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Self Defense Ideas & Considerations

Particularly since 9-11-2001 there has been an increase in discussion of self defense in our country and others. Southern Delaware is wonderfully safe, secure and peaceful but there is still some discussion of self defense and self protection issues here. Our senior citizens and single people of any age are often first to feel threatened and that makes the single senior citizen the most concerned according to my experience. A few years ago I spent a year or so helping to set up and manage a couple of very large Neighborhood Watch and Community Watch groups in areas of predominantly older singles and senior citizens.

I am active in several national and international forums where professionals from all walks of life, interact and correspond. Here are some self defense ideas that are currently being discussed on a philosophy of self defense, weaponry and martial arts forum that I have been quite involved with recently. I've used the ideas and discussion of the forum to guide my writing but the opinions and observations here are my own, alone.

1. Let's start with the most basic concept. The first and most important self defense tactic is to NOT BE THERE. And if one is THERE then the next most important thing is to NOT COMMUNICATE. You will find that the first two methods a top attorney uses to defend his client is to try and have an alibi for that client (showing the client was not there) and to instruct the client to not say anything but have an attorney handle all communications. There is a maxim in philosophy that there are only two crimes in the universe; being there and communicating; and that all crimes are just different mixtures of those two ingredients. In addition that same philosophical doctrine establishes that the only way out of that trap of criminality is to Be There ever more effectively and to Communicate ever more effectively as the greatest crime of all is not being anywhere (death) and not communicating at all (death again). So let's take this philosophical position and extrapolate it toward effective self defense.

That is, stay away from or get out of dangerous neighborhoods, groups and situations if there is any possible way to do so. Only if cornered or not able to get away or if in your own home or if with a child or elderly person that eliminates the possibility of getting away -- should one stand and argue, fight, use any sort of weapon or shoot.

And then, if there is no other way out and only then... fight to the death and hopefully only the death but at least FIRST the death of the attacker. Only police have the luxury of partially disabling an attacker and that is often only when the law enforcement officers heavily outnumber the person attacking SOMEONE ELSE. When a law officer is attacked by a person it is usual that the law enforcement officer acts to totally and quickly stop the attacker - that often takes the form of several lethal shots from a gun. When there are two or several police "handling" one somewhat disruptive individual, then sticks, cuffs, and holds are used. As individuals we don' t have that luxury and it makes no intelligent sense to even consider trying to partially control an attacker - as the result will be an escalation of the attack and increased danger to you.

2. There is great importance in training. Consistent training in the method of defense will develop an automatic response that will take over in time of deadly trouble. It is important to consider that any and every attack must be considered either potentially lethal or of not enough importance to engage the attacker. Most potential attacks can be defused with a calm, certain, non-combative but UN-fearful verbal and physical retreat. If the attack is not likely to be lethal then the only sensible response is to quietly and effectively leave the situation without a comment, except perhaps a timid apology and immediate, ready to act, retreat.

3. Prepare mentally. One must mentally prepare oneself regarding a willingness to not be a victim of attack. This mental preparation is senior to all else. One must consider what to do if attacked - to punch, shoot and KILL or bite and kill or cut and kill or stab and kill or kick and kill or punch and kill or all of these things together. If one must defend oneself, it is insane to do anything other than go for the most deadly and certain points.

There should be no warning and no gradient use of force when fighting for one's life. The counter-attack should be surprising, sudden, sequential, continuous, overwhelming, fast, furious, and with each thrust, blow, shot or kick intending to permanently end all fight in the attacker. Here we sometimes discuss the difference between the Commandment "Thou Shalt NOT murder." And the erroneous and suicidal "Thou shalt not kill". There is a world of difference between murder and killing; especially killing in defense of family or self. That is, and it is horrible to contemplate; one must plan and prepare to shoot for the head; punch for the nose; gouge to remove or burst the eyes, kick to break the knee and crush the groin. Fingers, keys, pens, pencils, thumbs or anything handy should be thrust into the eyes, throat, mouth, nostrils, entrails and any soft or delicate part of the body of an attacker -- DEEPLY enough to gouge the organs, nerves and even the brain to as far as the finger or implement may reach -- several inches deep. Yuck, we don't like to even read this... but it is true.

And keep shooting, kicking, biting, gouging and punching until the attacker is no longer moving. If one stops, that attacker is likely to do shake off your counter-attack and commence something even more torturous and worse than he first planned or had already started. And, if another is with you, the attacker may go for the other, your child, wife, mother or friend, in order to weaken you and make you despair. One must consider what can be done and how and do all the thinking before hand so that there is an automatic mental condition to take over in case of need.

4. Make certain you have one or more of the best tools you can have and have them with you when you need them. Since you never know when you may need them, have them always with you. Here, is the place to consider training for and obtaining a license to carry a deadly weapon if you wish to defend yourself and those near and dear to you. You should study and learn how to use tools and weapons properly and be willing to use them and have them in best condition to use them. That means; muscles strong and fast, gun loaded and quickly accessible, knives razor sharp and quick to get to and open or bring to ready. Pepper spray can be handy but is the most likely to work against you as it blows back at you or fails to stop the attacker quickly enough and angers him into far worse and faster and more aggressive attack upon you.

5. Be very certain that the situation requires deadly force before starting the lethal act against your attacker. You must attack only to stop the attack and in order to stop that attack you must totally STOP it. Half way measures are not useful. The attacker is likely quite used to giving and receiving pain and might even be used to being stabbed, cut, shot and sprayed with pepper spray, enough that he is not easily dissuaded or even slowed down once you start protecting yourself - unless you totally remove his will, ability and possibility of moving against you at all.

6. Hit him back first. If you are certain you are going to be attacked and there is no way out. Him back first. If he is armed with a knife, club, or gun. Do not warn him verbally first. If you are certain you must shoot to keep yourself or your loved one from being harmed or killed. His first sight of your gun should be as it spews flame and a series of bullets into his chest, neck, groin and head.

Remember, most bad guys know that they can cross 20 to 30 feet of ground with a knife and kill you, even if you have the gun in your hand. This stunt is done against armed cops every single day; with the cops using guns loaded with paint balls against a knife wielding police instructor. He always gets lots of macho, well trained and convinced cops who will bet him that they can shoot him before he cuts them with his rubber blade. He covers the 30 feet and cuts them several times across the face and stabs them several times and never gets hit by the paint ball ever. His knife is rubber and covered with lipstick. He leaves lipstick cuts and stabs all over the chest, groin, eyes and face of EVERY cop, every time. Lessons are learned!

7. Make absolutely certain of your target. Make absolutely certain of who you are shooting at or even spraying pepper spray at. Sometimes things are not what they appear. Don't ever shoot through a door, into the bushes or into the dark, at a possible intruder. Make certain it is not the neighbor, your child, or a spouse who is perhaps scared or drunk or terrified of something and trying to wake you up, get your attention or get inside for safety.

8. Make certain you have enough weaponry, ammunition, skill and choices in size, effectiveness and quantity. You never know what the situation may be, there may only be one deadly or prospectively deadly situation in your entire life. Make certain that the cane, stick, bat, knife, gun, ammo and point of aim are sufficient to stop the attack.

What if there are 6 bad guys? That is not unusual these days. What if they are wearing bullet proof vests? That is not unusual these days either. Many bad guys do wear bullet proof vests, just like all the cops do, in fact they often wear the exact same quality vests, and you can't see them.

Cops usually carry a gun with 15 to 20 bullets in it and usually have two or three extra magazines of 15 to 20 bullets each on their belt in addition. Police also carry an extra hidden gun, knives, clubs, and cuffs and even then THEY call for reinforcements if they have any slightest inkling that there will be ANY resistance at all. They also have the uniform, badge, and authority which are not available to you.


Even pulling a club, bottle, knife, cane or gun to stop an attack can land you in jail and court, especially if you talk and tell the police your side of the story. The person who attacked you may well know the law far better than the police do and say, do or encourage you to say and do something that will make you the victim of the law instead of him.

Cops know that you shouldn't talk. And they must remind you, but they don't always remember. Do not make the Cops job harder by talking and saying something they must repeat on the witness stand in front of the bad guy's free attorney. If you ever do have to shoot someone just say you need to speak to an attorney and nothing else. If they force you to say something; say only that you were in fear of your life and had no other way but to STOP the person trying to kill you. Then say nothing else. Make certain you have a good attorney now. In our case, we have the Pre-Paid Legal Services; which gives us a top attorney in any American jurisdiction with one call to one 800 number. You should seriously consider Pre-Paid Legal services as a defensive staple for your own benefit and that of your family and your future.

10. Do NOT change anything at the crime scene. Don't do something foolish such as moving the body or putting a weapon in his hand. Science is quite well developed these days and in most cases they can detect and reconstruct exactly what happened and if anything has been tampered with or a "throw-down" knife, gun or weapon has been placed, you are in terminal trouble. If you mess with the crime scene -- you will have little chance of success in staying out of jail for life, even if you were right in shooting the attacker.

11. Now back to MIND SET again. Mindset is key. My personal opinion, as a lay student of these matters with no formal qualification but some experience (to be discussed below) is that your brain will react in one of four ways:

A) Numbness -- You'll try and muddle through in your standard every-day state of vacant relaxed mind and consciousness. This is definitely Not preferred! You won't be thinking fast enough, emotions and preconceptions of safety and apathetic complacency will get in the way. A criminal attack is ugly and your customary, civilized thinking and attitude will usually get you hurt or killed. It is important to realize that being hurt is often worse than being killed; remember that. Rape, dismemberment, disfigurement, permanent mental disability, spinal and neck injuries, brain damage blindness and severely damaged facial features are not usual results from an attack. The criminal attack is usually preceded or even caused by a failure to perceive the problem fast enough in the first place, and once you do you're still in danger of being in a "state of denial" as the attacker begins to stab, punch, kick, slice and beat you or even shoot you.

B) Panic -- Fleeing or freezing in terror is a common mental reaction to attack. Rational flight is fine, in fact rational flight is the best defense, blind panic isn't. Certainly panic stricken paralysis is of no use. When fleeing, if that can be done rationally, it is best to keep the attacker in sight at all times and be aware if he has a gun, other weapon, and accomplice. Etc., and no matter what keep going and going and going and going - but not blindly into another danger. This is the sort of reaction that has people jumping out of hundred story buildings to get away from fire - not a survivable solution.

C) Rage - Berserk attacking venomous rage. I'm of the opinion that this is very close overall, to panic, as it is not controlled and is just an out of control reaction toward the attacker instead of away from the attack. It is running in fear toward the attack instead of away from it. This is another possible blind, animalistic reaction. In forest fires the timid deer are apt to run straight into the fire and their death when they can outrun any fire with their swiftness. Rage is usually characterized by rapid aggressive attack with no thought towards self preservation. If this berserk rage is under your control, but the enemy doesn't know it, it can be a great tool. This is what I have used against animals and have used it to good effect against a trained police attack dog and even against a pair of trained and deadly giant wolves. Tunnel vision, raging blackout and total memory blackout isn't uncommon. In a fistfight, it can work pretty well although still isn't a preferred survival method. In a gunfight, it's completely anti-survival to charge a flaming gun unless you are one in a million in your training. Likewise in a knife attack, charging the knife wielding assassin in a rage is not likely to save your life. If attacked by a group of thugs the raging charge can work if you run through the weakest person and keep on going - but that is a calculation and not the blind reactionary rage I speak of here.

D) Super Human Emergency Overdrive - is a mental state characterized by a feeling of "the world slowing down because you're speeding up". This is used by sports figures and is a purposeful, goal oriented effort that contains within the calculations no possibility of failure. Emotions go flat, you often feel very calculating and calm, and perhaps even a slight self assured smile comes to the lips. This is perhaps what Davy Crocket's famous Grin was about, that struck fear into man and beast, including numerous warring wild Indians and an attacking Grizzly Bear. Morality, intelligence, ethics, reason and analytical thought don't go out the window; accurate targeting and execution of trained actions remain. Reasoned flight, dodging, ducking, jumping, falling, and going over, under, around and through are all part of this mind set. Memory afterwards may be spotty, but perhaps adequate to sort out what happened - but not always! Inability to accurately report the number of shots fired in a gun fight is very common. Inability to accurately describe the number and size of assailants in a gang attack is usual.

It seems that the mind is speeding up and concentrating by eliminating unnecessary thoughts. The body seems to go into a sort of shock. The manifestations can include short-term memory recording, emotions, color vision, absence of sounds and elimination of peripheral vision and even motion vision or any vision other than tunnel vision, God only knows what else. Moving objects can appear to be stilled; motions of the attackers can be predicted and dodged or handled before they arrive. Police officers often report being unable to hear gunshots. People unfamiliar with the experience may even assume their guns are non-functional, and keep on pulling the trigger over and over and over again as they don't hear or even feel the gun jumping.

This mind set is triggered by necessity, fear or concern for somebody else's life, but once triggered the adrenaline surge seems to be just right and often leaves only a shocky, shaky feeling when the job is done and the danger is handled. It is important to realize that the body is effectively in shock. Try to remember to look around and check your body quickly. Shock can be a good thing for a while as it eliminates pain and curtails blood flow. But, when it's over - pain sensation returns and blood begins to flow. If you have been hurt, lost a limb, been shot or cut, you have a few seconds to fix things, apply a tourniquet, etc. before the shock ends.

In my "personal" experience, fine motor control was either unharmed or outright improved. I base this on several experiences; one was a very high speed crash on a motorcycle, once a too low opening of a parachute, a couple of incidents with being attacked, and several dangerous emergencies and near disasters with automobiles, farm equipment, bad dogs, mean horses, mules and bulls, etc. Overdrive is without question the mind set that is preferred for survival! The exact pattern of "special effects" varies by individual. The first couple of times I hit it, I was "physically fried, exhausted and beat" afterwards. In the latest example, I was fully functional afterwards. Some have talked of uncontrollable shakes afterwards, vomiting; loss of bowel and bladder control and even sobbing after the danger is handled. Some, just dance with cockiness like a winning ball player or fighter.

12. In my research on armed self-defense, the error I've read about and heard about most often is someone who sees a burglar breaking into his car, grabs his gun, and goes outside the house to confront the guy. Then the bad guy starts to run and the car owner shoots him. in the back. That puts the car owner on quicksand legally. In many cases (depending on where you live), the car owner will be brought before a grand jury. Usually, he's not convicted. Occasionally, depending on the jurisdiction, he'll be convicted of manslaughter or some other crime. Or he might get sued by the perpetrator or his relatives. Some cases have resulted in the owner being in jail for years awaiting trials and being bankrupted by attorney fees, losing the wife and kids being placed in foster homes.

The criminals always get a free attorney and they often use the maddening technique of being sick a couple of minutes or an hour before the court case which draws out the time and attorney fees for months each time, or even years. In any case, harming or attacking or hurting in any way a bad guy that has turned his back or is running away is not a smart thing to do and results in bad things happening to the owner. In fact any time the bad guy has taken off, it's not a good idea to do anything except get a good description, perhaps a tag number and keep good track of where he goes then when he's out of site get on the phone and give it all to the 911 tape recorder and officer - even if it takes them several minutes to answer. If you have a gun, don't shoot a person who is going away or has his back turned to you, unless you know for certain that he's going for a gun or going to run you down with his car, etc. Shooting a bad guy in the back will usually get you in jail for a long time, destroy your finances and remove all your family, friends, and job prospects for the rest of your life.

13. Cell Phone; or even a regular phone. The primary purpose of the cell phone is NOT ONLY the call to 911 for help. It is not unusual for the Police to take an hour or more to arrive and you may only have 1 or 2 seconds left to live if you have someone breaking into, already in your home or attacking you on the street. You must act and dial fast. The purpose is to make the call to 911, and be sure of Keeping The Phone ON so that there is a taped recording of what happens as you yell "STOP - DON'T KILL ME - STOP - GO AWAY - GET OUT OF HERE - DON'T HURT ME - GET AWAY FROM MY HOME - GET AWAY FROM MY CHILD - BANG, BANG, BANG, STOP, BANG, BANG, STOP, BANG, BANG." You get the idea. Sadly we live in a world where the criminals have far more rights than the honest citizen and often the fact of the matter is that unless you know the laws as well as the criminals do - you will find yourself in the position of Guilty until proven innocent, instead of the other way around. So just make certain that you stay alert and stay out of trouble - then the modern difficulties of self defense won't likely be a terrible part of your life and future.

And remember, the first and best form of self defense is to not be there, in a dangerous place.

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