Basic Self-Defense: Techniques & Tips

Instructor: Millicent Kelly

Millicent has been teaching at the university level since 2004. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and a Master's degree in Human Resources.

This lesson will review the some of the best basic self-defense techniques you can use in emergency situations. Techniques that should be avoided will also be discussed briefly.

The Karate Kid

Remember the 1984 movie The Karate Kid, where young Daniel is trained by Mr. Miyagi in karate techniques so he can stand up to the kids who bully him? That's the image most of us tend to think of when we think of self-defense. However, it doesn't take months, or even years, of training to defend yourself in a dangerous situation. This lesson will teach you some basic self-defense techniques you can start using right now, provide you with some tips and tricks, and tell you what not to do in emergency situations.

Priority Number One: Prevention

There are several useful basic self-defense techniques and tips that can be utilized and taught with little to no effort. However, the foremost care should first be given to avoid placing yourself in vulnerable situations before considering physical action.

Most self-defense experts will tell you that prevention should always be the first priority when thinking of self-defense. It is crucial to avoid placing yourself in a position where you can be easily victimized. So here are some of the ways that this can be accomplished so that your need to use physical self-defense tactics can be minimized:

  • Before approaching your vehicle in a parking area, take note of your surroundings, have keys in hand, and try not to be alone.
  • Don't wear or carry expensive items when walking around by yourself. This includes jewelry, watches, handbags, and laptops to name a few.
  • Don't walk around in dark and sparsely populated areas by yourself.
  • Trust your instincts. If something doesn't look or feel right, there is a good chance it isn't.
  • Don't establish routines. Walking the same route home from work every evening establishes an easily identifiable pattern that allows others to plan an assault.
  • Don't assume only females are victims of random assaults. Men are robbed just as easily and should take these same precautions.

Basic Self-Defense

Now that you know what you can do to minimize your chance of ending up in situations that require using self-defense tactics, let's look at what you can do when your best efforts to prevent being victimized fail. Remember that most basic self-defense techniques are easy to learn and require very little effort.

Use Actions and Words

  • Make noise - don't be the silent victim, as silence can in fact be deadly. Yell, scream, do what you have to do to get attention. There is a good chance the perpetrator will be alarmed and flee.
  • Throw your keys - if someone is demanding that you enter your vehicle and drive away with them, throw your car keys in the opposite direction and run. It's likely the criminal will turn to retrieve the keys rather than pursue you.
  • Give them what they want - if someone is demanding your purse or wallet, now is not the time to refuse. Simply give them what they want and hope they will retreat.

Get Physical

Just like prevention techniques, sometimes actions and words are not enough, and you will need to get physical. It's important to know which points on the human body are sensitive to physical attack:

  • Head - sensitive areas on the human head include the eyes, nose, ears, neck, and throat. When attacking the head, give it everything you've got. Always remember that when someone is trying to harm you, there is no reason to hold back. Go for the eyes with your fingers, aim for the nasal bone with the palm of your hand, hit the attacker's ear with as much force as possible, or use the palm of your hand to deliver a short but strong chop to the neck area.
  • Torso - the area right under the torso is also a good target for self-defense. Use your elbow to deliver a powerful jab.
  • Below the belt - the groin area is especially sensitive. Use the force of your legs to deliver a knee to the area.
  • Legs - the knee and shin are good targets when defending yourself. Delivering a powerful kick to these areas can allow you the opportunity to escape. Just be careful that the attacker is not able to grab your leg.

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