3 Keys to Effective Self-Defense

By: Jeffrey Miller

When you think of a self-defense situation, what are the top three considerations for being effective? Is it having strength, stamina, power, or a lot of techniques?

While all of those things help to one extent or another, none of them really touches on the priorities that will help you to prevail in a life or death struggle. Don't get me wrong. It certainly helps to be the bigger, faster, stronger, or more skilled combatant. But these things are only helpful if you're in a situation where they will serve you.

Let me explain it a different way.

Strength only matters if you are in a position or can grab your assailant in a way that allows you the use of your strength. And as for power...

... power is derived from size and motion. If an assailant jumps you and pins you to a wall or the floor, you will find it difficult to generate any sort of power as we normally think of it.

Stamina only matters if you're in a fight that's going to last minutes instead of seconds. Typically, karate and boxing tournaments have two minute rounds or bouts. That's an eternity in a life-and-death, self-defense situation where the goal is to get things over and done with in less than 10 SECONDS!

As for knowing a lot of techniques, what can I say? Information is power, right?

But, what if you're new to this whole idea of self-defense? What if you just started taking classes or learning how to get away from a dangerous attacker? Or, what if, no matter how many techniques you know, your attacker is a better, more skilled, more experienced fighter?

Then what?

A Simple Formula

I've written extensively about what I call, "The 6 Phases of an Effective Self-Defense Strategy." This is designed to lead my students through just that, the phases that a self-defense situation can go through, and how to make sure that we have sufficient training to be able to operate effectively in each phase or stage of an attack.

Admittedly though, the 6 phases are the ideal. They all function as they should when you have warning from your assailant and you can see things coming.

Often though, attacks happen with little or no warning at all. So, how do we trim even more off the top and come up with the minimum elements necessary to be able to come out of a situation with as little wear and tear as possible?

The key here is to focus on the situation that we're talking about. In the "6 Phases" formula, we can see the attack, or potential for danger, coming. So, we attempt things like...

* Escaping to Safety,
* Confusing the attacker, and...
* Dissuading him

When the attack comes with little-to-no warning. When it comes at us quickly and ferociously and we don't have the time for escape, let alone trying to distract or talk our assailant down, we need just the basic-basics.

So, the 3 Keys - the unbreakable elements of an effective self-defense strategy are...

* 1) Situational Awareness - Pay attention to what's going on around you. Actively look at people, instead of avoiding contact as is the case in most social situations.
* 2) Stay On-Guard - You could also call this step "Controlling Your Fear." If you notice someone or something that could be a threat - perhaps someone who looks angry or suspicious, keep your eye on them. You don't have to stare-and-glare, but you should be aware of them and what they're doing. I talk about this concept quite a bit in the video, "Danger Prevention Tactics: Protecting Yourself Like a Pro." And finally...
* 3) React Immediately and Decisively - As soon as the attack happens, start your defense. Don't try to figure out who this person is or why they're attacking you. You must immediately do three things if you stand a chance at winning. You must...
o A) Neutralize the effects of what they're doing. Cover your targets or ride-off the blows that are landing.
o B) Keep your head. Stay focused on what you can do and as soon as you have an opportunity...
o C) Take whatever targets open up. If he leaves his throat open and your can hit it - hit it! If you can kick his groin, kick his groin. Whatever presents itself, take THAT thing! And keep taking targets until he's down and out or help arrives.

Sounds simple, I know. But that's what training and a good teacher is for - to help you to do the tough things like controlling your fear, focusing under pressure, and teaching you the most effective ways to hit certain targets.

Remember, you can have whatever theories you want in life. You can have your favorite style, teacher, techniques, or whatever. But, when the rubber-meets-the-road, so-to-speak, and you're face-to-face with your worst nightmare, you must:

* pay attention,
* stay focused, and...
* do what works!

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