In 2017, over 800,000 Americans fell victim to aggravated assaults. That’s around 250 reported assaults for every 100,000 U.S. citizens. The odds might still be in your favor, but would you know what to do if you were to fall prey to an attack?
We like to think that our instincts would kick in if anything ever happened, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. If self-defense isn’t worked into your muscle memory and psychology then you’re most likely going to freeze.
The internet is awash with promises of the ultimate self-defense tip and unrealistic defenses against common attacks. Such promises can put you at unnecessary risk by leading you to think you know more than you do.
Self-defense is a complicated affair, so to make sure you know everything you need to know we’d like to share everything you need to know about self-defense and staying safe on the streets.
The Psychology of Self-Defense
When people think about self-defense they probably imagine a few martial arts classes or a concealed carry license. Self-defense is a primarily psychological game and until you understand how your mind reacts to conflict all of those fancy martial arts moves are useless.
The Adrenaline Dump
If someone approaches you with a weapon or grabs you from behind your body is going to be flooded with adrenaline. More adrenaline than you know what to do with. This is why most untrained individuals freeze during the conflict.
Even trained fighters still get a rush of adrenaline if they think they’re going to have to fight. It’s the body’s way of getting ready to do something.
The problem is, is that if you aren’t used to the sensation of huge amounts of adrenaline being released into your system then it’s going to take you by surprise.
The number one tip for anyone serious about learning self-defense, even if it is just carrying a gun, is to familiarise yourself with your psychological reaction to conflict.
Any good martial arts or self-defense classes should pressure test you as much as possible, so you learn how to control your mind in a life or death situation.
You will never be completely calm with a gun to your head. But by understanding how your body is reacting you have a better chance of controlling yourself when you need it most.
The Adrenaline Exchange
You might feel like the victim and that your attacker is in complete control of the situation, but they’ll be experiencing a surge of adrenaline too. One interesting thing to take into account is that there’s only so much adrenaline a human can handle before they crash.
The more an attacker feels confident that they have control of the situation the more their adrenaline levels settle. You can interrupt this.
Imagine you’re the attacker. Your adrenaline would start to spike as you’re about to initiate the attack.
It will spike further as the attack begins. If you remain passive and the attacker feels in control then their adrenaline levels will start to drop.
If at this point you can suddenly spike their adrenaline levels, you can cause a psychological crash that will deter most attackers.
By switching from a passive or calm approach to a suddenly aggressive stance you can cause the adrenaline dump that the attacker is depending on from you!
How to Intimidate an Attacker
It might sound crazy, especially if they’re the ones with the weapon. It’s worth noting that you should advise caution at this point, and you should certainly be skilled in hand-to-hand combat before taking this next step.
You want to make yourself as large as possible. Bring your shoulders back and fill your chest with air.
Keep your head back and always look the attacker in the eye. Keep your eyes on them and keep your eyes wide.
Next, it’s time to get verbally aggressive. Start shouting – anything is game.
Be offensive and be threatening. The attacker is expecting you to be submissive, so be the opposite.
By showing these signs you might well deter the novice attacker, but for more experienced and more violent assailants, you’re going to need to be familiar with self-defense.
The Best Martial Arts for Self-Defense
There are so many different martial arts and self-defense systems out there. The harsh reality is that most of them are designed for sport fighting and don’t stand up well in real-life pressure tests.
Some, on the other hand, can help give you a serious advantage in a conflict situation. Let’s take a look at the best
When it comes to close-quarters combat, boxing is a great skill to have. By training regularly you can get proficient in striking quickly. Training will also offer huge benefits to your fitness levels and overall confidence.
Sparring in boxing will also help you to explore your psychological response to conflict and you’ll get used to getting hit. If you are going to depend on your fists in a self-defense situation you’re going to want to condition them.
Fighting in gloves is one thing, but to get your hands strong enough for punching bare-knuckle you’ll need to work in some hand conditioning drills.
Muay is also known as the art of 8 limbs. This is because it utilizes punches, elbows, kicks, and knees in its arsenal of strikes.
It will take longer to get proficient in Muay Thai than it will in boxing, but there are some definite benefits.
Muay Thai uses something called the clinch. This is incredibly useful for learning how to keep your balance when someone is trying to throw you to the ground. It also teaches you how to throw strikes in incredibly close quarters.
Like boxing, Muay Thai will also help to condition your body and your mind to conflict.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the chess game of martial arts. Instead of focusing on striking it focuses on submitting your opponent by choking them or putting their limbs under pressure.
It’s primarily used when a fight goes to the ground, but a large amount of the techniques also focussing on throwing your opponent to the ground and not getting thrown yourself.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is your number one friend you do end up on the ground in a fight. However, it’s worth noting, that if you’re facing more than one attacker, the ground is the last place you want to be.
Krav Maga isn’t so much a martial art – it’s a self-defense system. It’s also widely considered the number one tool against potential assaults.
Krav Maga uses techniques borrowed from several martial arts and fighting styles. The techniques are simple and designed to work under highly stressful situations.
One of the best things about Krav Maga is the focus on pressure-testing. A large part of learning is developing the psychology that will see you well in a conflict situation.
While it’s great to be a proficient fighter, the best form of self-defense is to avoid conflict situations where possible. An attacker is on the lookout for a potential victim. The best way to avoid being a victim is to not look like one.
The first thing we can do is to partake in exercise. Regular exercises increase our confidence and improves our physique.
The fitter are you the less vulnerable you look. Feeling confident emanates from people and potential attackers are likely to be put off by it.
If you walk around looking like a jewelry store on legs, then you should expect to get mugged. It’s that simple. If you’re walking around in public then don’t advertise the fact that you’re worth thousands of dollars in adornments.
Having a modest appearance is your best friend when it comes to avoiding potential attacks.
Keep Your Senses
We all like to stay up to date with social media or listen to our favorite songs when we’re walking around. But, if you have your head in your phone or your headphones in you look like a potential victim.
Stay alert and keep your eyes and ears open when you’re out in public.
Should I Own a Gun?
The big question when it comes to self-defense is ‘should I own a gun?’ Carrying a gun for self-defense can give you an unquestionable edge if you know how to use it.
If you’re going to carry a gun then make sure you’re a proficient shooter, and make sure you understand the psychology of conflict. There’s no point carrying a gun if you’re not willing to shoot someone.
Also, be sure your gun is customized to suit your needs. Companies such as Strike Industries specialize in tactical gun modifications specifically for self-defense.
Never Forget This Last Self-Defense Tip
All of these self-defense tips can help you be better prepared should the unfortunate strike, but there is one last tip that you should always remember. Your valuables are not worth as much as your life.
If someone with a gun or a knife asks for your wallet or your jewelry, then the best defense is to give it to them. Personal items, cash, and bank cards are all replaceable commodities, but your life isn’t.
If you found this article useful then be sure to take a look at the rest of our blog.