Jeff Anderson

Is “Running Away” REALLY The Best Self Defense Technique?


It always cracks me up when self defense instructors recommend to their students that, when faced with a violent attack, they should “just run away”.

C’mon…is that REALLY a sound self defense strategy?

No, I’m not saying that running is “sissy-like”.  You should ALWAYS avoid a fight if you can.

But if THIS is your primary self defense strategy then you’re most likely going to get killed.

Sorry…had to say it. And here’s why…

1. Arthritis, Bad Knees And Hip Replacements…OH MY!

63% of our members in the International Society of Close Quarter Combatants are over the age of 40 and many are up in their ’70’s.

Some of these guys have had to face the hard fact that they may have NO CHOICE but to stand and fight if they’re ever attacked.

Being “over 40” myself, I can attest to the increase in creaks, cracks, and reduction in mobility that comes with getting older.  Sucks!

So your chances of outrunning a younger, stronger, more agile attacker are pretty much next to nil.

The answer is to learn brutally effective close quarters combat techniques that DON’T rely on strength or speed to get the job done.

2. “Running Away” Is Just Plain DANGEROUS!

When you’re running from an attacker (or attackers!), your adrenaline is pumping, your heart is racing, and your judgement is even MORE clouded than if you were standing toe-to-toe.

Fact is, especially in an urban setting, if you’re in the “lead” while running away, YOU have to be the one to watch for obstacles and pitfalls.

It’s easy to trip over a box, curb, trash can, bicycle, fence, bystander, or any number of other environmental challenges…especially if it’s dark out.

The guy running behind you only has to follow you and if YOU jump over something, he already knows what obstacles are in his path.  When you trip…he has you!

Worse still…run into the street to escape and a mack truck might have you!

3. Training For Gang Olympics!

Why in the world would I want to put my fate in the hands of whether or not I’m a faster sprinter than my attacker?

Besides, gangbangers and professional criminals get WAY more “running practice” than I do from:

  • running from the police
  • running from other gang members
  • running from their 3 girlfriends and 12 kids
  • running from the boyfriends or husbands of their 3 girlfriends

I think I’ll just assume that he’s faster than I am.

How To Win A Running Contest…

Ok, all that being said…running away DOES have it’s advantages!

Sticking around to fight also means that you’re open to attack by other “bad guys” in the area who come to help your attacker out.  Not good!

If you DO have a safe exit…go for it!

1. Strike FIRST…Run SECOND!

You can use any headstart you can get so…

…shove your fingers in your attacker’s eyes and he can’t see where he’s going

…stomp on the top of his foot to crush the small bones there and he won’t be able to run

…shove his testicles up into the deep recesses of his guts and he may run…but a bit “lopsided” and damn slow

…you get the picture!

2. Use Your Environment!

When running, look for something…ANYTHING…you can throw in the path of the guy running after you!

A garbage can, a bicycle, a shopping cart…anything they’ll have to maneuver around that can trip them up or slow them down.

3. Worst Case Self Defense Technique…When THEY Are Faster!

There’s always the real possibility that you WON’T be able to outrun your attacker.

You’re huffing and puffing and you can slowly hear the sound of his stolen Nike Air’s getting closer and closer.

You know the inevitable is going to happen and running away ISN’T going to help you out of this one.

So you stop and turn around to go face-to-face, right?


Here’s a little trick I picked up in 1st grade as a somewhat brutal game we played on the playground.

Some call it “Johnny Tackle”.  We had a less politically correct name for it, but in my opinion, it’s a GOLDEN MARTIAL ARTS LESSON for self defense and it goes like this…

Someone is “it” and has a ball.  “It” runs around the schoolyard and everyone else has to try to tackle the guy with the ball or kick their feet out from under them until they throw the ball up in the air for someone else to catch and run away with while everyone now attacks the new “it”.

One trick I picked up when I had the ball was to wait until the mob that was trying to smear my face into the ground was so close that I could hear their feet close to mine and could practically feel the snot from their nose dripping down the back of my neck.

Then I would quickly drop to the ground, covering my head and curling up into a tight “ball”.

The closest person behind me would never be able to react in time and would inevitably trip over me and land flat on his face.

If there were others right behind him, they often fell over me also and there may be a pile of bloodied 1st graders lying on the ground.

Then I’d hop up and begin running again!

YOU can use this same technique if YOU feel the hot breath of your attacker getting closer and closer and you know you can’t outrun him.

Just wait until he’s nearly on top of you and has no time to react.

Then quickly drop to the ground so he trips over you and lands flat on his face.

From that point, you can either continue to run away in a different direction to escape (hopefully)…

…or take advantage of his unfavorable position and follow up with your own close combat tactics, like a nice football kick to the face, to finish him off.

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