Unarmed Defense in the Apocalypse, by Tony C.

Many people today are preparing for TEOTWAWKI in various ways. Much discussion and planning for a host of apocalyptic scenarios is underway and justifiably so as many factors converge to seemingly plunge the world into a looming sense of impending doom. We all hope for the best but must prepare for the worst in hopes of survival for ourselves and our families.
Self defense is a cornerstone of prepping for the seemingly inevitable collapse of our modern societies. The procurement and use of firearms is the obvious and most effective means of protecting ourselves and our emergency supplies which we have prudently stashed away for survival purposes. I fully endorse and encourage this approach; however, circumstances may arise precluding our ability to fully depend upon firearms in all situations. There may be a time when ammunition is depleted. Governments may confiscate all weapons. Your weapons could be lost or stolen in some situations. You may be herded to a FEMA Camp or other such environment where the ownership of firearms is prohibited. A host of reasons exist that may impede your access to firearms. One thing is for certain though; violence will increase in an apocalyptic crisis and the need to protect yourself and others will be a prevalent and urgent necessity in order to survive.

If, in the unfortunate circumstance, you were to find yourself unarmed at some point in a TEOTWAWKI situation you must be prepared to deal with the pressing need of self preservation as it relates to self defense. The first building block of unarmed combat is physical fitness. I think that this is often overlooked as people have become more reliant on the gadgetry of modern society to protect them. Any style of unarmed combat is dependent on the physical ability of the user. Many styles of martial arts say that the technique itself is superior to physical strength. While many techniques rely on leverage and knowledge of human anatomy as it relates to target areas and pressure points, the physical strength, dexterity and ability of the individual also play a large part in the success of employing those techniques. How many full contact fighters do you see with bulging bellies and pencil thin arms? It goes without saying that we cannot all devote ourselves to the strenuous and time consuming work outs of the professional athlete, but we can all do what we can to keep ourselves in some decent level of physical fitness. If our body is the machine to be used in the defense of our lives, then it would behoove us to maintain that machinery in the best possible condition. Just as you carefully clean and oil your weapons to ensure peak performance when TSHTF, so should you prepare your body to do its job when called upon in a post-apocalyptic free for all! A good physical regimen should include cardio, strength, and flexibility training.

To adequately prepare for a violent physical confrontation, one should seek qualified instruction in self defense. Fighting is a science after all. The science of fighting has been studied since the dawn of time. Many styles of fighting have evolved and continue to evolve. A person could submit to a lifetime of study and still not harness all of the styles and techniques that have been formulated over the centuries. Since TEOTWAWKI waits for no man, we need to shorten the learning curve in the interest of being prepared. The human body is fearfully and wonderfully made and yet extremely fragile at times. Knowledge of the human body’s weaknesses is essential to winning a violent attack. Volumes could be and have been written espousing different combat theories. The bottom line is that unless you have a lot of time and energy, you need a shortcut to unarmed self defense. No style is superior. All, or at least most, have something of value to offer.

To assemble your own arsenal of looter repelling techniques, look at yourself honestly and see what fits you individually. Not everyone is graced with the flexibility of a ballerina or the strength of a bull. A large, heavy set male would probably not be expected to perform exotic spinning kicks, while a small female would not be expected to execute double leg takedowns of larger opponents. The larger less nimble male might include techniques favoring his bulk such as grappling techniques and hand strikes. The smaller female could include kicking techniques and eye gouges. (Unarmed conflicts are extremely violent and graphic.) When your life is in peril, you do what you have to do to survive.

Avoid the hype of modern televised mixed martial arts (MMA) type maneuvers for life saving self defense training. Remember, you are preparing to fight for your life, not for a championship belt. Proponents of grappling styles say that 85% of fights end up on the ground. Let me remind you that nearly 100% of fights begin on your feet! Grappling techniques are great at times and sometimes you may find yourself in that situation, but do you really want to go to the ground when the assailant may have accomplices aiding him or he may be armed with knives or improvised weapons? If you find yourself on the ground in a deadly struggle then it would bode well for you to be versed in the grappling arts. Grappling is good but not the cure all for self defense. It is one component of a total system. Learning how to strike and where to strike is equally important. Looking for the soft spots in the human anatomy is the key. The major points to attack are the eyes, throat, groin and knees.

The eyes are very fragile. Think of getting a single grain of sand in your eye at the beach. Now imagine getting a finger in the eye buried up to the first joint! Even if your attempt to strike the eyes is thwarted, the bad guy will instinctively close his eyes for at least a fraction of a second giving you opportunity to continue your assault or break and run. (Survival, not winning the fight is your goal.) Injury to one or both eyes can end an assault instantly. Temporary or permanent blindness can result as well as sending the victim into shock. If a person cannot see, they cannot fight, at least not very effectively!

The throat is another vital target. It is estimated that 40 p.s.i. will crush the trachea of the average human. Without an emergency tracheotomy death will soon follow. Even a child can generate that much force in a strike. The throat is naturally protected by the jaw line and sternum to some extent. Open handed strikes such as a knife hand or ridge hand strikes work well to penetrate these defenses. Finger or bent finger strikes work well also. The sides of the neck are susceptible to forearm strikes or back hand strikes and will produce unconsciousness in the victim. (These techniques are known as brachial stuns.

The groin is the next target of opportunity as we go down the human body. It should be noted that female subjects are vulnerable to this area as well. While many self defense experts discount this target citing that the average male spends a lifetime of instinctual protection of this target, it is most definitely a show stopper when successfully engaged. If you can punt a football or soccer ball then you have the basics down for this one. If using a kicking motion to acquire this target remember to go deep. In other words, kick behind the target and in the event that your foot overshoots the area, your shin bone will be there to bring the pain. When kicking between the legs of an adversary, be sure to extend the foot or flatten the foot by pointing the toes, thereby making a flat striking surface. This will also bring the shin bone to the surface of the lower leg for improved striking should the shin be the point of impact. Hand strikes and grabs as well as knee strikes are very effective to this target. When using grabs be sure to secure the target and twist violently to achieve the maximum desired result.

Lastly the knees are there for the taking. When the knee of an opponent is locked (straight) then it is easily broken. With a minimum pressure of 5 p.s.i. the knee will break from a side blow. At slightly more pressure (40 p.s.i.) the knee will break from a frontal blow. Even if breakage does not occur for whatever reason, hyperextension can result which is extremely painful. If an opponent cannot stand it will be difficult for him to continue the fight even if he can somehow endure the pain. He will certainly not be able to beat you in a foot race as you depart the scene if you opt to tactically retreat at this time. The best techniques for this target are low kicks. The common side kick striking with the blade (outside edge) of the foot or simple front kicks striking with the ball of the foot work well. The added traction gained by wearing sneakers or boots will ensure a solid connection to facilitate a devastating injury. The sides of the knees are also susceptible to shin kicks often used in today’s MMA and Muay Thai Kickboxing events. These blows are generally designed to impact the common peroneal nerve that runs up the outer thigh. A solid blow here will result in buckling of the affected leg and, in the untrained fighter, the buckling of the unaffected leg through a process known as sympathetic response.

Now we come to the ground game. The very real possibility exists that in a physical struggle you may end up on the ground. Remember again, that you are fighting for your very life. A good knowledge of how to establish a base or how to function in the guard position is helpful. These terms are common knowledge in the grappling world but may not make sense to a non- grappler. These positions are difficult to explain in a short article and are most easily learned from hands on training. To offer lifesaving alternatives that are more easily understood, let’s refer back to the first three of our standing targets: the eyes, throat and groin. Whether you are in the top position or find yourself pinned on the bottom these targets are still your best options for quick results.  Attacking the eyes by means of scratching or gouging will bring instant pain and disorientation to the bad guy thereby creating an opportunity to disengage and escape or to finish the matter for good. From a top position, bearing down with the thumbs into the eye sockets will bring instant and devastating results. Attack from the inside corners of the eyes and press down into the eye socket and continue with a scooping motion to dislodge the eyeballs. (This may seem extreme but remember your life is at stake.) From the bottom position, the same results can be achieved by pulling the opponent’s head down towards you with one arm while attacking an eye with your free hand.

By the same token, the throat is available for strikes or choking techniques. The wind pipe can be collapsed by grasping the front of the throat. What you will try to accomplish is grasping the windpipe and closing your fingers around it to crush the wind pipe. Asphyxiation will result. Many variations of chokes are applicable to this scenario from the frontal and back positions. Most techniques rely on compressing the carotid arteries located on either side of the neck to suppress the flow of blood into the brain. Oxygen is carried in the blood and restriction of this process results in unconsciousness rather quickly and death will follow unconsciousness if the pressure is not relieved. A broken neck may occur also in a violent struggle employing theses techniques. Neck snatches and breaks are another type of last ditch techniques for survival but require some training to master.
As when fighting from your feet, the groin is a prime target. From the ground, knee strikes and hand grabs are extremely effective.

The main priority when fighting from the ground is to inflict as much damage as possible in the shortest amount of time possible to either end the encounter or to regain your footing which multiplies your options tremendously to include the option of tactical retreat. By recognizing and focusing on certain identifiable high yield targets, you can remain confident in your plan of action whether on your feet or on the ground.

In any unarmed conflict, it goes without saying that you should always be aware of your environment and arm yourself with improvised weapons of opportunity when possible. When your life is in imminent danger and you are forced to defend yourself unarmed, it is important to develop an animal instinct that you can turn on when needed. Nothing is off limits, to include hair pulling and even biting. Fighting to stay alive means fighting dirty. Fighting fair and defending your life are two different things.

In closing, to be the ultimate prepper, do not neglect the often overlooked prep of unarmed self defense. There may be a time when you have to depend on yourself. Train your body to be strong and seek the self defense techniques that fit you personally.  Consistent training is required to ingrain these techniques into your mind and to promote muscle memory. Keep it simple and you will be surprised at the new level of confidence and proficiency that you will achieve.

JWR Adds: Like this one, the many articles on martial arts that have been posted over the years have nearly all underscored the same basic wisdom: 1.) Don’t fight unarmed if you can instead fight armed. 2.) Any fight against multiple opponents is most likely a losing proposition. 3.) Avoid going to the ground, if possible. Even an expert will lose if he grapples on the ground with an opponent and then one of the bad guy’s friend’s shows up and starts kicking.