Simple tips for defending yourself effectively
Guide to Life: Take Down an Assailant
The best fight is the one the that never happens, the one you walk away from because the assault to your pride, your team, your girlfriend — your whatever — isn’t worth ending your night early, the risk of injury (to you or the other guy) or jail. However, we recognize that sometimes walking away isn’t possible. For those rare instances where you can’t talk yourself out of violence, we offer simple counsel for defending yourself.
Get Your Head Right Before the Decisive Act
I’m not tough and I don’t have any “special set of skills” like Mr. Neeson, but I do know that if you’re a guy and you see anyone in distress, you help. I’ve never taken down an assailant, but I did take down a guy once. Here’s what I remember.
I was walking home from a late night out in Meatpacking with some cronies. Not feeling up for the crowds and swarms of Bridge & Tunnelers I decided to call it a night and make the long walk back to Midtown East where I was living. It was chilly out — enough to help you walk off a few beers but not uncomfortable. Pretty quiet for a Saturday.
I heard a girl screaming from afar. A bit echo-y but definitely close. Then a girl rounds the corner ahead. Running.
A second later, a guy barrels around the corner a dozen paces behind. Running faster.
At this point I’ve stopped to take in the situation and the girl is closing pretty quickly. I distinctly recall the black dress and brown coat, the brunette hair and the fact that she was yelling “get away from me!” The guy trailing behind wasn’t saying anything — intentions unknown.
A few moments later I’m in the back of a police car staring at the reflection of blues flickering against the building the rear door.
I don’t recall exactly what happened, but I do remember several key moments during the wrangle. I remember bracing my right foot as the guy closed in. I remember hunkering and then heaving my body, shoulder first, into him as he ran past. I remember smashing my lower forearm into his face as he confusingly yelled “what the fuck, du…?!” I did it because I was confused and scared and wanted to defend myself against what he might do. I remember a few moments later sitting in the back of a police car (no cuffs), seeing the flickering blue lights against the facade of 260 Madison Avenue.
The officers told me later that night that they were on a routine drive when they saw part of the altercation take place. I’ll never know who that woman or man were and what their situation was. Evidently what she told the cops was enough to get me a ride home instead of the station though. As he pulled up to my apartment, the officer sitting shotgun said, “You helped that woman from a bad situation, but what you did to that guy was not a good idea — he’s going to have a bad night. Never do it again. Next time you want to defend someone you don’t know, call 9-1-1.”
- Eric Yang