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5 Realities of Self Defense

Updated on July 22, 2014
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1. You Probably Aren't a Ninja

Unless you've made a career of defending yourself or others, the fact of the matter is that any time you are put in a position where it is necessary to defend yourself, you're at risk. I don't care if it's a puffed-up teenager after drug money or the Russian Mob, you're in trouble and the faster you realize that the odds of you winding up in a box or an emergency room are high the better.

Regardless of how many action movies you've watched, how many karate lessons you took, or how tight your groups at the range, understand and accept the fact that you are in serious danger. In other words, be cautious and if there's a way to get out of the situation without violence, do it.

A single attacker armed with a knife or club is a good hypothetical. Now, a lot of self-defense instructors out there will tell you that a single person, armed with a knife, is at a disadvantage because of their fixation on the knife. A martial artist will think circles around the weapon, and use everything in their arsenal (hands, feet, knees, elbows, teeth, improvised weapons, etc.) whereas the attacker will focus on using the single weapon above all.

While this may be true in many cases, to assume so is what we like to call underestimating your opponent. Besides that, getting stabbed is not a good time at all, and you won't be Jackie Chan-ing anybody after you take a shot alongside the head with a baseball bat. Trust me, been there, done that. You'll be lucky to remember your own name, let alone get inside someones defense and disable them with a concussion and blood spurting from your dome.

Speaking of which...

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2. You Aren't a Super Hero

We've all seen it in the movies. The good guy gets beaten like a pinata with crowbars and pool cues, but still manages to take out the bad guys with one expertly delivered punch or kick each. Get that nonsense out of your head, right now. I'll wait.

Okay, now that you're ready, understand the following. One punch can drop someone. Sometimes. If delivered accurately and forcefully, to the right spot. Realistically, however, it's going to take a lot more than a right hook or a roundhouse to take someone out of a fight if they mean to hurt you. On the same token, you take a few shots from a 2x4, you're not going dancing tomorrow night.

I'm not just blowing smoke here, by the way. I have been hit with baseball bats, bricks, claw hammers, I've been punched and kicked just about everywhere, and I've been tased. All of those things can effectively limit, if not completely eliminate, your ability to defend yourself, I assure you.

Short version, an armed opponent makes for a very bad situation for you. If they've got a weapon, and they hit you with it, chances are you've just lost.

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3. Guns are not your friend

There are several crucial, and serious, points to remember when a gun is involved.

First of all the time it takes to pull a trigger is very short, so evading the business end of a handgun requires a lot of skill, and even more speed. Equally, if not more importantly, if you intend to relieve an opponent of that weapon, you need to do it with constant awareness of your surroundings. Sure, maybe you can grip them up fast enough to get the muzzle of the weapon out of your face, but what about the little girl watching TV in the building at your back? How about the elderly gentleman across the street? Your goal isn't to get the gun pointed away from you, it's to get the gun pointed in a safe direction until you control it, and that is not nearly as easy as you think. Trust me, you do not want to be responsible for an innocent bystander dying because you thought you were at a casting call for an action flick.

On the opposite side of the coin, remember that drawing your own firearm is a last-ditch effort. Guns, no matter who is holding them, instantly escalate the situation to a lethal-force scenario, and if you're the one that did the escalating you can be held legally responsible. In general, you are legally authorized to defend yourself with only the necessary amount of force required to escape or diffuse the situation, no more than that. The burden of proof will be on you if you pull that gun.

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4. They are the criminal, not you.

Do you know what they call the guy left standing in a room full of corpses? I'll give you a clue, it ain't hero. It's murderer, followed shortly thereafter by inmate.

Lethal force is almost never an acceptable response to a threat, and you'd be surprised by just what can be lethal. An overzealous blow to the head can kill a man pretty easily. A stab wound or a gunshot can most assuredly do it. Your goal in a self defense situation isn't to kill people, it's to stay alive. An accident is one thing, but you're going to have a hard time calling a mulligan when you're unloading your 9mm into people or stabbing them with a broken beer bottle.

Most of the time, a person mugging you or picking a fight in a bar doesn't want to kill you. They may want to rob you, or hurt you, but they don't want to be a murderer. Neither do you, trust me on this one. The 50 bucks in your wallet isn't worth risking a few years in prison, either.

Have you ever been mugged, attacked, robbed, or set upon by ninjas?

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5. Life isn't a Movie

People are, for the most part, not out to get you. The people you see on the street probably aren't staring at you, coveting your property and waiting for a chance to take your stuff. If 15 guys with assault rifles come through your door, it's not terrorists coming to destroy your country starting with you, it's the cops and "defending yourself" will only get you dead. It doesn't make you a hero to fend of six armed attackers with your bare hands, it makes you stupid for risking life and limb over the contents of your purse or wallet.

Avoidance is the best form of self defense. Escape is the second best. Keeping yourself alive is your priority, and the best way to do that is to stay out of dangerous situations. Dark alleys are not your friend. If you're out at night, stay in well-lit public places. If you do find yourself in a situation where you feel threatened, your end goal should be to walk away with your skin in-tact.

Do the Smart Thing

There's nothing in your purse or wallet that is worth your life. That's the point I'm trying to drive home here. By a wide margin, the best thing to do if you ever find yourself with a gun or knife pointed at you is to hand it over and walk away. Things can be replaced, lives can't.

A lot of people I know have illusions of grandeur about these situations. They imagine themselves deftly wading through waves of attackers, heroically defending themselves against the evil criminal element. That's pure fantasy. Give up the money, the watch, the car keys, whatever they want, keep your hide in one piece, and walk away. The only time that violence won't just make matters worse is when they mean to kill you from the get go, and frankly the odds are against that ever happening to you.

I'm not against defending yourself, quite the contrary. What I am against is risking life and limb over money or property. Do me a favor, folks, and if you find yourself in a bad situation just do the right thing. The safe thing.

Thoughts? Am I wrong? Feel free to let me know in the comments.

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    • JG11Bravo profile image
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      JG11Bravo 3 years ago

      Bruce Lee had a lovely quote on the subject in Commentaries on the Martial Way, actually, which went something like "Nowadays, I mean you don't go around on the street, kicking people or punching people. Because if you do, they will pull a gun out of their jacket and BANG! That's it. I don't care how good you are."

      That really sums it up, if you ask me. I appreciate the comment, billybuc. Affirmation from such a prolific individual is a delightful ego boost for me.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are an interesting man, and I say that with great respect. I enjoy your philosophical and yet practical mind. Many years ago I took karate for two years...made it to brown belt. The first lesson they taught us was to avoid confrontation if at all possible. No matter how good one might be in karate or any other self-defense style, there is too great a chance of being dead at the end of the confrontation. You are right on with this article.

    • JG11Bravo profile image
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      JG11Bravo 3 years ago

      I'm of the mind that ego does a great job of getting people hurt. Better to swallow your pride than swallow your teeth after all.

    • JG11Bravo profile image
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      JG11Bravo 3 years ago

      I had a feeling you'd read this one and I was hoping you'd agree.

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 3 years ago from California, United States of America

      You're right about that, the best thing is to get out of there if there's danger and not to step into dangerous situations; all kinds of problems are avoided that way. You're also correct that many people fantasize an awful lot and, unfortunately, some people encourage them to do so for profit; and give them bad advice that could get them hurt or killed. There are situations that could warrant fighting, no doubt about that. But a person better be very aware of when that is and not jump the gun when fighting isn't necessary.