Non-violent self-defense for pacifists
Yes, you can improve your chances of self-protection without resulting in violence.
Most of us view self-defense as an aggressive program that is focused around injuring an assailant. If you were to consider training in Self-Defense, you will very often come across training programs that are focused on the opposite of self-defense. Meaning, they appear to be more offensive and in many cases almost purely offensive.
We can imagine a video where participants are kicking and striking would be assailants. In truth, this appears to be the opposite of what self-defense could mean. What would that opposite words be for the words Self and Defense? We would simply need to reverse the wording and consider antonyms.
Self = Other
Defense = Offense
The above two swaps are the easiest conclusions to arrive at and combined; they equal to:
Which can simply be defined as attacking, injuring or harming others or as:
Offense to others
As the always awesome and amazing Chuck Norris put it in an old deodorant commercial:
“The best defense is not to offend.”
I have used and seen others use the term “Self-Offense” before to point out some of the practicalities in Self-defense that are related to being the first to act (and to do so with the purpose of violence). Sadly, in a realistic scenario, if you want to do your best in a situation requiring self-defense, the irony is that it is very often better to take offensive action as opposed to pulling in like a turtle and waiting it out.
There are many people who do not believe in violence regardless of how effective it may be in stopping an assailant. The refusal to learn strikes and kicks is on the basis for a non-violent approach towards life. So this article is to help offer some ideas on what a person can do when limited to no offensive movements.
And it is actually practical to do so
The good news is that in many cases, it is not the attacker that will do the most damage. With this in mind, it means that you can dramatically increase your self-defense skills by learning these non-violent strategies for survival.
Let’s imagine a situation where a stronger attacker is picking up and throwing down the defender. What do you think out of these options is the most dangerous part of this event?
Being picked up
Moving through the air
Contacting with the environment
In more cases than not, it is going to be number 3 that is the most dangerous. This is because the impact you have on the ground or what is in the area (furniture, fire hydrant, curb, etc.) can do some serious damage.
So it would be safe to say that you can improve your skills in self-defense if you can discover simple ways to lower the risk of injury upon impact. This can be done in many non-violent ways:
You can learn how to fall to the ground better
You can learn to roll
You can learn how to take an impact
Simply training in a strategy of keeping your head up or protecting it better can be the difference between life and death alone.
For example, when a person falls, the momentum creates a kind of whiplash, and the head can connect with something in the environment. Let’s use the ground surface as an example. Where you land, how you land and what connects to the part of the surface is what matters most in a situation of self-defense. This surface could be concrete, ice, or another hard surface like wood.
So if you were to learn where to place your hands near your head for protection (if possible) that would help. If you were to turn your head so that the strongest part of the head connected, that could help too. Or if you were to lift the head up or keep the neck stiff to decrease whiplashing the head into the ground once the body connects, this too could decrease the damage.
If each one of these strategies attributed to a 20% decrease in damage then you could safely say that you may have increased your self-defense in that scenario by 60%
Not only would learning how to fall or land safely assist you in a situation where an assailant was pushing you, throwing you or knocking you down, but these same skills can also help you in a situation where you trip or fall on your own accord.
So self-defense can be practical in real life situations too. The majority of times a person will need to protect themselves from the environment far outweigh the times they will need to protect themselves against an assailant.
Once you come to the conclusion that the above can be a practical way to learn self-defense, you can begin to consider some of the other strategies that would also help you to increase your potential for survival.
One of the easiest methods would be to learn the various mental strategies possible for increasing your chances for self-protection. For example, simply making the right choices around avoidance alone can make a difference. These are often as simple as:
Not getting into a vehicle with someone drunk
Choosing a well-lit street over a dark alley
Going out at night with friends you know well
The above are some simple strategies that align themselves with common sense but are often broken as rules because of our trust in other human beings. Some more advanced strategies would include:
Looking for signs of aggression like a witness check (where someone looks around to see if anyone can see the both of you and thus signaling to you there might be a situation coming).
Or other behaviors common with possible aggression like the way a person uses their physiology, talks, or how their eyes are moving.
What you say (or think to say) could have an impact on the outcome of violence too.
These are all areas that start with a mental foundation and then lead into other areas that could be trained to aid you in improving your strategies. It is more about the "thought" and putting energy into making better choices. This can happen with simply thinking in advance too.
It is better to have on a thick jacket than a t-shirt, or better to carry an umbrella than not, as these items could be used for protection in the time of need. Imagine if you were surprised by a wild dog and the difference in outcomes could be changed by having something to wrap around your arm or having a stick like an object the dog could bite instead of you.
Going from the mind to the body, we can consider some other strategies that are both non-violent and effective. In a combat situation, the difference between who is the victor and who is the victim can come down to the following:
These would be the three most important determining factors between two people. So although you may not physically be able to increase your size, you can train your speed and strength. Remember, self-defense is not just a bloodsport between two people.
You may need to run from an angry mob or escape a hostile environment and so physical attributes related to agility, flexibility, stamina, and speed, do come into play here.
And don’t limit your view of strength to the gym. Yes, it will help if you work out but what I am referring to more here would be closer to questions like:
Do you have the strength to climb over a wall?
Do you have the strength to push off the ground?
Having the strength to get yourself out of a situation could be directly related to the environment. Again we are pointing out how the environment can be your challenge as opposed to only the assailants.
These are only a few of the concepts for organizations that care about its people but don’t want to engage in the more aggressive nature of self-defense that includes fighting, kicking, punching or anything that would harm another person. But learning how to stay calm in chaos doesn’t have to go against your beliefs and can still be used to protect you and your family.
Regardless of your strategies for self-defense, be sure to match up with a qualified Instructor that understands that the ultimate goal is to avoid conflict at all costs.