Self Defense 90-10

I often tell students in our Grace Martial Arts classes or clinics that self defense is 90% awareness and 10% technique. Let’s see how that works in a variety of real-life situations.

College Student

A young college student is attending a weekend party on campus. She went there with a group of friends and returned home with that same group of friends. While at the party she drank soft drinks from a can that she had to open. She carried the can with her until she finished the drink. She also did not accept any drink offered to her if it was not an unopened soft drink can.

Young Mother

A young mother of three children is driving to a mall in her city. She sees a man standing next to a car near the mall entrance and wonders if it’s safe for her to park there. She decides not to take a chance and drives around to the other side of the mall where she parks and takes her children inside. When she is ready to leave the mall she notices the same man she saw earlier standing near her car. She asks a store manager if someone would walk her and her children to her car. The store manager asked an employee to walk her to her car. The employee stayed with the woman until the children were in the car and she drove away. The man waiting nearby quickly walked away when he saw a store employee walking with the woman and her children.

Children Approached by Stranger

Three young children are playing in their neighborhood when a stranger approaches them and asks if they’ve seen a small white dog in the area. The stranger asks them to come with him to his car where he’ll show them a picture of the dog. The children do not go with the stranger. They walk away from him quickly to tell one of their parents about the encounter. The stranger quickly walks to his car and drives away.

90% Awareness

Self defense really is 90% awareness. It’s a combination of common sense and being aware of your surroundings.

  • Stay away from dangerous people and places, especially at night
  • Go places with family or friends whenever possible — use the ‘buddy’ system
  • Display confidence — don’t look like a victim
  • If someone or something appears suspicious, walk away. Listen to your intuition — don’t take a chance when it’s not necessary
  • Ask for help from a trusted source (e.g. store manager, police officer, parent) when you think a situation may put you in danger
  • If a stranger approaches you, step away from them to keep a safe distance between you. If they continue to approach you even after you’ve stepped away, put up your hands and tell them not to come any closer. If the stranger means no harm, they will stop and explain themselves. Even then you should still keep the safe distance in case they are trying to lure you closer. If the stranger means to harm you and continues to approach, your hands are in a defensive position. Depending on your self-defense training, you can use your hands to block, strike, trap and throw. You can also use your legs to kick (more about that in the 10% section below).
  • If the stranger pulls a weapon on you (e.g. knife, gun), comply with their request to give them something you have (e.g. wallet, phone, bag). Do NOT comply if they ask you to go with them. That’s kidnapping and could lead to serious injury or even death (more about that in the 10% section below).

You can read more about the importance of awareness in these Grace Martial Arts articles –

The Three A’s of Attack Awareness

Three Rules for Self Defense: Rule Two

Self-Defense Advice for Children & Teens

Self Defense for Children and Teens

Young Women and Sexual Assault

Three Zone Defense

Turning On The Lights In Self Defense

Evade to Escape

Evade to Enter

Exit Strategy – What’s Yours?

10% Technique

Anyone can be Attacked Anywhere at Anytime – even when we’ve used common sense and awareness. That’s why we also recommend training in self-defense techniques. You can receive this training from a martial arts instructor or at a self-defense clinic. You can also check with your local police or sheriff’s department to see what kind of local training they recommend.

We teach five types of techniques for self defense in Grace Martial Arts classes and clinics:

  1. Escaping techniques
  2. Blocking techniques
  3. Striking techniques
  4. Trapping techniques
  5. Throwing techniques

The following are descriptions of what you will learn in a Grace Martial Arts clinic.


If someone grabs you, escape from the grab. You will learn how to escape from wrist grabs, arm grabs, leg grabs and body grabs from front, back and sides.


If someone attempts to hit you, block the striking arm and direct it away from you. You will also learn how to move your body away from the strike or kick to lessen the force of the blow.


Strike your opponent with your palm, fist, elbow, knee or foot to soft target areas of their body. You will learn how to build power, speed and accuracy to ensure the effectiveness of your strikes and kicks.


Use your hands and arms to lock your attacker’s joints. You will learn how to use joint locks to trap your attacker for the purpose of moving them away from you or for holding them if necessary.


Use your hands, arms, feet and legs to throw your opponent. You will learn how to use your body to effectively off-balance your attacker and throw them down or away from you so you can escape.

You can read more about the importance of technique in these Grace Martial Arts articles –

Surprise, Put Out, Steal

Increasing Power, Speed and Accuracy in Martial Arts

Responding to Threats: Level One

Responding to Threats: Level Two

Responding to Threats: Level Three

Three Rules of Self Defense: Rule Seven

Three Rules of Self Defense: Rule Eight

Three Rules of Self Defense: Rule Nine

Three Rules of Self Defense: Rule Ten

© Grace Martial Arts 1990-2019



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