Friday, September 18, 2020

The Three Ways of Self-Defense

By Timothy Gamble (Originally published February 14, 2019)

In the survivalist community, when we think of self-defense, we typically think of guns & ammo, knives, and other physical instruments of combat. In this article, however, I want to take a step back from that, and discuss self-defense from a broader perspective. There are actually three ways of self-defense, of which combat is only one.

Combat, stealth, and diplomacy are the three ways by which we can achieve the goal of protection from others.


Combat as a means of self-defense is obvious. This is the guns & ammo, knives, and blunt-force instruments (including our hands) that we can use to protect ourselves. It is defense measures such as body armor and gas masks. Its also the health, fitness, training, and tactics we need to effectively utilize these tools for self-defense.

Re-read that last line: "Its also the health, fitness, training, and tactics we need to effectively utilize these tools for self-defense."  This is the key part of the combat way of self-defense that is so often overlooked. I encourage everyone to take their health and fitness seriously. And please realize that "training and tactics" is more than an occasional Saturday afternoon target shooting at the gun range. Start taking defense shooting classes, and planning with your family or group how you will handle certain self-defense situations. (Also, see the book Retreat Security and Small Unit Tactics by David Kobler (Southern Prepper 1) and Mark Goodwin for more information regarding group self-defense.)

I am a firm supporter of our right to self-defense and the Second Amendment which guarantees us the tools of self-defense. Notice I said "guarantees" not "give us." Our right to self-defense comes from God, and cannot be legitimately taken away by any government or worldly authority. I strongly urge you to stand firm on our rights of self-defense.


Stealth as a means of self-defense covers a wide range of topics such as situational awareness, operational security, being the "gray man", and not making yourself a tempting target for the bad guys.  

I've written an excellent article on Situational Awareness and the OODA Loop, and a three-part article on Operational Security (OPSEC). Be read those articles if you haven't already. 

Think of the "Gray Man" as urban camouflage. The gray man knows how to fit in with his city, especially among his neighbors and co-workers. He doesn't stand out as anything particularly special or noticeable. He and his house, vehicle, and family blend in with their community. They look and act like they belong, and don't draw unnecessary or unwanted attention.  

Also, know how to not look like a victim. This is somewhat similar to being the gray man, but not exactly. Don't make yourself a target by wearing expensive, flashy clothes & accessories, or driving an expensive car.  Don't make yourself a target by appearing easy prey - wear practical clothes and shoes, pay attention to your surroundings, and walk confidently, head up.  Know, and avoid, bad neighborhoods and dangerous areas. This includes parking in well-light, highly visible areas when out and about town. Travel and shop in groups whenever possible, and let people know where you're going and when to expect you back. Don't bury yourself in your smart phone or IPod. Practice situational awareness. 


Diplomacy is the third way of self-defense. A way that many folks in the survivalist community may not even realize is a form of self-defense. Worse yet, some may look down on it as a weakness, because diplomacy involves compromise and working with others, instead of just doing things "my way, and only my way."

Think of it this way - if your goal is to protect yourself and your family or group from others, one way to do so is to turn your potential enemies into allies. This is not always possible, but when when it is, it will not only provide protection, but other benefits to everyone involved. 

Diplomacy is a lost art, if it ever was one, within the survivalist community. I don't remember ever reading an article or watching  video on diplomacy in my years as a survivalist. Maybe its because we tend to be staunch individualists, and not very trusting of others on top of that - which has a lot to do with why so many of us have so much trouble finding or forming community.

Diplomacy requires effective communications and tact, a willingness to consider the needs of others, the ability to compromise on non-essential aspects, and a desire to find and work towards common goals. It also means putting aside egos and pride in favor of doing what is in the best interest of all - not just ourselves.

Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy. -- Isaac Newton

The Bottom Line

Each of these three ways of self-defense has its proper time and place. None of these three ways is appropriate or effective in every situation. None will be 100% effective all the time. They are three tools in your self-defense toolbox, and it is up to you to choose "the right tool for the job." Commonsense and an even temperament are required.
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