the event that you are attacked or in a dangerous situation, you need
to learn how to react and escape. This section covers the types, principles,
some specific example methods, and how to practice defense used in the
In martial arts, you learn how to attack and counterattack. The four main
types of fighting techniques are: hitting, kicking, felling, and holding.
Generally, hitting and kicking are used to startle the opponent, while
felling and holding are used to control. Although most martial arts contain
some of all four types, there are arts that emphasize one or two.
Hitting is the use of any closed or open-handed strike. A strike can be
dealt with the forearm, wrist, or shoulder, or even a jab with the fingers.
Hand techniques are usually used at close-range.
example: straight punch
A thug is threatening you and reaches out to grab you.
To throw a punch and startle him.
How? Step forward with the leg of the same side arm you are punching
with. One fist is extended forward, directly in front of the center
line of the body. The un-extended fist is brought back alongside the
belt in a "chamber" position.
Kicking describes blows dealt with the foot, thigh, knee, or heel. It
is believed that the kicking is quicker and more efficient (esp. if targeting
the lower body) because the legs have more muscles and are considerably
longer than the arms. The form is extremely important in the kick; if
executed incorrectly, you risk missing the chance to land a blow and injuring
Scenario: The attacker has grabbed you by the arms and you cannot
move your upper body.
Use: The front kick is excellent for close range and depending on
the length of leg extension, can cause crippling pain to the groin or
How? The knee of the kicking leg is raised towards the target.
The leg is snapped out until straight at the target. The instep or ball
of the foot can be used in the front kick. The strike should be completely
quickly so that an opponent has less time to attack the leg.
A approaches you from the side, threatening to punch you.
The side kick can quickly and powerfully injure the knee, or even break
While leaning back to avoid being hit by the punch, the knee of
the kicking leg is raised and the heel is tucked toward the posterior.
The hips are shifted as the foot is raised, with the bottom of the foot
pointing at the target. The leg is eventually straightened, driving
the foot's "blade" toward the target. After the kicking leg
has struck, it should be quickly chambered.
Felling techniques, which include throws, pushes, trips, and shoves, are
used to put the opponent onto the ground. They highly rely on physical
balance, momentum, and leverage, and are commonly found in Judo and Jujitsu.
A thug is grabbing you with both hands from behind.
A throw can send him to the ground, causing him pain
How? Use both hands to grab hold of his arms tightly. Bend knees
down a little so that hips are about the same level as his stomach (center
of gravity). Spring up quickly by straightening legs, and at the same
time, bend your upper body down with a sharp twist of the waist. This
will send the thug onto the ground. One can then continue with a hold
or a punch/ kick.
Holding, or immobilization, techniques are used to control the opponent
before or after putting him to the ground. Examples include pins, arm
and leg locks, and chokes. Because holding techniques often utilize pressure
points, they can be especially fatal.
A thug has tripped you down and is robbing you of your valuables while
you are struggling to estricate yourself on the ground.
A choke can render the thug unconscious. In a less serious case, the
choke can cause him to cough or show signs of uneaseness, giving ample
time to escape from him.
How? Reach out for his shirt's collar with both wrists in a crossed
fashion such that your right hand reaches his right collar, while your
left hand reaches his left collar. Grab tightly, then pull downwards
and outwards. This should put excess pressure on his neck that suffocates
him. Escape once there is a chance (e.g. the thug is unconscious)
While attacking an opponent is important, defending, or counterattacking,
is as well. Students learn to block, dodge, and redirect attacks in order
to protect themselves. Most blocks in the martial arts emphasize yielding
to win-redirecting the attacker's force against him and deflecting his
attack, finally breaking his balance. Although it seems contradictory,
this conserves energy and creates an entry point for one's own attack.
A stranger has grabbed you and tries to punch you in the stomach.
The use of both arms to block effectively repels the force of the punch.
After stopping the punch, one of the hands can be used to push his hands
away and set up for a punch.
How? Drop your arms in a X-block with the wrists crossed just
above the belt. Bending the knees can help maintain the body's balance.
First and foremost, if something does not "feel" right from
the beginning, it's probably your intuition telling you to be careful.
Before a situation develops, change direction or try to get out. Even
if you don't sense trouble and have been attacked, your goal should be
to escape immediately. Survival should be the first thing on your mind
since the best chance of escaping is in the first few seconds - afterwards,
the violence will only escalate.
During an attack, you can either choose to submit or resist. Submitting
automatically gives the attacker control and oftentimes reduces chances
of escape. Resisting, on the other hand, gives the victim a significantly
higher chance of escape. As described in Sanford Strong's book, Strong
On Defense, there are two criteria for survival through resistance:
A mental attitude that will overcome fear of injury to take extreme
A physical response that is immediate, direct, and explosive.
arts training, as previously described in the Prevention
section, allows the student to experience pain to some degree. This in
turn, combined with the concentration and confidence gained through class
practice, help to toughen his "mental attitude." The physical
response, or fighting strategy, is based on a series of steps that in
which one's own strength is used to maximize, or neutralize the opponent's
weaknesses. The first step should be to draw attention to the situation
and perhaps get people to help. A simple shout or scream can also prevent
you from freezing up and give you more strength to exert force.
However, when the attack is close range, you have to fight back physically.
Gauging is setting enough distance between you and your opponent so that
he cannot reach you. Martial artists most commonly do this by attacking
the pressure points:
the attack is from the front, the most basic and effective target is
the eyes. Using the fingers and thumb to gouge the eyes requires the
least amount of force and furthermore, impairs the attacker's ability
to see. The groin and kneecap are also highly sensitive areas and as
directly exposed as the eyes. Attacks from the back are usually to the
throat, and pressure on the neck can be fatal. Even in this scenario,
students are advised to gorge the eyes.
is another highly effective method of defense. When an attacker attempts
to close in, biting his cheek, nose, or lip, can seriously sever or
even rip the flesh off.
techniques described above aim at causing the attacker pain so that he
is distracted from attacking you and focused on alleviating the pain.
They may seem revolting and uncivilized, however gauging and biting all
serve one purpose: to survive. Ideally, performing these techniques should
allow you to escape. However, in the event that he still remains, the
biting and gauging serves as a perfect period of time to judge the opponent's
weaknesses. Different characteristics require different approaches. If
the attacker is:
bigger than you, you will need to attack from the side or rear because
you will be able to move from side to side faster
lighter than you, you will need to use linear moves since he could be
faster than you, you will need to focus on holding and trapping techniques,
since these require little movement and speed to attain control over
the attacker has weapons
Under this circumstance, it is extremely dangerous to immediately react
physically. In order to effectively diffuse the attack, students need
to be able to judge the distance between their assailants and themselves,
as well as control of the weapon from a variety of angles. An infinite
number of weapons can be used nowadays; there are two key points to keep
in mind when defending against any weapon:
Move inside the range of the strike while keeping your guard up to protect
the upper body and shifting your legs to avoid attack to the lower body.
Striking or grappling techniques can be used to control the assailant.
If the assailant swings or strikes, shift your body weight so that the
attack will pass. This allows you to catch him off guard and rush in
to disarm him.
there are multiple attackers
With multiple assailants, application of techniques should follow these
Stay calm, seize the opportunity to flee or get help
Continue standing in a defensive posture (hands held up)
Keep all attackers within your line of vision
If struck by one assailant, block immediately and move to avoid the
Try to line up the attackers, one behind the other
Do not wrestle one attacker on the ground if there are others round
After learning the skills, it is essential to practice them on a regular
basis. In martial arts, there are three major methods of practice: visualization,
individual, partner, and with weapons/equipment. Since self-defense techniques
are largely used outside of training and most people will not be wearing
workout clothes when they are attacked, some instructors advise students
to practice while wearing clothes they normally wear. For instance, a
businesswoman will practice executing defense techniques while wearing
high heels. This allows the student to see which techniques fit their
Visualization is a mental way of planning one's responses. It is practiced
by thinking about which environments you are usually in, such as a hallway
or elevator, what you might be carrying or holding, such as a baby or
purse, and what possible encounters you might have in these situations.
The aim is to evaluate which techniques will work best and determine solutions
for each possible scenario. This mental rehearsal gives the student direction
during an actual crisis, when confusion and terror can cloud one's thinking
ability, and helps develop a survival mentality.
A major advantage to practicing alone is that it can be done anywhere,
anytime. In traditional martial arts, students learn "kata,"
which are series of self-defense moves that last for a couple of minutes.
They mimic fighting an imaginary opponent while performing the kata.
Practicing with weapons or equipment allows the student to create a more
realistic situation and develop a better sense of distance and timing.
Targets such as pads and bags can also simulate real contact.
This is an excellent way of practicing self-defense techniques since the
student can directly interact with another person and receive direct feedback
on the accuracy and efficiency of the techniques used. In prearranged
sparring, both partners know what technique they will act out and what
the response will be. This helps beginners learn the coordination and
process involved in the exchange of techniques. In semi-arranged sparring,
the partners have the freedom to respond in any way they wish. This allows
the students to get used to getting hit. Since many of the self-defense
techniques are potentially dangerous, they would most likely be executed
with control. Free sparring is spontaneous fighting while wearing protective
gear. This type of practice is the closest to actual street fighting.
However it should be noted that self-defense techniques are not specifically
based on engaging the attacker in an all-out fight.
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