“It is better to avoid than to run, better to run than to de-escalate, better to de-escalate than to fight, better to fight than to die.”
― Rory Miller, Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected
…if and when a woman chooses to fight, it must be a total effort. In many cases, there is no level of force that will simply discourage a male attacker. He must be incapacitated. This is my advice and I think this mindset is critical, but the actual statistics are less grim—many assailants do run away and do not escalate when they encounter an unexpected resistance.”
― Rory Miller, Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence
Rory Miller, a globally respected expert in violence and security, offers insightful and practical advice about surviving real-life violent encounters. His insights are based on actual incidents. Speaking of real incidents consider the following that took place in Toronto and Niagara Falls:
• At about 11:45 pm on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, a man allegedly approached and sexually assaulted a woman inside a bus shelter in the Weston Road and Walsh Avenue area. The woman fought and the man fled. She sustained minor injuries.
• 6 years ago, one of our Toronto Krav Maga students was grabbed by a man who attempted to drag her around the corner of a building. She hit him repeatedly hit him and got away.
• June 2016, in Niagara Falls, a man approached the woman, grabbed her from behind in a bear hug and told her to get in his vehicle. She stomped on his foot, causing him to let go, then she fled into a nearby building and called for help.
During our Krav Maga training, we advocate Miller’s point that avoidance is the best self-defense. If you sense or feel (don’t underestimate your intuition) danger then avoid by leaving the scene. This implies being aware of your surroundings. Who is in the area? What can their body language tell you? Where are some exit routes? Hint: the answers are not on your cell phone.
Prevention, however, is not always possible. In the situations described above, the assailants utilized the element of surprise. In all cases, the women fought and the assailants left. The women were aggressive because it was the only way to stop their attackers. Appealing to someone’s good nature or civility while you are being grabbed and dragged is not effective.
One of the more challenging aspects of teaching self-defense is encouraging students to use focused aggression to protect themselves. Some have protested that they don’t want to hurt anyone. Others might strike the pads but without much conviction, “going through the motions”.
Here is what we suggest. Of course, we don’t want to hurt anyone. However, if someone is attacking you or trying to drag you to a second scene – a vehicle, for instance – you have two choices: comply or fight. Compliance here means the attacker continues his assault without resistance or brings you wherever he chooses. This is a place you don’t want to go to!
If you choose to fight, fight effectively!
• Strike vulnerable parts of the body – eyes, jaw, nose, groin, etc…
• Strike hard and strike fast
• Yell, scream, make noise.
• Don’t stop striking until you can escape or he backs off or leaves
Some attackers are more determined than others so you might have to fight very, very, hard. The implications for training are important. When you practice striking, particularly after you have developed good form (to prevent wrist and foot injuries etc…) you have to strike hard and fast!
When you train do not simply “go through the motions.” Strike hard! Be aggressive! It can save your life.