Before You Begin
Get stronger and more self-assured by learning these basic self-defense moves, courtesy of Joanne Harris, creator of the Urban KnockOut DVD ($14.98; urbanknockout.com). Engage your muscles at the end of every strike, and keep your knees and elbows soft. Do each move 10 times; switch sides and continue alternating to reach five minutes.
Horizontal Elbow Strike
- Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, hold left fist with right hand at chest level, left elbow pointed toward left side.
- Lunge left foot out while striking out your left elbow 3 to 5 inches, keeping left arm parallel to floor.
Uppercut Elbow Strike
Targets: quads, core, upper back, shoulders
- Hold left fist with right hand at chest level, left elbow pointed up on the diagonal with feet at shoulder-width.
- Lift left heel and shift weight to the left.
- Strike up with left elbow.
Turning Palm Strike
Targets: glutes, quads, obliques
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and pivot to the right, hands in fists, palms facing in.
- Bend and pivot to the left as you simultaneously strike forward with your right palm, fingertips facing the ceiling.
- Stand with your right foot 3 to 5 inches behind your left with fists in front of you as if grabbing an attacker's shoulders.
- Tuck your chin and thrust your right knee forward, striking toward your imaginary attacker's groin.
Back Elbow Strike
Targets: quads, glutes, obliques, core
- Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold right fist with left palm at waist height.
- Step forward diagonally with left foot to pivot, and thrust right elbow behind you.
Twisting Elbow Strike
- Stand with your fists at chest level, holding your right fist with left hand.
- Bring your right elbow up, moving it in an arc across your body, as if you were striking an attacker's chin at the top of the arc.
Originally published in Fitness magazine, January 2006.