Avoid Rather Than Fight
For years, I’ve used the term “self-offense” to promulgate the notion that self-defense is a misnomer, that defending — by its very nature — is at best delaying an inevitable loss. To convince a predator to stop, you have to attack him and make him understand that he’s at equal risk of sustaining serious injury.
This is as true in combat sports as it is in �ighting. When attacking opponents meet nothing but blocks and evasive movement, they won’t be compelled to stop attacking. Why should they be? They’re at no risk of being knocked out or hurt, so instead of stopping their attack and stepping back, they press forward, sensing that the end is near. And they’re usually not wrong.
If you think about it, self-defense is actually a better term for all the things you do or should do before the manifestation of violence. It’s doing all the things that are necessary to achieve the highest likelihood of avoiding the �ight. SELF-DEFENSE IS carrying a legal weapon at all times. It should be a weapon that, when circumstances make you think of it or touch it, acts as a trigger to remind you to leave the area, to remove yourself from the situation. Do that and you might get away without having to use the weapon.
Self-defense is making sound personal-security decisions with regard to where you park, where you choose to go and when you choose to go there. It also encompasses where you sit in public, where you stand on public transportation, which ATMs you use and scores of other decisions that aren’t conscious decisions at all for those who are likely to be victimized.
Pro�iling people around you for possible weapons — looking at belt lines, checking pocket rims for knife clips, discerning the location of hands and being alert to the appropriateness of clothing that might be intended to conceal — are all examples of self-defense.
This category of smart behavior applies even more when you’re on the road: carefully controlling your itinerary, choosing your hotels wisely, purchasing and using a portable lock to augment the lock on your hotel door, and using apps such as RedZone Map, which shows what crimes have occurred in an area and how you can avoid trouble spots. SITUATIONAL AWARENESS is a huge part of self-defense. The �irst step to upping yours is knowing what the components of situational awareness are. It’s more than having your head on a swivel. In my book Combatives for Street Survival, I wrote: “Situational awareness is a cumulative alertness to threat, environment, movement and anomalies. Being able to discern subtle pre-incident indicators is referred to as ‘attack recognition’ skill.”
Attack recognition doesn’t mean being paranoid or overreacting to just any stimulus. The term describes something that should become second nature. Practicing good attack recognition doesn’t mean furtively looking for bad guys around every corner. In fact, �inding any one pre-incident indicator is likely nothing. If you pick up two, however, pay attention. Three or more, and the situation deserves your complete attention.
In the pre-deployment courses I teach to military and government personnel headed to high-risk environments, I de�ine pre-incident indicators as “unlikely circumstances that, collectively, indicate an attack could be imminent.” SELF- OFFENSE, on the other hand, is the physical component of protecting yourself. Once violence manifests — sometimes slowly and sometimes suddenly — you simply must engage at a level that breaks the momentum of the attack in progress.
And yes, to accomplish that effectively, you must apply the combatives principle of simultaneity, which refers to remaining able to protect yourself from strikes while you strike back. Make no mistake about it: Fighting to protect yourself includes attacking the attacker.
In an age when it’s considered tactless or undiplomatic to ask a victim, “What did you do that may have contributed to being attacked?” it’s hard to change behavior for the better. Nowadays, too many people incorrectly assume that the police can create a safe environment in which they don’t have to be especially watchful and don’t have to protect themselves. This is a ridiculous notion if for no other reason than bad guys don’t behave badly when police are present.
We all have a personal responsibility to do these things as part of our selfdefense so we never have to resort to self- offense. For information about Kelly McCann’s newest combatives courses, which can be streamed anytime, anywhere to your digital device, visit aim�itnessnet work.com/blackbelt.
Make no mistake about it: Fighting to protect yourself includes attacking the attacker.