A Badass In Heels – 3 Self-Defense Moves

FRISK MEWe, as crime writers, need to come up with so many ways to make our characters prolific and not look like a wimps when confronted with a dangerous situation. We also know if we have a PI or detective as a main character who’s all hearts and roses, that would be boring. She needs to kick some serious butt, or at least be able to defend herself without her male partner jumping in.


To help create a badass in heels I’ve come up with three scenarios she might find herself in and three ways she can get herself out.

1. Nose slam

A masked man breaks into Kate’s home in the middle of the night. She awakens to find a stranger on top of her, intent on doing ungodly things to her body and mind.

What can she do? He outweighs her by a good sixty pounds and has arms the size of Schwarzenegger’s. Hand-to-hand combat isn’t an option at this point. She’s on her back with an intruder straddling her hips. There are no guns laying nearby and no one is coming to save her.

A terrifying situation to be in – a perfect one for your character.

With the butt of Kate’s hand, using an upward trajectory, she slams him hard in the nose, jamming the nose into the brain. A petite woman like Kate knows this move can stop a full-grown man dead in his tracks. If it doesn’t kill him, which it absolutely could, it will stun him long enough for her to get out of bed and grab a proper weapon. Or run away. But unless the stranger catches up to Kate, her writer might want to reconsider the scene, because we know conflict drives the story forward. Right? Right.

2.  Throat punch

You know that little V at the base of the neck? That’s your trachea. Let’s say Sally is walking home from the diner after a double shift on her feet. She’s exhausted, the front of her baby blue dress and white apron has ketchup and mustard stains and some unidentified goo is stuck in a few loose strands of hair that had fallen out of her bun. All day long she’s had to listen to people gripe about cold coffee, mayo instead of tartar sauce, the usual bull from jamokes trying to get out of paying their $10.00 tab. Sally knows it isn’t wise to cut through the alley, but it’s quicker than going around the block. She just wants to get home and soak in a hot bath. Halfway through the dark alley, Sally finds herself face-to-face with a gang member intent on making his bones.

He approaches.

Sally’s gaze narrows on his crimping eyes. He pitches toward her, and Sally punches him in the trachea. That’s called a throat punch. Instantly he loses his breath and falls to his knees. Here’s where Sally’s writer can decide whether he chokes to death — because that’s possible — or hacks up a lung (figuratively), and then takes off after her. Either way, you’ve got a very tense scene. Always a good thing in crime fiction.


3. Everything is a weapon

When used properly a ballpoint pen or car key is very effective in self-defense. Let’s say Jane is out Christmas shopping. She’s deck to the nines in heels and a crushed velvet pantsuit. Jane is hopelessly single. Not a hair out-of-place, flawless make-up, smells like she bathed in Chanel No. 5. It’s important to her that she look her best in case Mr. Right works at the Gap. Doubtful, but she’s not taking any chances.

Jane doesn’t meet Mr. Right that night. Heartbroken, she plods to her car, parked way in the back lot under a blown-out street lamp. Her mind goes on high alert, her gaze shifting between two vehicles on either side of her Rav4 — a black windowless van and a Lincoln Town car with tinted windows.

Jane slides her shopping bags over her left wrist, balls her right hand around her car key, the jagged end protruding between her index and middle finger. Her manicured nails bite into her palm, her nerves jumping like Pop Rocks in her belly.

Which vehicle holds the danger?

Jane approaches her Rav4. Slowly she lowers the shopping bags to the ground. In the driver window’s reflection she finds a man in a ski mask standing a mere three feet behind her.

Jane twirls around. And thrusts that jagged key into the stranger’s carotid artery. With the beat of his heart, blood pumps from the side of his throat. She ducks. Crimson sprays on the driver’s door.

Jane gapes left and right. The Town Car’s rear door opens. Jane quickly rolls the corpse out-of-the-way with the toe of her Jimmy Choo. Hands juddering, she unlocks the driver door. Someone is inside that Lincoln. There’s no time to stand around. Jane slips behind the wheel, glides the stick-shift into gear, and barrels out the lot. Driving with her knee, she untwists the cap on a flask, she keeps in her handbag, and downs a quick belt to calm her nerves.

Miles down the road, the Town Car appears in her rear view mirror. Jane bangs a right, then a left. The Lincoln stays on her tail. She leans over the passenger seat and pops open the glove compartment, where she’d stashed a Beretta 9mm pistol, days before. Jane’s writer knows not to have her load bullets in a revolving cylinder because a Beretta 9mm pistol doesn’t have one. It’s a semiautomatic weapon, not a revolver.

Jane releases the magazine from the magazine well and checks the cartridge. When she finds it empty, she again drives with her knee while she feeds bullets down and to the rear under two ridges — called feed lips — on the top inside lip of the magazine. She loads one round after another until she fills the magazine, NOT clip. Inserts the full magazine into the handle of the weapon and slams her palm against the bottom to ensure it’s in there tight. Nothing would be more embarrassing than aiming a weapon at a bad guy and having the magazine drop out.

With her thumb facing her, she slides the top half of the gun (the slide) toward her — the muzzle always pointed away from her. This strips the top cartridge (bullet) and sets a round in the chamber. Jane’s writer cannot have her thumb the safety switch because a 9mm doesn’t have one.

With one in the chamber she’s ready to rock someone’s world, preferably the driver of the Lincoln. Good thing, too, because the Lincoln guns it, swerves around her, and cuts the wheel, slamming the Rav4, running Jane off the road. She careens down a slight incline through the woods.

Head swarming from striking the dash, Jane wobbles getting out of the SUV. She ducks behind the rear quarter panel. Waits. Watches as a well-dressed man approaches. In one fluid motion, Jane stands. Aims through the front scope, her sight level with the back. Jane does not tilt her wrist to the side like some gang banger. That’s a good way to break her wrist. Instead, she sets her finger on the trigger. If she wasn’t in danger, say at the range, she’d rest her finger along the side of the slide.

Jane’s had plenty of practice. She knows to wrap her middle, ring and pinkie finger around the grip. With her left hand, she folds her fingers around her right, marrying her thumbs — meaning, side-by-side and not interlocked — her arms out in front of her, her feet squared with her hips. This is called an Isosceles/modified stance. The name is taken from the Isosceles triangle — a triangle with two sides that are equal in length. In shooting, the Isosceles is referring to the shooter’s arms, held straight out making them the same length. Course, Jane knows a slight bend to the arm better absorbs the recoil.

She fires.

The stranger stumbles back, his hands clutching the sucking wound in his chest. He tosses one last spiteful glare at Jane before crumbling to the snow-covered earth. Dead. Jane blows the smoke off the barrel. I’m kidding! Jane’s writer knows this is a corny thing to do.

This is what really happened next…

Safely back in her Rav4, Jane adjusts her rear view mirror, smooths back her hair, and engages the four-wheel drive. As she drives up the hill, she glances in the side mirror at the stranger sprawled out on the snow. “With my luck,” she says, “I just killed Mr. Right.”

Hyperbole aside, these techniques can help make your character a badass in heels. What self-defense techniques have you read about, or used in your writing?








  1. Hey sue,

    What a nice share!!

    I loved all your tips. But the thing I loved the most was the way you explained everything, putting up in a scenario. And I have to mention this…..especially that Nose slam part.

    But seriously self-defense is an important matter to be discussed. I feel so glad, every time I read any article related to self-defense. People should know more and more about this kind of techniques so that they can keep themselves safe.

    Thanks for sharing this useful piece of information. Looking forward to more such work!

  2. Okay, you asked for it. Back in my active Marine Corps days (during Vietnam) we would say that Jane had her head and ass wired together, or, Jane had her shit together. Those are high compliments.

    Funny you should mention the nose “Nose Slam:” one of the first hand-to-hand combat moves they taught us in boot camp was to slam our attacker in the “nether” region, and then follow up with a palm to the nose, shoving the bone into the brain. This tended to put the poor fellow out of his misery from the initial strike, or at the very least make him very uncomfortable above and below. Also enjoyed the info about the “magazine” rather than “clip.” If I’m not mistaken, the old and very reliable M1 Garand had an eight-round clip that was used to load the rounds through the top of the chamber, and then the empty clip was extracted and the weapon was ready to fire. In contrast, the also reliable M14 used a magazine, 20-round capacity, that was inserted into the bottom of the weapon’s chamber and snapped into place. (Most Marines would load only 18 rounds into the magazines to avoid spring fatigue in the magazine). The same scenario with the very unreliable early M16s they provided us with in Vietnam (1967) to replace the reliable M14s. They were pieces of crap, to be kind. I’m speaking of the first generation of ’16s which had the open, 3-prong flash suppressor. The early models were often single-shot weapons. Our corpsmen carried cleaning rods to help clear those “Mattie Mattel’s” (as we fondly called the early M16s) from their frequent jams. Okay, rant over.
    Very informative and entertaining post, Sue. You obviously know your stuff! 🙂
    E. Michael Helms recently posted…DeceptionMy Profile

    • Thanks, Michael. Always nice to have you add your experience. A weapons expert reamed me a new one when I wrote “clip” in a comment one time. He scarred me forever. LOL

  3. As a mixed martial artist, I always have my female characters being badass in stories I write.

  4. Damn! Hope I don’t run into Jane by accident, never mind any other way! 😀

  5. Easy and effective! Great tips! 🙂

  6. Loved it!
    I particularly like the way you kept all of this realistic, belying some things we are so used to see, especially on tv 🙂

  7. I’m not really a writer but I do like trying to imagine scenes like this. It probably comes from watching too many action movies. Anyway, in the first scene the woman could also try to flip the attacker off her. It probably would require some training, especially if he outweighed her by a significant amount or had her pinned pretty well, but if she used her legs and arms properly she could use her leverage to turn him over and end up on top of him, or considering she’s in bed, she’d probably throw him off into the floor which could daze him long enough to run off. The mechanics do depend somewhat on the position of both the attacker and defender. Youtube has quite a few videos of people pulling the move off though using various methods.

    • Very true, History Rebel! Thanks for adding that. You’re right of course, YouTube is filled with self-defense moves. Women are more powerful today than ever before. Maybe someday soon we’ll see the number of violent crimes against women drop to next to nil.

      • Being more powerful alone won’t stop crime. If that was the case most violent crime victims wouldn’t be men. There’s a lot more to crime than that.

        It’s certainly a goal to work towards but I don’t think police or crime writers will ever be out of work entirely. Violent people will always exist.

  8. Absolutely love a kick-ass woman! My weapon of choice? Any of my loaded handguns. 😉 Love it!

  9. Great post. I knew all that, but don’t generally write crime fiction. In my truck it would be a Colt .45, and it would already be loaded. I love the idea of everything being a weapon. I recall a story where an old school telephone was used to beat the crap out of an attacker.

  10. Oh, Sue, these are some great ideas. They’re all realistic, even given the likely size difference between the ‘bad guy’ and the protagonist. And they’re all effective. In fact, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for us real-life ladies to learn those tricks.

    • It’s funny you mention that because I was going to add that, then figured I’d stay on topic. But yes, all of these techniques are factual and can be used by us ‘real-life ladies’. Thanks, Margot!

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