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The Pre-Emptive Strike and Self Defense

What should you do if you notice a shadowy figure slowly approaching you on a dark street? Should you wait until their hands are on you, or prepare yourself to fight back before the attack begins? Although many people are blissfully unaware of the potential for violence until it happens to you, what you do in the moments before an attack starts can have an immense influence on the attack's outcome. If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, or know for sure that you are about to be attacked, it is crucial to begin preparing mentally and physically for your self defense.

If you know you're about to get tackled by an assailant, don't wait until afterwards to reach for your stun gun or pepper spray canister. What if it's buried in the bottom of your bag or in a pocket you just can't reach? If you're face to face with an assailant, now is the time to pull out your self defense device, even if the attacker hasn't laid his hands on you yet.

If you are completely unarmed and have absolutely nothing with which to defend yourself, should you be the first one to land a punch? Those who find themselves in the unfortunate position if having to kick or hit their way out of an attack often wonder about their best course of action.

Many self defense experts remain divided over the concept of pre-emptive strikes in a self defense scenario. Formal martial arts training usually involves an "assailant" attacking a student, at which point the student responds with martial arts techniques to deftly escape the attack. Although such strategies work well in a training scenario, is fighting back only once the attack has started a viable self defense strategy? Above all, you must remember that fighting in a martial arts school is completely different from street attacks, and requires a completely different set of techniques.

Stemming from this, many martial artists are beginning to recognize and encourage pre-emptive attacks as a valuable strategy in real-world, self defense situations. By hitting them before they hit you, you can get the upper hand seconds into the attack, giving you valuable seconds to get away.

Despite this advice, many people shy away from the idea of making the first move when they are being attacked. They may not be very confident in their defense skills, or worried about the legal ramifications for initiating an attack. However, the law generally accepts the strategy of hitting first so long as the attack was imminent. The law allows you to defend yourself physically if you can show that there was nothing you could do in the situation except fight back.

Above all, it is often considered unwise to wait until your attacker has grabbed you before you think about putting up a defense. It will be much harder to grab your pepper spray once you're grappling on the ground with an assailant than when you see him approaching you out of the shadows. By allowing the attack to happen without making a pre-emptive move, you lose control of the situation. In the face of an inevitable attack, there is no reason to wait.

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