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Photo credit: Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon / Foter / CC BY

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Photo credit: AlicePopkorn / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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The Easiest Way to Improve Your Self Defense Skills

The Easiest Way to Improve Your Self Defense Skills

I can show you an easy way to improve your self defense skills without ever having to take a martial arts class.  Sound too good to be true? Well it’s true, and it begins with something that we take for granted in a busy, self absorbed world. The one thing you can do now to improve your self defense skills is to increase your awareness.

Take a look at the following video.

Whether it’s the “knockout game”, a robbery, or any other criminal act, many victims are caught unaware.  Not paying attention to your environment leaves you vulnerable and open to violent attacks.  Add cell phone usage to the equation and your chances of being a victim increases.

How many people do you see on a daily basis texting with their heads down or walking while chatting on their cell phones?  According to a 2012 Pew Research Center survey, 53% of the people surveyed reported having been on the giving or receiving end of a “distracted walking” incident. These people were accidentally hit by a distracted walker or have accidentally hit other people while being distracted themselves.  That high percentage could translate over to crimes where “distracted walking” was a factor in being a victim.


While training defensive tactics with Sifu Roy Harris, he told me something that has influenced me me to this day.  We stopped training for a moment to talk about Bruce Lee’s intercepting fist.  Sifu Harris told me that there was one step before the intercepting fist and that was the intercepting eye. Even before intercepting the attack, your eyes should intercept your opponent’s intentions.

Sifu Harris explained that looking at your opponent’s physical gestures will show their plan of attack.  For example, you are contacted by a man who tells you to give him your wallet.  You see his left hand grabbing the front of shirt at the waist band and his right hand moving towards the same area.  You become aware that those movements are indications of a potential attack with a gun or knife.

Here’s a more casual example of how awareness and the intercepting eye will advance your self defense skills.  You are walking alone and see a group of boisterous men coming towards you.  Since you weren’t texting, you now can avoid these men or at least prepare for a possible altercation.  These scenarios both based on awareness, have now given you multiple pathways to safety.

I’m in no way advocating hyper vigilance at every moment, leave that to police officers. What I’m advocating is improved awareness in the now. Here are ways to develop that awareness and to keep you or your loved one’s out of harm’s way.

  • Pick up the hobby of people watching. Watching people is one of my favorite things to do, not only is it entertaining but it also  keeps me aware of my environment. Just don’t be creepy about it.
  • Use your cell phones at safe locations and when you’re stopped. This is probably the hardest one to master.
  • Be confident and alert when you’re in public.  Keep your shoulders high and your head on a swivel.  Think of the animal kingdom, the wolf searches for the weaker prey and steers clear from the sheepdogs. You are the sheepdog.
  • Practice “what if” scenarios in your head.  Think about all of the bad things that you could encounter in everyday life.  Look up crimes caught on video and think about what you would do in those situations. The point to this mental exercise is to rehearse what you might possibly do when faced with similar circumstances. For example, how would you fight multiple attackers? Check out the Fight Smart video below and think about what you would do.

You will now watch people more closely, use your cell phone smartly, be the sheepdog and practice mental preparedness. Are you now more confident and better prepared for defending yourself on the street?  Whether the answer is yes or no, I would be happy if part of your answer was, “I’ll at least be more aware.” Because awareness is the key to better self defense.

Now that your self defense skills are bit sharper, add to your total package by finding a school, gym, or dojo that will teach you ways to deal with an attack that can’t be avoided. Be safe out there and let us know some of the things you do to keep aware on the street.


Smith, A. (2014, January 2). More than half of cell owners affected by ‘distracted walking’. Retrieved June 22, 2015.


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