What to do when you are attacked or threatened

One of the best forms of self-defence is avoidance; see our previous Personal Safety Guide for tips on avoiding confrontation altogether.

Sometimes, however, confrontation is avoidable. The following tips can help you quickly get out of an encounter unscathed.

This is not a manual of fighting skills or techniques, so the following just gives advice on how to get out without getting hurt or damaged.

1. Hand something over, then run.

Many schools recommend a good loud guttural scream in the mugger’s face once you know you’re under threat, and then hit them and run or just hit them. This might work for some people, but not for everyone; nor does it work in all circumstances.

I much prefer the following method: carry a readily available a purse or wallet with some coins in it, some notes, preferably foreign, and an old mobile phone. Throw this to one side of the attacker, say “there, have it” and run hard the other direction, scream loudly then by all means, hopefully he’ll pick up the item quickly and then run off away from you.

Some people recommend full co-operation with street robbers, but bear in mind that many attacks days are accompanied by violence, even after the successful theft. It’s a judgement call given the circumstances, but I would recommend that unless entirely impossible, get away from that situation as fast as you can.

2. If taken down or grabbed, struggle like hell.

Various figures are quoted, but in general it is believed that about 70% of women who struggle violently against potential rapists avoid that hideous assault. Most of these women have had no formal training, they’ve just gone for it, made a lot of noise, bit, scratched, etc.

It’s good if you have some self-defence background to fall back on in these circumstances but even if you don’t, fighting back can give yourself a chance.

3. Learn to use everyday objects as weapons.

Minimal training is necessary to make the following effective.

Carry readily available – maybe in the emergency purse or wallet described above – a strong ballpoint pen which has run out so you can expose the nib. Putting this in someone’s face will ensure that they do not chase you for a while.

A car key or set of house keys can also be used very effectively as a makeshift weapon, as can a regular belt.


At MaArtial, we strongly recommend using our tips to avoid confrontation altogether.We are grateful to publish this safety guide for those hesitant to leave their homes to walk around their community safely, for instance.This article is well worth reading as a go-to guide when creating a new identity as a martial artist, outside a dojo or a gym.

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Photo: Serghei Turcanu/Getty Images

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