Too many people know the value of self-defense without having any practical knowledge. While awareness is vital, practical application is how knowledge becomes useful. It is a natural and flawed expectation that bad things will not happen to you. Everyone has an invisible safety bubble around them to some extent, but having too much confidence in the protection that bubble legitimately offers is a mistake. If you want to give yourself the best chance of survival against an attacker, you need to not only have a basic understanding of self-defense principles; you need to have experience with its implementation as well.
1. Your Voice Is a Powerful Weapon and Deterrent
People often underestimate one of the most powerful tools at their disposal: the voice. If someone is pursuing you or they already initiated an attack, scream as loud as you can. Say things like “back off” or “get away.” Your goal is to create a scene. Yell, shout, and make a fuss. The more attention you can draw to your situation, the less likely it is to become a violent altercation. If possible, lead the spectacle into a public and well-lit setting. While people might be reluctant to intervene personally, the level of attention and commotion can increase the odds of someone calling for help, especially if you ask for it.
You can also use your voice to make the suspect uncomfortable or to inflict injury. If the perpetrator gets too close or pulls you within ear range, scream as loud as you can for as long as you can. You can even vary the tone and rhythm of your scream to make it unpredictable. While long-term ear damage is unlikely, screaming can cause discomfort and anxiety. If loud enough, it can lead to clouded thoughts, meaning you might throw your attacker off balance psychologically, allowing you time to counter-attack or to flee.
2. Keys Are for More Than Opening Doors and Starting Engines
In the correct position, a key is a dangerous weapon. If you are often scared of walking to your car alone, consider keeping your car or house keys in hand. You can hold house keys or car keys with the jagged, pointed portion sticking out from the pinky-side of your palm. Grasp the keyring and top of the key or keys tightly, clenching your first. Holding your keys in this position sets you up nicely for a hammer strike.
3. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Your Hands, Elbows, and Legs
While it is not advisable to use your fingernails as weapons because of the increased risk of injury to yourself, you can and should use your palm. Using a heel palm strike to the nose or throat can momentarily incapacitate your attack, allowing you time to get away.
Some of the hardest points in your body include your elbows. If your attacker surprises you and gets too close, you can use an elbow strike to their chin to inflict real pain. An elbow strike can be used as a forward and backward blow.
If your attacker comes at you from the front, use a swift, hard kick to the groin. When performed correctly, the kick should knock the perpetrator to the ground, allowing you time to escape.
Self-defense is nothing without practical experience. When you can, take a course and take basic knowledge to the next level. What is your favorite self-defense strategy or tool? Leave a comment below and join the dialogue.