How to Defend Yourself Against Attack

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How to Defend Yourself Against Attack

Martial artists and enthusiasts of full-contact sports rely on both offense and defense to score points or to neutralize their opponents during a match.  Hand-to-hand combat may also prove useful in self-defense situations.  If you need to defend yourself from an opponent on the offensive, here are ways that you can defend yourself from the attack.

Anticipate the Attack

To turn defense into offense, you have to anticipate when an attack is coming.  Many punches, kicks, and takedown maneuvers leave the attacker wide open for a reversal or a counter.  To effectively turn a bout into your favor, you need to see the attack coming and use the short window of reaction time to think of a way to counter it.

Blocking and Evading

For mild blows and attacks, you can simply block the attack and absorb the force of the blow.  The problem is that you never know how strong an attack is, so you may end up injuring yourself because of blocking an attack.

A more effective way to defend yourself from an oncoming attack is to stay away from its effective range.  Evading an attack can help you follow through or recover from the full range of motion of the attack.  Here are some tips to keep in mind when evading attacks:

  • Weave under straight punches and high kicks.
  • Sidestep tackles, takedowns, and attacks to the midsection.
  • Whenever possible, jump up from low sweeping kicks.  You can also shuffle back to avoid the range of the sweep, or to prevent your opponent from grabbing your legs.


Reversals and counters take years of practice to perfect.  Most reversals and counters are useful for punches and kicks, because the defender needs to transfer the force of the attack towards the attacker.  Many submission holds or neutralizing locks are made by reversing attacks from the opponent; the amount of force also makes it difficult for the attacker to come back into the offensive.  Here are some examples of useful counters.

Straight Punch Counter

  1. Before the punch lands, grab the wrist or forearm of the attacker.  If the force of the straight punch is strong enough, allow your bodies to fall into the ground while you retain hold of the arm.  If not, you can pull your opponent to the ground using the force of the countered blow.
  2. While you still have a grip on your opponent’s arm, roll onto your back and wrap your legs around your opponent’s trapped arm.  Lock your knees just above the elbow, and your feet should be snug on his or her chest to lock the shoulder.
  3. To finish the cross armlock (jujigatame), pull back on the arm and elevate your hips to hyperextend the elbow joint.

Middle Side Kick Counter

  1. Sidestep the sideways kick and grab the kicking heel.  Your opponent will either fall over on both arms and on one knee, or you can force your opponent into that position.
  2. Tuck one of your shins into the bend of the opponent’s knee, and roll over to your back.  Maintain the hold you have on the other leg.
  3. Make a figure-four with your legs, and tuck the leg you’re holding into the pit of the figure-four.
  4. Complete the leg slicer by pulling down on the leg bent over your shin.

Defending yourself against attacks can mean the difference between life and death, or winning and losing.  With these tips, you can effectively take control of any combat situation and take it to your advantage.