Time for Self Defense – 8/31/08 – Monday Karate class.

Since this was the last class of the session, Sensei Brien let us spend the entire class working on a couple of self defense drills.

WARNING – what I am typing below is real life and you must use your head if you are ever involved in a threatening situation.   Always use your head and if possible, don’t get into threatening situations in the first place.  I will not be responsible for anyone using what I am sharing here as an excuse for hurting, maiming or killing someone else and if you get in trouble with the law or get hurt yourself or worse, it is your own fault.

Below is a link to Self Defense on Wikipedia if you are interested.

Self Defense

Rules of engagement….

Sensei Brien gave us four rules if we are ever in a threatening situation in the following order.

  • Run
  • Hurt
  • Mame
  • Kill


If you are threatened and or being attacked, your first line of defense is to RUN AWAY.  If you can get away, then do it.  This should be common sense but so many people try to fight there way out of a situation when all they had to do was run the other direction.  I cannot stress this enough and I really do think if people would just run away or at least try to get away, there is a chance of them not getting hurt.  I would much rather be alive and called a wimp or a chicken than a dead tough guy.


If and only if running not an option, then your next line is to hurt your attacker so that you can run away.  Sensei explained hurt as stunning your attacker without causing harm such as broken bones, gouged eyes or anything more than stopping them for the moment so that you can run away.


This is a little more complex.  If running is not an option and hurting does not work and your attacker is has you trapped, using extra force like breaking bones, blinding or leaving deep wounds might be needed.  This can get really tricky when it comes to laws and there is point where if you maim someone, you could be considered the aggressor if you use more force than necessary to escape harm.

A good example that Sensei gave was breaking a persons finger would maim them but breaking all five fingers on one hand would make you the aggressor at that point since chances are you could have escaped after breaking one finger.


This is the absolute last resort but it also means that it is either you or your attacker that is going to walk away alive.  That means one of you could be dead and that could be you if you don’t use everything in your power to stop them.  When faced with an attacker that is intent on killing you, chances are you will still get, hurt, maimed or even killed in the process.  There are also many legal consequences and depending upon where you live, you could be the person up on charges for murder.   Granted, at least you are still alive but you better be really sure that you had absolutely no other choice because the law might not see it your way.

Simple but effective drills to help escape from an attacker…

Sensei had us start with a very simple drill.  He us get a partner and had that partner grab us from behind like a bear hug.  From this point, he had us shift our hips to one side and then do a downward hammer fist to our partners groin.  After that, we turned our body and raised our arms to break our partners hold.

There are also some other things besides a hammer fist to the groin that can used.  For example, pinching the inside soft tissue of your attackers leg will certainly help loosen their grip.  A stomp to their foot is another option too.  Another option is to grab their thumb and bend it quickly and hard to break their grip.

What time is it….

The next few drills we worked on were very simple but also very effective.  For this drill, my partner grabbed my right wrist with his left hand and held on very tight.  In order for me to escape, all I had to do was turn my wrist and raise my arm in front of me as if I was looking at my watch to see what time it is.  Also, when someone grabs a persons wrist the person being grabbed has a tendency to make a fist but if you open your hand as your are moving your arm to break away it will be easier to escape their grip.

Another drill that we worked on was cross arm grab.  My partner grabbed my right hand with his right hand across his body.  Instead of trying to read my watch, I pulled my hand up and then pointed it behind me over my shoulder.  This puts the attacker in a very uncomfortable position, twists their arm and moves them to the outside of your body so that you can run away.

Real life is not pretty…

Sensei finished up talking about real life situations and how they are not pretty and nothing like you see in the movies.  He made some very good points and some that all of us should keep in mind.

Avoiding threatening situations is easy if you aren’t there in the first place.

A really good example that Sensei gave us was for the ladies going to the restroom alone at the shopping mall.  The restroom at most shopping centers are located out of the way, away from heavy traffic most of the time and it wouldn’t be hard for a would be attacker to hide inside one of the stalls in the restroom and wait for someone to come in alone.  He made it very clear that ladies should never walk into the restroom alone even if you think you are safe.

Another good example is using gross things to help escape your attacker.  He told us a story of a criminal who overpowered and  attacked a young women.  As he retrained her and pinned her shoulders to the floor she stuck her finger in her nose and wiped it on her attackers lips.  This immediately broke his grip, she was able to kick him in the groin, knock him down and stomp on his head to knock him out until she could get the police.   The biggest, strongest and meanest men in the world can be broken down by something as simple as a booger so look for the simple things if the need ever arises.

This was a mentally brutal class and Sensei gave us a hard, clear look at real life that many of us never really see in our classes and hopefully we will never see in our lives.

About doug

Doug is a Shotokan Karate student that enjoys sharing his Karate training experiences with everyone. He is a Computer Consultant, an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, blogger and a freelance writer..

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