D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - You have probably felt that fear before, walking alone and wondering if someone's following you. You can learn to protect yourself if you come under attack. Self defense can boost your self-discipline, confidence and your health. The lessons can also get you out of a dangerous situation.
It can happen in broad daylight. An attacker can strike out of nowhere. It's a scenario that can turn you into a terrified, helpless victim.
Jim Fiore's passion is to help people learn to fight back. Fiore teaches self defense, based on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He is the owner of American Martial Art Academy in D'Iberville. One of his newest students is Simona Pierantoni.
"My husband's in the military and oftentimes, it's just me and my son and I have to make sure that I am in charge. And as a woman who's very thin, and doesn't seem very intimidating, I can be an easy target," said Pierantoni.
Pierantoni learned how to wrap her legs around her attacker's waist to ward off a potential sexual assault.
"I can't hit her. I can't choke her, because she's using her legs to push me away. She can also use her legs to pull me in, and to get an over-hook and under-hook and just keep nice and tight and this whole time, she can just shout and scream," said Fiore.
And if the attacker manages to get his hands around her throat, she can flip over his body and even break his arm.
"I'm not athletic. I never thought I'd be doing this, but it's very simple and very easy to get someone off of you when they are 80-100 pounds heavier," said Pierantoni.
Even if a petite person is grabbed from behind, here's how she can fend off her assailant.
"We call a leg lace or hook the back of the leg. When this happens, this is going to prevent the attacker from lifting you up," said Fiore.
Five-year-old Nico Pierantoni demonstrated how this same method can be used if a child encounters an abductor.
"So now when he wraps both legs around, this basically stops me from lifting him up. It's not as easy. This creates a weight," said Fiore.
These techniques can be applied in the real world, regardless of your age, size or gender.
"I like to run at night and a couple of people have just in the wrong area, wrong time and I definitely had to use my Jiu Jitsu and it's the best self defense you can get," said Jared Kerness of Biloxi. "We live in a really crazy world and you really should be ready for anything."
Fiore says if you face a threatening situation, first, keep a defensive posture.
"On your toes, hands are up, and just say, 'Sir, ma'am, don't come any closer," said Fiore.
Remember to also create space.
"The distance of your leg is the distance you're not going to allow somebody to come in," said Fiore.
If he comes any closer, raise your hands and elbows to block your face and neck.
"Now, I can't punch you. I can't grab you. Now you're protecting. When I come in, now you just take your hands and you push you away," said Fiore.
Fiore stresses that these moves can only work if you continue to train. His key words are: Repeat, Retention, Recall.
"The first time somebody puts their hands on your neck, you're like, Oh my God! So the more time that somebody puts their hands around your neck, I'm not saying it's going to be more comfortable, but over time, you're going to feel more relaxed, because you know how to respond to it," said Fiore.
More importantly, you can gain more confidence so you don't have to walk in fear.
There are various forms of self defense techniques. Fiore said the situation changes if it involves blind attacks, weapons, and more than one attacker. He offers this advice: Know our environment and find escape points. Dress smart and wear low-platform shoes for more stability. And let your friends and family know where you're going.