Self-defense techniques may be broken down into five basic actions. Each action builds on the last but not all the actions are required in every situation.
Simply stated, evasion is not being there when the attack arrives. It is merely moving with or away from an attacking force. It could be something just as stepping out of the way or it could as complicated as the bob and weave of a trained boxer. Evasion may be horizontally (by sidestepping, spinning, or retreating) or vertically (by jumping or dropping).
Evasion is moving oneself out of the range and/or path of an oncoming attack. There are ten directions of evasion. To know which direction use, one must know from which direction the attack is coming, the defensive range, and what type of attack is being used, linear or circular, and what you plan to do after evading, punch, kick, run, etc. The directions of attack or evasion are: north, northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, northwest, up, and down. Up or down may be combined with one of the other directions, such as ducking down and toward the West. When considering evasion, you must consider range. There are two types of range, defense and attack.
Defense ranges are:
- Close Range. At this range, effective blocks are grabs and close-in arm blocks.
- Mid Range. Effective blocks are all standard arm blocks.
- Long Range. Leg blocks are effective.
Attack ranges are:
- Close-Range. Attacker may grab, throw, use chokes, use arm/wrist locks, or use elbow, knee, or head attacks.
- Mid-Range. Punches, hand strikes, lunging attacks, and short-range weapons, such as knives, ball bats, etc.
- Long-Range. Kicks and long-range weapons, such as firearms, rocks, etc.
Within the attack ranges, you may use two major types of attacks:
- Linear. Linear attacks travel in straight lines from point of origin to point of contact, such as a downward club or knife attack, front kick, side kick, reverse punch, and uppercut. All upward attacks, downward attacks, and thrusts are linear attacks.
- Circular. Circular attacks travel in arcs from point of origin to point of impact, such as a roundhouse kick, turning kick, crescent kick, knife hand strike, and hook punch.
The direction of evasion depends on each of the above factors. The most important thing to remember about evading is timing, when to evade. If you evade too soon, your attacker may alter the attack and hit you anyway. If you evade too late, then you may get hit before you can move. The key to evading is to move at the last possible moment before the attack can make contact.
Effective blocking is most often combined with an evasive movement. Thus, stepping to the side of a punch and pushing it away is better than either standing still and pushing it away or just stepping to the side. Blocks may also be used as attacks. A forceful forearm block against a punching arm may injure the attacker enough to convince him or her to stop attacking. A scooping block against a front kick may be used to throw the attacker on his or her back.
A stun is a sharp, powerful blow that causes a short-term, temporary interruption in the attacker's physical attack and thought process. It does not cause long-term injury to the attacker. Stunning is used as a quick, simple way to slow down an attacker. A stun only last a few minutes, cause bruises and sore muscles at worst, and may be apologized for easily.
Stuns do not even have to make contact to work. A quick, focused punch just short of the nose, with an accompanying loud kiai, will cause the opponent to snap his or her head back and will momentarily stun the opponent.
Counter-attacking is what most people consider self-defense to be, but, as discussed above, it may not be necessary to counter-attack, you may be able to evade the attack and run. Many times, it is best to evade an attack, stun the attacker, and then run.
The first three defensive actions (evading, blocking, and stunning) do not prevent the attacker from continuing his or her attack. Counter-attacking permits control of the attacker and the situation. Control may be gained by use of a restraining hold, choke, strangle, or a strike. A strike to the head that causes disorientation is a form of control. The purpose of a counter-attack is to stop the attacker's initial attack and to prevent further attack.
There are three types of counter-attacks:
- Ballistic. Ballistic counter-attacks are those that require the impact of an object (a body part or a weapon) against a part of an attacker's body. They establish control through the use of pain, numbness, inability to move a body part, restricted breathing, or disorientation.
- Flowing. Flowing is the redirection of an incoming line of force along a decreasing spiral, which will turn the force back upon itself. This action redirects the force into a static condition, effectively neutralizing it. Flowing techniques use the momentum of the attack against the attacker, such as throws and takedowns. Throws only require you to execute the technique. Takedowns require you to maintain constant control of the attacker both during and after the technique.
- Restraining. Restraining techniques use joint manipulation, a hold or lock, or a choke or strangle to control an attacker. Joint manipulations (twisting, turning, pushing, or pulling) use pain to subdue an attacker. Struggling against the manipulation will cause the attacker such pain that he or she will cooperate. Holds or locks place the attacker in such a position that he or she cannot generate enough leverage to get away. Chokes cutoff the attacker's air supply causing drowsiness or unconsciousness. Strangles cutoff the blood supply to the attacker's brain causing drowsiness or unconsciousness. The proper application of these techniques requires much more focus and control than any other aspect of defense.
These are the final actions used to complete a self-defense situation. Once you have control of your attacker, you must insure he or she will not attempt to attack you again once you relinquish control. Finishing techniques are generally continuations previous defensive actions. The severity of the attack, how many attackers are involved, and what weapons are used will affect how extreme your final measures must be.
As a Taekwondo student, you must analyze an attack and determine the least amount of force you can use and still be effective. It is your responsibility to know your abilities and strength and to use them to cause no more harm than necessary. The law allows a person to defend him or herself but it requires the person to use only the amount of force that is absolutely necessary to stop an attack. When possible, the law requires a person to evade an attack and run away. Choose the appropriate self-defense action for a situation and then execute it to the maximum. If necessary, you may escalate the action to a higher level.