Hopefully, no one reading this has ever been in a situation where self defense was needed to protect themselves.
The truth is, there are bad people out there, and they do bad things.
And those bad things don’t always happen to other people.
If you have a family who depends on you to keep them safe, you owe it to them – and yourself – to know how to protect them.
Put another way: Do you think that having smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, first aid kits and CPR training are smart things to have until your rescuers get there?
If your answer is yes, then add self-defense skills and tools to the mix, because the cops usually can’t get to you in time.
Just so I am clear, though, self-defense is a lot more than just martial arts.
Be The Cactus
I sometimes like to compare self-defense to that prickly desert plant – the cactus.
You’re minding your own business, and you’re not looking for trouble.
You’re hoping everything about you convinces a bad guy to leave you alone.
But if it comes down to it, you’ll cause your attacker a lot of pain.
Just like a cactus. Makes sense, right?
That’s how my mentor and instructor, Kelly Worden, and myself see things too.
So we’ve taken a complete and practical approach to self-defense.
There are four components to it:
- AVOIDING potentially dangerous situations proactively
- DETERRING a potential predator
- DE-ESCALATING a bad situation as a last ditch attempt to contain the situation.
- DEFENDING your family when all else fails.
We’ll dive into more details in the future, but for now, here is an overview.
The Art of Avoidance
There are two broad ways to avoid trouble.
- The first is to be smart about the kinds of places to avoid.
- The second is being alert enough to know when and how to get away before trouble starts.
The “absence of your presence” is a great self-defense strategy when deciding where you go and when you go, and an equally valid tactic to use when deciding when and how you get out of a situation that is beginning to turn nasty.
Deter and Discourage
Complementing your avoidance skills is learning how to discourage a potential assailant from picking you as his next prey.
To deter a bad guy from singling you out as a target, you need to:
- Be alert and aware of your surroundings.
- Recognize when you are on someone’s radar.
- Acknowledge the attention, and project confidence.
- If appropriate, create distance without telegraphing fear.
We’ll discuss some common habits you need to break and share a few tips on things you can start doing right away.
De-Escalate If You Can
If you have been unable to avoid and deter a potential threat, you may have one last chance to avoid violence by using your words for self-defense.
This option will not present itself in every situation, but if there is chance to de-escalate, you should take it, even if the odds are against you succeeding.
Because it may buy you a few seconds to get ready to defend yourself and identify your escape route.
So our perspective is that de-escalation should not be done in isolation.
Rather, it should be a step on the path towards physical self defense, where you try to defuse the tension, but also get ready to act.
One of the techniques used by some cops is verbal judo. It’s useful not just in potentially violent situations, but in your daily life.
Defend With Full Force
Up to this point, everything we’ve discussed has been around you being aware that the encounter you are in is escalating.
You’ve done everything you can to avoid the fight, but everything you’ve tried has failed. You know violence is coming, and you know now it’s time to defend yourself and those you care about.
In the final seconds before the attack, talk to your attacker while you:
- identify routes to escape, and take those routes as quickly as you can,
- identify whether your potential aggressor is armed,
- call for help and draw attention to yourself if possible,
- identify items that can be used as weapons to fend off the attacker.
If getting away is not possible, you must go on the offensive and disable the aggressor with surprise, speed, and determined violence of your own.
Then, get away before he recuperates, and make sure you report the attack to the police as soon as you are safe.
Sometimes an attack can catch you by surprise, or, may happen so quickly that you have little time to take control of the situation (This is why Martial Arts training is less useful than you might have been told, or sold).
If this happens, you need solid training that:
- takes the startled response that you already have, and use it like a battering ram to temporarily stun an attacker and buy some time,
- lets you follow up with defensive strikes that rely on gross motor movements (think coordinated clumsiness) to damage your attacker and enable your escape.
We’ll be adding to the details over time with more content. So bookmark this page and look out for it.