Mushtaq clued me onto this one by Scott Sonnon .
20 Quick Lessons to No-BS Self-Protection
As one who lived within violence and terror from childhood due to a special array of circumstances including physical and mental childhood disabilities, I dedicated my life to becoming “invisible.” Fighting back never worked for me as it only exacerbated the problem, leading to a worse ambush later. I didn’t want to fight. I wanted to be left alone, unmolested and unharmed.
When it comes to preparing yourself to deal with a violent attack, I advocate a doctrine of “unconditional survival.” Due to the inherent educational flaws in the American “martial art” approach, I assembled this desideratum to fill the gap between the technique-oriented training most Americans undergo in the dojo and the reality of the violent personal attacks.
If you intend to take a self-defense or martial arts course, none of what you read should be interpreted as an admonition to abandon that supplementary education. In the contrary, my list will help you make what you already know more accessible and effective should you ever find yourself in a suddenly violent situation.
In any physical conflict, your goal is unconditional survival. It is not to kill an assailant, nor to maim, injure or hurt him, for those are merely byproducts of pursuing your objective, which is freedom from harm - physical, mental and emotional. You must always hold true to your goal: to survive unconditionally, without question, at any cost. That does not include fighting; it does include appropriate application of fighting skill at the decisive moment.
If you do not need to employ your physical skills or defense tools (like mace, a knife or a gun) or if you need to refrain from using them, they should remain invisible. Since the goal of an assailant is to remove opportunities for you to defend yourself, only if you are attacked should you allow others to be aware of your ability or options.
By themselves, prearranged martial arts techniques are insufficient for self-protection. Unconditional survival demands extensive skill and preparation ranging from non-verbal communication to lethal force. Basically, if your only tool is a hammer, everything you see will be a nail (which means you’ll stimulate more conflict, not less.) If you understand only fighting skill, then when conflict arises you will fight, even if the situation could have been solved by other means. To become truly invisible to violence, you must have a spectrum of tools to defuse aggression.
Symmetrical training, like sparring, cannot be relied upon. Too many martial arts instructors teach you how to use your skills only against practitioners of the same style. More importantly, when you’re attacked it’s never with mutual consent; no bowing, squaring off, mental preparation for the bell, and gentlemanly rules. An ambush (being asymmetrical) has little to no resemblance to a sparring match. You should find “role model” scenario-based training to supplement any martial art training you choose to do.
Training should not involve any preconceived ideas about saving face or fighting fair. Survival is not about style, but about the reality of evasion and escape. Lie, cheat, wreak whatever chicanery necessary. Do everything possible to protect yourself and extract yourself from harm’s way. Even the courts indemnify you from this in your right to self-preservation. Withdraw when you can. It may be your most successful tactic and can save your life. In a fight, you will be lucky to leave unscathed, so if you can avoid the fight, do so at all costs. Violence avoided is a fight won.
The key to survival does not lie in memorizing a couple quotes from Eastern philosophy, slapping a few flashy kicks and submission holds together, and starting a new style. The key to survival involves uncovering your own self-worth and truly believing that you have a valuable contribution to the world which deserves protecting.
You must be prepared, both psychologically and physiologically, for the attack. Your awareness must be such that you have the ability to function under the intense strain of personal violence even though it will enable you to defuse or avoid 90 percent of all volatile situations. Your would-be assailant interviews you as a potential “safe” victim for him to attack; and you want your awareness to be sufficiently prepared so that you FAIL this interview!
If you fail to recognize the attack developing and are startled by it, you will not have access to your skills. If you allow your awareness to lapse and fade, you will become a victim of your own overconfidence. Violence starts much earlier than the physical manifestation of the attack. You must have complete training for detecting the pre-attack indicators so that you can avoid, prevent or distract violence before it unfolds. That can mean feigning submission and acquiescing to the demands of the assailant. Give up your wallet or purse; its contents do not equal your life or the life of a loved one.
Don’t spend all your training time in the dojo. Miyamoto Musashi, one of the greatest warrior-philosophers, stated in his Book of Five Rings: … “If you learn indoor techniques, you will think narrowly and forget the true way. Thus you will have difficulty in actual encounters.” True martial art begins when you leave your class, not when you enter it.
Martial sports are about technical skill, steadfastness, endurance, doggedness, durability and resilience. They have nothing to do with personal violence because they do not take place outdoors, in the dirt, in the rain, in the snow, on the concrete or in ambush simulations. Competing in combat sports can supplement your ability to defend yourself, but cannot replace it.
Most people have never fallen on anything harder than a mat. They have never kicked with their shoes on or punched a real person. They have probably not tried to battle from inside a vehicle, from within a crowd of civilians or in the company of untrained loved ones. Don’t fall victim to those pitfalls.
To prepare for an event, you must simulate it as closely as possible. Performance is in direct proportion to preparation. Moreover, the worst performance you have in training is the best you can hope for in combat. To increase your chance of survival, you must engage in overload practice. Your training simulations must be more difficult than the potential assault.
Merely because something is old does not mean it is valuable today. Ancient training methods are an excellent way of learning how people fought and trained in ancient times. Back then, people trained in unarmed fighting because oppressive rulers restricted weapons possession. Some ancient fighting methods are no longer effective because the 21st century has brought a new kind of threat. The assailant which confronts you is a new breed of felon more terrorist than criminal who feeds on the emotional trauma he inflicts.
Because of the weapons and methods used by modern criminals, you can no longer permit yourself the luxury of training only with your empty hands. You ought to adopt an integrated system that spans the continuum of defensive preparation, from non-verbal communication to interpersonal skill to less-than-lethal measures (like mace) to lethal force (included edged weapons and firearms.)
Its time to fight when the situation is no longer acceptable to you. Rarely do you have to fight. Rarely do you encounter a situation that is truly unacceptable. The obstacle is not that you fail to choose to fight, for it is not a choice but a fact that when something is unacceptable to you, you will act upon it in some form. The failure comes in realizing too late, and then you are playing “catch-up” with your very life, when you are surprised or not properly prepared with a flexible and comprehensive self-protection doctrine, you are not given the opportunity to enter the fight. If so, your actions may be inappropriate or insufficient. Anyone can successfully negotiate personal violence as long as he is given the ability to act appropriately.
What gives you the ability to survive is training within a doctrine that permits you to identify and assess a threat prior to the fight, one that derails psychological and physiological factors that inhibit your entrance into the fight, one that affords you access to your fighting skill should physical violence break out, and one that provides post-combat knowledge to address legal, medical and social concerns.
Your capacity for calmly recognizing an assailants probing process will determine your ability to survive. There are certain characteristics that are common to all attacks and certain brands of behavior common to particular types of belligerents. The attacker’s interview phase is one of these characteristics, where he is determining if you’re “safe” to attack. If you do not possess the calm repose and wherewithal to recognize that violence begins long before the fight, you will not have access to your fighting skill. If you fail to recognize the development of the attack, you may be able to muster the ability to do something about fighting, when prevention may have been the most effective solution.
Self-protection is not about fighting; it is about awareness and commitment. Awareness of your options and the composition of confrontation increases your survivability. Non-verbal training, eye and facial calibration, body carriage, postural and spatial constitution, gesticulation and verbal skill should be critical parts of your training.
During a physical confrontation that has obvious legal implications, the fight is over when the assailant is no longer a threat, even though the turmoil continues until the situation is resolved legally, socially, physically and emotionally. The law never supercedes your right to self-preservation. The legal system was created to perpetuate your survival, not inhibit or endanger it.
You should endeavor to end physical confrontation as quickly as possible. Keep your response simple and expedient. You do not have the luxury of being complex, especially in multiple-assailant engagements. Most of the time, you can end the problem by simply unbalancing your adversary and withdrawing tactically.
Fighting is something you do with someone; violence is something done to someone. Nothing you’ve ever done in your life, intentionally or accidentally, merits a suddenly violent attack to your person. Do not try to fight. You only have the impulse to fight, because you’re a good person, because psychologically, you believe in fairness and righteousness. Sudden violence is neither.
Believe in yourself, in your intrinsic goodness, and protect that essence as you would your own child, unconditionally.