Groin… Groin… Gone!

I recently had the opportunity to be keynote speaker at a dinner held in Cambridge, Ontario for the managers of a large bank. The subject, not surprising, was self-defense, a topic chosen over-whelmingly by questionnaire.

Now I understand the gravity of the subject, but over the years I've developed a public speaking style that usually has my audience in a serious mood about half the time, and splitting a gut laughing the other half. But one thing during these talks always makes me laugh. That's when I shout out, “Okay ladies! Where's the very best place to kick a man?”

The answers that are shouted back vary. By the way, the one term the women never shout back is ‘testicles'. Their names for that particular part of the male anatomy are usually more colorful. I guess when we talk about kicking them; the term seems a little too nice. But whatever words they use to describe the ‘family jewels', I shout back my response – “WRONG!”

Mothers telling daughters to ‘just kick him where it hurts' has been a self-defense staple for women since the beginning of time. But is it really the best first-line of defense? I say it isn't. Not only will I tell you why, I'll give you an easy little exercise you can do with a partner to discover for yourself what I'm talking about.

Have your partner face you with one of his hands held out palm up. Place your hand, palm down, about a foot above his. Tell him you're not going to hit his hand, so he shouldn't pull it away. Then quickly drop your hand toward his without hitting it, and watch what happens. There will be an ever so slight upward movement of his hand – a natural response in defense of the apparent pressure coming down.

Another example is when you go to push someone's chest, but you don't quite do it. They sort of stumble forward to defend against the apparent pressure coming toward them. Try it for yourself. It's fun.

This response is natural. It's built in. It's not as if your partner consciously thinks, “Oh, there's a hand coming down, I'd better press mine upward slightly to meet the oncoming pressure.” That's also why grappling arts like judo are difficult to master. We are not used to going with the flow of energy coming toward us.

Now let's get back to kicking to the groin. Can you imagine how natural a response it is for a man to protect that area of his body? If the reflex action in his hand in the previous exercise is slight, just imagine the response to this next exercise.

Pick a fella, any fella. If you need to borrow the car you might not want to pick your father. Please don't tell him what you are about to do. We're looking for a natural response here.

Stand facing your male partner. Now quickly punch at his chest. Any movement at all? He'll probably look at you like you are nuts. An hour or two later, or even the next day, stand facing him again. Please be careful here. Make a quick motion with a punch or a kick toward his groin. Watch the response. You'll get everything from an X-block to jumping back, smashing knees together, to leaping to the ceiling screaming like a cartoon cat.

What does all this mean? It means that although kicking to the groin can inflict serious pain, and or damage, it is not necessarily the best first-line of defense, as many would have you believe.

So if it is still the groin you really want to go after as a first-line of defense, you had better make sure you are extremely quick and accurate. That's considering it is probably the most natural area a man would want to protect, and of course it's relatively small size (Gee, did I say that?).

Clearly, a successful strike to the groin would be devastating to an attacker. However, it would be better applied as part of a combination of techniques rather than your first-line defense.

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