self defense

Essential Self-Defense Techniques and Tips

You get health checkups and dental cleanings, wear a helmet when biking or skiing, regularly change the batteries in your smoke detector, and take daily vitamin supplements. These actions help protect your overall well-being; but do you also have a grasp of important self-defense techniques to protect yourself if you are physically attacked?

Most people don’t have a realistic plan for protecting themselves in a physical crime situation and may chose not to ponder this. But although many American cities are experiencing dips in crime, you should still be ready to protect yourself and family members or friends who are with you in case you or they are attacked. Don’t assume this won’t ever happen, nor assume you are powerless in the event of such a crisis.

Here are practical techniques to practice on your own or with a partner, based on lessons I’ve taught as a Karate and self-defense teacher.

  1. Cultivate your defense mindset.

Even (or especially) if you are a meek person, you should practice a tough demeanor for times of crisis. Think about how you would protect yourself if someone put a knife to your back, waved a box-cutter at your face, screamed curses and punched your chin, verbally threatened you with sexual abuse, smacked you with a baseball bat or umbrella. Role-play these situations in your mind, out loud, and by writing them down. If you read a crime story in the news, ponder how you would react. These mental exercises are important “test prep”.

  1. Be aware.

When I walk, bike or drive, I see people who seem oblivious to their surroundings. They are distracted by using cell phones or wearing ear buds, and appear unaware of hazards. Engaging in these activities makes you more vulnerable. In addition, as you walk you should take note of your environment, not just for potential violence but also for reckless, distracted vehicle drivers. Know where you go; keep your eyes and ears open; walk confidently.

  1. You have weapons right at hand.

Become aware of how to defend yourself with your own body parts. Scream when threatened; practice a shrill, annoying tone. Bite someone who attacks you on their nose, hand, arm, lip, ear and so on; don’t fret about how “disgusting” this is, because it is a very effective action. Spit at an attacker, and if chewing a piece of gum or food, spit that at them as well. Aim for their eyes or mouth; they are likely to recoil. Jab the attacker in the eye, with one or two fingers; they will likely rear back. (I did this once while on vacation, to a tall man who attempted to grab and kiss me. He howled in pain and stumbled backward.)

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