In my “past life”, I was a martial arts instructor. This was a huge part of my identity and how I lived in the world. I would love to watch MMA fights, advance in rank, and there were times I really enjoyed being in charge. This was something I really enjoy practicing, teaching, and helping people achieve their goals.
When I stopped martial arts, and pursued a calling into vocational ministry, I had already earned the rank of 5th Degree Black Belt. I don’t say this to brag. My wife even says it’s pretty cool to be married to a pastor who knows “karate.” I like that :).
There are a number of books and classes on how to defend yourself, and most are good. I would encourage you to find books, videos, classes to help learn more techniques.
Since living into this calling in ministry, I have learn there are several things I still carry with me from my martial art days. I do believe these are key to helping people stay safe. In a way, these “tips” are something you can do to keep you safe, maybe even help if you have to defend yourself.
Number 1: Confidence
You have to have confidence in who you are. This means you have to know how much you can handle emotionally and mentally in any given situation. You have to be able to control your temper and find ways to stay calm in any situation you are in. Can you walk into any room and have the confidence not to conform and just be yourself? Do you draw attention to yourself in any negative way? If you purposefully bring negativity in your direction, then you’ll have to be good at using your hand/feet to be able to physically defend yourself. 98% of all self-defense is making sure we know what we can handle and to work to not bring negativity to ourselves.
Number 2: Mind Your Tongue
Now, you have to be able to control what you say. One of the things I tell my kids all the time is, “you don’t have to say everything that comes out of your mouth.” This is something that takes discipline and forces us to change what we think about. If we can control our thoughts, we will better be able to control our words. This is especially true to help make sure we are not causing other people to o get angry, on purpose, causing us to have to physically defend ourselves.
Number 3: Know Your Surroundings
You have to be able to pay attention to everything going on around you and know what could be an obstacle. You see this in spy movies when they’re training their agents. One of the tricks is to look at your surroundings, slowly, from left to right. This may seem odd, but it really works. It’s a mind trick for Western thinkers. Since we are taught to read from left to right, our minds can and do remember information, remember what we see, more when we look at our surroundings from left to right. Try it and just see what you can tell the people your with about what you saw.
Number 4: Stand On The Strength of God
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” That is a question in the book of Romans chapter 8 and is a great truth to pay attention to. Now, does this mean no harm will come to you? Nope. But it means that we can always rely on the reality God is with us and we do not need to be afraid of other people, or what they can do to us physically. Unfortunately people do get hurt. They get hurt in unimaginable ways. I so wish this were not so. Many people get hurt by the hands of others who over powered them. This is not their fault. There is evil in the world we cannot escape. But, I can promise that if we continue to lean on God, then we can always remember who we are and that Jesus keeps his promise to never leave us or forsake us. Even in the darkest times, God is with you, working to protect your soul and seeking to give you the strength you need to survive and find new life in him. If you have been hurt by a person (physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, spiritually) I am so sorry and I pray you are able to stand strong in the truth of God and justice (things being set right) happen in your life.
Number 5: Don’t Worry About Getting Hurt
We cannot escape this life without any pain. But we do not need to be afraid of the pain. Pain can work to bring us closer to understand grace. Pain is a way of showing us what is wrong. The reality is, we live in a fallen world and no one is immune to pain or can escape it. Pain is not just physical. Pain is also mental, emotional, spiritual, even in our relationships. You do need to know how much pain you can handle so you can know what you need to do if/when you have to defend yourself. But know that there is still good that does come out of pain. The good that comes out is making you into the person God created you to be.
Now, did any of these surprise you? To be able to defend yourself, you have to know yourself: what you can handle, what you are willing to do, can you control your anger, where do you like to go, what type of people are your around, are you prepared to handle any law enforcement/legal issues that may arise? Take time to evaluate these questions, take time to know the law on self-defense. Trust in the gifts and person God is creating you to be. The absolute best defense is to trust completely in God and to stay out of trouble or any areas that are tempting, but not good for you.