Because sometimes things don’t go as planned.

This week brings us to the fourth part of Self Defense 101. Previously we looked at the importance of awareness, knowing the risks, and avoiding potentially dangerous situations. We discussed how we can further reduce our risk by communicating to predators (bullies, muggers, etc.) that we’re not to be trifled with. Additionally we covered how to use our breathing to help deal with the stress of confrontation. When our efforts to avoid confrontation have failed, we’ve reached a juncture where it’s time to take action.

The action we take will vary as the circumstances of each incident are unique. The level of threat plays a large role in what that response should/must be, while on the other side of the equation, our individual circumstances dictate the tools at our disposal. For example, a child dealing with a bully on the playground has a slightly different set of rules to play by, as well as other available resources, then does a woman being accosted in a shopping mall parking lot.

If the opportunity exists, the best option is always the same: LEAVE! Run if you have to. Unless you’re trapped, or have others to defend, it is always better to leave the scene on your own terms. For children, find someone of authority; a teacher, yard duty, police officer, store clerk, etc. In all situations, remember that well-lit areas with lots of people mean plenty of unwanted witnesses for the predator.

Finally, when the aforementioned forms of physical and verbal communication have failed, and escape isn’t an option, the tone has to shift from trying to avoid and defuse the situation to stopping it. The more calming requests must change to definitive demands. A strong stance, with hands up and palms open,  communicates that a person doesn’t want trouble, but will defend themselves. A loud “NO,” or “BACK OFF,” has the added benefit of potentially drawing the attention of others who can assist. (It’s been suggested to yell “FIRE,” as this tends to be a real attention getter)


In the end, it all comes down to preparation. Have you thought about your game plan? Have you rehearsed/practiced it? What about the actual physical skills of defense? If one has done everything correctly, the odds of ever experiencing a violent encounter can be greatly reduced. Just like a fire extinguisher collecting dust in the kitchen cupboard, with diligence and proper preparation, it will likely never be used.

In the off-chance there’s a grease fire, however, you’ll be glad it’s there.

See you on the mats!