When all else fails…just remember to S.I.N.G.


Sandra Bullock’s character, Gracie Hart, has the right idea in this clip from the 2000 Blockbuster hit, Miss Congeniality. Although she makes parts look much easier than they are, the S.I.N.G. acronym is an excellent defense strategy, as is the palm strike to the nose.

When teaching self-defense, my karate school typically instructs young women—and men too—to strike with an open hand. This is more to protect themselves than the assailants. There are simply too many ways to create a fist incorrectly, such as wrapping your fingers over your thumb rather than placing it across the curve of your forefinger and middle finger.

Anyway, when in doubt, you should definitely S.I.N.G. when being attacked. Here’s a few reasons why…

First, let’s review what the targets are in S.I.N.G.: Solar plexus, Instep, Nose, Groin.

Solar plexus. In martial arts, we learn quickly that it’s essential to release all of your air from your lungs when you strike, not because it adds power, but rather, it prepares you for a counter attack. Getting hit unexpectedly in the solar plexus only results in one thing: the wind gets knocked out of you, which in turn, leaves you vulnerable for additional attacks. Unless you’re assailant is a trained fighter or body builder, the little area just below the ribs and above the abdomen will be soft and easy to strike. And, it’s an easy target.

In the demonstration provided by Bullock, she elbowed Benjamin Bratt in the solar plexus when he attacked her from behind. Do not be afraid to also punch there. It can inflict a similar amount of damage, although the elbow can inflict more pain because it’s so pointy.

Instep. Once you’ve struck him in the solar plexus, he’ll already be weaked. Jamming your heel onto the top of their foot can do some major damage. Ladies, if you’re wearing stilletto heels, this is a great opportunity to not only inflict pain in the foot, but also in the shins. Simply scrape your heel down the length of their shin. Instant pain.

In some cases, you might find that your assailant has attacked you from behind and placed you into a bearhug, rendering your arms useless. In this case, you should stomp on his feet before moving on to elbowing the solar plexus. The instep should provide the necessary distraction to leave him unprepared for the next few strikes.

Note: If your assailant is wearing steel-toed boots, the instep method may prove useless. Plan accordingly.

Nose: Have you ever been hit in the nose? It hurts. And it jars your senses, makes your eyes involuntarily water and burn. Since it’s made of soft cartilage, it’s a lot easier to break than a bone, and it’s a pretty easy target when someone’s coming right at you. Two great techniques for striking the nose are the palm strike, as Bullock showed at the start of the clip, and the back fist to the nose. Either technique has the potential to do some serious damage. In fact, if you strike someone with enough force using a palm strike, you could force the nose into the brain, causing irreversible brain damage (in theory).

Groin. Ahh, the sweet spot. Little boys learn early in life to protect that region after they accidentally run into a few end tables or kitchen cabinets. This can immobilize your opponent. Combine it with the other three steps from S.I.N.G., and you should now be running far away from your opponent as he writhes in pain on the concrete.

I bet you never thought a Hollywood movie could be so educational and accurate when it came to self-defense, huh?

Don’t make self-defense over compliated!

Take a look at this video for an explanation of how to defend against someone who grabs your shirt (lapels).

The key here is to aknowledge that he’s tying up both of his hands in an effort to intimidate you. This leaves you with free reign to pummle him with knee kicks, punches, palm strikes and, my personal favorite, the “bop” on the ears.

Remember, once you get him to let go, don’t continue to fight…the main purpose for self-defense is to escape from high risk situations as quickly as possible.