10 Self Defense Moves That Every Person Should Know

Posted by   TBO TECH
Self Defense Moves

Aggravated assaults accounted for 66.9% of crimes reported to police in the US in 2018 alone. The fact of the matter is that we don’t live in the safest of times. With a fine line between paranoia and precautionary, what can we do to equip ourselves better should violence find us?

Having a basic understanding of self-defense, and being able to execute a few basic self defense moves under pressure can be the difference between life and death. Let’s take a look at some of the key principles behind self-defense, and ten basic self defense moves to help give you a fighting chance.      

Before You Learn These Self Defense Moves

A huge part of any successful self-defense system is learning to read situations as well as understanding the stress responses to conflict. Before you start learning specific ways to deal with situations, here are a few tips to help stay safe. 

Don't Be Vulnerable

'The best way to win a fight is to avoid it!' That is one of the first things they teach new Krav Maga students.

Krav Maga self defense moves
Image credit: The Pantagraph

You should always be aware of what is around you and follow these three basic steps for steering clear of unwanted situations:

Stay in Populated Areas (Especially at Night)

If you’re walking around places where there are other people, then you’re much less of a target. If you have to travel through quiet areas at night alone, then consider a taxi. 

Don't Have Expensive Belongings Showing

Walking around with your smartphone in hand, fingers full of jewelry, and a fat wallet showing can immediately translate to 'payday' for the common thief.  

Don't Look Like a Victim 

Of course, there’s only so much you can do but try and walk tall and don't look uncomfortable in your own skin. Don't walk around with headphones in. The less of a target you look, the less you’ll be targetted. 

Make a Lot of Noise

Shouting and screaming at the top of your lungs can help you in two ways. The first is that it's likely to attract the attention of anyone nearby. The other is that it actually makes you seem more aggressive. Don’t be afraid to curse like a pro at the top of your voice, and your assailant might think twice.  

Basic Defense & Stance

You can go about this two ways, passively and aggressively.

To assume a passive stance, you want your hands up, palms open, facing the assailant. It signals that you’re not aggressive. Ensure that your hands are just below either side of your head and your elbows are tucked into your body, so you’re in a good position to defend.

If you want your assailant to know that you’re willing to fight, then assume a fighting stance:

  1. From a straight-on stance, bring the weaker side of your body slightly forward by bringing your weaker leg forward
  2. If you’re right-handed, this will be your left side. If you’re left-handed, it will be your right
  3. Protect your chin by tucking it into the top of your chest
  4. Make both hands into fists and bring your lead hand up to the side of your head
  5. Bring your back (strong) hand up to the side of your jaw
  6. Dip your knees slightly for better mobility

How to Make a Fist

If you need to punch, then you need to know how to make a fist. Always be sure to close your fingers tightly first, and then wrap your thumb over the top of them. If you have your thumb inside your fist, it’s likely to break when you strike.

Making a Fist

Be aware that the bones in your hand are small and delicate. Unless your knuckles are conditioned for striking, then throwing a punch is likely to inflict as much damage on yourself as it is your assailant.   

Study and Use Your Environment

If you suspect that something is amiss, start scanning the nearby area. Look for things you can use as a weapon. Even sand and dirt can be thrown into an assailant’s eyes to temporarily disable them and buy time. Look for escape routes and things you can put between you and your assailant. 

Practice Being Aggressive

Everybody likes to think that if something happens, they’d just switch on 'nasty mode' and become a force to be reckoned with, but this couldn't be any further from the truth.

If you're unfamiliar with being in a violent situation, then you’re likely to panic. The best way to ensure you respond to a situation accordingly is to practice being in that situation and being aggressive. 

Pre-Emptive Strikes

First up, let’s go through some pre-emptive striking. When it comes to sticky situations, it pays to be first. Don’t wait for a situation to escalate.

If you sense that you’re in danger and you can’t escape, be the first to attack.

1. Kick to the Groin

Always go for the groin; there are a lot of nerve endings down there, and few men can stay on their feet after a solid strike to the groin.

If the distance is in your favor, then kick. Start in your fighting stance with your strong leg back. Kick your leg straight out and upward, directly between the attacker’s legs, aiming to connect with your shin.

Put everything you have into the kick and lean back slightly from your waist to help maintain balance. 

2. Throat Punch

As mentioned earlier, the hand is made up of lots of fragile bones, so trying to strike bone on bone if your hands aren’t conditioned is likely to do more harm than good. Instead, attack the throat. A punch to the throat or even the side of the throat is likely to disable an attacker. 

3. Eye Gouge

It's not for the faint-hearted, but if your life is in danger, then anything goes. Gouging the eyes is especially effective if you’re in close range, or if your attacker is on top of you and you have your hands free.

4. Heel Palm Strike

Instead of striking with a fist, you can use the heel of your palm to strike an assailant. The most effective place to strike is just under the nose and at a slightly upwards angle. Contrary to myth, it can’t kill a person, but it will inflict a lot of pain.

5. Hammer Fist

Go ahead and make a fist, but the intention here is to strike with the bottom of it. You’ll notice that you have a lot of protective cushioning at the bottom of your hand when you clench your fist. The best places to aim are the side of the face and neck, as well as the nose and body. 

6. Elbow Strike

Possessing a powerful elbow strike with at least one arm is a great tool for if the distance closes in on you.

You should throw an elbow a lot like you throw a hook-punch, generating most of the power by swinging your hips into the strike. A strong elbow strike to the temple or jaw will make the strongest of men think twice if they’re still conscious.   

Reactive Strikes

The following is a basic overview of what to do if the assailant has already instigated an attack on you. Most attacks will be punches and slaps or strikes with a weapon. They can be categorized as inside and outside attacks. 

7. Defense Against an Outside Attack

An outside attack is when the assailant ‘swings’ at you. Think of the big bar-room haymaker punches you see in films. Even if a weapon is involved, these attacks are usually telegraphed, meaning that if you think fast, you can react effectively.

  1. Close the distance - Step into the attacker. If they have a baseball bat, it hurts a lot less to be hit by the swinging arm than the end of the bat.
  2. Block the attack - Use the bony edge of your forearm to strike the attacking arm. Aim for somewhere between the wrist and elbow.
  3. Strike simultaneously - With your free hand, you can strike the face, throat, or groin. You can also send a knee to the groin.

8. Defense Against an Inside Attack

This is where the attack comes straight down the center-line, like a boxer’s jab. 

  1. Use a palm strike to deflect the attack - aim for the wrist and strike hard with the palm of your hand
  2. Move off-center - Simultaneously move your body (especially your head) off the center-line so if your deflection fails then at least the target is out of the way
  3. Counter strike - Attack the face with your free hand or strike the groin with a knee or kick


In the worst-case scenario, you are caught off guard with a surprise attack, and the attacker is trying to hold you with a choke-hold or a bear-hug. Your priority here should be breaking free and inflicting damage as you do so.

9. Bear Hug Escape

This is where an assailant manages to get their arms around you from behind.

  1. The first thing to do is to lower your center of gravity, making it harder for the assailant to lift you off the ground. Do this by squatting down quickly. This will also create a little space between you and the attacker.
  2. To break the hold, you’re going to have to inflict pain. If your hands are trapped, you can kick down on the shins and feet. You can strike the groin by creating space by moving your hips to the side and striking with your hands.
  3. This will usually be enough, but if not, you can use the back of your head and elbows to strike the attacker’s face.

10. Front Choke Escape

If someone gets their hands around your neck, your natural reaction will be to bring your hands up.

  1. Bring your hands up and over the attacker’s wrists so that you have a hook grip with your four fingers
  2. As you pull outwards to break the grip, simultaneously lean backward and knee strike to the groin
  3. Follow this up with long strikes such as full range punches to the face and kicks to the groin to maintain distance and get out of the way

Stay Safe 

Hopefully, you’ll never have to use any of these self-defense moves, but it certainly pays to be prepared. When it comes to defending yourself, always be sure to use techniques that are simple and work for you. Stay alert, and if trouble should rear its ugly face, be aggressive.

Take a look at the rest of our site for most tips on how to stay safe, or visit our store for self-defense and security items.  


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