Let’s talk about what is appropriate for self defense against physical force. This admittedly is not the most pleasant of topics, but it is important to have a game plan just in case. There really is one statement that sums it all up-
Use the smallest amount of force necessary to get away- preferably none.
The objective of self defense is to escape the bad situation alive and in good health. Our objective is not to win, it is to survive. There is no scoreboard in self defense and there is no movie camera. The techniques you learn should reflect this objective.
Remember, if you started the aggression with words or actions you are no longer defending yourself, you are the bad guy. Don’t be the bad guy by saying or doing things that are mean to others.
Here are some general guidelines to follow.
Level 1: Non – physical Self Defense.
The vast majority of the time that you need to defend yourself it will not be against somebody trying to hit you, it will be against somebody saying mean things or somebody trying to get you to do something unethical. No matter how mad you get, it is never okay to physically attack somebody. Instead, here are some things that you might consider.
Level 2: Cover, evade, and escape.
What if somebody tries to hit you or attack you physically somehow (without a weapon)? First, duck dodge, block, or otherwise don’t get hit. We’ll call this cover. Next, evade the attacker by getting out of the line of attack. This may mean that you have to redirect your attacker with a push, pull, or other nonviolent move to get them out of the way. And then leave as quickly as possible, or escape. It is best if these three steps are as close to one move as you can make them.
Level 3: Hitting back to create an escape route.
What if you do level 2 to avoid somebody attacking you but there is no clear escape route? In this case hit back with the objective of creating an escape route. The idea of this kind of attack is to distract your attacker. You may stomp on the persons foot, punch them in the nose, or use some other technique designed to distract but not do very much damage. All with the objective of creating an escape route using the smallest amount of force necessary.
Level 4: Using physical self defense.
What if somebody is physically attacking you without a lethal weapon and without lethal intent and you cannot talk your way out, cannot escape, and feel like you are in real danger of getting physically hurt by an attacker? In this case, you can physically defend yourself with punches, kicks, or other techniques without using a lethal weapon nor lethal force. My advice is that in this case you hit them as hard as you can with the objective of ending the fight or escaping as quickly as possible.
Remember that your objective is always escape- so if the situation changes and it is possible to safely escape do it. If you have to fight with your attacker, do your very best to take them out of the fight as quickly as possible. Remember, there is no scoreboard and no movie camera. The longer the fight lasts the more opportunity your attacker has of really injuring you.
Level 5: High stakes force.
When is it okay to seriously injure or kill somebody? Well, obviously never. However, it unfortunately may be necessary if you are afraid that your attacker intends to kill or seriously injure you. For example, if your attacker has a knife or a gun or even a lethal instrument like a baseball bat. If your attacker plans to kill you then you can and should do whatever it takes to not die. Remember, there is no such thing as a fair fight, there is only survival and escape. Make it end as quickly as possible.
With all of these guidelines there is a consideration called “disparity of force.” This basically means that one person could be stronger or more powerful than the other. This means that the situation changes based upon the relative size of the people in question, how many people are involved, or any other factor that could make one party stronger than the other. When there is a disparity of force you’ll just have to decide quickly on the spot what the best way to defend yourself is.
As always, the rule of thumb is to use the smallest amount of force necessary to get away- preferably none. If there is any way at all to avoid a bad situation, take it. Also remember that this is a series of guidelines to create a discussion and should not be considered legal advice.
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