Well-intentioned people find it hard to confront hurting another person, but if a situation develops where you or a friend is likely to be seriously injured yourselves, it’s really important to have some techniques to apply and defend yourself with.

A lot of the basic moves taught in martial arts classes are useful, as they’re most often extensions of what you’d do normally, pushing aside a blow aimed at you. The more complicated moves probably aren’t much use in real self defense unless you’re a master of the art.

Some of the basic moves that shouldn’t be underestimated are using elbows and knees. Your elbows are much stronger than your hands and less likely to be damaged, and if someone is grabbing you and pulling you towards them, it’s a lot easier to simply move in and strike with your elbows than to try to pull away and hit with your fists.

Most likely they won’t expect you to move in as they pull, and if they’re stronger than you there’s not much point in trying to muscle your way out. What you want to do is surprise them enough to break free and escape.

I’m not a specialist in self-defense at all, having only done karate when I was a kid, but here’s a short list of moves that I have practiced or know about, which can be used to temporarily disable someone who’s attacking you – especially if they’re expecting you to fight back.

Grab behind their collar bone where the soft dent is with your fingers and push down hard.  Then you can also make a fist after that and in the same motion push your knuckles up and into their neck.

  1. Head butt them.  Now this bit is important – DON’T use the front of your head where it’s softer and has the blood vessels – the hairline is an especially bad place to use. DO USE the top-side corners of your head where the bone is thicker and you are safer from injury. You can knock them repeatedly with the top corners of your head – it doesn’t have to be a big butt if you’re pushing into their nose eyes or jaw.
  2. You can drop down and push your head up under their chin ( again with the side of your head ). If you follow their chest, you know their head is up above.
  3. Gruesome as it is to social people, gouging eyes with thumbs will distract someone a LOT.
  4. Strikes to the throat cause people to lose breath. Don’t try the karate chop that you see in the movies – it takes a bit of practice to be able to do it effectively at all.  Hold your fingers straight and tightly together and poke into their throat.
  5. Kicks can be OK it you do a side-swipe to their knees, but I’d avoid them as it’s too easy to throw yourself off balance, or have your leg caught.
  6. Knee strikes to groins are good if you’re in close, similar to elbow strikes to higher up places.