CAUTION: Knowing a few techniques is NOT THE SAME as being able to defend yourself. It takes training, training and more training to meet the unexpected.
No effort is made to provide a comprehensive self-defense training program, only to offer perspective and techniques you may practice on your own for greater competency. Moreover, we recognize that street attacks do not usually happen in the controlled fashion practiced in the dojo. Responses therefore must be fluid to meet the needs of the moment, and fixed combinations performed by rote may detract from that.
Expect the unexpected.
Protecting ourselves from attack is ostensibly the reason many start karate training in the first place. It involves many concepts that are often ancillary to traditional training, if covered at all. Here are some things we hope you’ll keep in mind:
Rules of Engagement
There are no rules. Period. Everything goes.
That means all the self-restraint, pulled punches/kicks and targeting of your martial training no longer applies when faced with a real-world attack. Get used to hitting/kicking for real. Don’t expect it will suddenly come to you when you need it most.
Biting, gouging, hair-pulling, eyes, groin, stomps and shins are all fair game. So are breaks and dislocations.
The fight doesn’t stop when someone is on the ground. Learn to cover and protect yourself from kicks, punches and weapon strikes as best you can.
First, it’s full contact. Expect to be hit, and hit hard. Be able to take it and keep going. You need to do the same to them, too. Practice techniques you know you can deliver effectively. Avoid grappling or being grabbed. Keep your balance. Stay on your feet unless you have ground-fighting training.
Excessive force can be a legal issue if you defend yourself too well. Only use what is necessary to defend yourself, end the attack and subdue the attacker. As a martial artist, you may be held to a higher standard by a jury of your peers. But as some have said, they’d rather take their chances on a jury, than on the good will of your attacker(s) not to kill or maim you. It is a split second decision only you can make in the moment. Choose wisely.
There is only one objective in self-defense situations — SURVIVE. Do whatever it takes.
Situational Awareness and Response
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is be aware of your surroundings and the situation in which you find yourself.
There’s strength in numbers. Watch your back, or have a trusted companion watch it for you.
Stay away from dark alleys and deserted parking lots. Don’t fumble for your keys.
Avoid situations where you might anticipate elevated risk or trouble. Stay out of bad neighborhoods. Hit the ground if you hear gunshots or see a drive-by shooting.
Don’t look like a victim or let yourself be singled out from a crowd. They prey on the weak.
Beware of concerts, sporting events, protests, rallies and public events, especially those of political overtones. Know that you may become a target when leaving, getting food or drink, or going to the bathroom. Wear protective gear (helmet or body armor?) when appropriate.
Think ahead. Prepare for the worst. Be ready for anything. Always be on the lookout for anything suspicious.
Observe your attacker. Look out for their friends and “by-standers” taking photos or videos. Watch out for provocations, like them getting in your face, shouting at close range, spitting on you, throwing drinks or invading your personal space.
Sucker punches (unexpected attacks) should be anticipated. Be ready. Hooks are often a common strike in the streets. Know how to defend and counterattack against them.
Watch out for weapons. Guns and knives are obvious ones to be ready for. Clubs, bats and bricks are common, too. Less so are telescoping batons, brass knuckles, keys, or concealable objects.
Hold your tongue, and your temper. Remain calm. Act with measured response. Attack first only when you absolutely know you will be attacked and there is no way to avoid it.
Retreat when you can. Surrender wallets, purses and valuables when faced with armed robbery. They aren’t worth losing your life.
In short, be aware. Be smart. Be safe.