You’re out and enjoying life with your friends or a certain young lady. But some knucklehead is determined to end your fun by trying to punch your lights out. What can you do?
There are some simple self-defense tactics that even someone who's not in great shape or has any special training can employ:
First of all, wake up! — Be aware of your surroundings.
Who’s watching you?
Look around, is someone giving you a hard look? Or alternately, does someone quickly avoid your gaze?
Watch people’s hands as you are walking, don’t look away when you pass.
Cross the street if you have to avoid a group of punks.
Don't get too drunk.
Are you doing something stupid like hitting on someone’s girlfriend at the bar?
Are you in the habit of boasting about your fancy watch, car, apartment?
Point out the troublemaker to the bartender or doorman.
If the negative vibes get too intense, leave.
Remember, it’s always easier to STAY out of trouble than to GET out of trouble.
Second of all, keep from getting hit in a vital area!
Get your hands up in front of your face to protect your head.
Keep your mouth closed with your teeth clenched. When your mouth is open you are ripe to get your jaw broken (which means you should forget about ‘talking trash’).
Circle away from his power side (circle to the right if he has his right hand cocked back, circle to the left if he has his left hand cocked back).
You need to be either two arms lengths away from him (outside of his kicking range) or all the way in tight against him (holding him in a boxing clinch). Anything in between puts you in range for his punches and kicks.
Third, use your strongest weapons against his weakest targets.
Use the proverbial knee to the groin when you are clinching.
Smash him with your elbows in the face, throat and neck.
Kick him in the knee, groin or lower abdomen. Kick straight ahead using the bottom of your foot like you would kick in a door. Or kick straight back like a mule using your heel. If you are untrained, resist the urge to kick with the top of your foot like you are punting a football, you will probably use too much of your toes instead of your shin (ouch!).
If you try to trade punches with him, you're probably playing right into his game.
Get a barrier between you and him (even if you have to run around a car).
Yell for help. You can't count on people coming to your aid, but he might think someone will render assistance.
Use a weapon. Hose him down with your pepper spray. Use a chair like a lion tamer. Throw ashtrays at him.
Make your escape. Lose your ego and your attitude. Retreat and escape. Live to go out and party again next weekend.
The argument or fight is over. You've either won or gained a position of tactical superiority (a good break in the action when you've got an advantage) and you feel it's time to go to a safe place or call the police.
Be careful here. There are plenty of real-world examples of the good guys getting clocked by the bad guy, who just seconds before was pleading for mercy. You turn to leave and — BAM! Blindsided.
You have to "remain" in the fight long enough to make a safe withdrawal:
Don't relinquish your superior position until you are sure he cannot counterattack;
Don't turn your back on the attacker when leaving;
Don't let your guard down as you round the block, get into your car or even while driving home;
At the first safe opportunity, call the proper authorities to summon police or emergency medical services if needed;
Keep your mental guard up the next couple of days in the event that your attacker is planning an act of revenge (sometimes called a "comeback").
Okay, Brad, what exactly do you mean?
Let's say you've been confronted by an unarmed adversary. You've tried to talk your way out of the situation. You've even tried leaving (or you are in a position where you cannot leave). The situation is rapidly deteriorating and it's apparent that he is going to try to grab or hit you.
Get your hands up to cover your face and your centerline and move backwards to gain distance (good) or circle away from his strong hand (better).
If he is, in fact, going to attack you he MUST close the distance between you two. If he doesn't close, then he's simply woofing.
Here's one scenario:
I keep my hands up;
I move off at an angle forcing him to turn and track me for his attack;
When he launches his attack, I do a foot check to his front leg and aggressively move into a clinch;
I get to the side to evade his blows and decide to tactically disengage or, if he's still attacking, take him down. If he has friends or I'm in an unfriendly place, I want to use a takedown that allows me to dump him and remain standing. If it's just him and I'm not liable to get stomped by the crowd, I might decide to take him down and follow him to the ground (many times you don't have a choice and you both end up going down in the tussle);
I work to gain superior position on top (knee ride, side mount, top mount);
I work for his back by persuading him to roll over onto his stomach (by either manipulating one of his arms or some slaps to his face);
I can now be temporarily safe from his blows when I have his back. The level at which you feel you will be seriously hurt or even killed will dictate what you do from here. At the lower levels of force you might elect to disengage without further techniques. At the higher levels of force you might be required to strike the guy to end the attack or apply a neck restraint.
Now — here is the critical part. You feel like you are temporarily safe or you've "won". You stand up looking down at your vanquished foe. That's when he rolls over and kicks you in the groin, throws dirt in your face, pulls a weapon, gloms onto you and beats/stabs/kicks/shoots you to pieces.
Be careful. When you get up off of his back, keep your weight on him. Keep your weight centered on your chest in the middle of his back, swing both your legs to one side of him and assume a push up (press up for our UK friends) position on him.
Pull one leg up under you (like a sprinters start position) and quickly push off of the attacker. You keep your weight on him to pin him to the ground until you and press off and gain distance from him.
Keep your guard up and retreat.
When there is trouble and you are not professionally required to stay and resolve the issue or protect someone, I would recommend you leave as soon as safely possible. You have an altercation, he gets kicked out. You stay to party (Hey, why should I be the one who has to go?) and he comes back with his friends (human) or his special friends (Smith and Wesson).
Six Techniques to Avoid by Richard Nance (excerpt)
They may look cool, but these moves don't belong you your self-defense repertoire.
Large sweeping blocks are too slow and rigid to be effective in a real fight. Keeping the hand cocked at the hip is not a good idea either.
Blocking an incoming attack is a good idea, but the sooner you seize the offense, the better your odds of winning the encounter. Rather than waiting for your opponent to attack so that you can block and counter, make your opponent defend against your strikes.
It's common knowledge that a moving target is harder to hit than one that is stationary, so it makes sense to employ a stance that's conducive to movement.
For self defense, a good rule of thumb is to keep your feet about shoulder width apart, with your hands up to protect your fact. Keeping your dominant leg back slightly will place your vulnerable centerline targets (eyes, throat, solar plexus and groin) farther from your adversary, making thenm harder for him to hit. Try to stay on the balls fo your feet and distribute your weight evenly over each leg so you can move quickly in any direction.
Punch to the head
In a fight the tendency is to ball up your fist and punch your opponent in the nose. While this could certainly have an effect on your opponent, unless you are a very proficient striker you're more likely to injure your hand than your opponent's head. Use your palm rather than your fist when targeting the head.
Kick to the head
Rather than trying to kick out your opponent's teeth, use low kicks to disrupt hsi balance and divert his attention. Kicks to the lower leg are much more difficult for your opponent to block and easier for you to recover from should you miss.
Low kick followed by high punch
Landing a kick to the groin will almost certainly cause your opponent to double over, meaning his head would be way too low for you to hit with a punch. A more logical follow-up technique to a groin kick is an elbow strike delivered at either a horizontal or upward trajectory. To better your odds of landing the elbow and to maximize the power in the strike, grab your opponent's head with your non-striking hand and pull his head into your elbow.
The knife disarming techniques usually taught may work in a training environment where the "knifer" attacks in a prescribed manner, but trying to pull off one in an unscripted edged-weapon attack is going to get you cut, if not killed. One thing for certain is that the assailant will be attacking at full speed.
When dealing with an edged-weapon attack, forget about trying to control the knife-bearing arm. A better approach to edged-weapon defense is to use one arm as a barrier between the knife and your body while simultaneously thrusting the palm of your other hand under the attacker's chin. Rather than retract the strike, run "through" the attacker to take his balance. This technique won't result in your actually disarming the assailant (no technique will), but it will enable you to create disengagement, then draw your own weapon or seek escape.
Would you be able to defend yourself and your loved ones if someone were to physically attack you? It's a question most of us don't want to consider, but violence is, unfortunately, a fact of life. Thankfully, regardless of strength, size, or previous training, anyone can learn several effective self-defense techniques. Here's how to prepare for and stay safe in common real-world violent situations.
Prevention Is the Best Self-Defense
First, remember that prevention is the best self-defense. Attackers, whatever their objectives, are looking for unsuspecting, vulnerable targets. So be sure to follow general safety tips like being aware of your surroundings, only walking and parking in well-lit areas, keeping your keys in hand as you approach your door or car, varying your route and times of travel, and other personal security precautions.
Apart from avoiding confrontation, if you can defuse a situation (talk someone down from physically assaulting you) or get away — by handing over your wallet/purse or whatever they want, do that. Hand over your money rather than fight. Nothing you own is worth more than your life or health.
If violence is unavoidable, however, to really defend yourself, you'll want to know ahead of time how to fight back effectively — it's possible even against someone bigger or stronger than you. Here are some basic self-defense techniques that can keep you safe:
Get Loud and Push Back
As soon as the attacker touches you or it's clear that escape isn't possible, shout loudly ("BACK OFF!") and push back at him or her (for simplicity's sake we're going to use "him" for the rest of the article, although your opponent could be female). This does two things: it signals for help and it lets the attacker know you're not an easy target. The video from Rob Redenbach, a former trainer of Nelson Mandela's bodyguards, shows why this is the first thing you need to do. It may not dissuade all attackers, but getting loud will warn off those that were looking for easy prey.
The Most Effective Body Parts to Hit
When you're in a confrontation, you only have a few seconds and a few moves to try before the fight may be decided. Before an attacker has gained full control of you, you must do everything you can — conserving as much energy as possible — to inflict injury so you can get away. (This is no time to be civil. In a physical confrontation that calls for self-defense, it's hurt or be hurt.) So aim for the parts of the body where you can do the most damage easily: the eyes, nose, ears, neck, groin, knee, and legs.
Su Ericksen, who writes the very helpful Self-Defense for Women website, offers techniques for striking these pressure points so you can defend yourself and get to safety. She writes:
Depending on the position of the attacker and how close he is will determine where you will strike and with what part of your body you will employ.
Do not step in closer, say, to strike his nose with your hand, when you can reach his knee with a kick.
When striking a target on the upper half of the body you will use your hand. Effective strikes can be made with the outer edge of your hand
in a knife hand position, a palm strike or knuckle blow for softer targets or a tightly curled fist.
Here are some photos Su offers on attacking these highly sensitive pressure points (you can view others for additional pressure points on her website):
Eyes: Gouging, poking, or scratching the attacker's eyes with your fingers or knuckles would be effective, as you can imagine. Besides causing a lot of pain, this should also make your escape easier by at least temporarily interfering with his vision.
Nose: If the attacker is close in front of you, use the heel of your palm to strike up under his nose; throw the whole weight of your body into the move to cause the most pain and force him to loosen his grip on you. If he's behind you, you can strike his nose (from the side or front) with your elbow. Either way, aim for the nasal bones.
Neck: The side of the neck is a bigger target, where both the carotid artery and jugular vein are located. You could possibly temporarily stun your attacker with a knife hand strike (all fingers held straight and tightly together, with thumb tucked and slightly bent at the knuckle) at the side of the neck. (For even more injury, you could thrust your elbow into your assailant's throat while pitching the weight of your body forward. See the Target Focus Training video below.)
Knee: Su says the knee is an ideal self-defense target, vulnerable from every angle and easily kicked without risk of your foot being grabbed. Kick the side of the knee to cause injury or partially incapacitate your attacker. Kicking the front of the knee may cause more injury but is less likely to result in imbalance.
Use your elbows, knees, and head. Those are the parts of the body that are most sensitive when hit. Now here are the parts of the body used most effectively for inflicting damage: your elbows, knees, and head (they're your body's bony built-in weapons). This video from Elite Defense Systems in IL explains how to defend yourself against three most common attacks by using these key body parts.
Use everyday objects. Everyday objects you carry around with you or things in your environment can also be used to your advantage as weapons. Hold a key or pen between your middle and ring finger while you're walking home in the dark for more assurance. Outdoors, you can toss some dirt or sand into your attacker's eyes. Women are often told to spray perfume or hairspray into an assailant's eyes. The point is, use what ever you can to make your defense stronger (for more inspiration, watch some Jackie Chan movies).
Leverage your weight. No matter your size, weight, or strength in relation to your opponent, you can defend yourself by strategically using your body and the simple law of physics. This is the principle behind martial arts systems like Jujitsu and other self-defense programs where a smaller person is able to defeat a larger one.
Tim Larkin teaches in his Target Focus Training self-defense system that striking is not about punching or kicking, it's about throwing your body weight strategically at someone. You don't want to be standing there trading punches or kicks with an attacker; in a violent situation, it's critical to injure him using efficient, targeted moves. Basically, target those pressure points mentioned above, but leverage your weight to cause the most damage. (Note: The video at left is a bit long, though all of it is insightful; if you want to skip to the demonstration part showing how to use your body weight in this "point of injury" technique, scrub to about the 4-minute mark. Also note that this technique, used by law enforcement agencies, can seriously injure the attacker.)
Moves for Getting Out of or Defending Against Common Holds or Attacks
Wrist Hold: Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is another school of self-defense, one that offers modified Jujitsu techniques that normal (or even weak) people can carry out. This video from Gracie Academy shows what to do when an attacker has grabbed your wrist. Instead of pulling back to try to get out of the hold, squat down into a strong stance, then lean forward and bend your elbow towards him all the way towards his forearm until he can no longer hold onto your wrist.
The prevalence of Krav Maga programs taught by frauds wearing BDUs has made it very difficult for the average person to find authentic training in this brutal art used by Israeli Defense Force personnel. Military veteran and former law enforcement officer Branimir Tudjan tears away the commercialization and hype to reveal the true Krav Maga: a self-defense program designed to save lives in dangerous situations. Focusing exclusively on street-oriented techniques, Tudjan not only demonstrates the physical aspects of defending yourself, but also teaches you how to be aware of, avoid, and de-escalate potential violent encounters.
From the fundamentals of close-range striking to defenses against the most common street attacks, from groundfighting to full-contact fighting drills, this comprehensive combat system will give you the tactical advantage against any thug you're likely to bump into on the street.)
Mount Position: If the attacker has you pinned on the floor, you can pivot to be on top with this Gracie Jiu-Jitsu technique. Hook onto his wrist with one hand and use your other hand to grab behind his elbow, trapping his arm to your chest. Then use your foot to trap his foot and leg, lift your hips and turn over onto your knees to get on top.
Sexual Assault: In my interview with Rener Gracie, whose grandfather established the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu method 90 years ago, he told me there are four phases to nearly all sexual attacks on women: 1) Identify an unsuspecting target, 2) Subdue the target, 3) Exhaust the target, and 4) Execute the sexual assault. We want to fight with all our might and the moves we have above in the second phase. In the third phase, however, right before an assailant executes his sexual attack, all he wants to do is exhaust the victim and gain complete control, so fighting back actually may backfire at that point, wasting energy. Gracie's Women Empowered training program teaches women to recognize when they've entered that phase where they are truly trapped and are no longer in the defensive movements phase — and to feign giving in. Pretend to be compliant (kind of like playing dead for a bear). In those split moments, the predator will think you have given up and will loosen his grip, giving you a chance get away.
Do you know how to defend yourself? Self-defense is a critical life skill that everyone should learn. Daily acts of senseless violence and predatory behavior are an unfortunate reality of the world we live in. Far too often, when it comes to self-defense, people apply the “it could never happen to me” mentality. This is an incredibly naïve and irresponsible way of thinking. Knowledge of basic self-defense principles and techniques could mean the difference between life and death.
Check out Evolve MMA’s 7 critical rules for self-defense below. They could end up saving your life.
1) BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS AT ALL TIMES
Whether you are with friends or by yourself, you should always be aware of what is going on around you. If your instincts tell you that someone is suspicious looking, you are probably right. Instincts are a very powerful self-defense mechanism inherent in all human beings. If you are walking alone at night, always be aware of what is going on around you. Do your best to travel in a group if you are going to an unfamiliar or dangerous place. Either way, keep your eyes and ears alert at all times.
2) WALK CONFIDENTLY AND AVOID EYE CONTACT
If you are in a shady area of town or a dangerous city, be sure to always walk with confidence and avoid making eye contact. Attackers prefer to target who they perceive as weak prey, and your body language will give away everything. If you act timid and show fear, you are more likely to become a target. Walk with an upright posture with your chest out and chin up. Keep your eyes focused on the horizon, but remain alert to your surroundings. Never make direct eye contact with anyone.