Better have it and not use it, than need it and not have it. This couldn’t be truer for self defense skills. Not to be pessimistic, but the world isn’t always safe. No matter how friendly and nice your neighbourhood is, it takes only one rotten apple to spoil the whole bunch. It takes only one ill-meaning aggressor to put your safety (and life!) at risk, so it’s important that you know how to defend yourself.
Knowing how to defend yourself is a skill learned over time. That said, the advice you’ll find in this article is food for thought. Nothing can replace skills earned through repeated training, so while it’s nice to have some knowledge, it’s still better to go and enrol in martial arts classes.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are five self defense tips to keep yourself safe.
1 Keep calm
Keeping calm is one of the most important skills to master in any crisis, including scenarios where you have to defend yourself. A clear mind will help you see the situation, both with regard to dangers and opportunities. It’ll also make you more alert and poised to act, giving you the chance to maximize the effectiveness of your self defense tools.
Exposure is key
Exposure is often the easiest way to develop a more relaxed state in a combat situation. This is built up in a controlled environment, so don’t go off running into street fights! You’ll want a supervised spar to keep safe.
Although the combat environment may not be identical, repeated exposure will help ground you and enable you to deal with the high-pressure situation.
Fair enough, spars aren’t much like street fights. It’s hard to find real-life combat situations which won’t actually hurt you, but if you want to “expose” yourself anyway, image training may help.
Image training is essentially meditation, where you picture yourself, your surroundings, and the situation in vivid detail. You then walk yourself through the actions you would take if you were really in that situation. This way, you get a simulated “experience” and will already have a plan in place in case the situation does happen.
When you find yourself stuck in a difficult situation, breathe. Being mindful of your breathing can help you remain calm in a threatening situation. Deep breaths will ground you, slowing down the racing nature of your mind when in a situation of perceived danger. In addition, mindful breathing can keep you from hyperventilating and potentially passing out.
2 Keep it simple
We get it. When we have a lot of fancy moves, we’re always on the lookout for opportunities to showcase them. However, we have to say that it is very important to be as efficient as possible when under pressure.
Whether it’s offence, defence, recovery, or retreat, make sure your self defense tools are as streamlined as possible. Here are a couple of techniques we swear by:
Throwing straight clean punches is most definitely your best offence when in a street fight situation. Sticking with a simple yet powerful combination will significantly improve your chances of hitting the target.
The jab cross is the first combination you will learn in boxing, but quite possibly the most effective. A simple lead hand jab followed by a power hand cross can often be all that is needed when looping haymakers are coming your way.
Only kick if you’re sure
Kicks may seem effective, but it may not be something practical to use. The risk: reward ratio makes kicks a viable choice only for those who have drilled them countless times in the gym.
The chance of a kick being caught, being thrown off balance and many other potential mishaps make them a poor choice of weapon for the unskilled fighter. If you trust in your ability to kick, go for it. Otherwise, keep your feet on the ground.
Most of the damage in street fights come from head trauma, so protect your head at all costs! Your body can take considerably more damage than your jaw. Keep it safe by keeping your guard up when the blows start coming.
A low guard is opening you up for the potential of being knocked out. While there is no impenetrable defence, keeping your hands up will give you the best chance of avoiding the majority of the damage.
Many fights end up on the ground, that is simply a place you don’t want to be. If you find yourself in this situation, having a go-to move to allow you to recover to a neutral position will make a significant difference. The technique we’re alluding to is the BJJ get up technique.
Just like all of the techniques we’ve mentioned, it will require regular practise before it becomes natural. However, it will give you the assurance that if you do find yourself on the floor, you can find yourself back to your feet within seconds while defending yourself adequately on the rise.
3 Learn to read body language
Reading a room is an important skill when learning how to defend yourself. It can be the difference between walking away unscathed or on a stretcher.
This skill is useful even in non-combat situations, since having the ability to read body language gives you insight on a person’s mood and general disposition. You’re more likely to get a favor, for example, when your friend is in a good mood. Or if someone’s quiet and lost in thought, it may not be the best time to joke around with them.
You will likely start to notice tells, or indicators that something’s about to happen. (In which case, it’s best to make yourself scarce.) Knowing how to defend yourself isn’t just about knowing how to throw a punch. It’s also about knowing when it’s wise to remove yourself from a situation.
4 Dont look afraid
You don’t need to come off as a world beater, but standing your ground will deter a fair amount of people from messing with you. If you can make a person second guess whether they will win, their confidence is naturally going to decrease. It may even deter them from initiating a confrontation. You can fake this air of confidence, or let it come naturally by regularly training at the gym.
5 50 yard dash
There’s no shame in getting the hell out of a dangerous situation. If you’re caught in the middle of it and can’t escape inconspicuously, drop all pretenses and just run like hell.
Of course, you have to actually have some speed if you want to escape. We suggest you find time to include sprints into your workout. If your ego can’t accept that you’re practising to flee, remember that sprints are also essential in developing explosiveness for combat.
No sane person goes out looking for trouble, but trouble has a way of finding people anyway. No one wants to get caught in an altercation, and it’s best to remove yourself if something’s about to go down. Still, when push comes to shove, having the skills to protect yourself may prove to come in handy.
One of the
manybenefits of martial arts training is that you can use it for self defense. Standing arts such as Boxing and Muay Thai are particularly great at striking opponents down. (Or at the very least, stunning them when you hit.)
If dealing damage doesn’t sit well with you, you also have the option of neutralizing your opponent through BJJ. It’s up to you to decide on how to defend yourself and with that tools. Just make sure that when it comes down to it, you’re not going to be helpless.