People vary both physically and mentally; therefore, the techniques and tactics used for self-defense must also vary from person to person. The moves and strategies you use should fit your aggression, physique, and skill, so it has the best chance to be quickly assimilated into a natural response. Self-defense starts by adding to your strengths and continues by eliminating your weaknesses.
Some people seek to avoid confrontation while others are more willing to engage in a situation to prevent its escalation. Neither is incorrect, yet acting out of character can potentially escalate a situation. What you do and say to protect yourself must have some confidence or strength behind it. If you are going to make a threat, then your demeanor must show a willingness to carry it out. If you are not comfortable with being extremely close to people, then your tactics should help to maintain distance. If you are not willing to pull a trigger, break an arm, or throw a punch, then carrying a gun, learning jujitsu, or training boxing may not be the best option for your natural level of aggression. Learning verbal judo and some basic aikido would be an alternative way to defend yourself.
Size matters. A 6ft 4in 265lb all muscle opponent is intimidating. Height, weight, reach, fat, and muscle mass are all important factors in technique choice. Your physique may not have a threatening presence, and it may also impede you from quickly learning certain martial arts. The natural choice for a heavy person is to choose powerful violent moves, but if that is against their aggression level, then they may not be willing to use them regardless of the costs. If you have a bad back and hip, don’t grapple (wrestle). If you have to put yourself in a compromising situation to use the move, then it is the wrong move. Some things are just easy for your body to do and some things are naturally inferred from observation of your body.
Your moves should be easy to perform and effective against an uncooperative opponent. Punches are not easy or natural for everyone. The same goes for verbal de-escalation. The ability to think on your feet is a skill and if you don’t have it then use what you do have. Skill is purely your ability to perform the desired technique or tactic under pressure. When adrenaline hits fine motor skills diminish, voices crack, and you may stumble over your words. What can you do well under stress? Use a variation of that for your self-defense. Learn things that are simple, easy, and natural.
Your self-defense should be an extension of your natural aggression, physique, and skill (mental or physical). You must be authentic. Remember you can see when someone else means business, so the inverse is also true. There is a unique strength in you. Hone it to find your self-defense style.
Torriente is the owner and head instructor at Mind Body Defense which is a kickboxing and self-defense school in Chicago IL. He has over 20 years of martial arts experience and believes that self-defense is about empowerment through mental and physical training. For more information please visit his website MindBodyDefenseChicago.com