Ten Essential Elements of Self-Defense


The ultimate goal of Taekwondo is to help the practitioner become a better human being. Another important benefit of your training is to equip you with the skill and confidence that will enable you to defend yourself and your loved ones against attack. Reaching the goal of complete mental and physical readiness will make you prepared to meet any challenge.

The mind must be trained to work in total harmony with the body The practitioner will develop self-confidence as a result of the power and ability that has been mastered. This inner strength will transfer itself to all aspects of a person's life.

Since Taekwondo is primarily a method of self-defense, the martial artist will not attack unless threatened by an opponent. More generally, Taekwondo is a philosophy of self-control, self-restraint, kindness and humility which directly complements the physical power and grace of the fighting skills.

Physical self-defense demands that you master both defensive and offensive maneuvers. There may be times when you are heavily outnumbered and/or in a life threatening situation. At such times, even though the techniques being used are considered offensive, you are still acting in the defense of your life or the lives of those dependent upon you.

Self-defense techniques are loosely divided into two categories, hard and soft techniques. The following are defined as “soft” techniques and should be used as such. Wristholds, break-aways and armlocks are examples of soft techniques and are to be applied when the danger will probably not become extreme or cause severe injury.

Hard techniques, such as kicking to the groin, striking the eyes or use of a weapon, should only be used in grave danger or if your life is at risk.

There are many techniques that fall in between soft and hard. An elbow lock, for example, is a soft technique that can easily become hard if the elbow is forced to the point of dislocation or breaking. You must be sure of the moral justification of taking extreme action.

There are ten (10) essential elements in self-defense that should be committed to memory

  1. Know your opponent; this is the best opportunity for your defense.
  2. Never underestimate your opponent.
  3. Train your mind and body to move as a unit, not in isolated sections.
  4. Be aware of your position and your surroundings, for example, slippery ground, rough surface, back to wall, etc.
  5. Try to take control of the situation mentally before any physical movement takes place; for example, maintain steady, fight-ready eye contact while keeping a calm or smiling face.
  6. Maintain the balance of your foundation for power and speed.
  7. Be prepared to use second or follow-up techniques immediately if your first move is not effective.
  8. Deliver your strikes or kicks to your opponent's vital areas such as the groin or solar plexus.
  9. After subduing your opponent, never lose sight of him and be alert for a continuation of his attack.
  10. Practice techniques until they become a reflex or automatic action. You should always be prepared to meet different situations by using variations of the techniques.

@1998 Byung Y. Kwak