What is Self Defense?
Self defense is a legal term that means you have the right to use force, if it is justified, to prevent harm to yourself. Depending on where you are at, your particular local or national laws may also include the use of force in protection of property or loved ones.
The same is true for what level of force you are justified to use. In the US most places allow justified lethal force in a number of situations. In Australia or Canada, the law is more slanted towards “proportional force”. So if he has a bat, you can’t shoot him. Regardless of whether he is 300 pounds and you are a 100 pound woman. This is only one reason Americans are called gun obsessed by the world. The world normally handles security through police. And individual citizens only have a self-defense recourse to the police, not much else going on there. To use a weapon against a burglar, the burglar must either have an equivalent weapon threatening you, or a more powerful weapon. Doesn’t really stack the odds in your favor, legally or otherwise. Anyone other than police in Japan cannot legally have a gun, at all, for example. Your level of “justified force” then conforms to the local laws and conditions. Assuming you are in the US, your options are greatly expanded.
Now that you know the bare bones definition of SDt, you can start on tactics, the “how to” side of things.
Self defense is composed of many different layers that are usually defined in terms of range and time. Is the threat happening now? How far away is the threat from you? Two basic, very simple questions.
Let’s say you and your friends decide to go out on the town and you have a choice of picking a spot close to gang infested neighborhoods or you have a choice of picking a more upbeat and expensive place. Your decision as to where to go has already decided your self-defense situation. By choosing high risk environments, you have not only made the threat closer to you in space but in time as well. It’ll happen sooner rather than later due to some random happenstance. It’ll happen because you engaged in high risk behavior. Same is true for a girl getting drunk at a party and thinking she’ll be okay because she can trust the rest of the strangers and drunks around not to do anything bad to her when she passes out. It is high risk behavior. These decisions are taken way before the threat gets close in space or time. It’s before you got drunk. It’s before you got jacked. It’s before you got caught in an ambush. It’s before you got angry. It is before all of that.
Now if you are taking money out of your ATM account and 3 guys who were watching the machine now comes up, surrounds you, and wants the money, welll now the threat is much much closer in range and time. Now the distance is about 5 feet or 2 feet. The time is NOW, not later, not days away or even hours away;the threat is here. It is happening NOW.
Self-defense takes into account the different ranges and time, and has different solutions for threats that occupy different zones and periods. For long range defense, you need avoidance, awareness, common sense, and being prepared (like a gun or long rifle). For tactical solutions that must be handled Now or you are ending up in the hospital or morgue, you need to learn effective movement and striking.
The objective in tactical self defense is to incapacitate, disable, or kill the threat. And the threat isn’t the knife or the gun, but the person wielding it. If you are taking more than 15s to do this against one-two people, you’ve been trained badly. Ineffective movement and strikes makes things into a sort of boxing match that lasts however long it takes them to kick you to the ground and stomp on you. Effective movement and striking means your tactical solution will destroy enemy attacks before they disable your ability to resist. That is the core difference between effective attacks and ineffective attacks. Ineffective attacks may do some damage, but it does not cripple, incapacitate, or kill the target.
Self defense courses are usually either geared towards avoidance strategies or they are geared towards tactical solutions. Both are necessary, of course, although if you don’t live in high risk environments, you will probably only ever use the avoidance and awareness strategies. But tactical H2H training is like swimming or CPR. When you do need it, nothing else will substitute for that ability. It is not like you will use it all the time.
Also, much of the avoidance strategies of not allowing your ego to dictate your actions in a social setting comes only from having the self-confidence that the person you are dealing with cannot harm you physically. This decreases tension internally in order to reduce tension externally. Total control over a situation will steer the result towards an approved one. If the approved result is a defense of self, then so it will be. However, total control over a situation depends first and foremost upon control of the people in that situation. And first amongst those that are there, is you yourself. Without a control of your own mind and emotions, you cannot expect to control the behavior of other people. There will often be situations where you can talk your way out of having to use violence, but only if you have violence ready as a backup. There will be more situations where people get angry at you, than there will be situations where they will ambush you out of the blue. By learning and using long term strategic verbal and body skills, you can prevent people from getting angry enough that they will start thinking about ambushing you.
That’s the basic formula. Avoid using indirect methods when you can. Annihilate the enemy when there’s a conflict on going with you as the center. That is Self Defense.