Self-Defense Lessons from a Navy SEAL Sniper


So, the Cross-Cupper incident was fun. A little crazy, a bit on the wild side, but fun nonetheless. All is well that ends well, as they say.

And yet, the episode got me thinking. As much as I may enjoy the adrenaline rush of escaping some weirdo’s home in the middle of the night, I am very fortunate that said weirdo ended up being a benign threat. Next time – if I am dumb enough to get myself in a similar predicament once again, that is – I may not be that lucky.

In our day and age, you cannot be too careful. Even if you don’t have a recreational habit of dating people with telltale signs of psychiatric disorders, you don’t know what dangers may be lurking around the corner. As Kim K recently taught us, our seemingly innocent social media habits can easily put us on the radar of smart criminals. Even if you don’t happen to have $10 million in jewelry laying around, there is always the possibility of those impromptu street assaults that nobody is protected from. (I myself have been the target of not one but two phone snatching attempts in the past year alone, one in London and one in Hanoi. Proud to say that I kicked the Vietnamese dude’s scrawny ass.) Oh, and if all of the above doesn’t scare you, there is always our GOP presidential nominee, eager to get his hands on your precious flower!

Given that a minute Vietnamese man might be the only male I am capable of battling, I decided to call in the expert advice of my friend Brandon Webb, who may actually be the most equipped person in the county for this task. You see, Brandon happens to be a former US Navy SEAL Sniper (turned media CEO), i.e. one of the guys appointed to carry out top-secret military missions that the future of the world hinges on. Yeah, basically Brandon is Superman. That’s how I roll.


Below are Brandon’s tips on what we can do toto protect ourselves from Donald Trump handle ourselves correctly in all questionable situations!

Lesson 1: Practice situational awareness.

“Being aware of your environment and not putting yourself in dangerous situations is the most important thing you can do. So many people are just walking around head down with their phones, not paying attention, which makes them easy targets.”

Translation: Remove Adele from of your ears, stop thinking about your ex and stay alert! Nothing is sadder than getting mugged while listening to Adele and thinking about your ex anyway. This is coming from a girl who got her phone ripped out of her hands, mid-text, while standing in front of her ex’s house.

Lesson 2: Choose your protection method wisely. (Sounds familiar?!)

“Many women say ‘I want to carry a gun, I feel so powerful carrying a gun’, but the reality is that defending yourself with a gun takes incredible commitment.” (Translation: most of us have no clue how to use them.) “I’m a fan of carrying a jet pepper spray or an aerosol pepper spray. It looks like a mini-flashlight, you can put on your keychain and people will have no idea what it is. The only problem is that most women never use it until they need it, so they don’t know what they are doing. They don’t know what their range is and don’t realize that the wind can be a factor – if it’s a windy day, you can potentially spray it back in your own face. Make sure to get an extra cartridge and practice outside so that you know what you’re doing! 

I’m also a huge fan of carrying a high-lumen flashlight. I’d actually recommend this over pepper spray. The best flashlights in the world are made by Surefire, we used them on SEAL teams on our weapons. They have a few different models but the one I like most for every day carry is called a P2X Fury. You can take it anywhere and it’s not intimidating to use. It can flash-blind a person in broad daylight, they will be seeing stars for 3-6 seconds. If you shine it at somebody at night, you will mess their world up. If you feel like the situation is getting dangerous, you can just shine from half a block away so you can quickly get out of there. The truth is, most people won’t risk going after somebody who knows what they’re doing.”


Palm Defender aerosol spraySurefire P2X Fury flashlight

Lesson 3: Go crazy. (No, really.)

“There’s a technique or rather a philosophy called ‘Violence of Action.’ Basically, you are hitting an internal switch and getting extremely aggressive in order to get out of the situation. In 99% of the time your opponent is going to be so shocked that they are going to freeze, giving you time and space to do whatever is necessary. The worst thing you can do is be passive and beg and bargain and clutch your purse. You need to yell and scream and be aggressive and get the hell out of the situation. Hit and punch and smack them in the nose, do whatever it takes.

Translation: You can finally be the crazy b*tch you’ve been wanting to be all along. FYI, this is brilliant and I have historically used it in every with my older brother, leaving him with enough bite marks and scratches to make his wife suspicious. Perhaps I too should join the military!

Lesson 4: Take a self-defense class.

“I always recommend taking a basic self-defense class. You don’t have to spend years studying karate, just learn the basics. Learn how to knee somebody in the groin, or smash their nose – FYI, the nose is a great target on the face. They have some YouTube tutorials, just make sure that you vet them appropriately and check references and avoid the Rex Kwando types. There are so many posers and fake ‘Navy SEALs’ out there”

Lesson 5: Make a plan and rehearse it.

“Have some type of plan and rehearse it in your head a couple of times. Like ‘if somebody is going to come at me, this is what I am going to do.’ Most people don’t take the time, so they are unprepared if something comes up. if you just have a basic plan, you are already so far ahead on the curve.  My friend at JP Morgan had to go through a fake shooter scenario three times. There was one woman who, on the first time, was crying and going crazy. By the third time she was a completely different person. Even if it’s just a mental rehearsal, which is what we used to do as snipers all the time, is really effective. So rehearse and have a simple plan!”


Brandon and his plane (which I adamantly refuse to step foot on)

Follow Brandon on Instagram HERE. If you are brilliant, smart and want to date him, applications are currently being accepted at!


  • Hey Marina, I am a big fan of your blog and I really appreciate you writing this post in particular, but it gave me pause when it got to the part where you identified the person who’s ass you were able to kick (which I’m very glad you were able to do, btw) as Vietnamese, as if that’s the only reason you were able to kick this guys ass, bc Asian men are weak. Maybe this particular one was indeed weak, but I’d say that there are white men whose ass I could kick and Asian men whose I could kick, and both white and Asian men whose ass I could not kick, and I’d think it’d be the same for you. I understand that overall men in Asian countries may have smaller physiques, but the way you highlighted twice the fact that you could take down a Vietnamese man but not other men perpetuates the shitty and hurtful stereotype of Asian men as weak and “effeminate.” I understand that may not have been your intention, but that’s the way it comes off to me.

    • As a Vietnamese woman who does kick both white & Asian men’s asses every week in karate, I agree that they are not at all that different. But Marina’s being very humorous here and it’s hard to be if you have to be politically correct all the time. So imo Marina you’re doing great!

    • I figured it was because she was able to catch up to the phone snatcher in Hanoi, but wasn’t able to do so in London. I didn’t take it as a race thing.

  • Hi guys! Interesting how this conversation took a sudden turn towards race. I can say with certainty that I had absolutely no intention of undermining Vietnamese / Asian men in any way, I was simply sharing a couple of anecdotes and one of them happened to have taken place in Vietnam. I do, however, recognize that my phrasing was careless and may have inadvertently alluded to Asian men being weaker. This was not my intentional and I apologize. It would be hypocritical of me to say that I never intentionally perpetuate stereotypes – as you know, I do lots of cultural round-ups and am therefore often guilty of generalizations. However, physical traits are not something ANYBODY should be stigmatized for. Will be more careful going forward. Lesson learned!

  • I have some concerns with what you wrote.

    1st concern: men who involve themselves in violence training and violent actions (military, snipers) are not superheroes, they are part of the problem.
    – Violence maintains men’s dominance over one another, women and how our societies exist.
    – You want men to value you – (a woman) as a person, then value/support systems of non-violence.

    2nd concern: racism – how you described the man in Hanoi who attempted to steal from you. You can describe a person’s body without degrading them, especially without using racist ideology when describing a person from a different ethnicity and/or region.

    3rd concern: sexism – not every woman has nor wants to have an “inner-bitch” I’m not a stereotype; I’m a unique person and so are you.

    I appreciate you sharing tips on how women can better defend themselves, but the sexism, racism, and support of military violence in this piece is a huge turnoff.

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