When it comes to actual self-defence there are loads of techniques you can use from an abundance of style and systems but very few focus on tactics.
The reason for this is pretty apparent; not many people teaching self-defence have had a lot of experience in actually defending themselves.
So, today I have pulled together five tactics that allowed me to stay safe during a 17-year long law enforcement career.
I hope you might find them useful.
1. Never Reach Above Your Shoulder Line
I stand about 5 ft 9 inches tall and weigh 97 kilos.
By any stretch of the imagination, I am built like a Gorilla.
I have short legs, a short body and long arms.
So the vast majority of people I ever had to deal with were taller than me. And that is an advantage I always had.
As a shorter person, I had incredible leverage. However, there was a golden rule I learned the hard way.
Never reach up and try and pull your taller opponent down to strike them.
Yes, think about it, in real fight situations, it is very common to try and grab the opponents face, hair and neck.
It is quite natural to do this.
The problem comes with two issues, firstly, when you reach up to grab hold you are far less powerful.
And secondly, when you grab them and pull them into you or down, all they need to do is straighten their backs using the powerful leg muscles and again your arms become weak and stretched out.
So what should you do?
Fight at eye level.
You might be asking what I mean, but this is where the magic of DL comes in.
The shapes used to protect your head and turn you into a walking weapon, allowing you to smash your way inside and use traps, grabs and 1/4 turns to break your opponent down and not to try and bring them to you.
It is a subtle difference but being strong at your height is essential.
To further highlight this, go and grab a ball, preferably a football.
Next hold it in two hands, arms out straight and upwards as if it was the head of a taller person.
Next, have someone try and take the ball out of your hands.
It will be quite easy if your arms are outstretched.
Then, pull the ball into your chest and repeat.
It is far harder to get the ball.
Don’t overreach, instead break them down by fighting at your level.
2. Never Look Into Your Attackers Eyes
We are always taught ‘eye’ contact is best in any situation. I have found that to be a myth.
Eye contact works great for communication purposes but terrible in ‘attack and defence purposes’.
There are a few reasons for this.
Because it becomes a war of stares (ie. look how tough I am staring into your eyes)
Because you are tunnel visioned.
When you look into the eyes of the attacker, you tend to see their face and not much else, especially if you are focused on maintaining eye contact.
So what should you do?
Instead, move your eye contact between the centre chest and their face.
When you look at the centre of the chest, you get to see a range of things.
Such as the shoulders moving before a strike, giving you an early warning.
This little tip which was given to me by a 30-year police veteran when I was 18 and has saved me some headaches over the years.
3. Look At How The Attacker Is Standing To Gauge Skill
This is a handy way to tell if you are dealing with a trained attacker or not.
If anyone has had any degree of fighting training worth its salt they will stand in a ‘bladed’ stance like a fighter would.
I also look at this to see how effective their attack and defence would be.
Now before the ‘Kung Fu’ people get back to me and start saying things about horse stances etc., of course, people can be effective square on, but it is ridiculously rare.
In 17 years I have never seen a square on person fight well in the street.
4. Wait For The Turn
The most common and predictable cue for a strike is the attacker turning away and then throwing a punch.
It is the number 1 trick in the book.
It is used for two reasons, firstly it is a way of concealing intent, and secondly, it allows them to generate more power with a big haymaker.
Knowing this allows you so many options.
You can wait for the turn, move to your right and strike with a left hook, you can push them and watch them go flying (my favourite) and anything else your system has to offer.
But be on the lookout for the turn and then act.
5. Ask them ‘What’s Your Name?’
Our last advanced fighting tactic is beyond a doubt my favourite so use it wisely.
Have you ever seen Avengers Age of Ultron?
The Hulk is raging out of control, and then Black Widow says ‘The Sun’s going down’ and starts to calm him down with what seems like a poem.
Well when we start to become aggressive we shout a lot, we have adrenaline rushing through our system, and we begin to go ‘hulk mad’.
To deal with this, I learned a nifty and straightforward trick years ago.
Ask the aggressor ‘what’s your name’.
It acts as a switch. Either it will do one of two things, first, it will calm them down as they tell you and also enter dialogue with you.
Secondly, they won’t answer (in that case repeat asking until you get a response) and eventually, they will get so angry that they boil over which is great because it gives you more than enough grounds to act in self-defence.
Why does this work?
It is something called self-relevant stimuli.
It works like this, have you ever been in a room and someone said your name, even though you were deep in conversation and the person was calling it to another person?
I bet you turned and looked.
You will have done this without thinking because your subconscious is working for you.
If you do this with an aggressor the subconscious works in the same way.
So what happens if they give you their name?
Simple, say ‘Look, John, I don’t want any trouble.’
Trust me this works like a charm because if they say ‘well you shouldn’t of xyz (whatever their gripe is)’ you can say sorry, even if you did nothing wrong.
Or they might say ‘well trouble is looking for you’ and again this tells you that this will go physical and it is ‘game on time’.
There are 5 advanced self-defence tactics that have served me well over the years
Of course, all the tactics in the world won’t help if you don’t have the skills to back them up.
I developed a rich skill set over a long number of years and you can too.
Defence Lab can be learned online or in classes at one of our physical ‘ Labs across the globe.