In my previous post, Simple Self-Defense Tips that Everyone Should Follow, I gave tips that are known as “soft skills.” Soft skills have to do with avoiding a bad situation.
What do you do when the soft skills fail? When, despite your best effort, you are in immediate danger?
Below are some “hard skills” that anyone can use.
Please keep in mind that these methods are not to be used to settle an argument, save your pride, or even defend yourself from the schoolyard bully. Those are all social violence situations which are best solved by avoidance, or de-escalation, or simply walking away.
The following tips are for defense against asocial violence. You or your family are in immediate danger from someone who means to do you harm, and there is no chance of talking your way out.
- Inflict real injury.
This is not the time to swing a right hook, slap, or scratch an attacker. You will not harm them, but you may make them mad. Pain does not stop an attacker, but a real injury to the body will.
- Target vulnerable areas.
There are weak areas common to all people, no matter how big or strong. These are your targets. Eyes, throat, knees, fingers, nose.
- Inflict the first injury.
If a man is holding a knife and intends to use it, the only real “knife defense” is to make the first attack (unless you can get away). An open-handed chin jab is a good option, as it is hard to see coming and if done correctly should knock the attacker out.Yes, you will probably get cut or stabbed. Would you rather get cut or stabbed once while attacking, or multiple times while crying?
This rule doesn’t just apply to knife attacks, though. If you are going to be attacked, make sure you are the one acting rather than reacting.
- Practice moves that don’t require fine motor skills.
When you are attacked, your body goes into fight or flight mode, and your fine motor skills are inhibited. Unless you’ve practiced your fancy jiu-jitsu grappling techniques until they are automatic, you probably won’t be able to use them. A few simple moves that only require gross motor skills are the best to have in your tool box.
- Open-handed chin jab
This is like an upper-cut in boxing, but you are using the palm of your hand rather than your fist. Your palm is stronger than your fist and less likely to get injured. Also, it puts your fingers in position to grab or scratch the eyes.
The chin jab is performed with your dominant hand, and you must use your hips to generate power. Don’t stop with the chin. Drive all the way through the target.
- Elbow strikes
Your elbow is one of the hardest parts of your body and can inflict serious damage. There are many different strikes. These are all simple to learn and effective.
- Throat strikes
No matter how large or scary a man is, his throat is as vulnerable as yours. That’s one reason a trained fighter keeps her chin tucked. If you strike the throat, do it quickly and directly. Use your forearm, or fist, or open hand (making a large C with your thumb and other fingers). This is a good follow-up to a chin jab. This is a dangerous technique and never to be used unless your life depends upon it.
- Knife hand to side of neck
This is a simple movement that can easily knock an attacker out. Drive the pinky side of your hand through their neck. This is also a dangerous technique and never to be used unless your life depends upon it.
- Knee strikes
If you are close enough, your knees can do serious damage. Targets can be the groin, side of the thighs, or head if the attacker is bent over.
- Foot stomps
The bones in the top of our feet are small and fragile. Stomp with all your weight using their shin as your guide. Visualize yourself stomping all the way through the foot to the ground.
- Finger breaks
If an attacker grabs you and you can grab a finger—especially a smaller finger—bend it backwards and away from the joint as if you intend to break it off.
- Ear slaps
Slap his ear with an open hand. This is disorienting and can give you the chance to use a follow-up move or get away.
** A note on groin kicks:
Don’t think that kicking a man in the groin is a sure defense. If you can manage to do it with adequate force, it may or may not be effective.
We men have been conditioned since the elementary school playground to protect that area, and to do so is a natural reaction that I don’t have to think about. It’s an easy strike to deflect. Also, some men can absorb a groin kick as if it didn’t happen. After inflicting a real injury by using one of the techniques above, a groin kick may be an effective follow up, but it is rarely a good initial move.
** A note on using fists:
Unless I’m punching soft targets—kidneys, stomach, throat—I would use an open hand. Especially for head strikes. The bones in our hands can be injured, especially by something as hard as a skull. If you are going to make a fist, be sure that you make it correctly.
** Last note:
Again, these are only to be used when you are in real danger. Good luck convincing a jury that you were justified in knocking a man out because he pushed you or insulted your wife. Remember, if your life is not in danger, forget your pride and walk away.
If you do have to use violence, make every effort to be the first to call 911 and report the attack. This will leave you in better standing with the authorities and courts than if you flee and your attacker or his friends or family call 911.
Please share your tips or stories in the comments, and thanks for reading!
When Violence is the Answer, Tim Larkin
How to Be Your Own Bodyguard, Nick Hughes
Where to Hit Someone to Inflict the Most Damage, Art of Manliness
Social Aggression vs. Asocial Violence, Art of Manliness
Brutally Effective Unarmed Combat Training, Escape Crime