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KISS: Keep it simple, stupid!

To survive a self-defense confrontation, you must be the one who controls the action; you must become the attacker so that your potential attacker must defend him or herself. Once an attack occurs, it is too late for you to act, the best you may do then is react and defend. 

If you wait until an attack occurs before you act, you may misjudge when the attack might occur and not act soon enough, which means you are again the defender. The time to act is when you determine an attack is inevitable and imminent. Then you must take actions that are simple, effective, and easy to perform.

Be first to act

By being the first to act, you take the upper hand and turn the attacker into a defender. When a person is defending, attacking is not on his or her mind.

Once you decide to act, your goals should be to:
  • Strike first, and a lot.
  • Work the angles.
  • Keep your balance and keep the attacker off-balance.
  • Evade, defect, or block attack counterattacks.
  • Eliminate the threat.
  • Escape.
The ideal situation is for you to make the first strike, however, if the attacker makes the first strike, you should step forward and to the side while defending the attack and making your devastating counterattack. Do not stand in front of an attacker, always work the angles to keep the attacker off-balance so he or she cannot prepare for and execute effective attacks.

To defend yourself effectively, you do not need years of training in martial arts and you do not need to be a big, tough, aggressive person. You only need a few simple, but effective, techniques, and you must have the will to use them ruthlessly.

Simple works

A few simple rules to remember are:
  • Never trust the bad guys. Bad people lie! No matter how nice looking, well-dressed, nicely behaved, or apologetic they are, they all lie. If an assailant wants you to move or go somewhere, even just for a few steps, it is not for your good. Therefore, no matter what the assailant says, do not move.
  • Bad guys always have the advantage. You will most likely be alone, surprised, outnumbered, not dressed for fighting, weaponless, have your arms full of bags, etc. However, your assailant will be prepared, dressed for the occasion, and probably have a weapon or accomplices. Therefore, try not to be in places where bad things happen, such as near bars or convenience stores; at the wrong time, such as at three o'clock in the morning; and incapacitated, such as intoxicated.
  • Leave. Run away, even if the attacker has a firearm. If you choose to stay, you are always a threat to the bad guy and he or she will want to eliminate the threat. if you counterattack, the bad guy will probably shoot you; but, if you run away, they may not shoot at you. And, if they do shoot, bad guys are usually poor marksmen. They are not the type to practice anything, such as marksmanship, and they usually don’t get the opportunity to practice. So, if you run erratically and they do shoot, they will probably miss you. Most people who run away survive. And, even if you are hit, it is usually not a lethal hit.
  • Only use empty hand fighting when you do not have a weapon. Fighting with any object is better than empty hand fighting. Even ninjas and samurais carried weapons. To be prepared, obtain a concealed carry permit, be proficient with a firearm, and carry it. Some say that if you have a weapon and expose it, it may be taken from you and used against you. However, this is highly unlikely since you will have a death grip on the weapon. You are much better off with a weapon than without one.
  • Everything will happen fast. A fight for your life will not last long. You will either survive or die within a couple of minutes. A burst of adrenaline only lasts about 30 seconds and then you need 3 or 4 minutes to recharge, so finish it quickly.
  • Specific defensive sequences will probably not work. You must know a variety of effective techniques that work in a variety of situations and train to use them as the opportunity arises. When defending yourself, fight to annihilate your attacker, not to control him.
  • Do not expect any one thing you do to be effective. Do not just try something and wait to see if it works. Hit the assailant with everything you have and do not stop until the attacker is no longer a threat.
  • Do not even think about blocks. Just attack until the assailant is destroyed.
  • Break things. Anytime you get a hold of any part of the attacker’s body, break it.
  • Bite. Anytime any part of the attacker’s body in front of your mouth, bite it.

First actions

These are the techniques you need when you take your first actions. They need to be quick so they will surprise the attacker and devastating so they can immediately end the confrontation.
  • Body thrust. This is an effective technique to use when an attacker comes at you with the intent to wrestle you to the ground; it is especially useful when the attacker is much heavier than you are. To use a body thrust:
  • Step to the side to avoid the initial charge.
  • Bend your knees to load your legs.
  • Suddenly spring upward pushing off the rear foot.
  • Slam both your palm heels inward and upward into the attacker’s upper abdomen or lower ribs.
  • This thrust will knock the attacker backward and knock away his or her breath so he or she will be stunned for a moment, allowing you to escape or take further action.
  • Eye poke. To gain time to escape, or to stop an attacker in his or her tracks, poke the attacker in the eye. To use an eye poke:
  • As an attack, step forward and to the side and poke the eye on that side. As a defense, step to the side to avoid the charge and poke the eye on that side.
  • Jab a flat spear hand at the attacker’s eye. Do not try to poke both eyes or just use one finger, instead, poke all your fingers at one eye; that way you have a greater chance of hitting the eye with at least one finger.
  • Even if you miss the eye, the attacker will blink or turn away. If you merely touch the eye, it will immediately water and blur the attacker’s vision. If you hit the eye, the attacker’s threat will be drastically reduced or canceled. Either way, the eye poke will provide you with an opportunity to escape or take further action.
  • Arm jam. To stop an attack in its tracks, to prevent an attack from forming, or to keep the attacker away from you, jam the attacker with your arm. To use an arm jam:
  • Push the attacker with the palm of one hand while your other hand grasps the palm’s wrist to brace it and add strength to the pushing arm.
  • The forearm of the grabbing hand acts as a block against any hand attack.
  • Bend forward at the waist to add power to the push and to keep the body away from kicks.
  • Tuck the head to protect it from hand attacks.
  • Push against the attacker’s head, throat, or body to keep the attacker away. Push against a shoulder to prevent that arm from punching. 

Work the angles

Never face an attacker head-on. When a matador faces a charging bull, he waits until the last moment, steps to the side, and attacks the bull with the banderoles. By stepping to the side, you effectively eliminate any threat from the attacker’s far side, and then you concentrate your attack on the attacker’s near side using a low, middle, high attack sequence.
  • Attack low. Side kick the side of the attacker’s knee. The knee does not bend sideways, so it will easily break when hit from the side; a one-legged attacker is not much of a threat.
  • Attack middle. Knee or punch the attacker’s stomach or lower ribs; broken ribs make breathing and moving difficult.
  • Attack high. Attack the neck with a knife-hand, or the head with a palm heel. A knife-hand attack to the throat will injure or collapse the windpipe and hinder or stop breathing. A knife-hand attack to the side of the neck will collapse the carotid artery and cause a knockout. A palm heel attack to the nose will incapacitate or knock out the attacker. A palm heel attack to the chin may shatter teeth, break the jaw, or cause a knockout.
Keep working the angles so the opponent never has an opportunity to formulate an attack. If the attacker is off-balance, any attack will be less effective than it would have been had the attacker had a firm stance. At the same time, ensure you always maintain your balance and a firm stance so you can effectively block attacks and initiate attacks with power.

Coup de grĂ¢ce

To end a confrontation, you must eliminate the threat. One way to accomplish this is to use a finishing blow. A finishing blow will ensure the attacker will no longer be a threat to you as you escape. 

Some finishing blows are:
  • Head butt. Grab the attacker’s head, hair, or ears and, using your neck, shoulder, and abdominal muscles, smash your forehead into the attacker’s face. You may also smash your head upward into the attacker’s chin or face. Keep your eyes open during the attack or you may become disoriented from the sudden acceleration and deceleration of your head. When grabbing the attacker’s head, you may also use an ear slap by cupping your hands and slapping them over the attacker’s ears causing excessive pressure in the ears to disorient the attacker or burst his or her eardrums.
  • Choke/strangle. In a self-defense situation, choking from the front is dangerous since it exposes your face and body to punches or kicks. When being choked, people are desperate for air and will fight back furiously. Strangleholds gradually cutoff the blood supply to the brain so people are not as panicked when one is applied.

    The brain needs blood to function properly, and, during a stressful situation, it needs a lot of blood. A properly applied stranglehold will compress the carotid arteries in the neck and cause the attacker to become disoriented and unconscious rather quickly. If the stranglehold  is continued for a couple of minutes, permanent brain damage or death may result, so it is best to release the hold once the attacker is unconscious, and then escape.

    To apply a stranglehold :
  • From behind the attacker, wrap one arm around the attacker’s neck with the crook of your elbow against the windpipe, this places your bicep over one carotid artery and your forearm over the other artery.
  • With the hand of your arm around the neck, grab your other bicep and place the other hand on the back of the attacker’s head.
  • Tense the arm around the neck as if you were trying to budge the arm muscles and pull the entire arm backward and upward.
  • Use the interlocking of the two arms to squeeze and lock the hold so it will be difficult for the attacker to get loose from it.
  • Thigh kick. Many people think a groin kick is the most effective kick against a male attacker. However, it is a small target and is easily blocked by twisting the body or moving a leg, and it is an expected attack. Also, there is a few seconds delay from the kick and when its effects are felt by the attacker, giving him time to hurt you.
  • For a groin attack, a hand attack is more effective. Drop to a knee, uppercut to the groin, and then grab and twist.
  • The common peroneal nerve on the side of the outer thigh is a much more exposed target than the groin and one that is not easily protected or normally protected. To strike the nerve, kick the side of the leg at about mid-thigh, slightly toward the back of the thigh. The pain will be instantaneous and will disable the leg, allowing you to escape or take further action.
  • Shin kick. The shin is one of the most exposed bones in the body. A shin kick is an effective way to escape from an attacker who has grabbed you around the arms or body, either from the front or behind. To kick the shin, kick inward and downward along the shin using the outer edge of your shoe to rake down the shin. At the bottom of the shin, change the kick into a stomp onto the top of the foot. The raking of the shoe along the shin will cause immediate, extreme pain, allowing you to escape or take further action.
  • Knee to the knee. To force an attacker to the ground, stomp on the attacker’s toe, and while standing on the foot, ram and push your knee into the attacker’s knee as you move forward as if taking a step with the other foot. The movement will cause the attacker pain and will force him or her back to the ground, allowing you to escape or take further action.
  • Elbow smash. Elbows are highly effective weapons to use against an attacker’s head, especially when in close. For a finishing blow, push on the attacker’s chest with your palm causing the attacker to resist and push forward with his or her body. Then suddenly drive your elbow upward in an uppercut blow to the attacker’s chin. The blow will be devastating and allow you an opportunity to escape or take further action.
For self-defense, simple techniques work best; do not attempt difficult or complicated techniques. Just use techniques that have been proved to work consistently in self-defense situations.


  • TRS (2000). The Five Simple Rules of Winning Any Fight.
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