By Matthew Schafer
Copyright 2008, All Rights Reserved
When it comes to learning self-defense many people just jump right in without really knowing what they need to learn or even what needs to be accomplished in order for them to be able to defend themselves if need be.
If you’re interested in learning to defend yourself then there are six basic steps you need to take.
1) The first and foremost step you have to take is to make the conscious decision to take responsibility for your own safety. Until you make that decision and accept that commitment you won't be truly mentally prepared. If you don’t make the conscious decision then you won’t be committed to any course of action and when you are attacked you’ll tend to just freeze because you’re brain, not having been given a plan for this situation, doesn’t know what course of action to take.
2) The second step is to educate yourself. You need to learn who is most likely to attack you and how they will do it. You need to learn what makes people attack, how criminals think, how they commit their crimes, how they choose their victims, how to spot them, what to do if you spot them, and how to stop them just to name a few.
3) The third step is to learn awareness techniques that will allow you to spot potential criminals. This can't be stressed enough: if you're not being aware of your surroundings and looking for criminals you most likely won't spot them and then you’ll be taken by surprise and there will be very little anyone can do for you.
4) The fourth step is that you need to learn techniques for de-escalating potentially violent situations like arguments and aggressive confrontations. About 80% of all assaults happen during or just after arguments so if you can de-escalate them you remove about 80% of your threats right there. If you don't know these things you most likely won't have the opportunity to use any self-defense technique let alone a weapon like a gun.
5) The fifth step to take a reliable course in self-defense. To be really rounded out you need to be able to defend yourself from basic grabs, holds, punches, kicks, knives, clubs, firearms, and multiple attackers, but any amount of learning will help you survive. An attacker isn't going to stand back, put their arms up, and fight you like a boxer; instead they will most likely rush you and be on you like an angry pit-bull repeatedly overwhelming you with punches, pushes, and foul language. When this happens you need to have the ability to use your own body and bodyweight to cause severe and debilitating injuries to them.
6) An additional sixth step that you can take is to learn to use “improvised weapons”. Improvised weapons are ordinary items that can be used to cause injuries; these include books, bags, ink pens, magazines, hairspray, keys, combs, dirt and sand, and pretty much any other item. For the ordinary citizen knowing how to use improvised weapons is far more important than traditional weapons because, as stated in what we refer to as the "rule of thumb", you only use what is already in your hands at the time you attacked to defend yourself, and you are far more likely to have these items in your hands when violence happens to you. Unless you're well trained and prepared you probably won't have pepper spray in your hands, and there is a very small chance that someone will attack you while you're holding a gun, but you just may have an ink pen in your hand.
7) An additional seventh step you can take it to learn to use “personal weapons”. Personal weapons are ready made devices designed and sold for the purpose of self-defense. These items include pepper spray, tactical flashlights, stun guns, retractable batons, personal alarms, knives, and others. I suggest learning to use these before you learn to use guns because there are a lot of places that you can't take guns but you can take pepper spray. You can't take a gun on a plane or into various foreign countries but you can take an ink pen or a tactical flashlight (a tactical flashlight is a small flashlight that shoots a high intensity light that blinds an individual and gives you the opportunity to run away or close distance to them and cause injuries). Most states have laws against various personal weapons so you need to check with your individual state, but simple improvised weapons are legal everywhere.
8) An additional eighth step that you can take is to learn to use firearms. Guns are great tools but they are not the ultimate self-defense tool. Shooting can be a lot of fun and I believe that it is a great experience as well as an effective means of defending yourself. If you are interested in buying a gun please read the article entitled "Can't I Just Buy A Gun?" (http://www.self-defense-lessons.com/cantijustbuyagun.htm) to read more about this topic.