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The difference between walking away and becoming tomorrow's newspaper headline is how well you are prepared to protect yourself in a bad situation. By keeping this information in mind you will know what can be done before and during an attack.
There are various types of confrontations:
- The 'wind-up', the argument before the fight erupts,
- The 'duel' an arranged meet to resolve a dispute between conflicting parties or the ambush.
- The brawl will usually be only after the verbal "woofing" has been exhausted and someone throws a punch.
- An ambush is usually premeditated and one or more assailants will attack when they feel the timing is right, usually after distracting the victim with a question e.g. "Have you got the time?".
- Think about potential situations in which you will need to defend yourself. No two attacks are the exact same, so think about what you could do if attacked from different sides or in different situations (large numbers of people, alone, at night or at day, assailant is armed or not armed, size of assailant, assailant's intentions). By thinking about it beforehand, you will not be as likely to become shocked and panic during the real thing.
- Take a self-defense course. Actually being able to run through potential situations and consult with an expert will help you immensely. Try taking a form of martial arts.
- If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, try to leave the situation. In an uncomfortable social situation, this can be as simple as firmly asserting yourself ("Back off right now!"). Take all verbal or directional paths to non-confrontation; actual physical confrontation should be your last line of defense, although sometimes it may be the only.
- Try to stay standing with a wide base, both left-to-right and back-to-front, so that your feet are diagonal from each other (a typical martial arts fighting stance). This will lessen your likelihood of getting knocked or pushed over.
- Assess your potential assailant: tall/short, stocky/thin, male/female. Look at their hands. If they were about to attack with their hands, they would have their hands out. However, if they are concealing a weapon, they will have them hidden or at their side.
- The best tactic in any confrontation is to RUN.
Preparing for a confrontation
One simple step to judge when a confrontation has passed the point of a verbal exchange is when the person starts to invade your personal space. To mark this, you put up a fence. A fence is simply putting your hands in front of you in a conciliatory/peaceful gesture (palms out). If the assailant tries to move past your fence, you are entering a physical confrontation - what other reason would they have for getting closer?. The general (but unpalatable) consensus at this point is you have to end the fight as quickly as possible by striking first, striking hard, and striking as many times as you can, then escaping. This goes against the oft quoted 'bushido' or warriors code and our innate civilised sensibilities, however not many assailants care for either of these.
Defending yourself from the front
- If the attacker is trying to punch you or grab you from the front, put your hands on your forehead in a "Not in the face!" sort of gesture and your arms tight on your body. This may look like a weak defensive position, but that is to your advantage since it brings your opponent's guard down. In addition, this position protects your face and your ribs, two places you'll likely want to protect.
- From your "Not in the face!" position, when you are close in on your assailant, lift your elbows into your opponent's lower ribs or right below his pectoral muscles. These are sensitive spots and can cause a lot of pain.
- If your assailant's upper body is far from you but you are still at risk (e.g. your opponent is choking you), attack their legs. This is especially effective on larger attackers because the bigger he/she is, the more stress he/she has on his/her legs and knees. Do not deliver a typical Karate Kid style kick; instead, kick his/her shins soccer-style (with the instep of your foot). This is a quick and painful kick. In addition, if his/her legs are close enough, lift your knees into their inner leg (femoral nerve), outer leg, knee, or groin. These will break down your attacker and may disable him/her, as only 12-16 pounds of pressure are needed to break a knee.
- If your opponent has his/her head in reaching distance (which is often the case when you attack his/her legs), you will want to attack it. Try to poke or press on the eyes, as no one can resist an eye poke no matter how big he/she is. Clapping on the ears can stun or, if done perfectly, breaks the eardrums. Striking the cheekbones can cause bruises or broken bones. Striking the nose causes nosebleeds and temporary blindness.
- In some cases you may also want to attack your attacker's neck (usually open when the head is). To effectively choke someone, do not do the typical Hollywood "hands around the entire neck," but instead just put your thumb and fingers around his/her trachea (especially easy to find on men with large Adam's apples). Also, right below his/her trachea is a notch in his/her neck. Dig, drive, and sink your fingers into this notch and they will experience intense pain and probably fall down.
Attacks from behind
- If an attacker tries to attack you from behind to choke you, press his/her forearm against your collarbone instead of trying to pull it directly off (which doesn't work well). Put one hand above his/her elbow (on the forearm) and one hand below it (so your hands are on both sides of the elbow). Then, in one strong and determined movement, step and swing your entire body around like the arm is the hinge to your body acting as a screen door. This will get you out of his/her choke and leave his/her head, ribs, and legs wide open to your counterattack. (Also note that, when your attacker is behind you, his/her shins are right behind your legs and primed for your stomping and raking.)
- If the attacker is trying to pick you up from behind, drop your hips quickly and violently as if you were plopping down on a love seat. This will make you harder to pick up and give you an extra moment to attack them and fend them off (stomp on their shins).
- If the attacker is trying to choke you by wrapping his arms around your neck, bring the ball of your foot forward, as if you just kicked a soccer ball, and fast and FORCEFULLY, slam it into the area of their leg between their ankle and mid-leg. This will, (if done hard enough) break their leg.
Other potential situations
- If you fall, try to fall on top of your attacker. While falling, keep the pointy parts of your body pointy (your knees and your elbows) and aim for your attacker's groin, ribs, and neck.
- If your attacker is wrestling with you on the ground and has you pinned under him/her, grab his/her body by unlocking his/her arm joints, or pin a hand to the ground. Then, put one leg firmly on the ground, push off of it, and swing your hips over. This will have you falling on top of your opponent, which should be done with a good amount of pointedness.
- If an attacker attacks with a weapon, know where the weapon is effective. If he/she has a knife, try to stay out of stabbing range, and if he/she has a gun, don't count out running and dodging left to right. Also, note that the attacker invests him/herself on that weapon and can leave him/herself open to grabbing/pinning the weapon hand or a different attack.
- If you get a chance to leave safely, go for it. Be sure that you're safe from your opponent when you decide to stop defending yourself.
- If someone is attacking you, you are right and the other person is wrong. Their motivation is probably wanting your money or possessions or body, while yours is self-preservation. This means that you can fight without rules, since your cause is "righteous". In all likelihood, there will be a point in time, somewhere between the knees to the groin, elbows to the ribs, and strikes to the nose, that whatever he/she wanted before isn't nearly as important as stopping the pain you're dishing out.
- In a self-defense situation, take a "not me" attitude: don't let yourself be the one they see in the paper the next morning. This starts before the fight, since experienced rapists and muggers will choose their victims not by what they are wearing or who they are, but how they act. If you are confident, you will not be the one they target.
- If you get the opportunity, talk with your friends about how one would defend one's self in a dangerous situation. If possible, run through potential situations and where to target on someone's body and what seems to work and what doesn't.
- If you think that you may be entering "a bad neighborhood" or any place where an attack could possibly happen, keep some pepper spray with you. This could be an invaluable lifesaver. Never keep a potentially lethal weapon such as a firearm or a knife with you as you may turn a mugging into a fight to the death, especially if the assailant is armed.
- Threatening an assailant with a weapon like a knife or firearm is a bad idea unless you fear for your life. It is not worth going to jail for murder, manslaugter or getting killed over your wallet. Remember, the assailant is most probably stronger and more experienced in fighting than you or he would not have chosen you.
- If this is any sort of domestic situation, you may be wondering at what point it becomes bad enough to warrant you defending yourself. By legal standards, any unwarranted contact is an assault. It doesn't matter if he/she "only" pushed you, it's still an assault, can still be dangerous, and you still deserve to defend yourself.
- Don't get in fights over trivial things like disagreements in a bar about beer/girls/sports teams. Be the bigger person and walk away. You're better than that.
- Don't comply with someone who has you under duress (in other words, if the attacker says, "Get in the car," don't get in the car. The attacker wants to move you probably because he/she doesn't want to do what he/she intends to do in your current situation. You have a much better chance of surviving if you resist as soon as possible, however, if you do not escape at that moment, the attacker will probably kill you and take the keys.
- In many cases, you can end the situation immediately by giving the attacker your wallet. This is a logical choice, especially if at knife- or gunpoint. Your life is worth much more than the cash and cards you have on you. toss the wallet away from you and run.
- This plan does not cover every situation, but it's rather a brief overview of what you can expect. By no means are you completely safe; however, after reading and understanding this you have a better mindset if a situation does arise. Above all, remember that you are right and you can decide if you're not going to be the victim.
- Only carry a weapon if you have sufficient training to use it legally and effectively.
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