What’s Considered Self-Defense For Survival?


When times get tough for people, people tend to get a little desperate, and I have questioned myself on what’s considered Self-Defense for survival.

So just how many self-defense tactics should you need to know? It just so happens that there are many ways to defend or not defend yourself when such a situation arises. There are also laws to consider specifically where you live that you should know about so you do not find yourself in jail after the fact.

The use of reasonable force to protect oneself or family members from bodily harm from the attack of an aggressor if the defender has reason to believe he/she/they is/are in danger.

Legal Dictionary

Self-Defense Situations

Perhaps you were faced with a startling question to which you didn’t respond.

Such as what’s considered self-defense in this situation.

Maybe you were insulted or berated for an unknown reason and caught in the wrath of another person’s anger.

Or worse yet, you may have been a victim of a mugging or armed attack, wherein your body froze, and you failed to react.

If you’ve ever taken a biology class or perused a self-help book, you’ve likely heard about the fight or flight response.

So…..have you ever felt like a deer….. in the headlights?

And speaking of dear, let’s not forget about your defense for Mother Nature’s situations, such as a bear in the wilderness. How are you going to deal with that?

The idea is simple: Whenever we encounter dangerous situations, our brains decide to either face the situation or flee from it if unarmed, bringing about intense emotional, psychological, and physical changes.

When Is It OK To Fight

On the emotional side, we typically experience either intense fear or anger, sometimes both instantaneously.

Psychologically, our senses become heightened, allowing us to make faster (and arguably smarter) decisions, at least regarding survival.

As blood flow is diverted to the more important parts of the body, physical changes are experienced through a rush of adrenaline, increased heart rate, and increased stamina and strength.

This subconscious response has kept us safe since our ancestors’ time. They likely would have died without these changes, having failed to pass their genes onto us.

Granted, if things were as simple as fight vs. flight, we’d likely find ourselves physically and mentally damaged more often than not.

So, fight or flight works best in a disaster survival scenario. Furthermore, does this response even apply to today’s society?

After all, times have changed significantly since our great-great-forefathers faced attacks from wild animals or rival tribes vying for the same land – at least life is no longer like that in most parts of the world.

Formerly, survival was largely determined by one’s ability to fight or distance oneself from a threatening situation.

However, we aren’t cavemen anymore, and the same survival principles no longer apply in the 21st century.

But how can such a natural instinct that’s worked for millennia stop working?

Civilization and technology have experienced astounding growth and advancements over time.

Today’s threats are much different than those of the past. They are often unforeseeable, uncontrollable, and beyond our ability to comprehend. This applies equally to natural disasters as it does to the effects of modern warfare and global terrorism.

To that end, limiting our response to fight or flight can be counterproductive to our survival.

How Do You Not Fight Someone?

There is an alternative response to fight or flight. It’s called the freeze response.

In a disaster, one of your main goals is to go about unnoticed. Think about this pretty simple (though unlikely) scenario once faced by our ancestors.

You’re in the woods when, all of a sudden, you encounter a wild bear. Do you stay and fight? I think not.

Do you turn around and make a run for it? Probably not, because the bear would likely chase you down and tear you to shreds.avoiding a fight

The only other option is to freeze. Most people fail to realize that this is an alternative to fight-or-flight.

It’s in our instincts, just as it is in those of wild animals. Like the deer in headlights, many animals freeze when they sense danger.

Some take it further and play dead, curling up into a ball or plopping themselves on the ground.

Don’t think there is any shame or weakness in employing this response.

Modern society has seen an incredibly unfortunate rise in unexpected violence in the form of terror attacks and school shootings. Many survivors of these situations used the freeze response to stay alive amid chaos and violence.

Regardless, human evolution takes a while to progress, and the fight or flight response isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s ingrained in our genes and still very much applies to many situations, though those situations may be dwindling in frequency.

So in a post-disaster world, which response works the best: fight, flight, or freeze?

There is no definitive answer.

If you’re a prepper, you may or may not have a particular situation for which you are preparing. With so much uncertainty about what will happen when SHTF, who’s to say how your brain will react in a dangerous situation?

Depending on the circumstance, fight, flight, and freeze may all be appropriate responses.

Your best bet remains to stay vigilant and prepared to face potentially dangerous situations.

When the time comes, your instincts will decide for you how to react.

Remember, if you find yourself in a situation where fighting is unavoidable, it’s best to know how to defend yourself.

How To Street Fight Without Fear

Hopefully, you’ve never had to take part in one, but you’ve likely witnessed a drunken brawl outside a bar between two males of a special breed that, when inebriated, decide to start fights with random people.

It happens every weekend in every city and town.street fight

Usually, these types of fights end up outside and use aptly named street fighting techniques.

The drunker the fighters get, they are less likely to deliver and land effective blows against their opponent.

But street fighting is its own breed of martial art, often a blend of several established fighting styles from around the world.

Applying certain street fighting techniques and ideas could save your life outside your neighborhood bar and in a post-disaster world.

Though we’ve mentioned in previous newsletters that fights should be avoided at all costs, getting out of harm’s way isn’t always an option.

No one likes to fight, and anyone who tells you they do is probably lying. Even professional boxers and MMA fighters like to keep it in the ring, and most avoid street fights at all costs.

That’s because anything can happen at a street fight, especially when survival is on the line. If you’re up against an opponent in a post-disaster wasteland, you must use all the moves and tactics to gain the upper hand.

Street fighting often gets dirty. Your opponent’s moves are unpredictable, and getting hit is painful and dangerous.

Fighting Tips And Techniques

There are several simple street fighting “rules” (keep in mind there aren’t any rules) that you can apply in a fight that could be especially useful during a disaster.

Keep Your Distance

This is the most important tenant of any self-defense situation, especially a street fight.

This is also an incredibly simple concept to grasp, instinctual even, as most people tend to have good situational awareness and can identify a suspicious person with potentially dangerous intentions.

Others can’t, but that’s easily remedied. If someone approaches you and can’t tell their intentions, put your arms out before you. If you can touch his hands (or body), you’re too close and should back away until you’re out of range.

This smart, non-threatening move will show your attacker that you don’t intend to fight. It won’t always stop an unruly opponent, but it is far less likely to provoke aggressive behavior and/or an attack.

Also, try staying on your opponent’s “outside,” or periphery, rather than directly in front of him. This way, you can use your opponent’s body as an obstacle against him.

If you are attacked, keeping distance between you and your opponent will give you more time to react and (possibly) flee.

Even just a few feet of space is enough to see a hit coming and react with the appropriate block or countermove.

Establish Your Balance to Stay on Your Feet

Balance is another crucial component of nearly any form of martial art or self-defense.Fight training

Many fights are determined by crushing blows to the head while on the ground, so you must do your best to stay on your feet.

Proper balance means spreading your feet shoulder-width apart and bending your knees slightly, keeping a loose posture.

Keep this stance up during a fight and do everything you can to restore your balance if you are pushed, hit, or knocked down.

Your ultimate goal is to stay off the ground, which can be incredibly dangerous to the untrained fighter.

If your opponent has a weapon or backup, you’ll be even more vulnerable when stuck to the floor.

Keep your arms up and remain non-threatening as long as possible, but take up a fighting stance with your arms to cover your face when an attack is unavoidable.

Know When (and How) to Run

You may find yourself outmatched or outnumbered, or you may be exceptionally non-confrontational and wish to avoid fights at all costs.

Either way, you should attempt to escape quickly before your opponent can close the distance and attack.

In a post-disaster world, there may not be many well-lit public areas with helpful bystanders to come to your aid.

You may have to run as fast and far away as possible until you find safety or return to your shelter.

If you try to escape in the middle of a fight, try to hinder your opponent’s ability to continue his attack as much as possible.

Do this by creating obstacles as you run: knocking over a trashcan, going through the woods, running through traffic (if there is any).

Your opponents have less space to pursue and attack the narrower the path. Use parked cars, stairwells, and hallways to your advantage; ensure you have an exit.

Unfortunately, running isn’t always an option. You may take one look at your opponent and know that you won’t be able to outrun him – don’t even try.

If there is more than one attacker, there will be more legs to chase and catch up with you.

Ideally, you can leave the fight before it happens or find a strategic time to make your getaway.

If you end up in a fight, escape as soon as you’ve incapacitated your target.

To apply the concepts above, think about how you face confrontations in your everyday life.

How you face a street fight will likely reflect the degree of calmness and awareness you exhibit in your daily routine.

Don’t charge head-on into conflict with arms flailing. Instead, be aware of your surroundings and approach post-disaster scenarios with caution.

You may ask yourself why no real physical fighting techniques have been mentioned. Why?

If you end up in a street fight, you probably didn’t do everything you could to avoid being there.

Violence should always be a last resort, even after all hell breaks loose and the ‘zombies’ are roaming the streets.

Plenty of things can go wrong in a fight, but avoiding one is always the best move.

However, if you find yourself in a fight, you’ll need to know how to defend yourself adequately and, more importantly, efficiently.

Remember that no matter how well-trained and equipped you think you are, the person you are facing is definitely an unknown quantity.

Are Guns Effective For Self-defense

Regarding self-defense, the consensus seems to show that firearms with proper training for survival are the most trusted form of protection.

Can the ownership of a handgun answer the question of what constitutes self-defense? Can the story end here?

training for firearms

How fast can you react? You will not get a second chance!

I have mentioned on this site that I do not believe in gun ownership for a defense situation.

The chances that you would be one step ahead of an aggressor with a gun are slim to none. And I do not think I need to tell you the outcome.

Sometimes, running and avoiding is the better side of valor.

However, only with good training might you be inclined to keep one in the house if you’re preparing for or anticipating a disaster when your need to defend yourself will likely increase.

However, there may be times when you are forced to defend yourself and have no weapon. Worse yet, your attacker could take your weapon and use it against you.

Many fail to realize exactly how much time and distance (between you and your opponent) you will need to effectively draw, aim, and shoot your gun at an oncoming attacker.

In many cases, attempting to draw your weapon is not advised.

You are the one who most likely will be caught by surprise.

You could be caught mid-draw as your attacker closes the gap and be incapacitated before you can fire a shot.

Furthermore, what happens when you venture outside your home or shelter to replenish your supplies, including ammunition? Unless you can manufacture your own ammo in-house (chances are you aren’t), you will be forced to revert to empty-handed combat.

In this case, you need to have a backup weapon available that you can rely on for self-defense. Unfortunately, finding an alternate weapon is not always as easy as it seems.

Other Self-Defense Weapons

Many preppers agree that a survival knife is man’s best friend, even more so than a rifle or handgun, and they carry one daily for a variety of everyday chores and, if need be, self-defense.

However, watch yourself.

Knives over a certain length are illegal in many areas, as are those with automatic opening systems, otherwise known as a ‘switchblade.’

In many jurisdictions, electric Tasers and even pepper spray are illegal and unavailable for purchase by the average consumer.

So, are you simply out of luck regarding self-defense without traditional and ‘not allowed’ weapons?

The answer is no, but you may have to get creative and find other ways to make your defense work.

You should understand that your mind may be the greatest weapon in a defensive situation, so you’re only as limited as your own ideas and whatever you may have in the kids’ toy box or under your kitchen sink.

Remember a universal rule of combat: You should avoid and/or defuse a confrontation before it escalates. You must always consider what you can do to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.

And, of course, you must win!

Consider training in some legal street fighting techniques.

You can never go wrong by taking the proper time and energy to train yourself in martial arts. Several different techniques are used, and it doesn’t matter what variety you practice.

Regular self-defense training will equip you with the techniques, ability, and stamina(physical and mental) to take on an attacker who is usually not well-versed in those types of fighting skills.

But your fighting skills—however good or bad—are only part of what can be considered a layered defense. In the event of an actual attack, you must be able to identify and incorporate different options into your self-defense regimen.

Countless alternative items can serve as self-defense if you otherwise face an unarmed attacker. Again, consider the fact that you could find yourself in a fight with little or no time to react.

Non-Lethal Personal Defense Weapons

So to be prepared, you must have (or find) something concealable and easily accessible to be used as a makeshift weapon to deter or incapacitate your foe.

If you can’t carry or don’t have access to a firearm or Taser, consider carrying a less lethal type of gun.

For example, flare guns are legal for purchase in most areas, are affordable, and can be discharged with potentially lethal force. Their phosphorus rounds (used for signaling for help at sea) can light a person on fire if pointed at the body.

Be careful, though. These things do not usually operate in a straight line. You may have to get upfront and a little too personal for them to be effective. And just like a traditional firearm, it may take some practice to effectively aim and hit a human target with a flare.

Also, remember that the firing cartridges usually have a limited shelf life and can only carry a charge for a certain time (typically upwards of 3 years).

‘Child’ Weapons’

Another “gun” you could use is a squirt gun. These children’s toys are filled with water and used for harmless fun in mock battles. But have you ever considered replacing the water with bleach, ammonia or another toxic chemical (acidic juice or oil from hot peppers could have an equal effect)?

Even a small, handgun-sized squirt gun filled with one of these liquids could be easily concealed and drawn against an attacker. Aim for the eyes, and be careful not to get any on your skin or face.

‘Under Sink’ Weapons

Also, aerosol and spray alternatives to traditional pepper spray should be considered. Most liquids that come in an aerosol can have an incredibly painful and dangerous effect on the eyes, nose, throat, and skin.

Think oven cleaner, wasp killer(which happens to be my favorite because they will have a 12-20 long spray stream), or other toxic chemicals with a potentially long-reaching spray. If a handheld fire extinguisher is lying about, even better.

(In my effort to keep you updated, I have reconsidered the wasp spray thing right here)

Other less conspicuous items unlikely to arouse much attention are things like spray deodorant, perfume, or cologne, which you may already carry on your person or in your bag. These can have the same effect as household cleaners and other spray chemicals.

In addition to human targets, these unconventional deterrents could be used against attacking animals in a post-disaster world. Usually, a dog can take one sniff of a harmful chemical, sense danger, and flee.

While these items allow you to distance yourself from your target, nothing is foolproof, and your attacker may persist.

Though we’ve mentioned the importance of hand-to-hand fighting skills and training, most people would like the added security of wielding a makeshift weapon before the fists come out.

To that tune, items that can cause blunt force trauma are the next most viable go-to. One swing of a baseball bat, golf clubs, pipe wrenches (or pipes themselves), or a length of rebar can devastate your opponent.

So too, can something as simple as a Maglite flashlight as a type of firearm, which serves dual purposes as a temporary blinding situation (the light itself) and a bludgeoning tool.

While these items may not be concealable, they are found and/or can be stored in most households and car trunks.

After all, you never know when you could find yourself in a physical altercation. It could be with a home invader, car burglar, or stranger on the street.

You should probably avoid edged weapons altogether. This includes decorative swords, axes, kitchen cutlery, and everyday pocket and survival knives.

Firstly, you never want to bring a knife to a gunfight (as the saying goes) or to any conflict wherein you may be outgunned, outnumbered, or out-skilled.

Though these sharp objects can damage human flesh, using them effectively requires serious practice and skill. Knife fighting is an invaluable skill, but without it, you essentially involve yourself in one of the most dangerous forms of combat.

Another commonly overlooked item is the walking stick. A shoulder-height stick made of hard and properly dried wood can be a formidable weapon for self-defense and can be carried about the town without arousing suspicion.

However, a pool cue, tree branch, fire poker, or another long and hard item can do the trick. These will give you control over your attacker by keeping them at a distance and are ideal for hitting, swinging, and jabbing at your target’s weak spots.

Ultimately, it’s an unchangeable notion that most of us will be involved in a violent altercation at some point. This is especially true after a crisis.

You may not always be able to determine your fate, but you can always change how you prepare. Weapons, however obscure and improvised, are mere extensions of your body and can enhance your self-defense skills, especially with proper training.

Always be equally vigilant and creative. Study the everyday objects around you and consider how they could serve you.

Self-Defense Laws: Understanding Your Rights and Responsibilities

Stand your ground? A castle doctrine? Duty to retreat?

What the hell?

Duty to retreat laws, also known as retreat laws or stand-your-ground laws, refer to legal principles that outline an individual’s obligations in terms of retreating or standing their ground when facing a threat or danger in a self-defense situation.

Stand Your Ground vs. Duty to Retreat vs. The Castle Doctrine

These laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so it’s essential to understand the specific laws of the relevant jurisdiction.

Duty to Retreat: In some jurisdictions, individuals have a legal duty to retreat from a threat before resorting to self-defense. If a person can safely escape or avoid the threat by retreating, they are legally required to do so rather than using force to defend themselves.

Stand Your Ground: Unlike duty to retreat, stand-your-ground laws state that individuals have no duty to retreat from a threat and can use lethal force to defend themselves, their property, or others in certain circumstances. These laws generally allow individuals to defend themselves with force, even if retreating is possible.

The Castle Doctrine is a legal principle that provides individuals the right to use deadly force to defend themselves and their property within their own homes or “castles.” It allows individuals to protect themselves without the obligation to retreat, even if it is possible. It’s important to note that the specifics of the Castle Doctrine can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and some jurisdictions may have additional requirements or limitations.

It’s important to note that the specifics of Duty to Retreat,  Castle Doctrine, and Stand-Your-Ground Laws can vary significantly depending on the jurisdiction.

Some jurisdictions have adopted stand-your-ground laws, while others have duty-to-retreat laws or a combination. The laws can also have nuances, exceptions, and specific conditions that need to be met for the use of force to be legally justified.

If you have any concerns or questions regarding self-defense laws and your jurisdiction’s specific regulations, it’s advisable to consult with a knowledgeable legal professional or refer to your jurisdiction’s statutes and legal resources to ensure accurate and up-to-date information.

Know where you live and then read on:

What’s The Self-Defense Law In Your State?

The following states have ‘Stand Your Ground laws:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • West Virginia

States such as California do not have a specific stand-your-ground law but a “Castle Doctrine.”

  • Alabama
    North Carolina
    South Carolina
    South Dakota
    West Virginia

Other states have what’s called  “duty to retreat” laws in place.

  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Missouri
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

It’s advisable to consult the relevant state statutes or consult with a legal professional for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding these laws in a particular state.

You may learn more about those self-defense laws right here.

Consider how to respond to any situation.

Learn how to do so.

Know your limitations by law and by your own personal situation.

Prepare to do these things, and you will be fine.