Girls Gone Smart With Self Defense


How Bikini Competitor Carol Ann Williams Teaches Women How to Avoid Being Abducted And What To Do When Avoidance Fails.

By Tracey Longo

When Carol Ann Williams teaches her self-defense classes to hundreds of women and girls, she has her students lie on their backs on the ground and battle to get up. It’s their first exercise in how important fighting for their life will be if they’re ever abducted. “Statistics show that most women will be put on the ground within the first five seconds of an attack,” says Williams, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu devotee and owner of Instinctive Defense, LLC in Inwood, West Virginia.

Self defense for girls and women is at the forefront these days, as more details emerge about how Cleveland kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro, 54, abducted three young girls and held them captive for 10 years, before one of the victims escaped with her son and called police.

“Most women think they can’t get up, but the faster you react the better your chances of saving yourself,” says Williams, who recently taught a “Girls on Guard” self-defense class to 130 junior high school girls, to train them to avoid and confront their potential attackers. She also teaches weekly Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Classes, and self defense programs to women of all ages, including junior high, high school and college-aged women. Those who want to be trainers themselves can find Williams assisting in teaching certification courses for Defend University, a critically-acclaimed self-defense organization that specializes in empowering women.

The best defense, says Williams, is to avoid being abducted entirely. That starts with being constantly aware of your surroundings. Commonsense prevails. Stay in well-lit, frequently traveled areas, avoid night time jogs, always park near a light, don’t leave your drink unattended in bars and at parties and don’t park near vans or large vehicles. “I personally don’t park near a van,” says Williams. “It’s too easy for someone to open a door and pull you in.”

Some of the most important tools you have at your disposal are your intuition and instinct, she adds. “These are gifts. Use them,” says Williams, who is also a budding bikini competitor who competed for the first time in Pittsburgh in May. “If they are signaling impending danger, pay attention. Don’t be too timid to flee to safety while you are still free to do so.” Williams has gotten emails from students who have attended her programs telling her they believe her commonsense lessons have saved them from harm.

A woman is attacked every two minutes in the US and knows her attacker a majority of the time, according to law enforcement statistics. Predators want an "easy" victim, someone not paying attention to their surroundings — someone that will "go with them without putting up a struggle.” You increase your chances of survival by 50% just by resisting, says Williams.

If avoiding an attack fails, Williams teaches all her students to “fight, fight, fight.” “I tell them: If someone tries to grab you and take you, stop them. They are trying to take you to a secondary crime scene and your chances of escaping from there are very slim. You are fighting for your life.”


Williams is offering a free “open mat” Brazilian Jiu Jitsu seminar on June 30 to any woman who is interested in the martial art, which is an evolved form of self defense featuring grappling and especially ground fighting.  The session will take place noon – 3:00pm at Capital MMA & Elite Fitness in Sterling, VA.

While battling an attacker who has put you on the ground sounds difficult, Williams teaches her students their strongest weapons are their legs. She shows them how to put their feet on the aggressor’s hips so they can kick their weakest points—the attacker’s groin, stomach, knees and chest—before fleeing.

Williams also teaches pupils how to avoid being choked on the ground by putting a hand over each of the aggressor’s wrists and turning their own head to the side, chin tucked to protect their airway.

If someone approaches you in a parking lot or on the street,  “Always keep a barrier whenever possible. Use your arm, book bag, bike, a grocery cart, whatever you have on hand, to create space between you and the attacker,” Williams says.

By distancing yourself from an attacker and fighting off grabs and holds, you avoid being abducted. To demonstrate how important this is, Williams shows a video of Carly Brucia, 11, whose widely-reported 200 Florida abduction was caught on surveillance footage that shows Carly being led away by felon and addict Joseph P.  Smith to her murder. (video below)

“We show our students how he takes hold of her arm and then demonstrate for them how to break that hold. The technique involves using your hands to go against their thumb,” says Williams, who also teaches elbow shots to the rib cage, palm strikes to the chin and knee strikes to the groin.

By learning to trust their danger instinct and use anti-abduction and risk-reduction techniques, women can greatly reduce the chances of being attacked, says Williams, a budding bikini athlete who expects to compete in her second competition this fall.

For more details on Williams’ self defense offerings, check out and She also has a fan page for those interested in following her progress as a bikini competitor To contact Williams, email her at


Carol demonstrating defensive techniques