De-escalation and its Role in Self Defence

One of the most common reasons people begin Krav Maga at Iron Skull is Self Defence. While the physical techniques of self-defence are important, approximately 90% of self-defence is mental.

One of the most crucial self-defence tools at your disposal is De-escalation.

Avoiding the Need for Self Defence

This is, perhaps, one of the most common questions that is raised by my students—male and female—when they come into the gym with no combat sports experience.

As a gym owner, I wish I could say that I have a magic bullet that will protect both men and women from an attacker on the street. It would certainly sell more classes. But learning to defend yourself is a process, and when someone is really out to cause harm, there is nothing better than de-escalating the situation.

That’s why I always tell people that if they want to take up self-defense, they should take up running. Regardless of your level of training, a street fight—one in which there are no rules or regulations — is not a place you ever want to be.

As a result, one of the primary focuses of any self-defense program should be de-escalation strategies. These strategies will give you the opportunity to defend yourself verbally and non-verbally from an attacker before the conflict escalates physically.

The Importance of De-escalation

De-escalation should always be the number one priority in a self-defence situation. Your wallet, mobile, or car are not worth your life: you have no way of knowing what kind of violence an attacker is capable of, and you have absolutely no way of knowing what kind of weapon he or she may have available.

De-escalation, then, is the name of the game where self-defense strategies are concerned.

Of course there are situations where fighting is inevitable. Getting forced into a car with someone is nearly always a deadly occurrence, and you should be prepared to fight if this kind of event occurs.

However, other incidents are much more common than abduction: mugging, for instance, or aggression from individuals who are intoxicated.

In these instances, de-escalation techniques should be used.

De-escalation Techniques

The first and most important thing to remember when it comes to de-escalation is your final goal: to avoid a physical confrontation with the aggressor.

As a result, your body language and actual language must reflect this particular goal. This may mean you have to concede things that you would not normally concede.

When possible, walking away from the situation is always a good option. If walking away is not an option, then verbal de-escalation techniques should be used.

Verbal de-escalation techniques include boundary-setting, calming body language, and recognition that your end goal is to avoid physical confrontation.

Men in particular have a tendency to escalate situations verbally; it is always better to de-escalate, because it is often hard to gauge what someone is capable of when first meeting them.

Avoiding this particular impulse will go a long way in de-escalating potentially violent altercations and situations.

If You Have to Fight, You Need to Really Learn to Fight

I can’t teach you to disarm an attacker in a weekend; unfortunately, Kung Fu movies and Hollywood seem to have imparted an unrealistic set of standards in our cultural consciousness regarding the efficacy of martial arts.

Many martial arts academies will also give self-defense seminars that give people an unrealistic view of what a fight could potentially be like.

If learning to fend someone off is your end goal, then you must learn how to fight. Learning to fight is not something that happens overnight; it is a process that takes years to master.

Joining Krav Maga classes live sparring is available is the best way to learn to fight, but even so, all of these arts take place within the context of a certain framework of rules; none of them will necessarily prepare you for a confrontation outside of their specific rule set.

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