Self-Defense Principles

It is important to understand self-defense principles rather than just the techniques. They are not hard and fast rules but rather the underlining theory behind techniques. If you only understand a few self-defense techniques chances are you will freeze if the attack differs from what you have trained against. Although there are hundreds of self-defense principles, the majority of the techniques taught in this program are based on the following 12. This is truly a “Twelve 12 Step Program” that can be the difference in whether or not you are a victor or victim!  

Avoid attacks by running away whenever possible. Perceive and remember your escape routes. It might be necessary to distract or put a hurt on your attacker to free yourself to run. Something like a quick poke with a tactical pen to a vital area should give you the head start you require. Get out of the house and attract as much attention as you can!

Once an attack has begun the three things that will make the greatest impact on whether you come out of the situation a victor, in order of importance is:

1. Eye (Focus) Training   2. Movement Training 3. Attack Training


  1. Don’t wait for the first “attack!”
    Probably the most famous saying in Karate is, “karate ni sen te nashi,” which basically means that in karate there is no first attack. Although its premise that a karate practitioner shouldn’t be starting a fight is true, many take this literally. If you wait, it may be too late! One must first determine what an attack is. This is where you must trust your gut instincts. If someone is coming at you with the intent to hurt you, you will see it or sense it, probably by something which had been previously said or an unwanted advance that came earlier, or the look on their face. You hinder your chances immensely if you wait for them to make a definite physical attack! Ascertain intent quickly.
  2. Keep your eyes on your opponent’s eyes!
    Keep your eyes locked like a laser beam on your opponent’s eyes. Your adversary’s intentions will be telegraphed from their eyes first. You have heard the expression the “eye is the window to the soul.” Also when you lock eyes on your opponents eyes you can see most attacks coming much sooner. Even most skilled combatants telegraph their attack. Most don’t attack without tightening their face muscles or dropping the shoulder of the attacking arm or leg, which can easily be seen with peripheral visions.


  3. Keeping proper distance!  
    There is a saying, which is a combination of the Okinawan and Japanese languages which goes “karate ni issun be.” Which simply means in Karate it is an inch, inferring that the difference between winning and losing is an inch. By controlling our distance and simply making our attacker extend an additional inch to reach us when grabbing or striking it can put them off balance and literally make them vulnerable and loose much of their strength. This saying can be applied in hundreds of scenarios.  
  4. Movement is essential and pivoting is quicker than stepping!
    Although for some this may have to be demonstrated for them to understand. Not unlike any sport, as mentioned, eye training and movement are the two most important elements once an attack begins. Typically you react to what you see, and it is quicker to pivot than step. If you learn to move properly you save time, maintain a strong posture to attack from and will find opportunities to flee easier.
  5. Use your feet as your eyes when moving during an attack.
    Glide your feet rather than stepping when defending yourself. You want to focus your eyes on your opponent’s eyes; you can’t afford to look down to make sure you aren’t stepping on something which you could end up tripping on. This is not something you will learn overnight, but easily trained on your own. You must learn to glide your feet and feel with them prior to transferring your weight from one foot to another. Whether it is a kids toy, a dogs bone or a coke bottle if you step on one you will likely end up on the ground. If you glide, your feet you will simply knock it out of the way. .
  6. Don’t lean back! Never allow your shoulders to get behind your butt!
    Although it is natural to lean back as an attack comes toward your upper body, it is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Once your balance is leaning back, you lose most of your power and even if you try to kick, chances are it will have little effect and you will be knocked back to the ground. Your butt must stay even with or behind your shoulders. This also allows you to move forward or at a 45 degree angle much easier. As a rule of thumb never take more than one step backward. Your attacker, most likely, can go forward much quicker than you can go backward, if your shoulders get behind your butt it is very difficult not to continue moving backward.
  7. When possible get to the outside of your attacker’s attack!
    Although there are plenty of techniques which can be done from inside of your attackers arm, most of the time one should strive to move to the outside of their arm. This allows you to strike without worrying about being hit by your opponents other arm, to control your opponent’s body and to flee much easier.


  8. Utilize quick and uncomplicated techniques that require little strength to immobilize your attacker!
    Unless one is willing to dedicate years of practice in martial arts it is imperative that the techniques in their arsenal are geared to vital areas that can debilitate the strongest adversary. Example: there is no way to strengthen the eye; a strike there can debilitate even the strongest attacker with very little power required.
  9. Biting can get you out of situations where almost nothing else can!
    Have you ever noticed that almost every animal’s primary method of attack is biting? Your jaw has a tremendous amount of power when biting. Should you pinned to the ground with your arms to your side or locked up in many other situations a flesh tearing bite to the neck, arm or thigh can be your best option.
  10. Make every effort to never go to the ground with your opponent!
    There are statistics that say 90% of all fights end up on the ground. While that may be true in fights, you are not training to be a fighter with written or unwritten rules. You are in a life and death struggle where your primary goal is survival. In real self-defense you never want to go to the ground with your opponent unless you are sure there is only one attacker and you are better on the ground than them. If you are not trained in ground fighting do not try to wrestle with your opponent; that is a recipe for disaster. Bite; kick with your heels; eye gouge; use a strong pen, keys or whatever else you have at your disposal. Obviously, you can’t run if you are on the ground!
  11. Grabs: When possible use small joint manipulation! Never try to pry your attackers hands off you!
    Unless highly trained one should usually shy away from joint manipulation to major joints like arm bars which require strength and although it is not necessary, they are often done from the ground. One can completely control an opponent by locking the wrist or better yet locking up one finger! Don’t fight strength with strength. If your attacker tries to grab you there are easy ways to remove most grabs with very little power. Remember if they grab you most places with one hand you still have two hands free to strike and they only have one. Better yet if they grab you with both hands they have tied up both their hands while you usually have both hands free to strike! If you take both hands to try to pry off your opponent’s hand you have given the advantage back to them and if it is a choke you will likely succumb to the attack while trying to free yourself.
  12. Striking!
    Strikes should be focused on techniques like low kicks to the groin, thumbs to the eyes, palm heels to the nose, etc. Although a closed fist is the preference of most trained martial artist and boxers, if you hit with the wrong knuckles your chances of breaking your hands are great. All you have to do is feel the bone that supports the knuckle of your small finger to realize it is extremely fragile (about the size of a pencil) and I have been there when people have broken them on two separate occasions. Even trained boxers with wrist wraps on to protect their hands frequently break this bone. You must also learn to utilize the major muscle groups to add power to your techniques. Your thigh muscle, hip rotation and shoulder extension are more far important than your arm muscle in developing power in a strike.