Thursday, October 03, 2013

Women's Self-Defense Tips: Helen Yee's story

Photo credit:

"It's not all about kicking and punching. It's about using your head."
~ Helen Yee

WHO: Helen Yee 
WHAT: Young man with gun got into her car as she unlocked her doors to get out 
WHERE: Her driveway / Columbus, Ohio 
WHEN: March 11, 2013 9:45 PM

A short bio of Helen Yee sifu:

  • 52 yrs old, 4' 11"
  • Studying martial arts since 1978
  • Principal styles: Tae Kwon Do (3rd degree black belt); Bando, Tai Chi; Chi Gong
  • Won a silver medal in 1990 as a member of the US Tae Kwon Do in the World Cup held in Madrid, Spain
  • Alternate in 1988 Olympics
  • Since 2001, taught Tai Chi and Chi Gong
  • Inducted into The AWMAI Hall of Fame (award given to women who have dedication in the martial arts for over 30 years)

The incident as reported on

On Monday, Yee pulled into her driveway about 9:45 p.m., after rehearsing with the all-female band Wednesday Wine. She turned off her car, pulled the key from the ignition and clicked on the remote, opening all the doors so that she could retrieve her bass guitar from the back seat.

That's when the young man slid in next to her. He wore a hoodie pulled over his head and a bandana tied across his face.

"All I could see were his eyes and his gun," she said. "I had that sunken feeling."

"I need you to drive," he said.

"What?" she said.

"I just need you to drive," he repeated.

Yee looked at the gun and said, "OK," but she continued to hold the key in her hand and refused to panic.

"I knew I was not going anywhere with this guy," she said. "I knew from my martial arts training you never do that."

Yee also knew she had to distract him. She turned to him and said, "Hey! I know you!"
He recoiled. "You don't know me."

"Yeah, I do," she said. "You're Darren's friend."

She made this up. She didn't recognize him, nor did she know anyone named Darren. But she caught the guy off guard, which gave her precious seconds to figure out what to do next.

Yee pretended to struggle to put the key in the ignition as her left hand reached for the door. She pushed it open and darted out, running and screaming, "Help! Help!"

She never looked back. "I didn't give myself a chance to see if he was following me," she said. "I figured, if he was going to shoot me, he was going to shoot me.

I was going to run and make as much noise as I could."

Yee sifu's self-defense tips for women in similar situations:

  • Stay calm. Your attacker wants you to panic.
  • Never agree to go with him to a remote location.
  • Don't hesitate to lie. Telling the robber he looked familiar bought Yee crucial seconds.
  • Always keep your cellphone on your body, not in your purse.
  • Make as much noise as possible. If your car remote has a panic button, use it. Yee said she wishes she had remembered to do this.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, always.
  • Finally, here's advice for all of us, all the time: Know your neighbors, and be willing to call 911 if you see something suspicious.

My takeaways:

  • "Never agree to go with him to a remote location." - Sanford Strong in his great book, "Strong on Defense", discusses his four Survival Rules, one of which is "Avoid crime scene #2." Your best chance of defending yourself is in the initial first seconds encountering the Bad Guy. Do not believe his "If you do what I say, you won't be harmed." If you do nothing and go with the BG to another location, in all likelihood, it will be a place that is safe for the BG to do whatever s/he wants to you with no fear of being discovered. That's why they need you to go to crime scene #2.
  • "Don't hesitate to lie. Telling the robber he looked familiar bought Yee crucial seconds." - This is a form of Distraction, what Tony Blauer calls a "Pattern Interrupt" from Psychology. Yee sifu said to the BG he looked familiar, that interrupted his thinking/plan as he thought she would be an easy victim and he was going to continue with his Pattern of Intimidation and Relocation. All of a sudden, he's confused and his mind is distracted momentarily of forcing/scaring her to go to another location. That was the time she needed to escape.
  • "Be aware of your surroundings, always." - Environmental Awareness is so crucial to your personal safety. Learn to cultivate it!

For more information, please read:

NOTE: My gratitude to Melissa Soalt aka Dr. Ruthless for the share of this story via Facebook.



back to top
Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillion Steps