In the Navy, I had to take a firefighting class. One of the things we were told is that a fire needs three things; oxygen, heat and combustible material. Take one away and you put out the fire.
Similarly, an attacker needs three things to attack you. They are; sight, wind and mobility. Sight to see you and by wind I mean breath. Cut off someone’s ability to take a breath and the fight flees from them quickly. If they are immobilized, you can easily escape.
This is something I have been thinking about for a while. If you see any holes, please let me know. Before I continue, let me explain my take on self-defense. Violence should be used as a last resort. When it is used, you should use as little force as is necessary (meaning you don’t shoot someone making verbal threats). You do, however, use as much force as is needed to stop the forward movement of the threat. Once you have stopped the threat, you stop the use of force and escape as quickly as possible. Not stopping and continuing the attack is no longer acting in self-defense, and I would say is acting in vengeance. Both God and the state take issue with this, albeit for different reasons.
One thing to keep in mind about self-defense is that some people are not as affected by pain as others. This could be from adrenaline surge, or from being chemically altered, among other reasons. Someone’s ability to be unaffected by pain won’t matter for the majority of the items I will list. If you can’t see, breath or move, you can’t see, breath or move, your ability to bypass pain doesn’t matter. Many of these items can also easily be used from a smaller statured person on a larger attacker.
There are several ways to disable an attacker’s sight, ranging from inflicting tears, to severely damaging the eyeball with a gouge for instance. Here are just some of the ways I can think of, along with my thoughts on each.
I wrote an article called If You’re in a Fair Fight, Your Tactics Suck where I explain several methods of “fighting dirty”. In it, I say this about the eye gouge:
“I have seen this tactic mentioned several times over the years and it is often explained as pushing your thumbs deep into the eye sockets of the attacker. There is a problem with this explanation however; doing so is repellent to human behavior. In his book “On Killing,” Lt. Col. Dave Grossman explains the following:
“The single most effective mechanically easiest way to inflict significant damage on a human being with one’s hand, is to punch the thumb through his eye and on into the brain.”
He goes on to explain that even though this attack would be extremely effective, it goes against human nature. He also says that during the filming of a movie that was rated X because of it’s violent content, an actress who was to portray stabbing a man in the eye with a rat tail comb, passed out twice during filming.
“This is a professional actress, she can portray killing, lying and sex on the screen with relative ease, but even the pretense of stabbing someone in the eye seems to have touched a resistance so powerful and deep seeded that her body and emotions, the tools of the professional actress literally refuse to cooperate. In fact I cannot find any references of anyone in the history of human combat ever having used this simple technique.”
Eye Poke, Flick and Rake
If you gouge out someone’s eyes, I think it is probably going to be very easy to escape. But since people shy away from the eye gouge, I think an eye poke or flick would be a more popular choice. Neither cause as much damage and, in some cases, might only cause tearing or a temporary distraction. Because of this, I would follow it up with another attack listed here.
Eye poke is just like it sounds; give them the Ol’ Three Stooges poke in each eye. The difference between this and the gouge is the amount of pressure before you stop.
The Eye flick is, to me, much easier to deliver as you don’t really need to aim as much as you do with a gouge or poke because you flick your wrist, aiming all of your fingers at their eyes. I was taught to do this followed up with a right cross or elbow strike to the chin.
Raking the eyes means scratching. This could cause damage to the eyes or it could just cause pain. If you do this, I would follow it up with another attack.
Punch in the Nose
Getting hit in the nose will cause the eyes to tear; this should be quickly followed by another attack as it alone isn’t guaranteed to stop the threat.
There is a lot of misinformation about pepper spray out there. I have seen people say it’s all worthless because they watched someone spray it into their mouth like breath spray, or put it on a sandwich and eat it. You can read my full thoughts on it in the article Self-Defense: Pepper Spray. For now I will just say that these people fail to understand that there are three types of pepper spray and they are not all equal.
OC (Oleoresin Capsicum).
CS and CN are considered irritants and will cause stinging and tearing. They can take from five to thirty seconds to be effective and may have little to no effect on someone who is chemically altered or in a psychotic state.
OC on the other hand is an inflammatory agent. When sprayed with it, your eyes immediately slam shut. People most often become temporarily blind due to the capillaries in the eyes dilating. From breathing in the agent, there is also coughing and possibly some choking.
Spraying or throwing other things into the eyes could cause temporary blindness. I know this first hand. As a kid in seventh grade, a guy from school blew a handful of powdered dry soap into my eyes. I don’t think I actually went blind for any length of time (thank you Jesus), but because of the pain and watering I could not open my eyes. Hot liquids would work as well.
Wind, breath, air; without it one is not going to be fighting for long.
I have seen people gasp, cough, choke and vomit from having been sprayed with pepper spray. Again OC spray causes a biological reaction. It cannot be trained against as some of the other types of pepper spray or mace can be.
Collapsing the airway is another way to stop an attacker. One way is to keep the fingers together, forming a Y with the thumb and aim for the throat. On a man I would aim just below the Adams apple.
I hesitate to put this in because it can be defended against by flexing the abdominal muscles. But, as I found from sparring, even people who are expecting to get hit, get caught off guard. I only hit them with maybe 40% force, and while it didn’t knock the wind out of them completely, it did cause them spew what air they had and then gasp for more. If you use this attack on your attacker, your goal should be to hit their stomach hard enough that you could hit their spine. If you don’t knock the wind out of them, then this alone might not take them out of the fight. If not, quickly follow up with something to stop their mobility or hinder their vision.
By either causing so much pain as to immobilize someone, or causing enough damage to a part of the leg; well if you cannot be chased you can simply escape. There are nerves and arteries that can be struck, but that takes some practice, so I am not going to list them here. The attacks I list are things most people should be able to do.
Striking the Knee
Striking the knee from either the front, or side with enough force can cause all kinds of damage. This can be done with a kick, or tackling, though I don’t recommend tackling unless there is no other option. The type of kick I am talking about would strike their knee with the bottom of your foot.
Stomping or otherwise striking the top of someone’s foot, I suppose, could cause them to be unable to bear weight on it. If nothing else, it can distract them and give you the opportunity to go for a KO.
This is by no means a guarantee, but an unconscious person makes for a really bad attacker. Forget the standing toe to toe trading haymakers with your fists. Elbows are far better suited than your fist for this task. Most likely, you will have more power behind it and elbows are less likely to break after a strike than a hand.
Your goal is to get as much of your elbow on as much of their lower jaw/chin as possible.
Breaking the Ankle
Standing firm on someone’s foot and pushing them could cause them to break an ankle. However, don’t remove your foot until they are on the ground.
I think all men have been hit hard enough in the groin to make them immobile. It’s not a guarantee though. Some hits will cause nausea and can also still cause pain, but usually not enough to immobilize.
The optimal way to strike would be going upward from knees to groin, not just a direct hit. You should also strike with enough force that to kick them in the chin if it were possible.
Hopefully you will never need to use any of these attacks. But if you are ever the victim of violence and get the opportunity to, fight to take away their sight, wind or mobility so you can escape!
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