Bruce’s Self Defense Advice

Over the years, people told me they wanted to get into martial arts for self-defense. And there is some good reason to have some basic martial art training, such as learning to not “freak out” when grabbed, controlling your state of flow when your adrenaline is pumping or functioning when you are injured or tired, or the “fog of war”.  And one may never know when someone will just hit you on the head (like this poor minion).  

I respond by telling them you do not do martial arts for self-defense; you do it for self-improvement, conditioning, or other reasons.  Physical self-defense is different from training for martial art.  For example, there are plenty of stories of  “lucky punches,” fights, etc., but it takes dedicated training to be effective in a street situation.  Most people do not want to train to be a fighter, but everyone wants to be safe.  

So, I always tell them a list of things to do.  (DISCLAIMER – this list is not “full proof” and is only offered as advice.)

At home

  • Know your neighbors,
  • Invest in essential home security equipment,
  • Look at your landscaping, etc., as related to lighting, security, etc.,

Away from home

  • Make sure your car works. We have seen enough movies to know how this ends!
  • Walk where it is light,
  • Leave any bar or restaurant before 10 pm,
  • Remember, everything in your wallet is replaceable. EVERYTHING!
  • Notice your surroundings when you enter a room/building, especially exits,
  • Do not get drunk/intoxicated in public; this especially applies when you are on vacation. You do not know the “lay of the land”, and a false sense of security may result in an incident you did not want.

General Skills

  • Have some essential physical/mobility, such as being able to get up from the floor,
  • Be able to run a quarter of a mile – Notice I did not say run fast – just be able to run a quarter of a mile,
  • Be aware of what weapons may be at your disposal beyond a gun or a knife. A pen, newspaper, etc., can be effective in certain situations.

(One aside – Notice, I never tell people to get a firearm.  That is a personal decision.  If one does get a gun, there must be a dedication to learning how to use the weapon effectively, which requires constant training.  This may also require a change in mindset that you are willing to use the weapon when warranted, as there are legal consequences related to the degree of the attack and your response.  There are also legal obligations when one possesses guns in a home.)

I am sure there are many things to add to this list, but the list itself is unimportant.  The focus is on getting people to recognize their role in their safety.  By focusing on awareness and preparation, one will do well in reducing risks to one’s self and property.  However, please do not take my word for it.  This article from Lifehacker begins with the statement, “Prevention Is the Best Self-Defense”.    That author expounds with more tricks and techniques, and one can do a quick search to supplement my list.  But not all self-defense occurs not only in a physical space, as this list from Wagner College discusses, which echoes my thoughts on awareness before physical action is required.

Self-defense begins the moment one becomes prepared in a safe environment.  It does not mean one needs to engage in proving what one knows or does not know unless one chooses to do so.  If you must prove that you have the necessary skills to engage in physical self-defense, join a gym/dojo, etc., or find a friend and start training.  And once you think you have learned something, train it again.  (I can attest to paralysis analysis when one is sparring!).  Knowing martial arts will not make you safer if you do not know how to apply the technique, as Jim Carey demonstrated in this comedy sketch.

So, you are at least starting when you become aware and act in a manner that reinforces your dedication to self-defense.   And that attitude of preparedness can make all the difference.