4 min readJul 24, 2022

William A. Gralnick

We spoke about running during an active shooter situation. “He who runs away…” Always good advance. Grab what and who is dear and head for the exits. Run out with your hands up and wait for police directions. If the police aren’t there, put your hands down and keep running. But what if you can’t?

Then you hide. We discussed that also. What we haven’t discussed is one on one personal safety. Now we will. You don’t have to be an MMA fighter or have a belt in the martial arts to protect yourself. To begin this, it is well to remember that the martial arts were devised to disable, not necessarily to kill. They are designed again for, “He who runs away…” Starting from the top (the head), here are a number of tips to remember, the first of which is don’t be squeamish. This is life and death we’re talking about — yours.

Long nails or short, a sure stopped is to jab a finger into your assailant’s eyes — hard. Some suggest using your second and third fingers at the bridge of the nose, hitting both eyes at once. Others say four fingers spread wide so you pretty much can’t miss. As soon as the bad guy’s hands go to his eyes you begin to move your feet like Fred Flintstone all the while screaming like a banshee.

Leverage plays a big part. If your arm is free swing the heel of your hand up under the nose. This will hurt like blazes and given enough force will break the nose resulting in torrents of blood. Take off, scream.

Then we have the throat. Spreading your thumb and forefinger apart, jam your hand into the Adam’s Apple. This will cause a muscular reaction that almost stops breathing. Same coda — getta outa dodge, and not quietly.

Dropping further down, to the chest, we want the solar plexus. It is that space in the chest where the rib cage comes together. Envision the wishbone on a chicken. Punch there. It will cause all the air to exit the lungs and the person will double over. Repeat after me…off you go.

You’ve all heard what happens to a man when he is hit in his privates. Well, it’s true. Use your knee, hard as you can. If you are on your knees, use your fist coming up between the legs. Your only problem will be to keep him from collapsing on top of you. Whether or not he will ever have sex or children again is not your problem.

The knee is a great target. Kick it hard as you can. Unless your assailant is on horseback, he’s not going to chase you…


Bill Gralnick, born in Brooklyn, has written over 900 op ed columns for newspapers and magazines over his 45 year career. He has published three books.