Iaido Articles

Self Defense 101


"Self Defense is not only a set of techniques, it's a state of mind, and it begins with the belief that you are worth defending" 

Rorion Gracie

Go ahead. Tun on the TV and watch the news. What do you see? My guess is many harmful and violent situations where people have caused some sort of injury or harm to themselves or others. We have increased security everywhere you turn, schools, airports, amusement parks, malls, the movie theatre! Places you wouldn't even think you'd need security. But guess again. 

And I would know first hand, my significant other is an armed independent contractor for a high level security company, and there is so much work in our area alone, he usually gets to pick and choose where he'd like to be placed. I'd like to believe he chooses the safest locations, but knowing him, my guess is that it's probably quite the opposite.

However, I feel a sense of security knowing he's trained to the max in many different martial art forms, including weapon disarming, and posses a great deal of self control when under stressful situations. He is skilled enough that he could guard the president if he ever came into our town.

What is Self Defense?

Many measures are in place to offer security for the general public. But you know what your best bet is? To be able to defend and protect yourself both physically and mentally. Self Defense 101. Self defense is described as a "countermeasure that involves defending the health and well-being of oneself from harm".

Let's set the scene.

A girl is walking to her car and is attacked by someone trying to steal her purse. Thinking of "self defense" she attempts to protect herself by jabbing or kicking the attacker in the groin, where it is known to hurt intensely and knock him down. Unfortunately, the attacker is well prepared for what's coming and reacts. Fact. The attacker is already pumped with adrenaline and who knows what else. Fact. The attacker is now even more angry with her attempt to fight back. Fact. He is now even more likely to cause harm and act more aggressively towards her.

Using Your Smarts

Many people think of the scene described above when they think of "self-defense". A mere karate kick to the groin or an accurate jab in the eyes of an attacker. But self-defense actually means doing everything you can possible to avoid a fight.

It is thinking smart, quick, and outwitting the attacker, and not necessarily using your fists. The best fighter is the smarter fighter. The one who can outwit his opponent, even in the ring. Having the ability to think ahead of the game and predict your attacker's next move before it happens can avoid injury and an escalation to something potentially dangerous or deadly.

What's the Best Form of Self Defense?

 The best course of action in self defense is deflection. Avoid physical confrontation as much as possible unless you are fully trained to do so. However, believe it or not, even a fully trained martial artist is trained to do the same! Fighting with their fists is their last option, using their brain, and counter techniques come first. Here are some ways to stay safe:

● Assess your situation. Does your intuition tell you that you're about to walk into an unsafe environment? Is it dark, are you alone? Always follow that gut feeling. If you need to wait a few extra minutes to walk to your car with someone rather than alone, take that option. Are you jogging on your normal track, but feel unsafe? Get to where there are more people. Trust your instincts. How about the elevator? I personally have experienced an uneasiness with someone staring at me uncomfortably. Get off with a group of people if this happens, or don't get on to begin with if you feel uncomfortable with the man standing in the corner. Waiting for the next one is well worth it. 

● De-escalation. If all your attempts to run or avoid a situation still find you under a sort of verbal or physical attack, do your best to de-escalate the matter at hand. De-escalating means speaking and acting in a way that can prevent things from going from bad to even worse. Here is where you can really use your smarts and self control. Does the robber want your wallet? It doesn't make you the weaker person to give it to him. It makes you smart. He could be armed, high on drugs, and irrational. Are you being harassed? Statistics show actually agreeing with the assaulter could shorten the length of time of harassment, causing the attacker to lose interest quickly as he is no longer in control.

● Control yourself. Something as simple as not losing your temper is a method of self defense in itself. When under attack, it is easy to get angry, upset and also act irrational. Learn how to manage your own feelings effectively so that you can talk or walk away without using your fists, getting hurt, or even hurting someone else. In some situations, such as high school, there is no policy put into place for self defense. Both parties are equally punished, and if one person hurts the other, it becomes their responsibility. It is horrific and unjust, but that's when one must learn it isn't worth the trouble to fight. 

● Use your voice. This method is taught to kids, but it works for adults, too. If you ever find yourself in a bad situation use keywords such as "help", "no", "get away" or "police". When you hear an adult using these words, they are taken very seriously. Shout them, and say them loud and forceful. Along the same lines, if you must walk alone at night, take your dog. Even a small one can impact a pretty loud bark and a vicous bite and may make an attacher think twice. 

● Self Confidence. This is an important one in self defense, and one that is drilled deep into the minds of martial arts students taking self defense classes. It is extremely important at all times that your body language shows a level of self confidence. When in public, or in an unknown possible "ify" situation, present yourself as if you know where you're going and act alert. Attackers prey on people they find innocent and easily controllable.

Self defense classes can be found all around your community. Check out local Martial Art schools, YMCAs, and community centers as usually all offer these type of courses. You may not graduate with a black belt, but you will indeed be educated on the best ways and techniques to handle assaulters, and gain some confidence in knowing you have tools to work with if you ever find yourself under attack. Knowledge is power. Learn all you can to live the safest and healthiest life possible.


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