One of the first techniques you can learn is to strike some key areas on the human body. Attacking these areas can disable an attacker with minimal force. The points of focus are the feet, knees, groin, neck, nose, jaw, and eyes. If you strike any of these points it can be very painful and sometimes lethal. That being said, only go for these points if you truly feel that your life is in danger. If you strike somebody in the throat, they may never get back up again.
When striking an attacker, using your fist can often be a mistake. With dozens of tiny bones, there is a good chance that you will break something if you strike with your fists. This can allow an attacker to recover and prevent you from striking again. The same goes for your feet. The safest bet is to strike with your elbows, knees, and head. You can see these techniques here:
This technique is prevalent in Muay-Thai fighting and gives you the best chance of doling out a blow without breaking a bone.
You can also make your strikes more effective by grasping household items. Anything heavy or having a sharp point will increase the damage you inflict. A lamp, kitchen knife, or chair can all put you at a strategic advantage. One of the best items to grasp is your set of keys, and you can view how to use them here:
Let the points of the keys stick out between your fingers and then punch as normal. You can also grasp it like a stabbing blade and go for the target areas of the body. The impact from your keys can easily cut through the skin and puncture into some vital organs or arteries.
To cover a few specific moves, breaking the nose is effective for several reasons and you can see it here:
It is obviously painful, but there are several other reasons it can disable your attacker. If you start low and strike the nose with the heel of your hand in an upward motion, it will instantly cause the attacker’s eyes to tear up. It also draws a great deal of blood which can be distracting or blinding. In some cases shards of bone can even make it to the brain and cause death.
They eye based attacks are pretty self-explanatory and you can view them here:
Your goal is to blind your opponent in order to escape. You can accomplish this with a good poke to the eye, but you can also get creative. Any aerosol or spray can could be sprayed in the attacker’s eyes. Fire extinguishers are good for this. You can also throw sand, salt, or any powder in the eyes. Even a drink to the face can allow you a moment to run. Lastly, carrying mace can be a good idea. However, using it outside can be dangerous. If it is windy it could end up in your eyes instead of theirs.
Attacking the neck of your attacker can be done in several ways. You can check one out here:
The easiest is a straight punch to the Adam’s apple. This will definitely make you opponent gasp for air and may collapse the windpipe, suffocating the assailant. A strong neck chop with the blade of your hand just above the collar bone can be quite effective. It can take some practice so please view the technique here:
If done right this can disrupt blood flow to the brain and cause the attacker to collapse on impact. Choking with your hands or with cordage does get the job done, but it can be dangerous. You would have to move in close to your opponent giving them a chance to fight back. Even a strong squeeze to the back of the neck can hurt enough allow escape. Simply grab the back of the neck and dig in with your fingers and thumb. The natural reaction you create is the assailant backing away to loosen the grip.
The jaw is also a vulnerable area to attack if you know how. One close-quarters technique that works well is a mandible hook. You can do this with one hand or two. You actually shove your thumb inside the mouth but outside the molars to avoid being bitten. Then you grip the back of the jaw where it meets the neck under the ear. As you squeeze the attacker will experience extreme pain. They will also be quite surprised that your thumbs are in their mouth. In addition, you can target to break or dislocate the jaw. Please view it here:
You can strike that same spot at the base of the jaw, or if you are above your attacker you can strike the chin with a downward motion. This action tends to require more force and is not as effective as the fish hook.
The feet, knees, and groin are all simple attacks. A swift kick or stomp to any of these areas can work very well. If an attacker has you in a bear hug, a foot stomp will likely get you free. The knees are an excellent way to disable your opponent. With an injured knee, it is unlikely that they would be able to continue the fight. The knee is a weak joint and can be attacked from the front, side, or back. If you have a bat or stick of some kind, hitting the side or back can end things quickly. If you are in front, a kick to the knee or the shin can hyperextend the leg. A good kick to the shin is also very painful. View examples of all of these attacks here:
The choke-hold is a way control the head, which generally controls the whole body. If you do it right, it can also cause unconsciousness or death. If you are facing your attacker, this is called a guillotine and you can see it here:
Place your left hand on his right shoulder and move his head down and under your right armpit. Wrap your right forearm under the neck and grab your right wrist with your left hand. Pull up and squeeze, roll to your back, and hold it until they goes limp. If you find yourself behind your attacker, it is called a rear naked choke and you can see the difference here:
Wrap your right arm around the neck and put your left elbow on his left shoulder. Grab your left bicep with your right hand and move your left hand to the back of his head. Again, pull up and back. If you are not being effective, roll back onto your back while controlling the head. Then wrap your legs around his legs and arch your back. Your right forearm and bicep should be pressing against the sides of the neck cutting off the blood to the brain.
Using the momentum of your attacker is a technique used in several martial arts. One situation for this would be if they are running towards you. If you can square your feet and prepare for the blow, a solid thrust from the heel of your hand to the solar plexus will knock the wind out of your opponent to let you run or strike again. See this strike here:
However, my favorite example is a simple leg trip. See it in action here:
If you are involved close combat, grab the right arm of your attacker with your left hand. Grab his left shoulder with your right hand and swing your right leg around behind both of his feet. Then in one motion push back with your right arm, hold your left arm in place, and bend your knees lowering the elevation of your hips. You will see a very surprised look on their face as they fall back and slam to the ground. They will try to grab your clothing to help break their fall, so be prepared to break their grip as they are falling.
If an attacker has a gun one might think that the situation is hopeless. However, with a few basic steps you can disarm the assailant. See the process here:
Keep in mind that fighting back when your attacker has a gun is one of the easiest ways to get shot. Only take action if you feel like you have no other choice. Your first move needs to be redirecting your body away from the angle of the gun. In one motion knock the gun to one side while moving to the opposite side. This will break the hold of your attacker and also redirect his aim away from you if they fire. Next you need to control the gun. Get a firm grip and force the barrel of the gun back towards the attacker. You can move it laterally away from your body, or you can twist the barrel vertically. In many cases this will break their grip and allow you to take the gun.
If your attacker has a knife, the process is a bit different. See the difference here:
In this case, controlling the weapon is more important than moving out of the way. Your best bet is to secure the knife hand, bend the arm behind their back, and then remove the knife from their hand. Be careful that the attacker does not move the knife to his other hand. Also be selective as to when you make your move. Stay out of arm’s reach until you are prepared to secure the knife hand. Your best option is to wait for them to stab or swipe, jump out of the way, and secure the blade. If you can, turn your body in towards theirs and hold the knife hand out away from your bodies. People with knifes are typically going to shift their body weight to the point that they cannot quickly recover. Remember that in many cases your attacker was not planning to actually use his weapon.
If you happen to also have a knife or a stick of some kind, go for the wrist. See this motion here:
In this case you have a tool that extends your reach. Therefore, you can safely disarm the knife hand from a greater distance. Any cuts or strikes to that wrist will loosen the grip of your assailant. Just like the previous example, wait for them to lunge and then attack while jumping back. Do not stab with your knife but slide the blade across the skin. If you are using a blunt object, strike the wrist or elbow. Once you have done this, secure the knife hand, strike a pressure point, and disarm your attacker.
If you are in a hostage situation and there are a group of captives, there is a way to disarm your captor. Even if they have an automatic weapon, you can take them down. It does require some planning and you have to rely on the other captives, so pick your partners carefully. As a general rule, three unarmed adults can disarm one armed adult. It sounds pessimistic, but you have to plan on one of your partners freezing up. With three people you have one to control the weapon, one to control the head, and one to stand there and do nothing. In many cases this is a better option than running for the door and drawing fire towards yourself.
One of the most important rules of self-defense is to never underestimate your opponent. You must always assume that they know how to fight, and you must always assume that they have a weapon. Staying calm and being observant is vitally important. You may go into the confrontation with a plan in mind, but then notice the attacker pull a knife and be forced to change your tactics. Good self-defense is all about observing and reacting. Let the attacker make the mistakes. Never make the first move. Watch them come at you, analyze their movements, and pick your moment to strike. Remember that your goal is to get away safely. If you continue the fight longer than needed, you are giving your opponent a chance to regain control. This is about survival, so do what is needed to survive and nothing more.