What I mean by “If you’re in a fair fight, your tactics suck” is that if you’re attacked, there is no such thing as a fair fight. You should do what you need to do to ensure you walk away, even if that means “fighting dirty”.
A disclaimer of sorts: Violence should only be used to stop violence directed at you or a loved one. Once someone puts their hands on you or a loved one, they have given you consent to defend yourself and/or the ones you love.
If I am forced to use violence, the goal is to end the threat and get away to safety. The goal is not to beat the attacker to a pulp, though that might be needed to get away. Some of the things I will explain are not going to neutralize an attacker by themselves. Some may just “short circuit” them for a short time. When the attacker is short circuited, you can either use that brief pause to use another attack or to get away.
I often carry a firearm for self-defense but there are times when I can’t. There are also situations, such as being within arm’s reach, which might not permit drawing a firearm, making hand-to-hand necessary.
None of the techniques I am explaining need any training to learn, though training will help you and the techniques be much more effective. Many of them will work for people of smaller stature against larger attackers.
Eye gouge/eye flick
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.”
As we can see, a gouge is not something many people can do. Because of that, here is a different method of attacking the eyes: keep your fingers limp and flick your wrist, aiming your fingers at the attacker’s eyes. This will short circuit them and cause the eyes to water, enabling you to assess and flee or attack again, if needed.
Box the Ears
Boxing of the ears can be very painful and can inflict severe damage to the ear drums. To box the ears simply slap the ears with your palms. This is another means of short circuiting the attacker, enabling you to assess and flee or attack again, if needed.
Crush the Windpipe
To crush the windpipe, keep your four fingers together and fully extend the thumb making a V with your hand. Aim at the attacker’s throat, trying to have the thumb and fingers on opposite sides of the throat. Depending on the force, this attack can be a short circuit, causing the attacker to gasp for air. It can also be fatal.
Punching or Smashing the Nose
Punching or smashing the nose can cause blood loss and the eyes to tear. Sometimes, seeing their own blood takes the fight out of the attacker. Also, if their eyes are watering, you can either take advantage and attack again or flee. I say “smash” because, due to body position, sometimes you can’t truly punch but you may be able to smash their nose with the palm of your hand.
I think everyone knows a groin attack on a man can shut down a fight quickly, but it can be very painful to a woman as well. When attacking the groin, you don’t have to aim directly for it. If you attack the high leg, momentum will bring the attack to the groin.
The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves running from the spine and through the neck. This is another short circuit, with the potential to be a finisher. While doing gun disarms with a partner a while back, I hit him with roughly 50% strength. This was enough force to cause him to drop the blue gun, even though that wasn’t the portion of the move that was to strip the gun. I have a friend who has done training in the past where a blow to the brachial plexus caused someone to lose consciousness. To initiate this move, simply strike the crook of the neck by punching or chopping. Chopping works really well for shorter people who might not be able to punch effectively on a taller person.
I am not talking about the traditional WWF head butt. This head butt is accomplished by facing the attacker, grabbing their head with both hands and squatting, slamming their face on the top of your head. This obviously isn’t an attack you would start with. Since your hands are already on their head, this is an excellent move after boxing their ears.
Elbow and Knee Strikes
Many of the attacks listed above are great ways to short circuit an attacker but many are just that, only short circuits. A fantastic closer is an elbow or knee strike. When striking with the elbow, do so with an open hand. This causes you to strike with the bare ulnar bone. If you do an elbow strike with a closed fist, the ulnar bone is covered with muscle, which is softer than bone and causes less damage to your attacker. Strike with elbows instead of fists whenever possible. The bones in your hands are far less forgiving. A broken hand can take you out of the fight.
Since we only use force in self-defense, the rule of thumb is to keep attacking until either your attacker stops or you are able to get away. It could take multiple attacks for either of those to be a viable option. An engagement drill we practiced in Haganah chained many of the attacks listed above; it went something like this: The attacker comes at you. You kick them in the thigh, aiming for a nerve in the thigh. This is followed by a punch to the brachial plexus, boxing their ears, head butting, lifting their head and delivering an elbow strike to the brachial plexus. We would then put them in a type of hold, deliver three knees to the legs, swing them to the ground and feign breaking their ankle.
That is one example of chaining attacks, but doing an eye flick, punch to the noes and an elbow to the jaw might work just fine. Do not stop fighting until they give up or you have an opportunity to retreat.
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