About 15 years ago I took a class in self-defense where I learned to fight like this:
It was called "Model Mugging" (yeah, stupid name) but it also goes by Impact Personal Safety, Prepare and other names.
It taught me to fight after getting knocked down, grabbed from the rear, when waking up with someone on top of you...it taught me to fight dirty and to fight from the very center of my being.
It was the best thing I ever did. I would trade my college degrees for those 100 hours of training on the mat. I became a different person because of it.
One of my friends described it thusly: After Model Mugging, everything else seems easy. I hear people say "I'm afraid to fly," or "I'm afraid to drive in strange cities," and I think "Well, if I faced down 3 attackers at once, I can do THAT easy."
But the fighting wasn't the most important thing I learned in class. There were a dozen of us and we all told our stories of why we were there on the first night. Out of 12 women, seven were rape survivors. Two with multiple assailants. Three who had had abusive husbands or boyfriends. Four who had survived molestation. And one woman, who I took an instant dislike to because of her cold, standoffish attitude.
I learned about strength and courage from these women. Because even though they had been terrorized and abused, they were going on with their lives. They had husbands, kids, were in positions of power at work.
They hid the pain most of the time. But when they opened themselves up, the pain just poured out. It was harsh, raw, unshielded. It took my breath away that they could even survive, much less thrive.
They taught me that you never know why someone is acting like a jerk. They might just be a jerk, or they might be skating on the thin ice that covers a lake of hurt, a lake that is boiling and ready to blow.
The woman who was cold wasn't just an ass. She had been and was being stalked by an ex-boyfriend for over 4 years. He made her life a living hell and she was so terrorized that she was afraid to show any emotion. She was also sleep-deprived to the point of insanity.
She got her life back through the class and her stalker, seeing she had taken back her power, moved on just like that.
I got a piece of my heart back through the class because I gained compassion that I could not have found any other way.
And I also pack a mean round kick.