Success Rate of Graduates Fighting Back

Stopping Violence Against Women

In the real world, we don’t know what we don’t know. The following data should be interpreted with caution because there are individual and personal factors that influence the reporting of both sexual and non-sexual assaults. Our knowledge is only based on what our students or their families have reported back to us.

self defense violence against women

Model Mugging self-defense student practices how to counterattack the padded assailant who models how predators commit violence against women.

The Department of Justice Reports approximate 20% of women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime in the United States (Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998). Various rape crises centers report victimization rates much higher with carried reporting rates around 10% of survivors report the crime to police. Many survivors of sexual assault have a greater chance of being victimized repetitively, which has been confirmed by many of our students who shared their situations that involved prior histories of being assaulted in a variety of ways (child molestation, street groping, rape, intimate partner violence, stalking, and robbery).

A suggestive anecdote, but not statistically confirmed, occurred in one county where Model Mugging founder, Matt Thomas, also trained the local law enforcement as well as women from the Rape Crisis center. There were 26 rapes reported to law enforcement, but over 600 rapes reported to the Rape Crisis Center where the victims did NOT choose to report their rapes to law enforcement. Accuracy may be questioned because incidents reported to the crisis center may be duplicated if a survivor called on separate occasions and spoke to different advocates and sometimes survivors may call for assistance long after the crime occurred.

There are many types of aggression towards women and sometimes incidents may not satisfy the legal elements defining rape that determines what law enforcement lists in a specific crime category. Regardless, the significant difference in what was reported to the police compared to the crisis center, especially it is unknown how many rapes occurred that were not reported to anyone, unfortunately those survivors kept the crime silent.

The above anecdote also demonstrates there is no surefire method to obtain accuracy for measuring crime. Additionally there is not a surefire way for measuring the impact crime prevention and self-defense has on various crimes, especially violent crime against women.

Based on our students’ reports, a Model Mugging graduate’s chance of being sexually assaulted is significantly lower than women without proper self-defense training. Well over 60,000 women have graduated from Model Mugging Self-defense courses worldwide. Over 59,000 students never reported assaults afterwards (98.3% success in avoiding attacks).

Another 800 Model Mugging graduates, who were threatened with assault, stopped their assailant with just their voices and body language (80% success when attacked without resorting to violence). Incidents reported back to us total 221 graduates who were involved in a physical attack since taking the program on an average of 2 ½ years after graduating. Of those reported 221 assaults, 214 (97%) graduates successfully fought off their attacker.

Out of over 60,000 graduates of Model Mugging programs, only 7 students reported that they were victimized. These Model Mugging graduates all survived, which is a significant victory. Obviously, if a student were murdered then it would be impossible for her to report this, but we only can report what is reported back to us. We don’t know what we don’t know.

We know of only seven (3%) of our students who did not stop the assault. These cases are described in the order of occurrence from the early 1970’s.

Two students, in separate incidences, were confronted by armed assailants where one assailant used a gun and the other used a knife. Both of these survivors were intimidated by the weapon and chose not to fight but to surrender and pacify their assailants. (These two women did not take the Advance course that deals with an armed assailant.) They survived and therefore made the correct decision in their dangerous situation.

The third student was hit over the head with a club-like object from behind, knocked unconscious and sexually assaulted but wasn’t raped. The fourth student was physically attacked on a transit bus and was physically beaten but not sexually assaulted. This was a hate crime, and she actually won the initial confrontation after the criminal punched her in the face. However she physically stopped after shoving him off the bus, and then asked the bus driver to assist by closing the bus doors. The driver refused to assist and the attacker came back on the bus after her. He repeatedly rammed her head into a metal post knocking her unconscious. Additionally, she worked as a security guard and later expressed confusion as to her options regarding the “neutralization of a threat” (rules of using force) with her right to protect herself, which was at the expense of her own safety.

The fifth student was blitzed by a mentally ill juvenile client and chose to curl into a protective position until the client’s father pulled him off of her, within five seconds. The sixth case may be placed in either category. She did successfully fight off the assailant, but her case may also be argued that she was raped before she escaped, so we reluctantly list it here. She was drugged with rohypnol in a bar, woke up in the middle of her rape, fought off her assailant, and then escaped. We teach students they can fight back anytime during the assault. This woman recovered cognitive awareness and was able to use her skills to fight back. The seventh case, a student’s mother reported that her daughter froze and did not fight off her assailant. Unfortunately we have no further details. Again, these graduates all survived, which is a significant victory.

Obviously we don’t have a statistically relevant control group of an untrained group of women of the same ages, socioeconomic status, occupations, etc. Over a 40 year period, even harder to calculate is the factor that some of graduates have had different numbers of years after taking Model Mugging each with various histories and levels of training. Some took the course over 40 years ago, and some just recently. Applying gross estimates, for example if a woman lives to be 80, then applying the 20% of DOJ statistics of the odds that a woman would be attacked in her lifetime, it could be estimated that 6,000 might have been attacked (1/2 of 80 years of 60,000 is 30,000 x 20% = 6,000) whereas only 1,000 of our students were threatened with assault or physically attacked. Using these numbers Model Mugging may have an 83% reduction in preventing assaults.

Of those 1,000 students threatened and actually assaulted, over 800 were able to prevent victimization by just their voice, boundary setting, and conflict resolution skills. They demonstrated the best self-defense, the art of winning without fighting.Of the 221 known fights, our students won 214 or a 97% street combat success rate.

Of the 214 women who did fight back, about 40% forced the assailant to flee and about 60% won by incapacitating the assailant to have time to get to safety.

Of the known histories of 60,000 students spanning well over a 40 year period and having only 7 cases indicates a 99.995% success rate in preventing victimizations.

However, again, we don’t know what we don’t know.


There Are Never Any Guarantees:

Fighting back gives women the best results of stopping an attack. Fighting back will not guarantee success and the consequences could result in severe injury and even death. But that holds true for the other three general options as well. Women, who have fought back, both avoiders and survivors, commonly feel better about themselves when recovering. Women who were successful in fighting off an assailant may still feel and suffer the effects of the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), specifically the rape trauma syndrome, but with one difference: these women were victorious and won!

Resisting physically in order to escape is not always successful and can be dangerous. A common misnomer still taught in programs for women. Model Mugging teaches women the full spectrum of options that gives women more knowledge and experience to apply what they deem as most appropriate for their situation. We receive comments, “Why not run away after you strike him?” “He’s down, then why keep kicking him?” Why not stand up and stomp/soccer kick or just run away?” The answers to these questions are easily identifiable when applying the Five Principles to self-Defense ©.

In our Model Mugging study done in 2000, we found that less than 20% of women ran away during the assault, and 25% of the runners were caught by the assailant. When Matt Thomas performed his original study in 1971, he did not analyze this option in detail. Again, Model Mugging continuously strives to arm students with realistic information and strategies they can then apply best to their specific situation.

Knocking the assailant down does not mean the same as knocking him out. You are not safe until you have decisively rendered the assailant unconscious and have enough time to get to a safe location. Even then, he may regain consciousness and chase you. Alternatively, he may run away before you are able to finish him off, but you cannot count on that and you must still be cautious because an assailant may pretend to run away, only to return and attack you again (Thomas, 1995).

A student, who had only attended 2/3s of her classes in a University Model Mugging course against a single unarmed assailant (78% of the reported incidences), was attacked in a city overseas where the assailants often slit the eyes of their rape victims to avoid identification, by a gang of adult males of a different race so it was also a hate crime. Most of the criminals in that country are well armed and have Martial Arts training in order to survive attacks by other gangs. She feigned submission so she was able to surprise heel palm the leader in his nose, while shouting “No!” as she was taught in class. He fell backwards to the ground and appeared to be knocked out. His accomplices fled in one direction and the student fled in another direction.

In class she was taught to finish the fight and assess, because as in this case the leader recovered from her knockdown strike and chased her over 200 yards only to tackled her from behind. She was severely injured by her impact against the ground from being tackled when running at full speed, on the concrete. Still she fought, which became the closest to a “psycho-mugger” (that we are aware of) whom any of our students have faced in real life. Because she had been trained in a high adrenaline state during class where she had fought off the repeated attacks of the “psycho-muggers”, she persisted in fighting in her high adrenalinized mode on the street despite her injuries. The gang leader most likely had some martial arts training, but not in ground combat so eventually she was able to knock him unconscious by the use of her legs versus his arms. She was able to stagger to the emergency room on her own. She had minor slashing knife wounds on her legs and the soles and sides of her shoes were also slashed. She did not remember that her assailant had a knife but her wounds are evidence that he had been armed. She survived because of her basic self-defense training, her courage, and her improvisational skills.

The most important lesson is, to never give up and survive. The second lesson, make sure your assailant is knocked out before turning to flee. The third lesson, in addition to the Basic course against a Single Unarmed Assailant, take the Model Mugging self-defense Advanced training against Armed Assailants, Multiple Unarmed Assailants and Multiple Armed Assailants.

Based on our students’ reports, a Model Mugging graduate’s chance of being sexually assaulted is significantly lower than women without proper self-defense training. Since the late 1980s there have been break away and copycat organizations who have taught elements of the revolutionary Model Mugging System. Their statistics are also unknown whether their students have “piggy back” success stories or incidents where students who did not stop the assault. Unless students report back to us, we cannot analyze these cases either.

We have had our students successfully defend themselves and others survive the assault. We emphasize that no one is invincible. However our greatest success and reward is when Model Mugging graduates used their boundary setting verbal skills to de-escalate violence and find safety that is testimonial to the mind-body-spirit training applied in the development and teaching methods of Model Mugging.

In perspective, there are no guarantees in life. However, you can draw your own conclusions as to our students’ reported effectiveness of our training in real world danger.


If you are a graduate who has applied her skills, please contact us and share your experience.


Links to other Testimonial information:

Four Common Self Defense Testimonials

Personal Testimonials from Self-defense Course Graduates

Self-Defense Success Stories

“Model Mugging Saved My Life!” – graduate success story

Model Mugging Self-Defense Articles

Overcoming Fear- You Can Do It!