Thursday, June 11, 2009

6 Steps for Self Defense

When you hear Self Defense, what do you think of? Many will think of firearms, pepper spray, or martial arts classes. But, these should be the last step in self defense. Throughout history, society has used walls, moats and other barriers as a defense or deterrent. Personal self defense should also start with deterrents. Predators will go after the easiest target. This goes for wildlife and human predators. The less you look like easy prey the better. This will reduce your chances of being attacked; but, unfortunately it can not eliminate it.

Here are some basic steps you can use to help avoid becoming a victim.

1: Be Aware. First is being aware of your environment. Walk in the open on sidewalks and parking garages. If you are talking on the cell phone (or worse texting because your head is down) walking next to parked cars, someone can easily grab you and pull you into a car before you know what is going on. The longer an attacker is out in the open more risk of being seen. I am also not a fan of headphones when walking or running in the street. People can easily come up behind you. Also, you can't assume a driver sees you. Be aware of what is going on around you.

2: Breath. When we are nervous, we can become tense and freeze up. This is what happens in 'Stage Fright' or 'Fight or Flight'. You will hear the director say to take a deep breath and relax. This causes the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation, awareness) to regain balance with the sympathetic nervous system (analytical). Conscious relaxed breathing will help you relax and maintain awareness. If you don't look like a victim, an attacker will move on to an easier target. If something does happen, you will be in a better position to handle it.

3: Remain Calm. This is sometimes easier said then done. But, by reviewing what to do and practicing awareness, you will be in more control of the situation. You have to draw the line between being aware and becoming paranoid. Being calm will reflect confidence and is another deterrent.

4: Defend. Learn some basic self defense or hit them as hard as you can with what ever you have (hand, foot, package). If you don't think you have it in you, think about if they attacked someone in your family. If someone grabbed your mother or kid, your instinctual response would be to do what ever it takes to defend them. Yell 'Fire'. People are more responsive to this then a scream. It draws attention to you.

5: Escape. As soon as you can, get out of the situation. Even before an attack, if you do not feel comfortable, leave. If someone follows you onto an elevator and you don't feel comfortable, step out and take the next one. Find someone else or go into another business on that floor. Being aware of exit options in new places can come into place. If Kids get separated from their parent or guardian they should seek an authority figure (police, teacher, or any other parent) immediately.

6: Fight. This is last because it should be your last resort. If your attacker is much larger then you or you feel overwhelmed, drop down on your back and kick and punch while yelling fire. This is an effective defense for kids. It draws attention and is very hard to pick up someone that is kicking and punching wildly.

Please share your story or website on avoiding becoming a victim.


  1. Excellent tips.

    I have taught several womens self-defense sessions. The first topic we talk about is awareness and prevention. It is a huge component of self-defense.

    I think it is important to trust your instincts.

  2. Good advice. I agree that prevention and awareness are the single most important (and often overlooked) factors when it comes to self defense. Just don't be there in the first place.

    I also think you have to take the law into consideration. If you over react then you will be viewed as the aggressor, even though you may not have started anything. I know of people who have gotten in trouble for doing just that. It's obviously hard to hold back on someone who has tried to hurt you but they will hurt you even more when you get done for GBH and thrown in jail.

  3. Hi Neal. I agree you have to take the law into consideration. I post a few thoughts on that at The post includes a link to an excellent write up by a martial artist and lawyer and the legal aspects of self defense.

  4. A fundamental starting point for awareness is understanding where and when 'attacks' happen and try not to minimise the risk. For example the statistics show that only 6% of female homicides (in australia) were perpetrated by a stranger and that the most common place was in the home. Maybe choosing who you marry or choose as a life partner becomes about the best self defence decision you'll ever make.


    Here's a link to the stats

  5. Awareness and prevention is great topic to learn self defense.Women first teach this lesson carefully.
    Martial arts classes