The first answer is whatever works. Whatever is effective is good self defense. Whatever gives you the greatest chance of survival is good self defense. That being said, there are a few factors that need to be considered.
Think of the worst possible scenario. Chances are you will be attacked when your assailant feels he has a distinct advantage. That means you must assume he will be larger, determined, armed and has friends. Anything you do must account for these real possibilities. Until you are proven other wise, chances are you won’t know for ure until it’s too late.
Next, you need to consider your environment. Asphalt, ice, snow, jungle, beach, the woods or your living room, each situation presents a unique set of circumstances. You need to react in a way that takes all of this into consideration. Simple foot work done in the correct manner will account for every possible scenario.
Then you have to consider yourself. Chances are you will appear to be a good mark. This means you’re older, smaller, injured or otherwise distracted. Remember Murphy’s law- what can go wrong will go wrong. You also have to consider what happens to your body when you are placed under hormone induced stress or fear. You get tunnel vision; you loose control of your fine motor skills. You experience auditory exclusion and as your hear rate increases your ability to perform even the most simple techniques.
Instinctive and Convulsive
Time is of the essence, you need to cause as much damage to your target and as little damage to yourself. If you’re using protective gear in your training, this will cause a problem (unless you are constantly wearing hand wraps). Techniques that take a lot of time just don’t cut it. Methods that cause you to wait just don’t cut it. You have to inflict as much damage as fast as possible. Lead with speed, follow with power and take bits and pieces away from your assailant as you cause more damage and injury. The techniques you use should allow to hit anywhere on your targets body and cause little or no damage to you. You must react in a way that allows you to keep your assailant off balance and build momentum until he’s no longer a threat.
Do Your Worst, Fast and First
According to close combat legend W.E. Fairbairn, you need attack with “vehemence and artifice”. This simply means be as nasty and as sneaky as possible. Don’t wait to escalate- just dominate. The quicker you can cause damage, the faster you can inflict even greater damage. Just don’t wait. There is no room for second chances. Self defense is self preservation.
Plan for the Worst and Hope for the Best
When you train, it’s for your worst nightmare. The guy who just got out of prison or the junkie who doesn’t care what belt you have. Criminals just want what you have, plain and simple. You have to plan for the absolute worst case scenario. Also, you should have a little nasty surprise for your would be attacker. Empty hand techniques are nice but WEAPONS AND TECHNOLOGY beat empty hands time and time again. If empty hand techniques were all they were cracked up to be, there would be no need for firearms, knives or close quarter weapons. It’s better to have it and not use it than need it and not have it. Even old school martial artists always had an “ace up their sleeve” so to speak. The point is, empty hand is a strategic last resort. At its best, empty hand self defense is designed to allow you to fight with a weapon or at least create an opportunity to secure one. Because at the end of the day, it’s not a matter of who’s right, just who’s left.
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