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The Truth About De-escalation and Self Defense

Updated on August 8, 2011

The Unfortunate Truth about De-escalation Techniques in Violent Conflicts

If you find yourself in a violent conflict or in an argument which is quickly going the wrong way you only have a couple of options or ‘self defense strategies’ to make sure you get out safe.

The key is knowing when each technique should be used

Here are Your Option:

-Run Away: everyones least favorite self defense technique

-Stay and fight: The all to often romanticized option

-De-Escalation: The least effective option for most situations

To keep yourself safe you need to know when each of these self defense strategies is most effective and when it is a waste of time.

Running Away:

For most guys this is not the option we want to take. But it has its time and place.

If you are alone or in a bad situation and you know someone is about to attack you (mugging, gang initiations, random violence, etc.) you should seriously consider this option.

This is especially true if you are unarmed and your attacker is potentially armed.

There is no sense in risking life or injury when you have nothing to fight for other than your wallet or cell phone. Running is a real self defense strategy.

Consider this, even if you win you may have to pay some medical bill to get a cut stitched up or cleaned. You could also be bitten or seriously cut and contract a disease like hepatitis.

I don’t know if you’ve been to the emergency room lately but the last time I went it cost me 500 bucks (luckily it wasn’t from fighting).

Okay enough about running because sometimes it’s just no possible.

Staying and Fighting:

You’ve just realized you are going to fight. This is a moment we all romanticize or fear or both.

This self defense strategy should be reserved for when you can’t run (i.e. you are cornered) or you won’t run (you must protect your family, girlfriend, or someone else).

The key to success here is to know the fight is on before the other guy. For a quick understanding of how to do this check out my hub "5 Simple Self Defense Strategies that Will Save Your Life"

These situations occur more often that most of us think so it is important to be prepared for them.


We hear about de-escalation a lot these days and quite frankly most of it is ‘bs.’ There is only one time you should use de-escalation techniques and that’s if you are dealing with an emotionally hijacked attacker.

If you are in fact dealing with an emotionally hijacked attacker this is what you have to do: (but remember even if you follow these steps you may not be able to talk him down. Stay on your guard.)

1. Stay Calm: He is going to be yelling don’t yell back stay cool and follow these steps.

2. Get him talking: Don’t let down your guard and don’t let him get within striking distance but other than this let him vent. Don’t argue or respond even if he is saying stuff that just isn’t true. Let him get it off his chest.

3. Stay Neutral, don’t agree or disagree.

4. Keep Him talking: encourage him to clarify and explain what he means. This makes him feel like you are listening and that you care. Also you can ask him to “tell me more about it” or “go on.” Remain neutral using phrases like “uh huh” or “I see.”

5. Summarize with feeling: this means you repeat what he has been telling you in your own words showing him that you understand what you did (or he thinks you did) made him mad.

6. Acknowledge and respond: Tell him you understand what he thinks you did and that you would be mad too, but you didn’t do it on purpose and you are very sorry.

By following these steps you will have the best chance at de-escalating the situation. But remember to never let your guard down. At any moment he could snap and you need to be ready to defend yourself. De-escalation is the best outcome possible, but not necessarily the most likely.

To conclude de-escalation techniques are a valuable self defense skill to have, but should never be totally relied on in any situation.

If you want to learn more about self-defense and learn 15 brutal ways to end any fight in a matter of seconds check out or my blog at

Stay Smart and Stay Safe,

Bob Pierce



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