What is Self-Defense
We often feel that if we defend ourselves than it should be cut and dry. Self-defense by definition is “the defense of one’s person or interests, especially through the use of physical force, which is permitted in certain cases as an answer to a charge of violent crime”. Self-defense is legal in America. It is also required if we want to survive against violent encounters and those that would seek to do us harm.
Our current system does nothing to protect us or to prevent us from being harmed. Instead, it is designed to punish those that have caused us harm. Even that is not without its flaws. Meaning that we must not only prove who attempted to hurt us, but also that they intended to do us great bodily harm. You can’t just accuse someone of a crime and expect it to be resolved.
Think about what you would do if someone kicked in the door of your home and immediately started to beat you or a family member. What would your actions be? If you had a firearm, could you even get to it in time? If you didn’t what else might you do in order to protect yourself or a loved one? What is your plan when it comes to surviving a violent encounter?
What would you do?
Let’s assume you know martial arts. Do you believe an attack is going to be choreographed? Meaning do you believe a person is going to reach this way while you do this or that? What if you are a boxer, do you think that person is going to stand toe to toe with you and try to outsmart you? Ask UFC fighter Anthony Smith how it went when his home was broken into. Smith is a pro-UFC fighter that fights in the 205lbs weight class.
The person that broke into his home was 170lbs with no martial arts training to speak of. Yet Smith said it was the hardest fight of his life and it wasn’t until the police arrived that the intruder was finally taken down. Smith had no weapons available to him until his mother-in-law finally brought him a knife. Self-Defense results during violent encounters are never guaranteed.
Smith was quoted as saying “I’m by no means the baddest dude on the planet. But he’s a regular Joe and I had a hard time dealing with him. And he took everything that I gave him — every punch, every knee, every elbow. He took every single one of them and kept fighting me.” Let that thought sink in for a moment. A top-level, highly trained, and highly-skilled fighter vs average joe. You might think, well he must have been on drugs. What makes you think the criminal you will face one day won’t be?
How would you survive?
Mr. Smith did not lose the fight, and he kept his family safe. He also did not end the threat by himself. The threat was only ended with the help of his mother-in-law and the police. Ask yourself how long would you have to fight before help would arrive to assist you? Do you have someone in your home that is skilled under pressure who can call 911 to get your help? Are you trained and physically fit enough to last minutes in a fight for your life? For most people, a 30s intense fight seems like a lifetime.
Even if you said yes to both those questions. What if the home invader had a weapon of some kind? We have all seen one-punch knockout, although rare they do happen. If the attacker had a weapon, how many hits do you believe you could take before being out of it? One, maybe two or if you were really lucky three or four. Violent encounters happen fast and forming a self-defense plan in the moment is highly unlikely.
It should be every good person’s goal to avoid and if unavoidable then to survive a violent encounter. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were 1.2 million violent crimes in the U.S. in 2018. Now if you consider the population and the fact that those numbers have been falling for over 20 years. That’s not really an extreme amount based on the number of people living in the U.S.
Why should you care?
The reason that should still concern each and every one of us. Is because those are crimes not the number of victims. Anyone of the future victims of new crimes could end up being you or worse a loved one. There is never going to be a 100% guaranteed survival rate if you do this or that. The fact is, our lifestyle doesn’t always ensure we won’t become one of those victims.
How many people who were victims of the riots, were good people who were considered to have a low-risk lifestyle? Yet they are still listed as victims of violent crime now. How many women and men have been brutalized simply because they crossed paths with a psychopath one day? My point is it is your legal right to defend yourself, but do you have the means to do so?
Do you believe how tuff you are has anything to do with surviving a violent encounter? If your talking mental toughness, possibly. If your talking physical toughness, your chances go down considerably. Take into consideration that only the attacker knows when the attack is going to happen. Your ability to use any self-defense will be based on what is available, how trained you are, and your understanding of your options at the moment.
A violent encounter happens when the criminal decides it will happen. They pick the person or persons that will be their victim. They determine which weapons they will use. They pick the time and place, along with how much time you will have to react. Take for example your phone rings while walking to your car. You then decide to look down and see who is calling you.
That is when the violence will start. It could be when you decide to look behind you because you hear a noise. That is when you may feel that the first strike from a weapon hit your head. Violent encounters are fast, and they are a surprise. Your knowledge and will to survive is the only thing that can help you survive the encounter. Your ability to avoid conflicts, de-escalation techniques, and situational awareness may be the only thing that keeps you alive.
Of course, not every criminal is intelligent and many will make a mistake giving you an opportunity to defend yourself. That is if you are prepared to use self-defense at that moment. For some Americans they have decided learning to fight is the best way to defend themselves. Others have chosen to carry items like pepper spray or stun guns. Even more, have decided that owning a firearm is the best way to survive.
What is the best way to survive a violent encounter?
In order to survive a violent encounter, you must first understand what a violent encounter is. If you have chosen a tool to assist you in that survival. Then you must know and understand the limits of that tool. For example, say martial arts training is your tool for self-defense. Then at which point is fighting going to be taken off the table. Is it when you are taken to the ground, hit over the head, shot, or when there are too many to contend with?
If it is pepper spray or a taser, then you must be within 15ft of your attacker. That is a very dangerous distance to start with. It gets more dangerous if your attacker has a weapon of their own. Not to mention martial arts, pepper spray, tasers, knives, or guns can’t guarantee you will be able to use those tools in a surprise attack. They increase your survival rate based on your knowledge and skill of the tool you have chosen.
Along the way, the only thing you can do is to increase your odds. Meaning if you learn martial arts, you have increased your chance of survival. If you carry pepper spray or a taser, you have increased your chances. That is only if you have it readily available, you must have it on you at all times, and you know how to use it. The same goes for a firearm, just because you own a firearm does not mean it will be able to help you. Avoiding a violent encounter is the only way to ensure your survival.
A lot of people own firearms but without 100% access to it, what good will it do? A firearm doesn’t jump up and defend you. It also doesn’t jump up and commit crimes either. The one advantage for the martial artists and firearm owners is that they train, and they plan. Now understand I am not saying they map out every single scenario and then practice them.
Instead, they train for the most likely events in their lives. For example, say that you drive a bus all day. If you carried a firearm, you might train to draw and shoot from a shooting position most the time. The truth is though, what they train the most, is how not to use a firearm. We know in this great nation, every handgun owner must pass a background check.
That means they start out being a law-abiding citizen. The majority of people in the U.S. have no idea how a criminal thinks or how a violent encounter will actually take place. One of the first training classes most new firearm owners take is the concealed carry class. In that class, they will learn things like firearm safety, conflict avoidance, situational awareness techniques, the dynamics of a violent encounter, and the laws pertaining to self-defense. They also learn how to set up a personal and home defense plan.
Avoiding violent encounters
The first thing firearm owners learn is how to keep themselves safe. They learn how to not use a firearm first, and then they learn how to safely use one if needed. Firearm owners train regularly to make sure that if they did ever have to use a firearm. They would be able to do so, in a way that would save lives. They also learn early on that if they do end up using a firearm. It is going to cost them 100s of thousands of dollars. This is why companies like CCW Safe and the USCCA exist. They protect everyone who is forced to use self-defense legally and they assist in their training knowledge.
Everyone that has decided that they will defend themselves. Will be forced to answer to the police, prosecutor, and possibly a judge and jury. They will not only have to be able to show they were in fact the intended victim. They also must show that the level of force they responded with matched the force they were threatened with. You can see other dangers involved when using self-defense by clicking here.
We see every day the violent encounters that happen on the news. What we don’t see is what the victims go through afterward. Successful self-defense will often lead to someone else judging you on your action. When training to avoid violent encounters, you must know how to defend yourself both physically and legally.
Why defend yourself at all, wouldn’t just calling 911 to solve the problem? Sure, if the cop is standing just on the other side of the door, and they can reach the attackers before they reach you. We have focused so much of our lives ignoring the worst part of society. That we have come to believe that bad things won’t happen to us or we think someone will always be there to help.
How many times did your child fall when they first started walking, why didn’t you catch them? Or what about the accident you couldn’t avoid it because it happened so fast. Violent encounters happen the same way, you won’t be expecting it and you won’t have time to make complex decisions. You have to keep yourself prepared and within reach of your self-defense tools in order to survive.
Regardless of whether you’re are a victim of a violent encounter or you successfully defended yourself. A call to 911 will still have to happen. The only difference is, whether you will be carried away or rather you will be the one calling 911. We all need to ask ourselves, is it better to just lay down and die if it happens or are we willing to fight to live.
Tonight, I heard a story from a man I respect a great deal. Now he doesn’t know me but I follow his teachings. His name is self-defense instructor Mickey Schuch owner of Carry Trainers. He talked about a guy who was at home one night when he heard a crash at his back door. When the guy went down to check it out, he saw a couple of guys had smashed his window. Lucky for him the glass had a protective laminate on it that prevented the glass from shattering.
Armed with his iPhone, he turned on the light and the guys ran away. He decided to make sure his kids were safe and not too scared of the event. When his daughter said daddy, I wasn’t scared I knew you would protect us. It was at this point the guy realized he had no way of protecting his family had the guys not run away. His defense would have been only to fight until they got the upper hand. He did call 911 but due to the rioting going on in other areas, they never showed.
Not all violent encounters will require lethal force. In fact, the majority won’t rise to that level. The problem is, we never know what type of violent encounter we will be facing until it happens. At that point, it is too late to get prepared and it is too late to devise a plan of action. In order to increase your chance of successful self-defense, you must prepare ahead of time.
It may not take owning a firearm to survive a violent encounter but not all violent encounters are going to resolve themselves. You will never know what type of victim you are going to end up being. It is only through training and a desire to survive can you increase your chances. Self-defense is your legal right, but it is not a blanket that ensures you will not have to face some real legal and moral consequences.
First, you have to survive a violent encounter, then you will have to survive what comes next. Only you can determine how far you are willing to go to keep your family safe. There are many people who don’t have the physical abilities or time to learn martial arts or to learn every self-defense tactic available. Instead, they focus on one tool and training that can increase their skills in that one area.
The only fight you are guaranteed to win is the one you are not in. It is for that reason alone that firearms training appeals to so many. Learning how to avoid defending yourself will always be a safer option. Where people have trouble with firearms is the fact that they believe in this misguided perception that they are somehow evil. They are meant only to kill and have no other purpose. Yet every day I research violent encounters where people survived, and lives were saved because one person got firearm training.
This article is not meant to encourage or discourage you from owning a firearm. Instead, it is to help you realize that violent encounters can happen to us all. We are the only ones who will be there to defend ourselves when it happens. You are your family’s first line of defense. Keep in mind that all firearm owners are against gun violence, suicides, murder, mass shootings, rapes, and every other violent encounter.
To legally own a firearm, you must have followed the laws and avoided being a violent criminal. It is your legal right to die in a violent encounter or to defend yourself. While no tool can guarantee your survival in a violent encounter, having no tool at all can prevent your survival.