Ex-‘Biggest Loser’ Trainer Tiff Hall On The Basic Self-Defence Moves To Master

By  Pedestrian TV

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When I think of ‘self-defence moves’ I think of one thing, and one thing only, and that is the S.I.N.G. scene in Miss Congeniality.

"Now, if all else fails, go for the four sensitive areas of the body," Sandra Bullock‘s straight-shooting character, Gracie Hart, begins.

"But just remember to SING. S-I-N-G. Solar plexus, instep, nose, groin!"

And if I’ve learnt anything from the countless early ’00s Hollywood movies I watched as a kid, it’s that the scenarios they depict basically never happen in real life.

Celine Dion doesn’t start playing when something really sad happens à la Titanic. Chuck a packet into a microwave and it won’t morph into a fresh Big Mac, despite what Spy Kids led us to believe. Contrary to action-led kids movies from the 90s, quicksand is not an everyday threat you’ll face in adult life.

Sure, S.I.N.G. might have some integrity as a self-defence strategy, but if you were actually faced with a situation where you needed to think on your feet, it’s unlikely the scene would spring to mind. Instead, your instincts would kick in.

But there are a few techniques you can learn. We spoke to ex-Biggest Loser trainer, founder of TIFFXO and 6th Dan Black Belt, Tiffiny Hall, to get her top tips on putting up a good fight.

With 20 years experience in Taekwondo and mixed martial arts, Hall knows her judo well.

Before the jump, we should mention that we know it’s bulldust that we should even have to consider learning these techniques, and we all pray we’d never wind up in a situation where we need to defence ourselves; but the grim reality is that it happens.

And no, these tips are in no way aimed just at women; for what it’s worth, men are actually far more likely to be the victims of random, unprovoked street violence.

Here’s Hall’s breakdown of the four things you need to know to best equipped yourself… and surprisingly, it does involve a handy acronym worth remembering.


"Many people are surprised to learn that their first weapon in a self defence situation is their voice," Hall says. "Using your voice is so important and the reasons are listed in this clever acronym that is easy to remember."

A – Attract attention: Your voice is an alarm.

S – Send a clear message: Don’t just scream because people will always think someone else is helping you. Yell "help!"

A – Act don’t freeze: By screaming, you will stop the paralysis of fear and allow your brain to think. The worst thing you can do is freeze. You have seconds to act before being knocked unconscious or taken.

P – Power: Breathe out so you are not winded as you strike. Create a spectacle. Show the attacker your power and strength.

2. Hard Weapon, Soft Target

"The founding principal of self defence is that your body is made up of hard weapons and soft targets. Men and women both have vulnerable targets on their bodies: eyes, throat, groin, knees, ankles," says Hall.

"Your body has hard weapons such as fingers, fists, knees and heels. Applying a hard weapon to a soft target makes any strike effective."

"Use a hard weapon on your body such as an elbow, fist, heel, knee to a soft target on the attacker’s body groin, eyes, throat. A finger to the eye is a hard weapon soft target, just as effective as stomping your hard heel into the attacker’s soft toes."

3. Punch the throat, not the face

"Never punch to the face, always punch to the throat. It is a softer target. Punching to the face will break your hand."

(Writer’s note: this point just changed my life.)

4. Open Hands

"Never put your hands up in guard position. This will show you could have martial arts training and can ruin the element of surprise and can provoke aggression. Always put your hands, open, in front of your face as you try to walk away."

According to Hall, you don’t need to have a a crazy high level of fitness to master the moves.

"Fitness doesn’t come into it at all. Accuracy and confidence is important. Power comes from the accuracy, applying the hard weapon such as your fist to a soft target such as the throat."

"You can learn the self defence moves in a workshop or one class, even reading this now is effective. You may be in a situation one day where you remember one thing that will save your life. But training does help to make the strikes automatic and more accurate.

Many of us freeze when frightened, so practicing physical contact can help to override the freeze response in a self defence situation."

"Muscle memory is vital. Repetition in training is key to learning the strikes and then being malleable to apply them to all kinds of situations and under all kinds of stress, danger and bodies."

So while being fit as a fiddle isn’t a requirement for nailing the moves, it sure comes in handy. You don’t necessarily need a fancy gym membership to get your fitness levels up, either. There’s nothing wrong with starting out doing bodyweight exercises.

You can easily scale them all the way up too, like Hall does here:

Stay safe, mates.

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