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  • Writer's picturePSBN David

7 Steps to Defend Yourself - Practical Self-Defense Tips

Self-Defense is a tricky topic to write about, but I’m going to give it a shot anyways. For one, it’s very hard to convey physical motions into text. You also don’t want someone to read something you wrote and then go out and get hurt because they think they’re now invincible.

So here’s my disclaimer/summary of this post: don’t fight, obey your local laws, contact law enforcement, life is not like the movies. And I’m going to further each of these with some actual details.

Moving on! Here’s my list of realistic self-defense tips!


Pre-Emptive – Avoid the fight

1) Be aware of your surroundings

Do you like to run alone at night in the middle of nowhere with your headphones on? In a perfect world, this would be fine. In a world where there are people who might want to hurt you, not so much. This isn’t to say give up all of these kinds of activities, but be smart about it. If you have confident body language, are able to hear, and generally showing that you won’t be easy to ambush, you can greatly reduce your chances of being approached in the first place.

2) Run

If you are feeling you’re in danger, run away. Try to head towards a crowd (preferably a sober one). Call the police when you can.

If you are able to get away from the danger, but you’ve chosen to stand your ground, you have put your pride as more important than your life (and the lives of those you touch). Fights are unpredictable, no matter how well trained you are. Choosing to confront someone when you didn’t have to is choosing to escalate the situation. Now the person who you feel is dangerous may respond with further escalation, such as a weapon.

3) Give up your wallet

If you can’t get away, just give up your wallet/what they’re asking for. Obviously, this only applies if they’re asking for your possessions. Situations where the person is only looking to cause you harm are more covered in later points.

Think about what it really means to you. You give up your wallet, what does that lead to? You might lose a bit of cash, sure, but most of the cards are just an inconvenience to replace. Do you really want to risk your life because you don’t want to have to cancel some cards and wait in line for your driver’s license?

4) Don’t try to be a hero, don’t seek revenge

Your need for glory probably isn’t as strong of a motivating force as whatever has driven this person to become aggressive towards you (drugs, desperation, hunger). The point of self-defense is to get away with as little damage as possible. That means leaving as soon as you’re able to. If you start going in to “make them pay”, you’re now the one acting aggressively. In some areas, this can be the part where “self-defense” turns into “assault”.


Altercation – De-escalate the situation

5) Speak loudly

Draw attention to yourself and what’s happening. If you’re in a crowd and speaking normally, all the crowd will see is a fight between two people with no context. This goes much differently if one party is backing away shouting “Get away from me!” Even if you’re not in a crowd, the act of shouting for help can potentially draw any nearby people in earshot. If you need someone to call the police, try to make eye contact with them and make it clear you’re telling them and only them to call. Avoid the Bystander Effect!

6) Raise your hands to create a barrier

Don’t immediately bring up your fists. This stops any talking that can de-escalate the situation and turn it into a fight.

Instead, take at least a half a step back (angling/blading your body to them and creating distance) and raise your hands out away from your body. This creates a barrier for someone to get through. This stance is pretty universal for “Hey, calm down. I don’t want any trouble.” while also putting you into a better defensive position.


Fight – Defend yourself and leave

7) Fight dirty and go for weak points

Again, your goal is to get out of the situation without getting hurt. This isn’t a friendly sparring match; this is someone who is willing to hurt random people. Go for the eyes/face, go for the throat, groin. The idea is to stop them long enough for you to escape. Raking your foot down their shin will hurt them, but it won’t stop them from being able to chase you.

Use sure-fire attacks that you know will work. Keep in mind your adrenaline will be through the roof and you’ll likely be shaking because of that. Fine motor skills largely go out the window. This is why things like putting keys in your fist likely won’t work well. It’s a small surface area and will only damage your attacker if you hit a few very specific spots. Imagine trying to playing darts with a drill sergeant screaming in your ear. Do you think you’d be able to hit the bullseye easily?

Easy strikes are things like:

- Touching the eyes. You don’t need to take their eye out, even a toddler can poke you in the eye hard enough for you to reel back. Between your 4 fingers, you can cover a fairly wide range across the face. Think a quick jab/tap to the area.

- Ear percusses. Slap the ear, bear claw, palm strike, whatever. Because your ears also affect your sense of balance, a solid enough hit could potentially cause your attacker to not be able to walk properly.

- Throat and groin. These ones are fairly self-explanatory.

- Shin kick. This is more of a soccer(/football)-style kick with a sideways foot. It’s easier to hit your target this way. This is a kick that goes straight into the shin, though. You’re aiming to try to take the leg out from underneath them. Weight differences can factor into this, however.

As usual, this is obviously not an exhaustive list. There are many other things you can do and other tips to keep you safe. If you’re interested, do your research to find a reputable self-defense course in your area. These will often have a lot of difficult-to-hear truths and topics in them, so be prepared. It’s also vital to at least occasionally practice these (obviously not full-force), so find a friend or class you can keep these skills up with. If you ever get into actual trouble where you need to use any of this, the last thing that will be going through your head is a blog post you read once.

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