Self-defense (or self-defence — see spelling differences) is the act of defending oneself, one's property or the well-being of another from physical harm. While the term may define any form of personal defense, it is strongly associated with civilian hand-to-hand defense techniques. Self-defense defines a civilian activity as opposed to Hand-to-hand combat in a military context.
Many styles of martial arts
are practiced for self-defense and some styles train almost exclusively for self-defense, while some martial/Combat sports
can be effectively applied for self-defense. More complete self-defense training not only teaches how to physically defend against attack, but also includes personal safety tips and techniques that increase awareness and improves the ability to avoid confrontation and potential dangers.
To provide more practical self-defense, many modern day martial arts schools now use a combination of martial arts styles and techniques, and will often customize self-defense training to suit the participants' lifestyles, occupations, age groups and gender. The practice of combining martial arts styles for competitive sport is most often referred to as Mixed Martial Arts or MMA.
In order to assist people in learning self-defense techniques, dojos and self-learning videos have sprung up. Self-defense courses are intended to give the layperson some instruction in self-defense in a short period of time, but the effectiveness of these is debated.
- See also: Castle Doctrine
In some countries, it is legal to carry weapons (for example knives
or pepper spray
) on one's person for purposes of self-defense. In other countries this may be illegal or may require license. Limitations on the use of weapons for personal defense are a source of controversy in some countries, pitting self-defense rights against efforts to combat violent crime via restricting access to common weapons.
Everyday objects, such as baseball bats or body spray, can also be used as improvised weapons for self-defense, however they are not likely to be as effective as purpose built weapons.
Other Forms of Self-Defense
Awareness is defending yourself by avoiding danger altogether by thinking ahead, or making good decisions. Examples include parking in a well-lit area, not wearing music headphones while jogging (so you can use your sense of hearing to pay attention to your surroundings), or looking under your car/in the backseat before entering to ensure there is no one waiting for you.
Due to it's non-physical nature, awareness is emphasized heavily in women's self defense classes where it is assumed that the attacker will probably be larger and stronger than the victim.
is the use of voice, tone, and body language to calm a potentially violent situation before violence actually ensues. The term verbal judo is often used in reference to de-escalation, because the verbal tactics are similar to the physical tactics in judo.
Rather than trying to win a fight, the safest method of self defense is running
away when possible. If alone you should run towards a safe place, or one where other people are present.
Running away can be done before a confrontation gets physical to avoid it completely, or after the confrontation has become physical, for example stunning your attacker with a strike to the eyes, groin or throat, and then running away while they recover.
In many states to legally be considered self-defense, you must first try to escape the situation if you have an opportunity. Running is often the recommended alternative to fighting due to the certainty of safety and because it clears the victim of any legal repercussion that would likely result should the victim win the fight.
are a way to practice passive self-defense. A personal alarm is a small, hand-held device that emits strong, loud, high pitched sounds to deter attackers because the noise will draw the attention of passersby. Different models are available, including key chain alarms and child safety alarms designed to help parents keep kids safe. Child alarms often function as locators or device alarms such as triggering an alert when a swimming pool
is in use to help prevent dangerous situations in addition to being a deterrant against would-be aggressors.
Pepper spray and personal stun guns are other personal alarm options that can be used in self-defense in a less passive way, but they are meant as deterrant and emergency measures rather than assault items.
In politics, the concept of national or mutual self-defense to counter a war of aggression
refers to a defensive war
organized by the state and is one possible criterion in the just war theory