Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Although awareness and avoidance are excellent strategies that I firmly believe can keep almost anyone out of danger, there are situations that happen despite the best planning and awareness.  Sometimes people simply get attacked or find themselves in danger and it would be shortsighted and foolhardy of me not to address this possibility.  So, when awareness and avoidance have failed, we have a plan for action.  

Escalated response:  It is very important that you match your action response to the threat level.  This is not just me talking, it is literally against the law to use more force than necessary and you will be arrested and thrown in jail if it is determined that you went overboard.  So here are some examples:

Low threat:  A guy is pestering you at a bar or a drunk relative at a family gathering.  Clearly you don’t want to go straight to the red zone and bash someone’s head in if they are just being a pest.  But you don’t want to tolerate that behavior either.  The best thing to do is leave. If for some reason you can’t, or you need to address the situation (e.g. he has you cornered) try to make noise and get someone to help you.  If that is not an option, joint locks are great for these situations because they don’t leave marks or cause damage if done correctly.  Grab a finger (or wrist) and bend it the wrong way (be careful not to break it unless that is your intention).  Once he is distracted, use his body angle to escape.  Joint locks are easy to execute but they take a lot of practice to learn, so I suggest you find an instructor in your area who can teach you or contact me for assistance. 

Next level: Medium threat.  Someone trying to take your purse or you are cornered and the joint locks aren't an option but your life is not in danger (yet).  This is where groin kicks and face palms are great.  One shot, distract them, and run like hell.  Every body is different, so I recommend you practice on a Body Opponent Bag or at your local martial arts school to find out what techniques suit you best.  

Next level: high threat.  This is where you life is in danger.  It is hard to write a guide for this because there are a thousand different scenarios that could happen.  The basic concept is this: if someone is really threatening your life, it’s either you or them.  You have to shut off that switch inside of you that keeps you polite and functioning in society and become an animal.  Fight dirty.  There are no rules.  The only thing you need to know is if you survive, you win.  This is something that long term training in martial arts will help with.  A good instructor will put you in more and more difficult situations to gradually desensitize you to being hit, being sat on, being thrown, being threatened, etc so you have a better chance of keeping your head if it actually happens.  Not all schools are good, so please contact me at suzernathy@hotmail.com if you would like help choosing a school.  


"A confused opponent is better than an angry one" -Suzanne Abernathy

This is the second of my three tenets: Awareness, Avoidance, and Action.  As I previously stated, most dangerous situations can be avoided by simply practicing good awareness and not getting involved.  If, however, you find yourself in a situation either because you responded too late or someone has targeted you, there are still many options you have before it comes to blows.  

Set your ego aside:  There is absolutely no way you can practice avoidance if your ego demands that you win a fight or that you believe it is wimpy to walk away from a fight.  That is absolutely not true.  There is no shame in avoiding conflict.  On the contrary, engaging in a fight when you have other options is: #1 against the law, #2 very dangerous.  Fighting is ugly, painful, and risky.  At the very least someone will get hurt.  Possibly someone will get killed and/or end up in jail and lives will suffer a tremendous negative impact.

So, if you see a fight brewing, or someone is taunting you, simply leave if you can.  Take the easy way out.  There is no shame in walking away from a fight.  

Be aware of your surroundings: When you find yourself in a situation that is getting dicey, take a look around you.  Where are your exits?  What kind of situation are you in?  Great example: I was at a Christmas party once when a fight broke out in the kitchen.  I was in the hall, halfway between the front and back of the house.  I quickly assessed my choices; back yard, bedrooms, front door. The back yard did not have a gate and I didn't want to trap myself in the house, so I went out the front door and around the corner just in case things escalated.  From there, I kept an eye on the driveway so I could see when the instigators left and I knew it was safe to go back inside. (I was living at the house, so I ended up gathering my belongings and leaving later that night).  

Be slippery: If someone does put their hands on you, wiggle and move and get away!  It is much harder to fight someone who does not want to fight. I highly recommend learning about joint locks and the counters to joint locks (you can look up a local martial arts instructor for this or contact me).  This training has made me very difficult to pin down and has saved me more than once.  To be perfectly honest, I am not the best fighter, the fittest, or the strongest.  But I know my body and have developed a strategy that works for me.  

Avoidance mostly comes down to a mindset.  If you truly believe that fighting is absolutely a last resort, you will find a way to get out of any bad situation if at all possible.  Sometimes it is not possible but most of the time, it can be done and you can save yourself a lot of trouble.