The importance of being aware of your surroundings at all times cannot be stressed enough. Many people could have avoided an attack if they had simply stayed alert and made intelligent decisions based on their observations. Sadly, in the great rush of living, we tend to focus on ourselves far too much and fail to notice a threat approaching, or a bad situation arising. So what happens when you are faced with an aggressor? Do you freeze, becoming compliant and hoping for the best, or do you think clearly and use your self-defense training to evade, escape, or fight back?
If you are unfortunate enough to be put in a situation that requires you to defend yourself, the chances are high that you did not see an attack coming. Even if you did spot the danger, the likelihood of being able to prepare yourself for the confrontation in the moments leading up to the attack is slim. If you have been learning self-defense then your training should give you an advantage, helping you to make quick and smart decisions in the fractions of a second before things go horribly wrong. These almost-instant decisions can make a huge difference.
You only have one goal if you are attacked - to survive.
People who have survived in very dangerous situations often speak of adrenaline pumping through their body, seeming to slow events down to a crawl and allowing them to think and act very fast. This is your body's way of helping you to survive potential trauma, but sometimes an incident is all over in a few crucial seconds - seconds that move along at their normal speed, so do not expect a seemingly magical slowing down of time.
You might only have fractions of a second to make decisions that could save your life, and the first thing you should look for is a way of escaping. If you see a way out of the situation then take it without hesitation. Do not be afraid of looking silly. Silly is somebody who gets hurt because of their fear of looking silly, so run away if you can. If you cannot escape, then consider calling for help. Do not underestimate the power of the human need to help somebody in distress. Scream if you can, and shout the word, "Help", if you can. Make noise to attract attention. You want people to know you are being attacked, and usually your attacker does not. Even a drunken thug in a bar, who thinks he will look good when people see him in aggressive action might back off fast if faced with a few others who are willing to help. There is no shame in calling for help.
Fast thinking means faster reactions.
What if, in those brief first moments, you find there is no escape route and no help? You are on your own and in an unfamiliar world of impending violence. You are going to be hit, or maybe stabbed, or even shot. Your life is in danger, and that frequently used term, "fight or flight", comes into play. You run, or you fight back. With no way of escaping and no help coming you are forced to defend yourself. Many forms of self-defense will emphasize the importance of striking first. A knife attack could kill you with one hit. Your self-defense training, which should greatly increase your ability to make clear and quick decisions in a dangerous situation, should enable you to calculate a possible attack of your own. Your attacker will probably not be expecting you to be instantly aggressive and this might give you an advantage and allow you to escape unhurt. However, be aware that you could make the confrontation a lot worse by attacking. Every situation is different, but training in self-defense will enhance your ability to analyze and react accordingly.
Are you going out and about day after day completely unprepared for trouble, or are you as ready as you can be if a dire situation arises? From the moment you learn your first self-defense move you are more likely to avoid injury than the average person is. Think of your survival. Can you not afford to have the edge that learning to defend yourself brings?