Only use the information here for life or death situations – or you could be in some serious legal trouble. Don’t cross the line with self-defense, as it may constitute excessive force and you’ll get charged with assault (or worse!). If the attacker is no longer a threat, you leave. You don’t need to defend yourself further. Don’t continue to fight back if they flee or are incapacitated.
Remember the goal is to survive. Not to “win” the fight or kill the opponent, unless you have too.
The best way to win in a life or death situation is to not be in that situation to begin with.
Attackers are looking for vulnerable and unaware targets. It’s a lot easier to rob a 110lb person with headphones in than it is to attack someone that looks able to fight back and is aware of their surroundings. Try to stay in well-lit areas with others around when possible. Also don’t flash money or appear to be an easy target in pubic.
If possible, avoid situations that could become problematic. Don’t walk around a ghetto at night. Don’t go to drug-ridden areas of town with flashy jewelry. This should be common sense but many of times, isn’t.
Walk away. If someone is causing problems for you, it’s easier to walk away than make the situation worse by confronting. Naturally, I would always encourage you to stand up for family/girlfriends – but if it’s just you getting the insults, walk away. You can take being called a few bad names.
Defuse the situation. Be confident and talk down the opponent. Redirect their anger toward something else so it isn’t pinned on you. Attempt to assert yourself while being respectful, but don’t grovel. Learn the basics of anger control and attempt to use them in the situation.
If all else fails and you have to defend yourself by resorting to force…
You won’t appear as vulnerable. It can also be a signaling for anyone nearby to attempt to help or call for it. Don’t screech, yell with confidence. It may make the attacker retreat.
There’s been many reports of attempted assaults that weren’t successful because the defender yelled loudly and confidently. I don’t recommend this unless the attempt to defuse has failed and they are already attacking – because yelling will definitely not help defuse the situation. Just use common sense in judging when is best to employ this tactic. At the start of an argument it would not be the best choice – but after you’ve pulled out a gun it would make sense to yell “I’ll shoot if you intend to attack me”. It makes it clear of your intentions after defusing has failed.
While making your intentions clear confidently, prepare to defend yourself with your weapon (or prepare to fight).
Defend Yourself Without Weapons
In a life or death situation you want to use whatever you can to survive. Hit the key areas to incapacitate or potentially kill the attacker. Some of the best spots to target are…
Throat – A direct hit to the adam’s apple with a closed fist or elbow is potentially lethal. Even if it doesn’t kill them, it will sure knock the wind out of them and hurt like hell. Many attackers aren’t smart enough to cover their neck, so use this to your advantage. This would be the first area I’d target in a close-combat situation, as it’s the most efficient to dropping someone
Eyes – Stab them with your fingers or knuckles. I’m sure you can imagine how that would feel. It also results in the attacker not being able to see fully, which will help you should you need to continue fighting after. If possible, use both of your hands to simultaneously gouge the eyes of an attacker and then retreat.
Nose – Use your open palm to drive your arm directly into the lower area of the nose in an upward motion. Try to imagine your driving your entire arm through their head. You can also punch, but in general it’s better to use open palm and I’ll let you ponder that as to why. (Hint: Think of the angles of the two choices).
Chin – Natural punch to the chin is very uncomfortable. Throw a hook as a counter-strike if an attacker is coming at you and you don’t have time to do a throat or eyes strike. Make sure to use the movement of your body in the motion. Many times, defenders stand still and try to throw a punch. You want to incorporate your body into the movement to put more force behind the throw.
Groin – A kick to the balls hurts. It really does. It isn’t as effective in a life or death situation because adrenaline will be running, but if all else fails – resort to the basic kick in the nuts.
Knees – This is a great area to hit from a distance. A swift and hard kick to the side of a knee can potentially immobilize an attacker, giving you time to flee or focus on a different attacker if there is more than one. It’s easy to win a fight if the attacker can’t stand up correctly.
With all of these listed above, use current positions to determine which to use. You don’t want to move in for a throat hit if you are a decent distance away and could kick their knees. Likewise, you’re not going to be able to throw a hook when they are grabbing your strong arm, so try for an eye gouge.
Consider a multitude of situations and think about how you could best react to each.
Use common carry objects in your defense. You carry keys? Put one between you knuckles before the fight. Hitting an attacker in the eye with your knuckles is great – it’s incapacitating if you do it with a key between your knuckles. Hell you could even use perfume to spray in their eyes if necessary. Any magnitude of items can be used for self defense if you first consider their practicality in the situation.
Defend Yourself with a Non-Firearm Weapon
If you don’t want to carry a gun consider a knife, Taser/stun gun, or pepper spray.
The first step with any of these is to have a good understanding and respect for your weapon. Don’t just buy a Taser and then carry it around. Learn how it handles and tips for using it when the time comes. My advice is to check out some simple and quick videos on YouTube to get an understanding of what you’ll be carrying.
Make sure you also have quick access to it. Most of the times when an attacker would target you, is when you appear to be distracted, and thus unable to react quickly. You don’t want to try digging through a purse to find your pepper spray in any situation, so keep it somewhere easy for you to reach when needed.
Knife: Within 20 feet a knife can be more deadly than a firearm. Keep this in mind if you decide to carry one… and if you’re on the receiving end.
Stun Gun or Taser: Both nonlethal options. But they both hurt like hell. They won’t fully incapacitate your attacker but they can give you time to plan your next move. If possible, use it and then flee. It will buy you enough time to get a safe distance away.
Pepper Spray: Also nonlethal. A little bit different than the above because you have to be careful about not hitting yourself with some of the spray, or you’ll end up in a worse situation than before. Reference what I mentioned above about understanding your weapon of choice and its limitations. This one also buys you some time so you can flee the area.
Defend Yourself with a Firearm
Follow these basic steps:
• Don’t carry if you are not prepared to use it
• Don’t be reckless – Be smart about when you need to use it (Life or death situation ONLY)
• Be Legal – Get the damn license. I know, I know. We shouldn’t have to be licensed to carry a firearm. I get it. But you’ll be in for a shitload of trouble if a cop catches you carrying without a license so it’s smart to just get the piece of paper.
• Know how to shoot – Take an NRA class on conceal carry and pistol training. The only thing worse than not having a gun when you need one is not knowing how to shoot properly when you do, because you may harm someone else. Don’t be stupid. Carry only if you know how to use it. And just because you shot well 5 years ago doesn’t mean you still can today. Get to the range and practice.
• Carry a good firearm – Don’t carry a .380 or .22 unless you really need too. There is a reason cops carry a 40 or a 9. I carry a S&W M&P40 and it has served me well and I know it will be able to take someone down if needed, I can’t say the same about my .380. This is especially relevant if you’ll be traveling in the wilderness – a .380 would just piss off most wild animals. Consider a .40 or larger.
• Carry spare ammo. 1-3 extra magazines. You don’t need to go Rambo here with 30 magazines stuffed everywhere, but it’s a good idea to have a few. Wouldn’t be much help if you had 5 bullets and missed all 5 of them, then you’re stuck with “self defense without weapons” listed above.
• Like other weapons, have it ready and accessible. Not buried somewhere or jammed in a hard to reach location. Won’t serve much of a purpose there if you get jumped.
• Remember how to point and aim. Don’t flail the gun around, take it out in a controlled motion always knowing where the gun is facing at all times. This is hard to master in a controlled setting – much less a life or death fight. So again, PRACTICE.
• Finally, don’t shoot unless you are 100% sure you have no other option. Your life will change if you kill someone, don’t do it unless they give you no other choice.
A Final Note About Practice
I mentioned practice in the above article about 50000 times. There’s a reason for that. You need to have the practice and muscle memory to do self defense efficiently. You aren’t going to have the time to think logically and formulate a plan when you are in a life or death situation. The adrenaline will be pumping and you’ll need to act – NOW. This causes errors if your training is sub-par, and will leave you helpless if you don’t have that practice to retain control.
So get some practice in. Join a boxing, MMA, Krav Maga, or some self defense classes for hand-to-hand. Get punched in the face a few times at those training places (with safety gear, of course!). It’s good to know that feeling so you aren’t in shock if it ever happens to you. Check out your local college, fitness centers, etc for additional training or training that you may be interested in. Many colleges have MMA groups. So do many towns and cities. You don’t have to dedicate your life to it – but going for a steady month will drastically help you out if you ever need to defend yourself.
Make sure you know all the necessary life skills if you’re ever put in a life or death situation.
If you aren’t interested in joining a group, just call up some friends and practice grabbing/holding defense tactics.
Join a gym and start weightlifting so you have a strong foundation. The strength will come in handy if you need to defend yourself in any of the up-close-and-personal encounters you may face.
If you are looking to carry a gun, there is no reason you shouldn’t signup at a range. If you’re an NRA member it’s usually not too expensive for a year. Then, you get a dedicated range to practice drawing your weapon and shooting in a self defense scenario. This practice will come in handy, and you can thank me by buying yourself a drink if you ever have to use it.