Not all self-defense situations involve physical contact and, if possible, you should avoid physical contact since you never know what might happen if you do. However, when physical contact is necessary, it should be proportional to the threat.
Physical self-defense responses may be placed into three main types.
- Controlling the threat. This is when an unruly or trespassing person is not necessarily making threats now, but they are causing a problem or refusing to leave, so the person must be controlled and/or removed. These techniques are also used in defense of property, such as when someone is trying to steal your bicycle.
The techniques you employ use pain to make the person comply, cease their wrongful behavior, and/or leave. The techniques do not cause injury and do not look aggressive, but they use pain to compel compliance while also protecting you from retaliation. After the confrontation is over, there are no moral, civil, or legal considerations as long as your actions were reasonable and prudent under the circumstances. To any witnesses, your actions will appear non threatening and they may have been so subdued that witnesses were not aware the techniques were even being used.
- Defense against attack. This is when someone is attacking you for some reason other than to kill you. They may be angry or retaliating against some perceived wrong. They may think they must defend their ideas, property, honor, etc. They may be out to rob you, or they may be out just to have fun fighting.
The techniques you use must be powerful and effective, but, since you are not defending your life, the techniques must not be inherently deadly. Depending on the situation, the techniques may cause serious injury or death, but they are not intended to kill. After the confrontation is over, you may face moral, civil, or legal considerations if your actions exceeded that which the law considers reasonable and prudent under the circumstances. To any witnesses, your actions will appear to be harsh but restrained and appropriate to the situation.
- Defense of life. This is when someone is trying to kill or seriously injure you. You are fighting for your life.
The techniques you use must be powerful, effective, and possibly deadly, with no moral, civil, or legal considerations given to the injuries they may cause. To any witnesses, your actions were necessary to protect your life.
Each type of self-defense is not exclusive. Since circumstances change during a confrontation, one type may flow into the next. For example, when using control to stop a person from throwing a rock at your car, the person may not cooperate and you may have to defend yourself against an attack, which may then lead to the person attempting to kill you and you needing to use deadly force.