Defensive actions are those immediate tactical actions taken taken at the moment of an attack to resist the attack. Defensive actions are more reactive than preemptive. When you train for self-defense, you learn actions that may be used to avoid, deflect, or stop an attack. You also learn actions to use in response to an attack that may be used to convince the attacker to stop the attack. Defensive actions deal directly with an attack. To be successful, defensive actions must effectively resist the attacks, but they do nothing to prevent further attacks.
While defensive actions are useful, one should not maintain a defensive mindset. A defense mindset means you are prepared for what to do when an attack occurs, but you do nothing to prevent an attack from occurring. In a defensive mindset, you await an attack and then react to the attack. The attacker takes the initiative in the situation and you merely react to that initiative. At the onset of the attack, the attacker has control of the situation.
As an effective martial artist, you want to take the initiative in preventing an attack from even occurring, and, if when one is about to occur, you should be aware of it and take the imitative to prevent the attack or to counterattack before the attacker makes his or her initial move.