wanted to do was re-experience my rape, yet when my ‘mugger’ used the exact words my rapist had, I did relive that nightmare. I froze. Everything stopped. Then somewhere, from deep inside, a voice I had never heard before yelled, NO!” – Model Mugging graduate.

Self-Defense Without A Firearm

san luis obispo self-defense classMost women, of course, have not joined the arms race. Yet the seemingly intractable increase in violent crime – rape, for example, went up 7% in the first six months of 1985 has persuaded many to search for new ways to protect themselves. In the last decade, martial-arts schools have seen a surge in enrollment.

Matt Thomas of San Francisco, a 34-year-old black belt in Judo, Karate and Kendo, thinks that his Oriental specialties are not tough enough. In the course of researching some 2,700 police reports (later 3000) on assaults and rapes on the West Coast, he found that 80% of the assailants were unarmed, that they attacked in locales that were often dark, and that most tried to slam their intended victims to the ground quickly. And yet martial-arts courses are usually conducted in well-lit, comfortably padded studios, with students taught to parry blows standing up.

picture 2Thomas’ solution is Model Mugging, a high-intensity seminar in street brawling. So far some 4,000 women, ages 13 to 69, have taken the 32-hour course. They are first taught to confront an unarmed attacker with off-putting psychological weapons that, range from conversation to picking their noses to urinating. When more aggressive techniques are called for, students learn how to counterattack with fingers in the eyes, elbows to the neck and ribs, and kicks to the groin and shin. The object is to disable the mugger – played by a heavily padded Thomas – in the first five seconds, by liberating “women’s power, which has been repressed. They’ve never been socially rewarded for giving a good kick in the groin,” he says. “Here, they’re rewarded.” Adds co-instructor Danielle Evans, “Model Mugging teaches women to become conscious of their fighter-to-flight instinct, of the adrenaline that is there at their service.”

PictureThomas’ program is not without detractors; a local Aikido school, objecting to its violence, declined to share space with MM. Thomas himself has paid dearly for his role as attacker. Despite the $1,000 padded suit, he has been knocked cold 17 times, broken two ribs and suffered neck, back and groin injuries. Yet Thomas has resisted appeals from his worried wife to close down his school of hard knocks.

Other Ways To Protect Yourself

Self-protection depends as much on readiness as it does on fire power, and the best defense is still avoiding the confrontation in the first place. Personal-security courses that have sprung up around the country stress that safety begins when you get dressed in the morning. Avoid tight skins that could restrict running or footwear that might make you stumble.

If the only person in an elevator looks suspicious, wait for the next one. Be alert in vacant parking lots and check out your car – front and back – before entering. It you cannot escape from your assailant and all he wants is your wallet, give it to him.

ways to protect yourselfIn those cases when more is at stake, even women who don’t like guns usually have a devastating arsenal readily at hand. House keys held between the fingers (see picture) can gouge, and an umbrella (center picture) can be used to poke or choke. A briefcase can serve as a shield or a battering ram.

Mace (see picture) comes in lipstick-size containers. If it is illegal in your city, an aerosol screamer or a shrill whistle may be enough to frighten your assailant away.

Says Theodore West of Manhattan’s Executive Self-Defense Center, “If someone accosts you, you will be startled. But it you are able to regain your composure and take the initiative, by the third heartbeat the game should belong to you.”


Original article in New Times – San Luis Obispo County News and Entertainment Weekly – Vol. 3, No 9, October 27, 1988, page 44: download file size is 1.53 MB

Other Model Mugging Self Defense Articles