The 7 Golden Rules of Self Defense

Here are 7 critical rules to self-defense.*  There are plenty of other rules and details to self-defense, but these 7 rules are essential for any beginner or any person who has no knowledge of self-defense. 

1) Be aware of your surroundings at all times.  Whether you are with friends or by yourself, always be aware of what is going on around you.  If your instincts tell you that someone is suspicious looking, you are probably right.  Instincts are a very powerful built-in, self-defense mechanism in all human beings.  If you are walking alone at night somewhere, always be sure to know what is going on around you (front, side, and back).  Do your best to travel in a group if you are going to an unfamiliar or dangerous place.  Either way, keep your eyes and ears alert at all times.     

2) Walk confidently and avoid eye contact.  If you are in a shady area of town or in a tough city, then always walk confidently and avoid eye contact.  (Attackers prefer to attack weak prey).  And your body language will give away everything.  If you act timid, you will likely be a target.  Walk with an upright posture with your shoulders out and chin up (imagine yourself as the guest of honor at a public event and you are about to receive an award - how would you walk up the stage to collect the award?).  Keep your eyes focused on the horizon, but be in alert mode.  Never make eye contact with anyone.   

3) Avoid confrontation.  If you are about to be attacked, try to talk your way out of things.  The safest approach to self-defense is to avoid any potential physical confrontations.  Put your ego away and do your best to reason with your potential attacker.  If the attacker is asking for your wallet, just give it to him/her.  No amount of money is worth your life.  Avoid a physical confrontation at all costs.  Talk, apologize, reason, scream, yell, walk away, run away, call for help, etc - do whatever you have to do to avoid a physical confrontation.  YOUR ABSOLUTE LAST RESORT should be to defend yourself physically.  

4) As a last resort, attack first.  If you have truly exhausted all options and you are going to get attacked 100% (and your life is in danger), then you should always attack first.  If your life is in danger by an attacker, you have the legal right to protect yourself.  The golden rule of any self-defense situation is that the person who attacks first is usually the winner.  Why?  The answer is simply because most people cannot take a punch to the face and still be coherent.  If you take a violent, clean punch in the face (or worse, a knife to the chest), you will likely be unconscious or in shock (unless you are a highly trained martial artist) and your life will be in danger if the attacker continues while you are unconscious.  So if you are helpless and about to be attacked 100%, then you should attack first.  For example, if you are a woman alone and there is a rapist in your house about to attack any second, then you must muster up the courage to attack first at the exact right moment.  Again, you must use this rule very sparingly - You should only defend yourself physically IF YOUR LIFE IS IN DANGER.  You should only attack first IF and ONLY IF you are going to be attacked 100% and there is no way for you to escape.  Defending yourself physically is the absolute LAST RESORT.  

5) If you attack first, then you must attack all the way.  If your life is in danger due to an attacker and defending yourself is the last option, then you must attack first and "all the way."  "All the way" means until your attacker is incapacitated so that you can either run away or call for help.  If you are untrained in self-defense, you will most likely strike once and wait for your attacker's reaction.  99% of people do this.  They hit once and pause to see a reaction.  People pause after striking someone because they are in shock of hitting someone or fear simply consumes them after the first strike.  This pause is very dangerous.  If you only strike once and pause, then your attacker will most likely become even more enraged.  He/she will be filled with rage and adrenaline, making it even more difficult to finish off your attacker.  In all likelihood, he/she will return fire and strike you back with fury and vengeance.  At that point, it will be a 50-50 situation as to whether you will make it out alive or not.  So what does it mean to attack all the way?  You must launch your attack with SURPRISE, CONVICTION, AND POWER.  In Muay Thai terminology, it means that you should deliver a minimum of 5 strikes in rapid succession with 100% power.  And do NOT stop until you can visibly see that your attacker is almost unconscious or completely unconscious.  In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu terminology, it means that you should apply a submission hold until you break your attacker's joint or put him/her to sleep with a choke hold.  Please note that you should be yelling at the top of your lungs as you attack.  It will help to provide sensory overload to your attacker's brain and it will also potentially alert someone who is nearby.  At the precise moment that your attacker is incapacitated, you must run for your life and find help.  DO NOT stay around and wait for your attacker to recover.  (Don't do what the horror movies show you - you know, the part where the blond helpless girl hits the serial killer and waits for his reaction.  Or she thinks he is unconscious and she just hangs around by his body for no reason and then he suddenly wakes up?)  After your attacker is incapacitated, RUN AWAY AS FAST AND AS FAR AS YOU CAN.

6) Remember the 3 critical strike zones.  There are 3 primary strike zones in the human body that can hurt a human being of any size.  (There are actually more than 3 strike zones.  However, since this article is for beginners, we do not wish to inundate you with too much information).  Even if you are a woman and weigh only 45 kilos, you can hurt someone who weighs 100 kilos if you are well-trained in self-defense and you attack the strike zones with all of your power and it is a complete surprise to your attacker.  The 3 critical strike zones are the eyes, throat, and groin.  No matter how big and strong a person is, if you land clean strikes to the eyes, throat, and/or groin 5 times in rapid succession with 100% power, your attacker will be incapacitated.  Of course, all of this assumes that you have clean and correct technique.

7)  Yell for help.   As you run away, yell at the top of your lungs for help.  Find an area that is well-lit with a lot of people and start yelling with everything you have.  If you are lucky and have your cell phone on you, then call the police.  Do whatever you can to cause people to stop to help you.  The last thing that you want is for your attacker to come looking for you.  If you are in a crowded area and you are yelling for help, it is highly unlikely that your attacker will attack you again.   

Ultimately, learning the art of self-defense is simply like investing in life insurance.  Most likely, you will reach the ripe old age of 75 years without ever getting into trouble.  However, if that rare unfortunate attack on you does happen, your knowledge of self-defense is priceless.  If you don't believe that it is priceless, you can simply ask someone who has been a victim of violence, rape, or attempted murder.  Your knowledge of self-defense (or lack thereof) literally could make the difference between life and death.  If you know the basics of protecting yourself, it is empowering to know that you can handle yourself in almost any self-defense situation.  Ultimately, learning self-defense is about improving the odds.  No knowledge in the world can 100% guarantee your survival in a self-defense situation because so many factors are at play.  (If any instructor or school tells you that you can survive 100% of all situations, you should run the other way!).  At the end of the day, why not stack the odds in your favor by becoming proficient in reality-based martial arts like Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?     

*Note:  These 7 basic rules of self-defense are simply basic rules-of-thumb.  There are so many other factors to consider that this article has not addressed such as multiple attackers (versus single attacker), an attacker with a weapon (versus without a weapon), an attack at home (versus in a strange city), an attack in a field (versus in an elevator), and many other scenarios and situations.  For a complete understanding of self-defense, you must train for years and learn all facets of self-defense.  Of course, if you take full advantage of all the courses at Evolve MMA, you will be empowered to defend yourself in most self-defense situations.     

Evolve Mixed Martial Arts® is Asia's premier brand of MMA academies. With World Champions in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, Boxing, and No Gi Grappling, Evolve MMA is the top martial arts training organization in Asia. It ranks among the best martial arts academies in the world.