Why PROACTion is better than REACTion

Wrong place, wrong time

Proaction is better than reaction. There are a million and one ways that you can end up in a physical altercation. Most of the time, if this happens to you it will be as a result of not taking the right action to avoid the situation in the first place. That is not to say it can’t happen to any of us, self-defence specialists included, because it can. Violence can come when you least expect it. One can always say that if you are involved in a fight, you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. It must be avoided at all costs.


To illustrate this point more clearly, here are a couple of examples:

Violent ex-partner

Your violent ex partner has turned up at your doorstep. He is shouting obscenities through the letter box, screaming in the front garden, saying what he is going to do to you and your new partner when he gets an opportunity. Your current boyfriend is upset at how you are being spoken about and feels he has to defend you, the property and your honour, so he goes out of the house to talk to the man. Wrong! If something kicks off now it is because your boyfriend is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Furthermore, if your ex partner is seriously injured, it is going to be difficult for your current boyfriend to say that he acted in self-defence. Self-defence would have been to stay in the property.


Road rage

You are driving to work on the same route you take every day, conscientiously sticking to the rules of the road and treating other road users with due care and attention. Suddenly, somebody cuts you up, missing the front of your vehicle by less than a metre, causing you to break sharply. You beep your horn and you flash your lights. They then slam on their breaks and again you have to break hard. Both cars are now stationary and the other person gets out of their car and starts walking toward yours. You open your car door and step out of the vehicle. Wrong. If you beeped your car horn and flashed your lights with the intention of showing your anger and frustration with their driving, then you were escalating the situation. By stepping out of the vehicle, you were not defending yourself. You were escalating. You should have stayed in the car.


Random mugging

It’s a Friday night and you’ve been invited to a party. You’ve had your hair done and you’ve spent time on your make up, carefully choosing the right outfit. Heels on – check. Mobile phone – check. Quick glance in the mirror – check. Not sure about this place but you know roughly where you are going so you will get the train and then call your friend for directions. So far so good? Wrong.

The train arrives at your destination station. It’s 10pm, dark and it’s an unmanned station. You have to cross a pedestrian bridge to get across the tracks and the station is deserted. As you are crossing the bridge, you realise a couple of young men are approaching from the other side. They start shouting at you and you feel trapped. There’s no exit from the station on the side where you alighted from the train. You can’t possible run in your heels and you can’t see how you are going to escape. Before you know it they are in front of you, demanding your phone and your wallet and…who knows what is about to happen. Wrong place. Wrong time.


Totally avoidable

Even with fantastic fighting skills and an athletic physique, a lone female is going to be in a pretty tough position faced by two male assailants. It’s an isolated place. Do they have friends round the corner or on the other side of the bridge? They know this station. You don’t. There may not be any other people for a good 200 metres in every direction, which is a long way to when you are hobbling in high heels. So there is nothing much you could do then, right? Wrong.


You should not have been in that situation. Your error started when you were planning your night out. You were not sure of the area but intended to call your friend. Perhaps a taxi would have been better or somebody could have been waiting for you at the station. Was it absolutely necessary to wear heels for the journey? Unthinkable for many young ladies, I am sure, but could you have put your heels in a bag until you got there? This point also applies to young men. Many types of shoe become extremely slippery in the rain. All that time you spend in the gym or training in MMA is going to get you nowhere when your feet are slipping all over the place.


It takes two

There are two elements that need to be covered in self-defence. You need to be proactive and reactive.

Proactive and reactive actions

Proactive behaviours will keep you out of trouble in the first place Let’s look at our imagined incidents again.

The violent ex: the outcome here is going to depend mainly on how you respond, how you react. Trouble has come to you, however when we look more closely we spot opportunities for avoidance. Firstly, if problems with the ex were anticipated then actions could have been taken as a deterrent – court orders, CCTV (with a sign). These won’t stop everyone but if an incident does escalate the CCTV coverage could mean the difference between you being seen as the offender or the defender. A better response to the ex shouting on the step would be to talk to them in a loud clear voice from an open upstairs window if possible or even to let him think you were not in the house. If an attempt to break in or damage property looked likely you could simply stay quiet and call the police.

The road rage: Often anti-social drivers can be spotted in mirrors well before an encounter. Drive as defensively and with as much awareness as possible. Focus on your own driving habits – due care and consideration, effective observations, lots of courtesy – and you are actually less likely to encounter road rage from others. Like the issue with the ex boyfriend, road ragers will sometimes bring trouble to you regardless but by responding passively you will not escalate the situation.

The mugging: this scenario is mostly avoided using proactive behaviour at the planning stage. If you sense a bad atmosphere in a bar, go to another one. If you don’t know where you are going, get someone to meet you or go with you. Make sure that if you do need to react to a sudden situation then you can. Wearing high heels is going to make you into a sitting duck. Super tight trousers will restrict your ability to move effectively either by kicking or by running.


Learn from the professionals

Anybody who has worked the doors of nightclubs or who has been involved in close protection work or other security type roles will tell you that the best way to stay safe is to look ahead, to anticipate and to take actions that make you into a more difficult target. Situations can and do happen without warning. It is unfortunate but true. For those of you reading this in the UK, you are unlikely to be met with such a situation if you take reasonable steps to stay safe.

Weighing up the risks

Whoever you are, going on a night out to a place where alcohol is being consumed will increase the risk of exposure to violence. So you stay in at a weekend? Of course not. Life is full of risks. Just as you would not drive a car without a seat belt or ride a motorcycle without a crash helmet, you can reduce the chances of violence by taking simple precautions.

Proactive behaviour reduces the need to react

I am going to finish this post with a lovely quote that I came across recently –

“It is better to avoid than to run; better to run than to de-escalate; better to de-escalate than to fight; better to fight than to die. The very essence of self-defence is a thin list of things that might get you out alive when you are already screwed” – Rory Miller, Meditations on Violence (a big thanks to the great Iain Abernethy for bringing this quote to my attention this morning just as I was pondering such issues).


An important part of all training through the Chan School of Nunchaku is awareness, mindset and mental programming. This is essential for better weapons performance and also has effective applications for business team cohesion, leadership, client engagement etc for businesses. Now through our Mushin Ryu Self-Defence classes and workshops, you can learn how to keep yourself safe more effectively and if you do need to deal with a highly charged aggressive and potentially violent situation, our mindset training and adrenal stress training will ensure you are more likely to take the most appropriate action for the situation. To find out more about joining a class or seminar or to book private tuition, please get in touch.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *