Krystal Berry - Self Defense Case Study

The story is about Krystal Berry, a woman who is being hailed as a hero for defending herself against an attacker at her gym in Florida. Despite having no background in self-defense, Berry was working out when a man began making inappropriate comments toward her. When she asked him to stop, he became aggressive and physically attacked her.

Although she was smaller and outweighed by her attacker, Berry was able to defend herself with aggression and the right mindset. The incident was caught on video and has since gone viral, and Berry became a hero.

While we can all admire Berry’s success story, it’s important to remember that the positive outcome isn’t the only thing that matters. As the saying goes, even a broken clock shows the right time twice daily. We all know what she did right: she didn’t give up and had a fighter’s mindset. By refusing to let her assailant control or hurt her, she did 99% of the work. However, there are still things she could have done better.

I am writing today to share my thoughts on what Berry did right and what she could have done better. One thing she did well was staying focused on her goal of defending herself. 

Overall, the story of Krystal Berry is an inspiring one that highlights the importance of self-defense skills and a fighter’s mindset. While we celebrate her success, it’s important to continue learning and growing to become more effective at protecting ourselves in dangerous situations.

Now, allow me a moment to share what she could have done better!


  1. Berry opened the door without exchanging words with her attacker and turned her back immediately to resume working out without making eye contact. Even though she may have felt safe, it was important to acknowledge the fact that she wasn’t alone in the gym and to be aware of the attacker’s body language and position in the space. As we always say: “be aware of your surroundings.”
  2. When the attacker approached her, Berry kept her phone in hand, which was initially a good move. She could call the police while keeping a distance from him. However, at some point, the phone became a liability and no longer served her as an asset. In such situations, it is advisable to drop anything you are holding if you don’t plan to use it as a weapon.
  3. Berry fought back and hit the attacker with the right level of aggression, but she did not aim her strikes at vulnerable targets like the eyes, nose, or groin. While hitting the attacker is important, focusing on hitting vulnerable spots is equally important to disable the attacker effectively.
  4. In an interview, Berry mentioned that “he knew she was stronger than him.” This is the wrong message to send to women. The message that women can only win if they are stronger feeds the narrative that women are victims because men are physically stronger. The right message is that effective self-defense is not about being stronger than the attacker. It’s about using techniques, tactics, and strategies to defend oneself, regardless of one’s size or strength.
Case Study – Kelly Herron

Kelly Herron is a survivor of a violent attack that occurred on March 5, 2017, while she was on her usual jogging routine in Seattle, Washington. Kelly walked into a public bathroom, and a man hiding in a stall attacked her as she washed her hands and attempted to assault her.

Despite being caught off guard and initially overpowered by the attacker, Herron was able to fight back using basic self-defense skills she had learned in a recent self-defense class. She used her fists, feet, and the things around her, including a hand dryer, to defend herself and keep her attacker at bay. During the struggle, she repeatedly shouted, “Not Today, Motherf*****,” which has since become a rallying cry for survivors of violence and a symbol of resilience.

Eventually, Herron was able to escape the attacker’s grip and lock herself in a nearby bathroom stall, where she called the police. The attacker was apprehended by police shortly after and was later sentenced to prison for his crime.

In the aftermath of the attack, Herron shared her story publicly in order to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual assault and the importance of self-defense training for women. 

Herron is of average height and weight and has basic self-defense training. She isn’t a Krav Maga expert, but she is a fighter. Unlike Berry, she isn’t a bodybuilder. Her attacker was aggressive and struck her hard with his fist. Herron, just like Berry, had the right mindset: “I am not going to lose this fight,” and that is what they both “won.”

I define winning as the ability to disengage back to safety without being sexually assaulted. When people fight, they get hit and sometimes hurt, but overall, the objective for both of these women was not to be assaulted.

The reason I am insisting on comparing these two stories is simple: the message of empowerment to all humans, regardless of their size, gender, or age. Everyone gets a chance to win if they have the right mindset. Both Berry and Herron won for having this mindset.

Right after Berry’s video was posted on almost every possible news outlet, many news stations reached out to us and asked for an expert opinion about what happened. I wanted to share with the world that Berry, in my opinion, could improve a few important issues, and her message in the interview was, “the attacker knew I was stronger than him.” I believe this is the wrong message. Berry won despite her inability to use effective self-defense, and she used her strength. Most people aren’t able to overpower their attacker. That is the wrong equation. You can imagine the media didn’t like that I was not just praising the results but criticizing her approach to self-defense.

Kelly Herron and Krystal Berry are living proof that you have the power within you to fight back against any attacker, regardless of your size or experience. They didn’t receive any warning or preparation for the violent attacks they experienced, but they both summoned the courage and strength to fight back and defend themselves.

If you believe you have it in you, that’s more than half the way to getting there. The rest depends on the work you do to become resilient. Nothing is impossible.


Do something amazing,
Tsahi Shemesh
Founder & CEO
Krav Maga Experts