NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Would you know what to do if you were mugged or attacked?
Statistics show that a woman is assaulted every 29 seconds. CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu went to a class that teaches women how to protect themselves – using whatever is in their purse.
Trendy new fashions can sometimes be offensive, but that’s not always a bad thing, according to self defense expert James Sherman.
“How to use all of these things as a weapon of opportunity,” Sherman said.
Sherman, a martial arts expert, wants women to learn just how offensive their accessories can be in a new self defense class.
“Girls carry bags, have high heel shoes, they have cell phones, water bottles, all these different things that they can use to defend themselves,” Sherman said.
It’s all part of a type of martial arts called Krav Maga, an Israeli self defense technique gaining popularity in the U.S.
The popularity is due in part to movies like “Enough,” starring Jennifer Lopez.
“That was the first time it blipped onto the Hollywood scene, and then every single major actor and actress from the ‘Bourne Identity’ to the Brad Pitt stuff and Angelina Jolie things,” Sherman said.
But instead of using a knife or gun, like you see in the movies, Sherman is teaching his students to use their stilettos.
“Weapons of opportunity have always been part of the Israeli Krav Maga strategy, and what we did here in New York was the takeoff of Sex and the City,” Sherman said.
Some of Sherman’s favorite ready-to-wear weapons include the following: a mascara tube, which can be used to jab an attacker’s eye; a belt, which you can whip off and use to slap a mugger’s face; and, of course, your high heel shoes.
Students in the class say it’s just one more way their accessories make them feel more confident.
“I just feel like I walk differently now on the streets, and I just feel like I would know what to do if something ever happened,” Larissa Polonsky said.
“You know how to act quickly, efficiently and strongly in any situation, so I’m completely a different person because of it,” Aileen Postlethwaite said.
Sherman also said that cell phones and keys can be potent weapons, and that you’ll become a new woman after learning how to defend yourself.
“Violent attackers are looking for someone who won’t strike back,” he said. “When you realize you can defend yourself, your demeanor changes a lot.”
Hopefully, that would send a would-be attacker packing before you ever have to take a swing with your favorite designer purse.