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Finding yourself unarmed while facing an attacker is a nightmare scenario. If they have a weapon and you don’t, then no matter what their weapon is, the odds are severely stacked against you. Even if they aren’t armed, fending off an attacker without a weapon is an intimidating prospect.
Fortunately, there are ways to tilt the odds back in your favor. In case you ever find yourself staring down one or more attackers and you have nothing but your bare hands with which to defend yourself, consider these self-defense tips and tactics.
1. Fight Dirty
If you’re attacked on the street, it isn’t a boxing match or MMA fight with set of rules for each contender to follow–it’s a life and death situation, and what you have to do to survive isn’t going to be pretty. Before we dive into the specifics of how to handle various situations, it’s important to understand one overarching principle that always applies: savagery and aggression are your allies.
Go for your attacker’s weaknesses, such as the eyes and groin. If they have you pinned to the ground, bite down on the first piece of exposed flesh you see and tear it off.
In short, take advantage of whatever opportunities that present themselves to inflict pain and damage on your attacker. Oftentimes it isn’t the biggest or best-trained fighter that comes out victorious–many times, it’s the most aggressive. Tactics like these aren’t pretty, but they work.
2. If Faced with Multiple Attackers, Don’t Take the Fight to the Ground
Taking the fight to ground is an excellent way to maintain control of your opponent and finish a fight, and disciplines such as wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu excel at teaching you how to get someone to the ground and how to defeat them once they are there. But if you are facing multiple attackers, the ground is the last place you want to be.
The reason is simple: You can only take one person to the ground at a time, and being on the ground with one or more of your attackers still standing is never a good situation. It’s just asking to be kicked in the head and ribs, repeatedly. Instead you should stay on your feet, keep moving, and rely on striking to finish them one at a time.
3. Find a Weapon and Use the Element of Surprise to Survive a Home Invasion
Having a firearm during a home invasion is always optimal. However, you could be caught off guard with no firearms in reach. If that happens, the first thing to do is find the nearest item that can be used as a weapon. Even wielding a household item such as a steak knife or a heavy vase can even the odds a little.
Just don’t spend so much time searching for a suitable weapon that you don’t have a chance to fight back.
If it is the middle of the night, avoid the temptation to turn the lights on. You know the layout of your house far better than your invader and will have the advantage when navigating it in the dark. With the most suitable weapon you could find in hand and the lights in your house off, find a place to hide with only one entry and exit such as a bathroom or closet. Be ready.
If the invader enters your hiding place, the element of surprise may be the only advantage you have. Strike them as soon as they enter and do not stop until they are incapacitated.
4. Distract and Isolate the Weapon to Stop a Mugging
First off, if giving the crook your money and walking away unharmed is an option, take it. Any self-defense instructor worth their salt will tell you that if you are unarmed against an assailant with a knife or gun, you must come to grips with the likelihood that you are going to get cut or shot in the process. The few bills in your wallet aren’t worth the price.
If, however, you believe that the person mugging you has other, more harmful intentions in mind such as rape or murder, fighting back is your best option.
Once you’ve made the decision to fight back, there are two important steps—distract your attacker and isolate their weapon. One often recommended method of distraction is to drop your purse or wallet as you are going to hand it to the mugger.
Their eyes will naturally follow it down, and when they do, you must go for their weapon. Move fast and take hold of their weapon hand. Deliver strikes to their face and eyes, all the while torquing on their weapon hand until they are forced to drop it.
5. Lay Low to Escape a Riot
There are situations where fighting back is advised, but a riot is not one of them. In a riot, chances are you are going to be outnumbered ten to one, and even if you have a few people on your side, the sheer chaos alone makes confrontation a deadly proposition.
Instead of looking for a fight, remain calm, avoid confrontation, and slowly walk away from the scene. Running could draw attention and make you a target. Try to get indoors, as most riots take place on the streets and generally do not spill over into buildings.
If you are in a large crowd of people, pay careful attention to your footing. Many lives have been lost in mob situations because someone tripped and was subsequently trampled to death by the belligerent crowd. If you are attacked, you should obviously defend yourself, but escape should remain your number one priority.
Remaining inconspicuous and getting to safety with the least amount of confrontation possible is the best way to survive a riot.
6. Get Professional Self-Defense Training
Whether you are being mugged, facing multiple attackers, or confronted with any number of other dangerous situations, having the training necessary to defend yourself is invaluable. Training in martial arts disciplines is not only a great way to stay in shape, but also a way to learn skills that could save your life.
If any of the situations outlined above ever become a reality, you will be thankful for the abilities that professional self-defense training gives you.
Ideally, you should find a local trainer who can teach you self defense in person. But if you can’t find anything in your local area, there are several great online training programs such as Survival Combat Fitness and Krav Maga In No Time.
If you live in the city with countless other people (most of whom aren’t prepared for a major disaster), then you need to learn how to fight back if you’re attacked.