How to Defend Yourself from an Attacker

Being able to defend yourself is a helpful skill to have. Whether you're considering to learn how to fight back or if you just want to spruce up your fighting skills, this article is a must-read. Read below to see how!


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    Hide. Fighting an individual should only be considered a last-resort method. Exhaust your options before you physically defend yourself.
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    Assume a proper fighting stance if the assailant will not stop. Turn your body to the side so that your right shoulder [or left, depending on your dominant hand] is facing your attacker. Raise your fists into the air to protect your body -- not too high, so that you don't end up blocking your line of sight, but not too low as to offer no protection to your head.
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    Know how to block an attack. To block a punch, use an open hand and push the fist out of the way enough so that it does not hit you somewhere that it may cause damage, such as your head, stomach, or groin.
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    Know how to counterattack. Avoid using "wild hook" punches, where you throw your entire arm and shoulder into a punch in a manner that is similar to a large C. From a fighting stance, a punch should come out from the center of your body. You will want your punch to come in quickly and return quickly -- don't leave your arm hanging out where the attacker can grab it. You can also kick to do damage. A kick should come from the foot that is back in the fighting stance. Bring up the leg and lash out bringing it back in so the attacker has no chance to grab it.
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    Know how to make a proper fist. This may seem like a silly and trivial thing to consider, but knowing how to throw a punch with a proper fist can save you from hurting yourself. You will want to keep your fist closed and tight. Your thumb should be located on or underneath your index and middle finger [see photo]. Do not place your thumb inside of your closed fist -- you can break your thumb if you hit a person hard enough. If you stick your thumb out, you can also break it. Be certain that you keep your wrist straight when throwing a punch, as this can also help prevent you from injuring yourself.
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    Appear strong. Posture is everything: keep a straight back, fair walking pace (but not too fast or you'll appear suspicious and frightened), hold your head high and if you are particularly walking through a bad area, resist the urge to look away from those around you. Look everyone in the eye but keep focused on your destination. This does three things: lets people know you are alert, allows you to identify anyone, allows you to say hello if you know anyone.
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    Be aware of your surroundings. Attackers will often approach their victims, trying to play it innocent or to threaten you for money. This will mostly happen in a quiet place where you might expect people to be e.g. down the road at night. Keep an eye out for people who might approach you.
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    Be on the defensive. If someone approaches you, then stand with your feet slightly apart, back and head straight, and push your arms straight out in front of you, palms forward as if to push them away. Command "Stop!" loudly. This pose will make you look strong, sure and confident of what you're doing - another deterrent to an attack. If the person does stop, but does not walk away, then firmly ask him or her questions such as "Are you following me?" "Why are you following me?" "What do you want?". Question his or her motives, and try to find out their intentions, but keep holding this stance. Do not move from that pose. By doing this you also find out more about your enemy and what he or she is trying to do, which is always a good thing to know. If he or she does reply, then it might be possible to persuade him or her away from his or her original aims and come to a compromise. You may even need to offer him or her money to leave you alone, as long as you have a reasonable amount on you (he or she probably wouldn't accept a pocketful of loose change - something like $50 might just be acceptable). It's better to lose money than your life.
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    Get in a fighting stance if the person just won't leave you alone. If you are right-handed, then step your right foot behind you. If you are left-handed, step your left foot behind you. Don't step your foot too far behind you or this will freeze you from moving about a lot; the usual rule is put your foot about a shoulder width behind you. The foot behind you provides a pillar in case the attacker pushes you, which will stop you from falling onto your back. Because once you're on your back, it's over. This stance is similar to a boxing stance, but you put your foot behind you a bit more. The back foot can be used to kick the opponent. Following from the footing in the stance, hold your opposite arm from your natural preference i.e. right-handers hold your left arm up, fists clenched, in front of your face. This is your defending arm, which you use to deflect an attack. Your right/left arm should be poised slightly lower for attack, so that any fist aimed at your face will be blocked by your defending arm and then you can punch in the gap at the attacker.
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    Grab your attacker by the hair/head with your attacking hand, and bring your defending foot up so that you can bring down the attacker's face and smash it on your bent knee. If this follows successfully then it will shock him or her enough to give you time to run away.
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    Punch - hard - with your strong arm right into the opponent's nose. This will disorient your opponent, break his or her nose, and allow you to get away. When you punch, yell loudly; this serves to strengthen your punch and surprises the opponent. It also serves to attract attention. If you do have to punch to defend yourself, do not do it halfway hard - a weak punch, even if it connects, will not do the job and may just anger your opponent. Punch as if your life depended on it, because it might. You can also upper-cut them. An upper cut is a punch that is thrown and aimed for the under side of the chin.
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    If you are jumped upon from behind, with the attacker wrapping his or her arms around your waist and chest, yank your arms free and with the arm that is on the same side as the attacker's head is on your shoulder (they need to do this to get closer to you), smash an elbow into his or her face. With your free hand grab his or her arm on that side and step a foot out so that you can pull away after impact.
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    If you are grabbed on from behind,step forward and then move backwards and to the side simultaneously, this should throw the attacker off balance and you will literally throw him or her over your shoulder. This works better if the attacker is taller than you are. Try this out on a friend first to practice.
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    If he or she grabs your arm with his or her hand, straighten your fingers as if you were trying to make your hand as flat as possible, and pull against where his or her fingers are. Making your hand flat stiffens the bone in your arm, making it easier to get out of someone's grasp, even if he or she is stronger than you.
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    If you are getting jumped,try not to get thrown on the ground or you will find it difficult to defend yourself from the attacker.


  • Avoid staying rigid and stiff while in a fighting stance. You want to be fluid and agile, so that you can block and/or dodge an attack quickly.
  • Think before you do something, what will the outcome be of punching this attacker? Will it buy you enough time to escape? Or will you have to throw another punch or kick?
  • You might want to use your forearm to assist in blocking an attack as well. This is generally good for defending against "wild hook" punches, which leave plenty of room to place your arm in between.
  • An elbow to the face can make him/her stop momentarily, possibly long enough to get to a more populated area.
  • If you don't need to attack, then don't. If you get an opportunity to get away, then take it. Nobody will think that you are a coward for avoiding unnecessary confrontation.
  • Carry a cell phone and call for help if you need it.
  • You can take a self-defense class.
  • Travel with trusted friends/family whenever possible in dangerous areas. You're more likely to be attacked if you're alone.
  • Do not intentionally aggravate or tease your attacker.
  • You can buy pepper spray that looks like a lighter for around five dollars online. You can also buy small knives concealed in pens for around the same price (just be sure its legal to carry a knife wherever you are).


  • Do not use this technique if you don't have to.

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