Stay Safe with 17 Self-Defense Techniques

Written by | Updated October 10, 2016

Self Defense Tips

When you’re fighting for your life, there’s no time to think. That’s why it’s so important for you to learn basic self-defense tips to use in an emergency. Be forewarned, some of these techniques are violent. But if you’re in a life or death situation, you’ll need to do whatever it takes to get away safely.

1. Run.

When choosing between fight or flight, go with the latter if at all possible. If you see someone coming toward you or sense danger, run as fast as you can toward a populated area. Avoiding contact with an assailant is always the best option if you can manage it.

Self-defense expert, Lisa Van Ahn, believes prevention is key. “Be aware and mindful at all times,” she says “When you practice the art of self-care and attention, you’re unlikely to find yourself in a situation where you need to use these techniques to save your life.”

2. Stomp on their knee.

If you have to fight, raising your foot up and stomping on someone’s knee can literally bring them to their knees. Using force in an unnatural direction on the knee can cause it to break or dislocate, which will take your attackers focus entirely off of you and onto their own excruciating pain.

3. Do NOT go for the groin.

Most people think kicking a male in the groin will disable them entirely. Van Ahn disagrees. “Most times, this just pisses them off,” she says. There are many better self-defense moves to use before resorting to this one. And when you’re in physical danger, you don’t want to make someone who’s attacking you even more furious.

4. Hit them in the nose.

The nose is tremendously sensitive. When you take the palm of your hand and thrust it in an upward, forward motion against someone’s nose, you can break or cause it to bleed. Both results are extremely painful and have proven to be an effective way to stop an attack. Here’s how to do it.

5. Use your keys.

Carry your keys in your hand when you’re walking alone at night, so you can use them as a weapon if necessary (think Wolverine here). You should keep the base of the key in the palm of your hand and allow the pointed end to extend through your fingers. If you need to hit someone, your keys will act as pointy brass knuckles. Ouch!

6. Punch their solar plexus.

The solar plexus is the hollow point at the bottom-middle of your rib cage. It’s where your diaphragm sits and—when punched—can literally knock the wind out of you. This isn’t the most effective self-defense technique since it won’t bring your assailant down to the ground long enough for you to run away. However, it will temporarily stop them in their tracks, so you can follow up with other strikes or flee.

7. Scream.

During an attack, scream bloody murder. Even if you’re in the middle of nowhere, it will have an effect on the person who’s assaulting you. And if people are around, it’ll bring them running to your aid. If you can, scream defensive words like “No!” and “Stop!” instead of “Help!”, it will show your attacker you can protect yourself, and intimidate him/her.

On the other hand, it is useful to tell people what to do if you spot a bystander or are around people. Self-defense Expert, Jennifer Cassetta believes simply crying for help isn’t necessarily enough. “You shouldn’t just scream for help,” she says. “Command help. Make sure you tell bystanders exactly what you want them to do. For example: ‘I’m being attacked, call 911.’ Otherwise, many people freeze and won’t act, or worse yet, get out their camera and start filming the attack.”

8. Use your elbow.

Your elbow is hard, strong, and pointy—making it an ideal weapon. Use your elbow to hit an attacker in the nose, stomach, or kidneys. Thrust down hard—using as much force as possible—with your elbow,  to inflict the maximum amount of pain and increase your chances of getting away.

9. Download it.

You can download a bunch of different apps to keep you safe. My Panic Alarm turns your phone into a flashing siren when you push a button. Other apps like Companion send a live-feed map of your whereabouts to your contact list, so friends and family can virtually walk you home.

You should also always tell people where you’re going and when to expect you back, so they can check in on you.

10. Use your attacker’s force against them.

Pushing backward on a person’s elbow or wrist is a non-violent way to restrain and gain control over an attacker. It doesn’t require strength and it’s extremely effective.

The wristlock requires you to flip the assailant’s palm up toward their forearm, and twist while bringing them down to the ground. The elbow lock uses the same idea, but is executed by straightening the attacker’s arm and pushing in the opposite direction of the elbow joint. Both bring attackers down to a submissive position and give you the upper hand.

11. Bite.

Dogs and Mike Tyson do it, and so can you. Using your teeth is a scrappy self-defense technique that will startle and distract your attacker. If you can, bite down on any soft tissue that comes close to your face. This is a useful strategy if someone attacks you from behind and puts their arms around your neck. It also works if someone grabs you by the shoulder.

12. Hit your panic button.

If you’re near your car, hit the panic button. The more noise you can make, the more likely someone will come to your aid—and the better your chances of scaring your attacker away.

13. Grab their ears.

Ears are very delicate. Pulling and twisting them will be enough to halt an attack, but it won’t be enough to stop it completely.

14. Poke them in the eye.

Taking away someone’s sight will disable them almost completely. While violent, eye gouging is a smart tactic to use in an assault, since it will stop your attacker long enough for you to run for help.

15. Give them what they want.

Self-defense expert, Lisa Van Ahn, recommends you hand over any material items you can replace. “Determine if an assailant means you harm or only has the desire to mug you,” she says. “If they want your phone, purse, ring, whatever, give it to them. If they are intending harm, use self-defense tactics to protect yourself.”

16. Use pepper spray.

Pepper spray is a very effective means of disabling an attacker. It’s legal in all 50 states when used for self-defense, but check your state laws to find out about certain restrictions that could impact its use.

17. Use the buddy system.

Traveling in groups can prevent people from mugging or attacking you in the first place. If you can, walk with friends when you’re out at night.

Whether someone is attempting to mug, sexually assault, murder, or abduct you, you can use these self-defense tips to help yourself get away safely. If you want to take your self-defense to the next level, you can shop for pepper sprays with our helpful product guide.

Written by Caroline Maurer

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  • Minhigh Nguyen

    Great techniques but I have one problem. It would be better to go for the groin because if you do hit them and it hurts them pretty bad you are able to get a couple more seconds to get a few hits in or even run which is the best technique.