NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The key to being prepared against an attacker is regular practice in a stressful environment that raises your adrenaline level.

That’s the foundation of Assert Empowerment and Self Defense taught at KSA Martial Academy on Charlotte Avenue in Nashville.

Through real-life scenarios, Liz Fitzgerald and her husband Cat help to perfect decision-making and other skills under the same stress one would experience in a real-life attack.

“A small young child and an elderly person, regardless of fitness levels and all ages in between, should be able to defend themselves physically,” Liz Fitzgerald said.

While getting physical may be necessary, the Fitzgeralds suggest first trying to de-escalate the situation using words that are assertive and concise, as well as keeping eye contact to let the person know that you are not scared or intimidated.

“You’re not out to win. You’re out to prove that you’re worth more than they’re willing to spend,” Liz Fitzgerald said. “What they want is an easy target, they want someone easy to victimize, and someone that’s not going to give them a fight.”

“You don’t have to prove that you can beat me up,” Cat Fitzgerald added. “You have to prove that you’re gonna be more trouble than it’s worth.”

If you need to get physical and fight to protect yourself, the partners suggest sticking to simple moves like palm strikes, knees, elbows, foot stomps and shin strikes.

“We’re gonna go for the eyes, face, in general. There’s nothing you can do to build up your eyes. Plus, anything comes to your eyes, you’ll immediately get a response,” Liz Fitzgerald said.

“Wherever the head goes, the body follows. If you strike to the throat, there’s absolutely no protection and a lot of damage can be done,” she demonstrated. “One good strike to the throat is going to take a person down. If you can’t reach, hit for the sternum. The sternum is actually easy to crack. If nothing else, every man on the planet and most women, as soon as someone goes for the groin, you immediately get a response. Further down, we’re gonna come for the feet and the shins.”

If you plan to carry mace, a knife or another weapon, train with it on a regular basis, in a similarly stressful environment. That ensures that you know how to reach it when needed and how to use it to defend yourself.

KSA Martial Academy is located at 4910 Charlotte Avenue and can be reached at 615-473-1739. Their website is