Self-Defense Moves that Can Save Your Life

Listen, Chuck Norris — self-defense is more than roundhouse kicks and backfists. Here’s how defend against an assailant with a bat, knife and gun.


Sometimes, the world is a frightening place. Muggings, assaults and random acts of violence take place against innocent people every day — and we see them so often in the news that we become numb to their occurrence. Unfortunately, part of that numbness can fuel a total lack of preparedness should we become the victim. We all hope we won’t have to face a life-and-death situation at the hands of another person, but other than vigilance and staying away from places where trouble seems to occur, we have little control over the dangerous part of the outside world.

If you are attacked, even without a weapon, that means the person has the potential to harm you and/or those you love. Defense isn’t an action film where you perform elaborate moves and pummel with your backfists and jumping reverse roundhouse kicks. It’s about fight or flight. When faced with a potentially lethal attack with a blunt-force object or a knife, you have to choose between escaping or dispatching the attacker and escaping as quickly as possible. When it comes to a firearm, things escalate exponentially. It’s never about exacting vengeance or violence — it’s about putting an end to an attack quickly and authoritatively.

How to Disarm an Assailant with a Bat


Baseball bats can actually be more frightening and more harmful than knives, since they extend your assailant’s reach significantly, preventing you from reaching him/her directly. It can also do a lot of damage if your assailant swings it hard enough — especially if it makes contact with your head. If you manage to block it with your arms, bones can easily be broken and you probably won’t get a second chance to effectively prevent more blows.

But a bat has to be swung, meaning your assailant must wind up, swing and repeat. The same goes for a club or a long stick, though these can be swung faster since they don’t have the mass or drag. If you know someone is going to use one against you, you have two choices. First, you can simply run, because unless your attacker is a total klutz, he will make contact. The other choice is to immediately close the distance. If you give the assailant the opportunity to make a fully extended swing, you could get seriously hurt or actually killed via blunt-force trauma. Closing the distance means you have to rush, but even rushing you need a plan. Don’t run from a distance, since he could just pull back and swing when the time is right. As you are approached, rush by surprise and close the gap quickly. Even if you get hit, it won’t be with the bat’s full force and probably will be somewhere in the middle of the bat, if at all. Once making contact, don’t tackle and make it a ground fight.

If you give the assailant the opportunity to make a fully extended swing, you could get seriously hurt.

You might think grabbing the bat is a good idea in order to use it against him/her, but that’s risky. Grabbing is only for the purpose of stopping motion before a full swing. Move in, absorb the blow with your shoulders or upper arms (if you can) and go for the throat with the webbing between your thumb and your index finger. Unless you’re a seasoned fighter or well trained, you likely don’t have the motor skills to hit the throat with your fist, and an open hand requires less precision. If you’re close enough, you can also eye-gouge with your thumb. Both moves should be performed hard and fast. Remember, an attack with a bat constitutes assault with a deadly weapon, so it’s life and death. If you perform these actions correctly, the assailant will likely drop the bat, and you can take possession of it.

How to Stop an Assailant with a Knife


Yes, a knife is bad news, but most people have no idea how to wield one, much less fight effectively with one. If your assailant is holding the knife point out, like he is going to stab you, he probably isn’t very good with it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be extremely careful. If the assailant is holding the knife with his knuckles facing you, with the knife blade edging out of the bottom of the hand, then he/she is likely pretty adept at it, using slashing movements along with the ability to stab. Contrary to what you might see on the internet, multiple block and strike moves generally won’t work unless your assailant moves at sloth-like speeds. If you can’t escape and are forced to contend with the assailant, find an object that can keep distance (like a belt, using the buckle end to swing). You can also wrap a jacket or sweater around your non-dominant arm to shield yourself while you attack the throat or the eyes with the other hand, but know that you will need to close the distance in order to immobilize or disarm him/her.

If you can’t escape and are forced to contend with the assailant, find an object that can keep distance.

If you are unable to do either of the aforementioned things, you will be left with your hands to take control of the situation. Understand that attempting to disarm your knife-wielding assailant will likely result in you getting cut — but hopefully not severely. You may be able to dodge a few swings, but you can’t keep that up indefinitely. You must accept the fact that you will get cut — it’s a harrowing thought, but knowing that can prevent more serious injuries to more prone areas of the body.

You will need to try to grab the assailant’s hands or forearm when he swings, and though he may get some cuts in, you will probably be able to get ahold of his arm after a couple of attempts. Once you do, you have to close the distance and go in hard and fast while making sure the blade is pointed away from you. You cannot let the assailant get his knife hand free. Keep a strong grip on him with both hands and try to break the wrist by pulling the hand toward you and down with the palm facing the assailant’s body and forcing him to the ground. You must grab above the wrist. As you pull down, snap the wrist as hard as you can in the direction of his body. This should release the knife. You can then quickly bring his hand and arm back behind the body and force his back to the ground with your other forearm or knee, while keeping his arm twisted behind the back. This can dislocate the shoulder to disable him.

How to Survive an Assailant with a Handgun


Note: Without frequent and repeated practice of the following instructions, never attempt to disarm someone with a gun. It must become reflex, second nature. There is no room for error. Disarming someone with a gun should only be done at extremely close quarters, meaning the gun must be within your reach either immediately in front of you or immediately behind you. And there is no such thing as attempting to disarm. You must do it. You have no choice but life or death in these circumstances. For the sake of brevity, we will address a frontal attack rather than the assailant coming from behind you with a firearm.

Distract/Control: You must control the situation by deciding to act without hesitation. Failing to act could result in your death, as could any degree of hesitation or bad timing. There is a direct connection between your assailant’s attention and his trigger finger. If you can distract him by speaking, the assailant’s brain will have to disconnect from his trigger finger to process what you are saying. It’s ideal that you make your move while speaking because he will least expect it and his reflexes will be very briefly impaired. It’s best not to strike while the assailant is speaking, since he may gesture with his hands (even with the gun hand) and you could very well miss the gun entirely when trying to disarm.

Clear: After distracting your assailant, the next three moves must be done nearly simultaneously. Clear yourself from the path of the barrel by blading your body to put your torso perpendicular to your assailant’s. This reduces your surface area and gets you out of the path should the gun go off. At the same time, reach one hand underneath and just in front of the trigger guard and place the other directly on top — pushing the gun away from you laterally while you use your thumbs to rapidly rotate the gun away, toward the back of the assailant’s hand. Don’t pull the gun out of his hand, but rotate it away from you since your assailant can’t grip it tight enough to prevent its movement. This all has to be done incredibly quickly and then must be immediately followed by the disarm.

Disarm: Now that you’ve moved the gun and your body out of the path of the barrel, you must pull back and down with both hands, stepping back hard with your rear foot — and this is vital — while keeping the barrel pointed away from you the entire time. At no time should that barrel cross your body. The assailant’s trigger finger will remain trapped in the trigger guard, and once you pull hard down, his finger will break and his grip will completely release. At this point, you should have the gun in your control, at which point you must disable the individual.

Disable: Unless you are law enforcement, there is no requirement to make an arrest. You do not have the skills or equipment to do so. It’s best to immediately create distance, even if you have possession of the gun, since you don’t know if the assailant has the skill to disarm you. Exercising restraint here is important, but if he rushes you, it now returns to a lethal situation and you are legally justified in defending yourself. It’s unlikely that the assailant will, since his finger will be severely injured. In case he does decide to come after you, you cannot allow him to get close enough to take the gun from you. Interpret that as you may.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below