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10 Self Defense Basics Even Your Grandma Could Use!

Grab some coffee, sit down and absorb this powerful list of 10 self defense basics. Put these skills into practice and instantly avoid the most common criminal ploys.

I know that often, even if you're interested in self defense and avoiding crime, your family or loved ones may not be. This is quite natural. We each have our own passions and interests.

What worries me though (and it probably worries you too), is that without a few self defense basics and a bit of background knowledge, those disinterested family members or dear friends are SO vulnerable. Even though it's highly unrealistic, I wish EVERYONE could be forced (!) to learn a few moves or tips to avoid crime.

Perhaps what's needed are a few basic concepts that can increase someone's knowledge without requiring a long term commitment to training in self protection.

Here Are 10 Self Defense Basics You Can Learn Or Share With A Loved One

1. Improve your awareness
I've already spoken about this skill on my Awareness page but since it's probably the most important of all the self defense basics, it's worth mentioning again (and this won't be the last time either!). Learning to look around and be conscious of the people and vehicles nearby is crucial for staying safe.

This is a skill that is so simple on the one hand, but also has such depth. After learning to be more aware, you can go on refining this skill for years and continue to improve upon it. Strangely enough, criminals may be the MOST aware of all of us! Their lives often depend on being aware of their surroundings. Avoiding the other gangster who is out to get them or constantly hiding from the cops really hones their skills to a fine point!

2. Set aside  your ego and AVOID confrontations
This can be very tough to learn for young males in their teens and early twenties. Fortunately, women are usually excellent at this. That's a good thing, since women are more vulnerable to criminal attack from violent men. A horrific number of people (usually men) let their egos and emotions get them into serious trouble. This is often in a bar or nightclub situation where alcohol is being consumed. Learning to swallow your pride and walk away from these potentially deadly situations will protect you from 90% of the violence out there in your city.

3. Carry pepper spray

Your mom, younger brother and even your grandma can and should carry a can of high quality pepper spray. I recommend the Sabre Red or Fox Labs brands, since they are so highly regarded by those in the self defense training community. Be absolutely sure that you (or your grandma!) carries their pepper spray in a very accessible place. It won't do ANY good if it's at the bottom of her LARGE handbag! Clip it to the strap of the bag or car keys. Better yet, clip it to your belt or clothing so that it's always quickly accessible.

Watch this quick video showing someone's funny reaction to being sprayed in the face with pepper spray (it looks really painful):

Link: https://youtu.be/2KrrvhW-20A

4. Consider carrying a more serious weapon
This one is tough for some people, especially those who aren't even interested in learning self defense basics. For some people though, it may be the perfect solution for dealing with crime. If you or a family member is willing, buy a simple folding knife from Spyderco or Cold Steel and clip it to your pants or waistband. Give some serious thought to how you'd use it if your life is ever in danger.

Get used to the idea of cutting or stabbing a criminal if you have to do it to survive. Carrying a blade and being WILLING to use it may be one of the most effective steps you can take to improve your safety. However, I do realise that this tip is not going to suit everyone.

5. Avoid "Road Rage"
Road rage has to be one of the most dangerous activities that normal, law abiding people engage in. I understand how infuriating it can be on the roads, with bad drivers, slow traffic and the constant pressure of getting to work on time. It's so important to understand that a simple road rage situation can turn deadly in seconds. You never know who that other person is or what they are willing to do to you to prove a point. There are some crazy people in this world. Innocent drivers are routinely shot, stabbed or run off the road in these situations. Be careful out there!

6. Avoid Stupid People, Stupid places and stupid times
This advice definitely falls under "Self defense basics" and yet it is frequently ignored by those who would benefit from it the most.

  • Stupid people” are those who attract violence by getting you into dangerous situations. Again, this is usually referring to young men and the drunken bar or nightclub scene. It could also refer to any friend or even a family member who always seems to find trouble. Avoid them, even if it means cutting ties with someone you have known your whole life.

  • Stupid Places” are places where violence occurs frequently. Bars and nightclubs are again at the top of that list, but dark alleyways, inner city areas, lonely parks or parking lots at night also fit this definition. Use your brain here. Most of us know where the dangerous places are, but we choose to ignore our instincts.

  • "Stupid Times" are usually at night. We all know that the criminal element likes to operate at night. There are many reasons for this, but all you need to remember is that anytime you're out at night, you are at increased risk of criminal attack. Convenience stores, gas stations and 24 hour ATM machines are all HIGH RISK places to visit during the night time hours. The later you are out, the greater the danger.

7. Keep your doors locked
I am referring to the doors to your home AND your car doors. Many home invasions robberies, kidnappings and even murders could have been avoided completely by simply remembering one of the self defense basics that every child has learned growing up: Lock the doors!

Vehicle hijackings, rapes and abductions can be avoided by locking your car doors as soon as you get in and keeping them locked when stopped at traffic lights or stop streets. The same goes for car windows. Keep them rolled up, even on hot days. If your car doesn't have air conditioning, either suffer in silence (!) or get a decent system for your car. This tip alone could save your life one day.

8. Beware of beggars on the street
I think that most people are unaware of the risk posed by beggars or homeless people.

"Oh shame! Look! He has no home. Let's give him something!" 

Watch out!

A huge number of homeless people are on drugs or drunk on alcohol. These substances break down people's inhibitions and dull their feelings of empathy. Many of them are so desperate for their next drink or hit of drugs that they are willing to use extreme violence to get it. That moment when you reach into your wallet for a small "donation" or look down to give them the time is one of most vulnerable situations you could ever put yourself in.

It's a common trick to distract a victim by asking for "some change" or "the time", and then punching or stabbing them when they look down. Once the victim is unconscious or in a state of shock, it's easy to take their money and escape. Knowing about this tactic will help you notice when someone tries to use it against you, but you also need another of the ten self defense basics to really have the best chance of avoiding this kind of crime...

9. ...Watch your personal space
An essential part of any criminal attack is closing distance with the victim. The criminal has to close that distance between you and him before he can punch, stab or grab you. As I see it, he has 2 choices. He can:

  • Wait for you to come closer to him, by hiding in a doorway or other concealed location
  • Move closer to you, usually by employing a "ruse" or trick of some kind.

The first way can be defeated by making sure that you're aware of your surroundings and looking out for suspicious people. The second method can be tougher to combat. Criminals are EXPERTS at deceiving their victims. There are numerous ways they can trick you into allowing them to come closer.

Having said that, you can EASILY learn to spot this setup. Just keep in mind, that whenever a stranger in public tries to get closer to you and engage you in some kind of conversation, they are either trying to get something from you...

  • In an innocent way (the time, your change or perhaps by trying to sell you something)
  • Using violence or the threat of violence (a robbery or mugging situation)

To avoid danger, simply be very suspicious of ANY stranger that approaches you for ANY reason while you’re out in public. They MAY have good intentions, but they may also be trying to trick you into allowing them to get close enough for an attack. Beware!

10. Give some serious thought to your own safety and survival
The last of the self defense basics on this list is to give thought to all these concepts as often as you can. While most of these are simple, if you remember them and actually USE them, your chances of becoming a victim of violence go WAY down.

Realise that YOUR life is worth protecting! If that doesn't get you motivated (and sadly, I know many people are NOT very concerned with their own safety), then think about your spouse or your parents or your children. How will they be affected if you are killed by a street criminal? How will their lives change if you are no longer around to love, teach and protect them? If you're not willing to learn and practice these skills for yourself, DO IT FOR THEM!

Consider Getting Some “Hands On” Self Defense Training

I believe these 10 self defense basics will really help you to stay safe, but I also feel that a short, superficial list can never replace a longer term self defense training. If you’re willing, I would highly recommend you spend a lot more time and energy on this subject.

This website is filled with practical information you can use to further your training in this vital area. Make use of everything here and also consider getting some real, “hands on” self defense training.

Model Mugging offers highly effective and empowering "padded attacker" training that focuses on women.

Model Mugging training logo

Check their website to find out if they offer training in your area. There is only so much you can gain from the “theory” side of self protection. Who knows, you may even find yourself enjoying the process and becoming really passionate about it like I am! The self defense world is truly fascinating.

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