7 Rules of Self Defense

Self-Defense Situation

Rule One: Don’t put yourself in Bad Situations

Sounds like common sense right? After all, avoiding conflict is something most of us are taught when we’re young.

Unfortunately, as we grow older many of us forget this common sense piece of advice and continually put ourselves in sticky situations. The best way to defend yourself from an attack is not to put yourself in a situation where you are likely to be attacked. Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to self-defense.

Rule Two: Confidence is Key

Believe it or not, most criminals are pretty damn good at what they do. And when it comes to selecting victims, they can smell fear from a mile away.

One of the best ways to prevent an attack is to make sure you project an image of strength. Now I’m not talking about walking around, chest puffed out like Billy Badass; I’m talking about developing your self-confidence and not projecting an image of weakness.

Criminals are experts at picking victims, and they tend to go after people who they feel are weak or vulnerable to attack.

Rule Three: Situational Awareness is more important than actual fighting skills.

Being aware of what is happening around you.

Since the easiest way to prevent an attack is not putting yourself in situations where you might be attacked, awareness is something that is probably more important than your actual ability to fight. The first and most crucial aspect of self-defense is awareness. Being alert and aware of your surroundings can help you detect potential danger early on and avoid it.

  • Become an expert at body language. How an aggressor is standing, looking, or motioning can give you clues as to what he is about to do.
  • Always keep an eye on the people who are around you. Staring at a cell phone screen does little to let you know what’s going on in your environment.
  • Be aware of what’s in your area. If you are in a situation where an attack is imminent, having a good idea of where the exit points are and what you can use as a weapon are all things that can help get you out alive.

Check out our full article on How to Protect Yourself by Developing your Situational Awareness.

Rule Four: It’s Important to Control the Situation

Self Defense situation

Don’t react, ACT.

The person who can control the situation is usually the person that will come out on top. Unfortunately, during most self-defense situations the unprepared person usually allows their emotions to dictate the outcome.

Rule Five: Hurt them First

If a fight is unavoidable, and you really feel like you are in danger of bodily harm, you are going to want to take the attacker out before they can hurt you. Your goal is to immobilize the attacker and physiologically defeat anyone who may be thinking about joining the fight. Check out our article on immobilizing and defending yourself from attackers.

Rule Six: Get the hell out of Dodge

As soon as you can, get away… Far away! Don’t let your ego get you killed; remember, if you’re dead you didn’t win the fight. The moment you can make your way to safety, you need to take that opportunity and get out of Dodge.


In a life or death situation, all rules go right out the window. There is no such thing as a self-defense rule book, and there certainly isn’t something known as a fair fight.

You need to use everything at your disposal to stop the attacker. Eye gouging, biting, throat strikes, and groin attacks are all fair game when trying to defend your life. Do whatever it takes to win!

Related Posts:

Shirts of Liberty

OFFGRID Survival book



  1. As a martial arts instructor who has committed the majority of his life to the combat arts as well as a practical survivalist, let me clarify a few items for the safety of the reader.

    1.) I agree, if they don’t value your life or your health take a piece of them with you. or as i like to say take a bite out of crime.

    2.)That doesn’t just mean stay away from bars in central Detroit at 3AM. It does mean that if you work late that it might be a good idea to leave your car parked in a well-lit area. Always think about what could happen and protect yourself first, your no good to anyone else if your breathing dirt.

    3.) The ‘techie’ term is intent. It’s what scientists are calling the seventh sense. It’s is a combination of all the existing senses that are complied in the brain to tell you when something out of the ordinary. it’s the basis human ‘fight or flight’ mechanism. it can be used to identify people who feel out of place (AKA victims), or it can be used to tell if someone is following you. be aware of your surroundings, if you get a creepy feeling like someone’s watching you, chances are they are.

    4.) see above

    5.)always meet the threat at or at one level higher than your attacker. if it’s a strong arm, use a knife, It’s not dishonorable, it’s surviving. They don’t have your best interests at heart and we’ve moved past common courtesy.

    6.)totally agree

    7.) the best martial art ever is Cross-country running. They cannot hurt or kill what they can’t touch, stab, shoot or better yet see.

  2. Remember that this isn’t a “boss fight” in a video game – you don’t need to take everyone out. Sometimes the best course of action is to strike hard and fast (shock) and then flee. Be prepared to be pursued, but it may buy you some time as they collect their wits.

    I was cornered by 3 guys at a convenience store one time – I went for the biggest, baddest guy I could grab and pulled a high-school wrestling standing take down on him – this bought me a little time, then I was only facing 2… they backed me into a fence, but hesitated – neither was sure who should go in next… then the cops arrived.

    Bottom line is that rather than wading in and fighting them all, I was able to do just enough to keep from getting my butt totally kicked.

  3. Awesome Post. Short, Simple, to the point, and abundant of information.

    As a Martial artists these are great advices. Fighting is just a small part of self defense/survival. Avoiding confrontation, speech, listening, Running, avoiding is all part of it too.

    Its not just the Art of fighting but also “the art of fighting without fighting” – Bruce Lee

    • I agree. A smile is my umbrella. If they’re friendly, we have a good talk. If not, they’re off guard.

  4. Ive been a bartender, club operator, bouncer, and worked organized security for some time. Needless to say Ive become an expert profiler over the years. :) Ive seen hundreds of conflicts, different types of aggressors, defenders, and weapons ( from cigarettes to cars).

    You can teach skills but you cant teach instinct. Nor can you easily re-program people to think tactically when they have spent a lifetime living in a “civilized” society. I believe in the preservation of my body as my primary consideration and obeying the law second. But, just to make it clear, preemptive action can very easily end with you in court and possibly jail. I dont believe “If its a strong arm, use a knife” is the most useful piece of advice either. Carrying a knife can be a dangerous practice. I carry one religiously but then I know how to use one. Be aware that any weapon you carry or employ has a very real possibility of getting yourself or bystanders injured or killed. A little training, books, and conversations like these can make for overly confident, and therefore dangerous people.

    That said, I enjoy this site and find a lot of useful tips and like minded people here. I just wanted to make the point that there is a fine line to be walked when it comes to urban survival. Too conscientious of societal restriction and youre a victim, too aggressive and youll need lessons in prison survival. Please weigh in you have any technical advice or just feel like expressing your opinion.

  5. As a Recon Marine I’ve done some crazy things but when I was in Korea Training with the ROK Marines They told me that the best defense is if you run the person trying to hurt you will eventually give up but if their is no way out of confrontation their is no rules on the street and your going to have to get dirty hurt that SOB before that person hurts you and don’t stop until that person is down and out.

  6. Now if it comes to lethal force issues a person is trying to kill you with a weapon then you have a right to defend yourself with lethal force with a weapon don’t be stupid and try to take his weapon unless your Steven Seagal or specially trained to do so your best bet is to avoid or get out of the situation before it escalates. Its helped me a few times when I was doing some contract work in Iraq. It would also be a good idea to look up your state laws or talk to your lawyer or cop friends about what constitutes lethal force.

  7. To points 2 and 4 – don’t come out of bars and restaurants still talking and partying (same for malls). Finish all conversations inside, then be focused only on your surroundings when you step outside. Take a good look around while you can still duck back inside quickly if anything looks wrong. Also, friends always make sure everyone gets to their car safely, gets it started and moving. I do this even in the suburbs and I avoid the inner city completely. Don’t do anything that distracts you from being aware of your surroundings.

  8. There are dozens of way to put an attacker down without doing any permanent harm and all of them require practice and confidence.

    The best I ever saw was one guy, confronted with a pack who had turned nasty suddenly switched from being an amiable drunk to being the most aggressive, snarling mean SOAB you ever saw. They all turned and ran. His change left them in no doubt that if they were looking for a soft victim they had picked the wrong bloke. I was particularly grateful as he was holding me up at the time – it had been a very long night.

  9. I agree with GOOWIN’s statement that you can’t teach instincts; but only to a point. As a bartender or bouncer one had better already have a working set of instincts or its going to be a very painful learning curve. I teach my children and anyone else that will listen to: “trust your instincts and allow them the LUXURY to be wrong”. LUXURY is important because if one takes for instance an evasive action based on an instinctual impulse then the possible event may never occur because of that action, thus the instincts don’t get the positive reinforcement that an event was avoided. It may have been something or nothing at all. But when the time comes, and it will, that it is clear an event was avoided or effectively countered by that inner voice of instinct; that is the point that a powerful set of instincts really begins to take hold and will serve a person the rest of their now hopefully long life. Never let the conscious mind over-ride the instincts. That would be like allowing a pocket calculator to over-ride a supercomputer. My school was the street and I survived it long enough to change course in life. I know whereof I speak.

  10. If you allways run from a fight they will come for you. If you kill one in hand to hand there friends will come for you (and the Cort case sucks bad) if you run at the moments notes you look like food/pray if you look nervous the same thing gose DO NOT US a GUN if less then 6′ for they have a 60% chance of getting it from you.

    if you do not know how to fight Stomp on there toe then kick the knee then stand on there throught tell other help gets there (Trust me if they sqwerm jest put mor wait on it they will stop or jest DIE.

  11. The ” If its a strong arm, use a knife” is the worst advice I have ever seen on this site. My father in law spent two years in prison for dsefending himself with a knife and stabbing a guy. Note: he was 64 yrs old 5’6″ tall with no priors and the guy who picked the fight at a gas station was 6’4″ and 27 yrs old. NEVER use weapons on an unarmed man unless it is non lethal.
    Other than that, great article and comments.

  12. If there is an out, take it but be prepared or plan ahead for a way to fight back if they catch up. I carry concealed and would hate to have to use it but if it is a choice between them or me? I will still be alive. We are facing times that may call for drastic measures in the near future and as a prepper I am determined to survive.

  13. In the uk there is a saying “It is better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6” Let the jury decide….

    • We have that exact saying in the US Mil too. Frankly I think that its a good mind set to have if there is even a chance of a LoD situation. Once you make the decision that you are willing to protect yourself by any means needed that outlook shows. (Rule 3) That glimpse of what my Father used to call stubborn resistance, is usually enough by itself to head off a situation.

  14. As a man of advanced age (63) I do not fight. Not that I can’t I have 42 yrs of martial arts training and still train today. My point is ( I DO NOT FIGHT!
    If everyone used these rules there would be a hell of a lot less bull- sh– and far fewer people trying to cause it.
    Bill Sensei Kenshoryu Karate

    • wow. I’m 17- never been in a fight, and I go by that aswell. People fight over stupid things like steppin on shoes or over food or even relationships, but it’s only worth fighting for your life and your loved ones.

  15. I don’t fight .. I kill – shut up you silly old fool . You’re a armchair commando . Pipe down and behave .

  16. >The best way to defend yourself from an attack is not to put yourself in a situation where you are likely to be attacked.

    Whoa buddy, is that VICTIM BLAMING I’m hearing? I’m triggered.

    • Someone should teach these criminals about personal responsibility. But it seems like personal responsibility is a thing of the past.

  17. excellent ideas/suggestions. need answers here…know theres lots of us out there who need this answered: how do you try to protect yourself when you are “handicapped, or have no strength to speak of, cant run, barely lift leg to kick, and so on”, always thugs who go after seniors, or helpless folks, so they need to be able to help themselves if possible. I know thats a concern of mine…barely walk, cant run, have lost strength, etc. (working to build up, but time consuming). thanks for suggestions for us

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.