The Realities of Self Defense (Part 1)

DSD gun defenseWhen if comes to self-defense there are no guaranteed answers.

There is no one martial art or training system that is guaranteed to keep you safe no matter what. Anyone selling you such nonsense is conning you.

Real self-defense is about understanding the realities of what you may encounter and looking at what strategies will work for you.

Our combatives based system is extremely effective but we have also found that we need to adapt our techniques to our students. What works for a 200 lb man against another 200 lb man is not the same as what works for a 130 lb woman against a 280 lb man.

To help explore this subject, I’ve created a list of self defense realities. We’d love your thoughts on the subject as you read through these.

Reality #1: A single punch can end a fight.

In the video below you’ll see a number of one-punch knockouts in actual fights.

Understand that a knockout occurs when the brain has it’s nerve impulses disrupted in some way. This most often is the result of the brain physically impacting the inside of the skull but can also result from nerve overload (striking the vagus nerve). There are three manifestations of a knockout – the typical knockout results in a sustained loss of consciousness (where the recipient looses all memory of the event), a “flash” knockout, when a very transient (less than three seconds) loss of consciousness occurs, and the recipient often maintains awareness and memory of the combat, and, lastly, a “stunning,” when the consciousness is maintained despite extremely distorted sensory processing. 

The real point here is that in a confrontation things can happen very quickly. A single punch can end things either for the better or worse (it can happen to a defender just as easily).

Reality #2: A single punch may do nothing at all.

As you see in the video above there are punches thrown that don’t do anything at all. Just because a single punch can knock out an attacker does not mean it will.

A key factor in training for self-defense – whether you train in Dynamic Self Defense, Krav Maga or any other combatives based system – is the multiple strikes principle. Hitting your attacker with multiple well targeted strikes has a much better chance of disabling them and allowing an escape than hitting once and seeing what the reaction is.

Reality #3: Awareness is the most important skill.

Awareness starts with a realistic assessment of what threats you are likely to encounter and what tactics you have in your arsenal to counter or avoid them.

In the video above most of the situations were antisocial situations. This is where a conflict grows and escalates out of some perceived differences. These are the easiest situations to avoid. All that is required is to check your ego and walk away. The point here is that there are usually very clear signs when a conflict moves from social to antisocial. Keep in mind that being part of an escalating antisocial conflict may undermine your claim of self defense as a legal defense.

The most dangerous threat is is the asocial attack – it’s a lot harder to avoid but also quite rare. An asocial threat doesn’t announce itself  – it’s just there. Serial killers for example don’t typically look like thugs or give you any clues that you might want to avoid them. And when they attack they do so without warning. There is no negotiating with an asocial attack – they don’t want anything from you that you can give up freely. The only defense in this case is violence.

The good news is that simply adapting some awareness skills can help you avoid most conflicts. We teach and train these on a regular basis in both our kids and adult classes.

Reality #4: Self Defense is NOT fighting!

If you and I were going to fight we would square off. There would be some agreed to or implied rules. Most importantly, we both know what coming. We know we are going to be in a fight!

Real self defense is not fighting.

Sure there are fighting skills in self defense. In Dynamic Self Defense for example, we teach strikes similar to Muay Thai, grappling similar to Jujitsu and weapons defense derived from special forces training. What we don’t teach is the key difference.

Looking at Muay Thai and Jujitsu as examples, both are pretty intense ring sports. There are serious injuries in both in the ring. However, when training for the ring fighters focus only on the other fighter. They know what rules they are playing under and they are most often paired with someone of similar size.

Physical self defense should only come up when a violent encounter can’t be avoided. In this situation there is an advantage to the aggressor not knowing what the defender knows or having any idea that the defender will react violently. When your only goal is to survive the rules go out the window and that gives an advantage to the defender.

Reality #5: You are not getting younger.

Training to be the next Olympic Judo champion is probably not on the ticket for you. It doesn’t need to be. Even the best fighters end up defeated eventually. (Even the legendary Royce Gracie was defeated in 2006 by Matt Hughes) So the idea that you need to become a champion fighter in order to be any good at defending yourself is totally flawed.

Self Defense Eye Gouge From Ground

Self Defense isn’t about fighting fair…

We see self defense as a basic concept that should empower people of all ages. It’s not about a 40 something professional woman “fighting” a tattooed 300 pound man with steroid rage. It’s about realistically making the best of any situation – using what you have – including your intellect. To that end our training not only teaches you tactics and skill, it rewires your stress response. Maintaining an ability to think and act under stress is something that allows anyone of any age to practice effective self defense.

Looking back at the video above, each person that was knocked out had their head exposed. They were open to a punch or thought wrongly that they would be quick enough to react or could take the hit. Simple techniques such as keeping your hands up (something we call the “guard”) would have made every one of those hits much more difficult to execute. And that doesn’t take extraordinary physical skill or conditioning. It only takes repetition.

Amanda Berry Story Shows Self Defense Women’s Classes Vital

The recent news of three girls abducted and held captive in Cleveland highlights the need for self defense women’s classes.

According to the news reports (read the full story here) Amanda Berry and 2 other women, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were held captive in a Cleveland Ohio house for about a decade.

While the details are still forthcoming, we can infer vital clues from what has been released.

  1. The girls were between the ages of 14 and 19 at the time of abduction.
  2. While abducted almost a year appart, they were all abducted within a block of each other on the same street.
  3. The suspect was known as a nice guy and a former school bus driver.

Based on this information it’s likely that the suspect was targeting girls in the area. It was likely in a part of town he knew well and his target was specifically sexually mature females. It possible the girls recognized the man or at least did not perceive him to be an immediate threat. Maybe they knew him from the school bus and perhaps he was being helpful in offering them a ride home because it would be odd for a young girl to get into a vehicle with a stranger on a busy street without a struggle and we know that abductors are not wanting to call attention to themselves. The more that their initial abduction goes unnoticed the more likely it is they will get away with it.

So while we can imagine that the girls at first didn’t suspect anything, at some point they did. Perhaps it was when they didn’t take a familiar path home or when they pulled up to a strange house. Maybe it wasn’t until some point later… but over the course of less than an hour they would have known that they were in a very serious situation.

Odds are they felt powerless to do anything about it.

Perhaps the abductor had a weapon or maybe he used chloroform to drug them. Regardless there are opportunities to fight. It might mean waiting for the right time or for the right target to present itself but there are opportunities. Not even the best trained security personnel can be on high alert at all times – much less a run of the mill criminal deviant.

Self Defense Women's Classes at DSDI literally get sick thinking about how these girls must have felt – frightened, alone, helpless, hopeless – and how a little knowledge could have gone toward preventing their abduction or cutting the 10 years to just days. I know we don’t know all the details yet and I admire Amanda for taking the opportunity to escape when she saw it.

As the father of a tween girl myself I place a priority on having her know basic self defense skills. She plays other sports and takes part in many other activities that all have value in and of themselves – yet none of them have the real potential for saving her life like her self defense training. She may be physically overpowered by an adult male, but I know she can leave that male impotent, blind and crippled if presented with the opportunity.

If you have a daughter  between the ages of 12 and 20 consider taking self defense women’s or adult group self defense classes. Even a single class will provide more benefit than not knowing anything. But to build skill consider at least a 6 week program. And be sure to download our free self defense report to get some insights you can start using tonight to avoid danger and violent situations.

Remember… Self Defense Women are Empowered Women!

Complacency Is Dangerous For Self Defense

BB Board Break KVI watched a story on CNN talking about a missing girl being found dead and the RapistMurder responsible behind bars. The girl was found buried in a shallow grave along side a river bank no more than a few blocks from her abandoned vehicle. The story reports she had decided to go jogging along a familiar road by her home when she went missing. Unfortunately there have been many stories similar to this one about women being attacked while jogging.

Complacency is dangerous for self defense. It leads to a lack of awareness which is arguably one of the easiest and most effective self defense techniques.

I am all for exercise and one should be able to venture out into areas of choice to jog or run without being scared or nervous. However just like wanting to keep your weight down by taking proper steps, personal security should have the same mindset. By allowing a few moments of time to ensure a safe training regimen, the risk of becoming the next front page headline decreases dramatically.

Defense 1. Partner up! The number one best line of defense is to have someone come with you. Even having a dog by your side will make a predator think twice. If these options are not available to you, having a “walking stick or baton in your hand is better than nothing. Remember predators look for an easy target. Someone they can easily dominate without having to work for it.

Defense 2. Stay alert! Keep the headphones off! Headphones mute all surrounding sound and can be used to tie up the victim so the predator can work more easily. Also try and keep a good distance from tree lines and other areas where someone could surprise you.

Defense 3. Locations! I’m all for nature but real life is not what you see in movies or on postcards  Wooded areas, hills, back roads, and all heavily populated places with trees, bushes, and dense foliage are a predator’s lair. Most all attacks occur in these types of places. If you are unable to jog or run with a partner have another option available. Its just not worth taking the risk.

Defense 4. Know your limitations. I have been doing Self Defense training for nearly twenty years and I still do not overestimate anyone’s abilities. Regardless of what you know or what you think you know, if you suspect a confrontation or your gut tells you to get away, DO SO!

Self Defense isn’t just about blocking and responding to punches or kicks, its also on a preventive approach. By taking certain steps to ensure oneself from getting into potential confrontations is the best defense anyone can have!