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What now?


You find yourself in a situation where you must defend yourself. What do you do now?

Sequence of events 

In any self-defense situation where you find that you must take physical action, there is a sequence of events that takes place:
  • You first must be proficient in some type of self-defense techniques.
  • You must be physically, mentally, and emotionally able to execute the techniques when required.
  • When attacked, you must be able to avoid, block, or absorb the attack, and then you must be able to get into a position in which you may use your self-defense techniques.
  • You must execute the techniques.
  • You must know what to do if a technique is successful.
  • You must have an alternative action in case the first technique is not successful.
  • When the confrontation ends, you must have an exit plan.
  • You must physically, mentally, emotionally, legally, and financially be able to deal with the aftermath and repercussions of the situation.

Taking action

Most martial arts teach you how to avoid, block, or absorb attacks and get inside the attacker’s defenses. All of them teach you some self-defense techniques to use that they say will be successful. Most martial arts teach you follow-up techniques to use when the initial action is successful. Most martial arts teach you the basic exit plan—run away.

However, while most martial arts teach you to be physically prepared for an attack, many do not teach you how to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the attack and its aftereffects. They do not teach you what to do when your actions are not successful and how to deal with the repercussions that are sure to follow the incident.

It is relatively easy to learn to be proficient in self-defense techniques; all it takes is a lot of repetitious training. However, applying the techniques under actual self-defense conditions is a different story. You must be willing to apply vicious, dangerous, and even deadly techniques without a moment's hesitation. You must be able to channel the effects of the fight-or-flight reflex or tachypsychia into useful action rather than allowing them to incapacitate you. It is easy to train to jab your thumbs into an attacker’s eyes, but when the time comes for you to do it, will you be able to do it?


What do you do if your counterattack is successful? Do you just stand there with your thumbs in the attacker’s eyes, or looking at the attacker writhing on the ground with a broken knee? 

You must learn the legal requirements for your jurisdiction that cover such situations. There may be laws requiring you to report the incident or call for medical attention. You may have moral considerations you will have to deal with in your mind, or, you may choose to just leave and do nothing.
When the situation is over and order has been reestablished, how are you going to deal with living with your physical, mental, or emotional wounds? How are you going to deal with the legal or civil ramifications of your actions? Are you financially able to deal with the medical, legal, and civil ramifications of the incident and your actions?

It never ends

Self-defense is not clean, neat, and tidy; it is a serious business. Self-defense starts before it is ever needed and then it never really ends. It is an unfair, dirty, and sometimes unjust affair that will adversely affect your life in one way or another until the day you die. Therefore, you must be prepared for when you may need it. Find a school and instructor that will teach you all you need to know about self-defense, not just a few nifty techniques.

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