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There may come a time when you’ll find yourself threatened by one or more shady characters who want to take your money, your property or even your life. You never know when you’ll find yourself in such a situation, so you better be prepared to defend yourself, with nothing but your hands and your wits. In this article, we’ll show you a few ways by which you can get out of potentially lethal situations – with some simple self-defense moves that don’t require any weapons.

Prevention is best

We can’t stress enough that avoiding a fight or a life-threatening situation is preferred. As such, be aware of your environment and avoid venturing alone in an unfamiliar locale. Don’t walk through unknown alleys, or pass through places you even suspect to be dangerous. Stick to well-lit, peopled areas if you’re ever in a place that’s new to you.

If you get confronted by undesirable individuals, stand your ground and try to talk your way out of it. Use a confident voice and shout “BACK OFF!”, or another assertive and appropriate directive, at them loudly. If you attract the attention of other people, that can be enough to defuse the situation; by yelling you likewise show your attacker that you won’t be an easy target. If that fails, be ready to fight and flee.

Don’t be a hero

If you are cornered and left with no option, then it’s time to defend yourself. Keep calm, bearing in mind that you’re no vigilante who beats up the bad guy then sits around waiting for the cops to lock them up; your aim is to disorient or subdue them so they’re no longer a threat and you can run away. When you’re out of danger you can report the incident to the proper authorities.

The vulnerable spots

Now that we’ve established the background, it’s time to get to the basics, specifically your opponent. It’s worth knowing a bit about human anatomy, and which body parts that register a lot of pain with minimal effort. The face alone is chock full of easy targets you can exploit.

Here’s a list of some of the easily-targeted, vulnerable spots on the human body and how you can exploit them:

  • Eyes – Poke straight and hard, or rake and scratch them with your fingers.
  • Nose – A straight punch or open-palmed strike is painful and may make their eyes water.
  • Ears – Cup one or both of your hands, and slap one or both ears hard; this will cause a ringing in their ears and can cause loss of balance.
  • Adam’s apple – Easily a visible target; poking or striking this can cause great pain and interrupt breathing.
  • Base of the throat – Poking or striking at the soft areas where the throat meets the neck results in a great deal of pain and can also interrupt breathing.
  • The throat itself – Punching, poking or chopping hard on any part of the throat hurts a lot and can seriously injure your attacker.
  • Collar bones – Punching or hammering this with your fist or elbow is likewise painful; if you strike at this with enough force you may break the collar bone and paralyze the connected arm.
  • Groin – If your attacker is male, a strong strike from your fist, knee, shin or foot to the testicles is the classic and very effective way of neutralizing him.
  • Knees – A sharp kick with the sole of your foot can bring your attacker down; harder strikes can break the knee and render them unable to walk or fight.
  • Shins- The front part of the leg just below the knee; the shins are especially vulnerable and register a lot of pain when kicked.
  • Instep – The tops of the feet and toes are also good targets; stomping on them with your heel hurts a lot and if you break one of their toes, your attacker won’t be able to stand or walk.

There are many soft spots on the human body you can exploit, though not all of them may be immediately visible or easy to target. When in doubt, go for the eyes, nose, throat and groin (

Your best weapons

In reality, no one is ever without weapons. Your hands are your primary weapons, but in a survival situation, you’ll have to bring every “weapon” on you into play. This includes the boniest, hardest parts of your body – your elbows, knees, and forehead. Striking at any of the vulnerable spots mentioned above with these bony parts of your body can inflict serious pain on your attacker and give you time to escape.

Common “thug tactics”

A couple of common tactics that attackers use are the wrist grab and the bear hug from behind. These moves are simple to defeat and defend against, if you know how, and here’s how:

The wrist grab

Oftentimes your attacker will grab one of your wrists in a bid to “control” you and set you up for a punch to your face.

Once someone grabs your wrist, don’t panic. Here’s how to get out of a wrist grab:

Step 1. “Open” your hand and move your wrist so your palm faces the ground. Don’t worry about your attacker’s strength as no matter how strong they are they are unlikely to be able to stop you from doing this.

Step 2. Quickly move your wrist outward; this will cause them to lose their grip on your wrist.

Step 3. Follow up by punching your attacker’s face, poking their eyes, kicking them in the groin or any effective strike.

Step 4. Run while you have the chance.


The bear hug

Some attackers may take you by surprise and rush you from behind. They’ll “hug” you from behind, trapping your arms to your sides.

If they haven’t trapped one or both of your arms, strike at them with the elbows of your free arm or arms.

But if they have your arms trapped, take these steps:

Step 1. Calmly widen your stance slightly, bending your knees. This is known as the “horse stance”.

Step 2. Lean forward, bringing yourself closer to your attacker’s leg.

Step 3. With both your hands, grab his leg and pull it up; he should lose his grip on you and fall on his back.

Step 4. While still holding his leg, spin around keeping his leg under your knee for a knee bar submission hold.

Step 5. From this position he can’t reach you so you can maintain this position and dial 911, or you can punch his face, stomach or groin then leave.

For a submission hold, retain your grip on their leg then twist your body to face them and kneel on their leg (


After subduing

Don’t hang around

The longer you stay within the vicinity of your attacker, the higher your chances are of getting injured, abducted or even killed, especially if it happens to be their turf. If you are threatened or attacked, focus on escaping. Some opponents may want you to try and stay and fight, setting you up for an ambush by their cohorts.

After you’ve downed your attacker, don’t linger at the scene. You’ll only give them the opportunity to strike at you again and they may even call in some of their own “backup”. Remember that no further harm can come to you if you’re simply not there, and it’s much more preferable to lose face than your life.

Parting shot

These are just a small sample of the many defensive moves available. Take the time to practice them with a friend, and learn more moves from different sources to prepare for other scenarios. If you think this type of confrontation is possible where you live or in your travels, you should seek professional self-defense training from a qualified and reputable instructor.

When fighting defensively, keep in mind that you aren’t limited to doing it bare-handed.

You can use any weapon you can find – a trash can lid, a broken bottle, knife, stick, rock or even your keys. The moves above should only be used as a last resort, and even then only to buy time to escape.

Even your car keys can be an effective improvised weapon (

Finally, when push comes to shove, be aggressive and fully commit to your survival. Remember to let up and leave the area once your attacker has given up or is unable to give chase. Bear in mind that you can be charged with aggravated assault if the situation changes from pure self-defense to vengeful offense.