Five Things to Remember About Self-Defense

There are some factors in the subject of self-defense that must be remembered for any training or study to do you any good at all. Some of these factors are either ignored or given only the most basic mention in a self-defense class. In this article I am going to take a look at some of these factors. This list is not complete or thorough, it is intended to give a broad view of some factors related to self-defense that people may need to know but might not be told or taught.

1. You are safer than the ads make it look.

Marketing is a fact of life. Businesses need to make money to keep the doors open. In martial arts, the schools can use some great business plans, and others use some really shady ideas. This is especially so when we look at self-defense courses. Obviously, they need to make you feel that you need their class, so step one to a lot of these guys is to make sure you feel that you are not safe.

The facts are simple; there are people out there who would kill you for a pizza, or for your shoes, or car or whatever. They really do exist, and are not fictional at all. But they are rare. The people who would kill you are vastly outnumbered by the people who would never hurt you for any reason. The killers are out there, and they are not easily spotted in some cases, but they are not nearly as numerous as what some of the scare-mongers would have you believe.

Should you still learn to protect yourself? Absolutely! That great herd of people who would never hurt you are also the same people who would never get involved when you are being hurt. You do need to learn how to protect yourself, but you do need to see through the false marketing done by some of the people in the industry.

A bit of humor:

2. Awareness and Avoidance will keep you safer in more situations than any secret technique ever will.

It is often ignored or damned with faint praise as an important factor in self-defense. In many cases instructors do not teach it because they do not know what to teach you to be aware of, and what and how to avoid.

Here is a fact; if you sharpen your awareness, and learn what to watch for, and if you are willing to take steps to avoid certain situations, areas, and people/environments, you will be safer than if you master any martial art and fail to take these to skills into account.

Being aware involves putting away the distractions. Wouldn’t you feel stupid if you were carjacked while sitting at a red light reading a text or a Facebook update? Remember this:

And as unpopular as it is to say it, drink at home. Your skills, both physical and social, are seriously degraded by alcohol. Judgment is impaired as well. Avoid the bar scene if you can bring yourself to do so. To really be safe you should avoid situations that make you unsafe. Sounds really basic and almost a no-brainer, but look around and some of what people end up suffering through and take it to heart. You are in control of a large part of your own personal safety.

3. If you get in shape you will be safer on many levels.

I have made fat man jokes about myself for years. I talked about how I would fall on muggers, and have on several occasions claimed that Kung Fu Panda was my unauthorized biography. I had a lifetime of poor eating habits that made me fat and caused some health problems. As a result of these habits, I ended up with a blessing in disguise, a health problem that caused  me to suffer indescribable pain whenever I ate fried, greasy or unhealthy foods. As a result of reaching a point where the pain was no longer worth eating the foods I loved, my weight has dropped from 312 lbs. down to 265 lbs., and is still dropping. I learned the hard way but preach the easier path to any who will listen. Eating right and exercising are self-defense. But if feeling better is not good enough for you, let us add something more; you will walk with more confidence. Health and confidence deter many aggressors, because like any predator, they are looking for the weak and the sickly. If you are not the weak or the sick you may just be passed over in their search for what they want.

4. There is a fine line separating self-defense and assault.

So much of what is taught, marketed and labeled as self-defense is really assault. If the instructor is teaching you to take the knife away from the bad guy and then use it to fillet him, he is teaching you what you need to do to go to prison. Laws differ from State to State and Country to Country, but the general rule of thumb is simple; once you disarm him, he is no longer a threat and anything you do after that can be prosecuted as assault. This is not legal advice, and you should always check the laws for wherever you live before making hard and fast plans for your self-defense, but understand that the line is fine and self-defense is usually very narrowly defined in the law.

5. There is still a tomorrow to face after you “win” the fight.

Let’s say you tried everything listed and the fight still happened. You still have to remember that there is tomorrow if you survive. How badly wer you injured? How badly was he injured? Are either of you going to jail? Are you going to jail? What will you be charged with? Did he survive? If he did, will he file charges against you (for the record, this has happened)? If he died, will his family file a lawsuit? And on and on.

You will have consequences to face in any event. If you fight and the other guy dies, even if you do not go to prison, there is a psychological toll to be paid. This is almost never discussed in a standard self-defense class, but it must be faced if you are to be prepared at all for what happens after.

Bottom line, study every aspect of a subject. When it comes to something as important as self-defense, there is a lot to learn and consider before thinking you are Johnny-on-the-spot.