I met a young girl (19 years old at the time of writing) the other day who told me she had been sexually assaulted in the past. This made me very angry because she's a wonderful girl; for that to happen to her or anyone, for that matter, is despicable.

So, I wondered if martial arts be applied in these situations to combat sexual assault?

For instance if an assailant is on top of you holding you down, what can you do to get them off you? What about how to disarm someone threatening you with a weapon?

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    There are too many scenarios for us to cover off them all - yes a martial art or self-defense system could help in this regard. Heightened awareness thus avoiding the situation being the number one idea, not being an easy target, and confidence to react. Disarming someone with a weapon is very variable - but if there was a simple, effective fool proof defence against a weapon - people would stop using that weapon.
    – Collett89
    Jul 9, 2019 at 9:27
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    I feel that a lot of what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu teaches is helpful in the "a guy is on top of you holding you down" scenario. But not my specialty, so leaving an actual answer to someone more informed. Jul 9, 2019 at 12:30
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    Hi @stevemucci - I recommend you remove the line about weapon disarms and ask it in a separate question - asking about general self defense is already very broad, you're more likely to get an answer if the question is a bit more specific i.e. your penultimate line asking about techniques from the position of one person pinning you down. Jul 9, 2019 at 13:34
  • @ukemi that sounds fair, but there are still tonnes of different pins and different ways out of each pin that it would still be fairly opinion based (though all questions on here are to a degree). A specific pin would be better I think
    – Collett89
    Jul 9, 2019 at 14:04

1 Answer 1


EDIT: The original question didn't mention the age of the "young girl", so my answer assumes this could be a young child, and then later a young adult.

Assuming this young girl you speak of is a child, then there's very little that can be done by the girl in terms of martial arts during the assault. She can yell "no", kick, bite, scream, and run away. That's about it. Martial arts training generally won't do much to help her, not even Brazilian Jiujitsu. That's not just because of the size difference. It's also and primarily because of the psychology of the situation.

From what I've read on this subject, children that are raped are often the victims of relatives, authorities, and other people they know. They're usually groomed to accept these situations, so they're not going to even think about screaming. Even without grooming, they may not understand what's happening to them and won't know how to react. It may never occur to them to yell "no", scream, get away, etc.

There's an entire line of psychology devoted to understanding this subject, with many books and research papers written about it. Suffice it to say, it's complicated.

Probably the only thing you can do as a parent or teacher of a young child is to teach them where the boundaries are, what is good touching and bad touching, who can do the touching, etc. And then give them a very simple set of instructions for what to do when they suspect something bad is happening. They also need to be taught to recognize when they're being manipulated into keeping silent after the fact.

Martial arts training is relatively unimportant compared with those other things, at least for young children.

As for girls who are older and have more body weight and maturity (say, 11 years old and up), then martial arts training might help them get out of situations where a man is on top of them, pinning them down on the ground. In that scenario, Brazilian Jiujitsu is one of the best, if not the best, martial arts to know. They need to understand that their goal is to try to get out of there as quickly as possible. Chokes and other submissions should be a distant second.

Keep in mind, women's "self-defense training" doesn't generally work. This is typically taught as a single day or a few days of training, whereby women are taught all kinds of ridiculously ineffective things to do in rape situations. There are videos online debunking them. (Look up Ramsey Dewey's videos, for example.)

So this requires signing up and actually learning Brazilian Jiujitsu, and doing it for a couple years in order for your skills to become good enough to be reliable. Don't fall for self-defense courses. They're useless wastes of time, in general.

But in addition to that and perhaps more importantly, young ladies have to be taught how to recognize when boundaries have been crossed and to bring it to the attention of their parents and other authorities. Once again, most of the time it's a relative, a friend of the family, or someone else they know that attempts to rape them. And they might have groomed them ahead of time to accept it. Girls have to be taught to recognize patterns of behavior and then speak up.

That's going to prevent the vast majority of bad situations from happening in the first place. For all other situations, BJJ is probably the way to go.

Hope that helps.

  • Side note to this, while I agree that a lot of self defense videos are bad (and I love Dewey's deconstructions), they're often "bad" the same way Traditional Martial Arts and bar brawl advice can be. There's a good idea, but it's treated as magic too dangerous to practice against resistance and no follow-through is taught. Raking the eyes with nails, or punching the throat are not foolproof, but doing that and running... Jul 9, 2019 at 22:07
  • @SeanDuggan Yeah, there's that ("too dangerous to practice"). But I think women's self-defense courses often give women techniques which simply don't work on a struggling attacker. Ramsey Dewey has a whole video series devoted to this. It's not that you just need to practice it with struggling opponents to get better at it. It's that you immediately realize it simply won't work at all with resistance. But the silver lining is that all/most of it will be completely forgotten anyway, since nobody retains anything they practiced a few dozen times and then never practiced again. Jul 10, 2019 at 2:53
  • I'm extremely sorry for incuding the word bedroom in this conversation at all, I'll edit. Also the perspective of the child was interesting. Very informational and realistic. Jul 10, 2019 at 12:10
  • @SteveMucci No problem. I've removed my comment from the answer now that I see you've removed the reference to "bedroom". I knew what you meant, though. Jul 10, 2019 at 16:33
  • +1 For mentioning Ramsey Aug 27, 2019 at 9:33

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