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Top 10 Self Defense Tips

Top 10 Self Defense Tips

By Evan Dzierzynski, Owner and Lead Coach with NOVA Self Defense

  1. Intuition- Gavin De Becker author of The Gift of Fear states, “Intuition is always right in at least two important ways; it is always in response to something, and it always has your best interest at heart.” If something doesn’t feel right and you get that “gut instinct,” address it. It is better to be wrong about addressing something that turned out to be nothing, than to ignore your intuition and be attacked with less time to respond.
  2. Know your routine- write down the places you frequently go to on a weekly basis. Your home, the parking garage at work, grocery store, favorite bar/restaurant, the metro station. Map out each one of these locations in your mind. If you were attacked, where would your exits be? Where could you run to for safety? What improvised weapons are available? If you visualize your plan ahead of time you can implement it faster if needed.
  3. Observe yourself as the Bad Guy. Walk around for a day as if you were in the bad guy’s shoes (please do not actually attack anyone!). Observe the body language and awareness of people around you. Are they walking tall with presence? Do they walk with their heads down listening to headphones or texting? Bad guys aren’t looking for a fight; they are looking for an easy resource to get what they want. If you’re aware of your surroundings and walk with confidence, you will be interpreted as being a harder target.
  4. Bad guys often scan their potential victims to find easy targets. This process is referred to as the “interview.” Pay attention to people that are scanning you. Is there anything unusual about them? Can you see their hands? Is this person alone or working with someone else. You can use reflections in mirrors and shadows to get a sense of if someone is following you. If your body tells you something is wrong, listen to it and act!
  5. What about weapons? There are two main motives behind using a weapon. Using the weapon as a tool of intimidation and using it to cause harm. Knowing the bad guy’s intent is extremely important. It is completely your responsibility to decide what you would give up and what you would fight for in the case of someone using a weapon to intimidate you.
  6. Never be taken to a secondary crime scene. EVER. If someone tries to abduct you or take you to a second location (even another room), fight with everything you’ve got. You choose the timing. Keep in mind that there might be times where faking compliance could set you up to attack the bad guy and/or escape.
  7. Antisocial Violence- There are some forms of violence where communication and verbal deescalation can get you out of the situation. According to the founder of the SPEAR self defense system, Tony Blauer, “Those who talk can usually be persuaded to walk.” If a situation is verbally escalating but has not gone physical yet there is still an opportunity to defuse the aggravated person using choice speech.
  8. Asocial Violence- Combative expert Tim Larkin provides a clear contrast in the definitions of antisocial and asocial violence. Asocial violence cannot be handled by social skills. It is critical to understand and recognize this type of situation and to take decisive action. As Mr. Larkin says, if you’re in the face of asocial violence, you will know it. Don’t hesitate; if you can’t escape, fight with everything you have.
  9. Gross, complex, and fine motor skills- under the stress of a real attack fear, adrenaline, and mindset can effect how you perform. The greater the stress of the attack and the larger of an adrenaline spike, the more difficult fine motor skills and complex motor skills will become. Rely on simple strikes that require larger muscle groups: knees, elbows, palm-strikes, face-rakes, to name a few.
  10. Does your self-defense training program work under pressure? The real litmus test of any self-defense training is whether or not it can be performed under the chaos of a real attack. Many martial art systems teach great sport or tournament techniques that have no place in the street environment. Realistic training can produce fear and adrenaline in safe way that can emotionally and physically prepare you to street attacks and improve your ability to respond effectively.

Want to learn more about self defense? DC/SLA is sponsoring a League of Lethal Librarians Self Defense Class on Wednesday January 16 at 6pm. For more information and registration please see:


References: portions of these self-defense tips are from materials borrowed from the teachings of Gavin Debecker, Tony Blauer, Tim Larkin, and Rory Miller.
NOVA Self Defense offers personal defense and awareness training for corporations, self-defense seminars, and private and small group lessons in the DC/Northern Virginia area.  To schedule a seminar or lesson contact evan@novaselfdefense.com or visit www.novaselfdefense.com

One Response to “Top 10 Self Defense Tips”


  1. […] Librarians Self Defense Class on Jan. 18. To get into the self defense mindset, read the blogpost, Top 10 Self Defense Tips, on the DC/SLA website. Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", […]

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