Martial arts training has many physical, emotional, and psychological benefits. But one of the primary reasons people train more modern martial arts and combatives systems is self defense.
There are many layers to self defense. Obviously, there are the techniques. But awareness of your surroundings helps you avoid trouble. And if trouble pops up, de-escalation techniques can help ease the tension and allow you to walk away without a punch being thrown.
But did you know there’s another part of the de-escalation puzzle that’s just as important?
Avoid inviting the other person to attack you.
First, let’s get one thing out of the way. We’re referring to situations known as alpha-ego type attacks (the other type is predatory).
Alpha-ego is your typical “you looked at me, bumped me, looked at my woman, spilled my beer” type of scenario most often seen with men. But make no mistake, there are almost as many of these instances involving women.
By the way, these rules apply if you’re the target, and if you’re helping someone else.
The art of not fighting
Earlier, I mentioned de-escalation tactics. We refer to these in our Krav Maga classes with the acronym TACOS. It’s the 5 things you don’t want to do when de-escalating a situation.
Don’t do these 5 things:
1) Threaten. Just to be clear, “If you don’t get your finger out of my face, I’ll break it!” is a threat.
2) Argue. Nobody cares if you have just as much right to be there as the other guy. Especially the other guy. Either agree with him, or shut up.
3) Challenge. Seriously, “I’m gonna kick your ass!” should never be answered with “Yeah? I dare you!”
4) Order. There’s a wold-wide truth that no argument has ever calmed down by demanding the other person calm down. And don’t tell them to sit down, get the f***k out, or anything else that attempts to dictate their behavior.
5) Shame. “That’s a big-ass gun. What are you compensating for?” Just… no.
Do these 3 things:
1) What you’re told. Marc MacYoung, author of the blog nononsenseselfdefense.com, says listen to the attacker. He’ll tell you how to not get your ass kicked. I agree whole-heartedly.
If someone tells you to stop looking at him, then stop. He says you better leave the bar or else? Leave. I’m betting there are plenty of other bars where that other dude isn’t hanging out.
2) Be quick to apologize. No, you don’t have to mean it. And maybe you really were staring at the guy. But a quick “Man, I’m sorry. Rough day at work and I was staring off into space. Didn’t mean to do it your direction” goes a long way.
3) Don’t look like a threat. Getting in his face looks like a threat. Taking a fighting stance looks like a threat. So does puffing up like a tough guy (or gal).
Instead, try hands up in the universal “I don’t want any trouble” position, and back away. Look at the other guy, but don’t stare (you don’t want to take your eyes off him, just in case– and don’t turn your back).
And this is most likely the time to just leave, even if he hasn’t insisted. He may calm down now, but after his next beer, he could get himself worked up over you again. It’s happened.
Remember, self defense is about surviving, not fighting.
And the best self defense is never engaging in the fight to begin with. Master the 8 self defense tips above, and it could be the only self defense you’ll ever need.
Have you ever used any of these tactics to avoid a fight? Can you think of any we left out? Tell us in the comments.