Real World Self-Defense
How to Take Back Control Of Your Life
By Chris Sutton
Copyright © 2008 COBRA Defense Systems
About the Author:
Chris Sutton, author of
The Psychology of Self
Defense, is a lifetime
professional martial artist
with over 15 years of
training and teaching
experience. He has also
served as a law enforcement
officer, a corrections
officer, and a boot camp
drill instructor.
A 37-year-old man named Bob finishes dinner at a
local restaurant and walks out to his car, which is
parked on the side of the building.
It’s about 6:30 p.m., not even dark yet, and danger
is the furthest thing from his mind.
As he rounds the corner of the building, he notices
a suspicious-looking man sitting on the car next to
his. Bob doesn’t make eye contact, hoping that if he
ignores him, the stranger will go away.
As Bob is fumbling with his keys, the stranger
comes over and asks him if he can have five dollars
for something to eat.Without looking up, Bob
apologizes and says no.
Still struggling to get the car door unlocked and
open, Bob pretends not to notice as the stranger
gets closer. The stranger grabs Bob, takes him to the
ground, and strikes him repeatedly, knocking him
unconscious. Bob wakes up to find his wallet,
watch, and car all gone. The perpetrator is never
This scenario, in one form or another, happens a hundred
times a day, every day, and it can happen no matter where
you live.
What could Bob have done to change the outcome of this
scenario, or even avoid it all together? What would you do
if confronted by such a situation?
Common approaches to dealing with crime
We all know we live in a dangerous world. So how does the
average honest citizen deal with that fact?
There are several methods people commonly employ to
either avoid danger, or deal with it if it occurs.Which one
an individual chooses often depends more on their own
personality type and temperament than on an objective
evaluation of its effectiveness.
The ways people choose
to try to protect themselves
often have more to do
with personality type and
temperament than
Copyright © 2008 COBRA Defense Systems • • 727-791-4111
★ Buy bigger locks – Securing your home is an important
part of personal safety, but it isn’t all of it. Some people
live in almost constant fear. They’re nervous and looking
over their shoulders every time they leave their house or
apartment. Some go so far as to never leave their home
at all. This is obviously not how most of us want to live
our lives. In fact, some might argue that it’s not living at
★ Pretend it can’t happen to you – A lot of people cope
with the violence in our world by living in denial. They
prefer to see crime as something that happens to other
people. Rather than live in constant fear, they choose to
believe that it can’t happen to them. This is a normal,
understandable defense mechanism, but it is also
dangerous. The problem is real, and refusing to face it
won’t make it go away. Every day, acts of violence are
committed against innocent people just like you.
★ Call the police – If you are able to get to a phone in an
emergency, by all means call 911. This should be the first
thing you do, if you possibly can. But simply calling the
police may not be enough. The police can’t be everywhere,
all the time. And the five minutes it takes them to
get to where you are can be an eternity when your life is
in danger.
★ Buy a gun – Many people see this as the best way to take
charge of their own safety. Owning a gun makes them
feel empowered. They think they’ve leveled the playing
field and are now ready to fight back. However, there are
several obvious drawbacks to this strategy:
✩ In some places, gun ownership is illegal. This
is especially true outside the U.S., but even some
American cities have chosen to pass ordinances
prohibiting the private ownership of handguns.
✩ Safety issues. This is a particularly important issue if
you have children in the home. Also, statistics show
that citizens often end up being shot with their own
weapon after an intruder takes it from them.
Owning a gun can give you
a false sense of security.
Copyright © 2008 COBRA Defense Systems • • 727-791-4111
✩ You have to have it available at all times, or it does
you no good. If the weapon is properly locked away
to keep it out of the hands of children (as it should
be), it’s probably out of your reach, as well, in an
emergency. Also, many jurisdictions prohibit or
greatly restrict your right to carry a concealed
weapon outside your home. If you don’t have it,
you can’t use it.
✩ A gun gives you a false sense of security. Perhaps the
biggest drawback of all is one that most people don’t
even know about, much less consider. In a real-world
situation, by the time an attacker tips you off as to
his intentions by making a move, it’s already too late
for an untrained person to do anything about it.
Criminals count on this.
You can prove this for yourself: Have a friend start
on the other side of the room; then when they’re
ready, they suddenly come toward you to grab you.
As soon as they start to move, you try to get a
weapon out of your purse, or out of your waistband
from under your shirt.
(NOTE: Please do not use a real gun for this! For the
purposes of this demonstration, any safe object will
do as a pretend handgun.)
How did you do? Did you get your weapon out, aim
it, and (pretend) fire before your friend reached you?
Don’t feel bad if you didn’t.Most people can’t, even
with specialized training and a LOT of practice.
Now you understand why owning and carrying a gun
isn’t necessarily the answer to all your problems.
★ Carry a cell phone – A cell phone is very handy to have,
and it can help you stay safe. Say your car breaks down
at night. If you have your cell phone handy, you can call
for assistance instead of having to walk somewhere or
flag down a stranger. However, if an attacker is bearing
down on you, it’s even harder to find and accurately dial
your phone than it is to draw and fire a weapon. (Try it,
Criminals count on you being
Copyright © 2008 COBRA Defense Systems • • 727-791-4111
if you don’t believe me.) And remember that it will still
take time for the police to arrive, which in some
situations may be too late.
So what else is there?
Nothing can protect you 100% of the time. But
learning self-defense has advantages over the other ways of
dealing with crime and violence listed above.
★ Once you learn the techniques and skills of self-defense,
they become a part of you. You always have them available
when you need them. No special equipment is
required, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to
bring your cell phone or having a weapon taken from
you and turned against you.
★ The sense of empowerment you gain doesn’t eliminate
all fear (nor should it), but you no longer have to live in
fear. Knowing you can take care of yourself if you have
to enables you to go through life with greater confidence
and independence.
★ You learn tactics and techniques that will help you avoid
conflict and greatly reduce your chances of ever getting
into an actual fight.
★ Your training is something you can share with friends
and loved ones, either by teaching them what you’ve
learned, or by being the one who knows how to handle a
situation when it goes bad. (Imagine your relief and
pride if, when someone comes up and tries to take your
child, you have the ability to effectively protect that
★ As an added bonus, you can get in shape at the same
time. Studies have shown that kickboxing (where you
actually hit a bag) and martial arts are two of the best
workouts in the world.
Let’s go back to Bob, and see what might have happened
differently if he’d been trained in advance to handle the
There’s something you can
do to protect yourself and
your family.
Learning self-defense skills
helps you avoid getting into
an actual fight in the first
Copyright © 2008 COBRA Defense Systems • • 727-791-4111
The scenario is the same. Bob walks out of the
restaurant and goes around the building to his car,
where he sees a suspicious looking man sitting on
the car next to his. This time, Bob looks directly at
the stranger as he walks to his car.
As the stranger gets up and asks Bob for the five
dollars, Bob continues to make eye contact while he
apologizes and says no. As the stranger gets closer,
Bob moves around the car to keep distance between
them. The stranger lunges at Bob, and Bob yells
“Get back!” and “Help!” At the same time,
Bob steps to the side to deflect the stranger’s
attempt at a grab. Bob then delivers two strikes to
the head and one to the groin. By this time people
have heard Bob’s yells and have come out to see
what’s going on. One of them calls 911.
The police show up and the stranger is taken into
custody and charged with battery. Bob is not
injured, and nothing was stolen.
The difference is clear. In this second version of the story,
Bob is prepared. Instead of turning his back on a potential
attacker, he knows to put space between himself and the
stranger and to maintain eye contact. He knows to yell and
is skilled enough to defend himself. He can also identify his
Which “Bob” would you rather be?
So how do you get prepared?
No one is born knowing how to defend themselves. It takes
training and practice. You need both physical and mental
These aren’t skills you can learn from reading a book or
something off the Internet. A book can give you valuable
insights and psychological principles, but to make selfdefense
useable in real life, you have to practice the moves.
The best way to do that is with an instructor by your side,
In a crisis situation, being
prepared makes all the
No one is born knowing how
to defend themselves – but
you can learn.
Copyright © 2008 COBRA Defense Systems • • 727-791-4111
teaching you what to do and making sure you’re executing
the moves correctly and safely.
What to look for in a program
There are a lot of self-defense courses and martial arts
schools out there. How do you find the one that’s going to
give you the kind of training and benefits you’re looking
You want to look at several things when choosing a
★ Instructor qualifications – You’re looking for more than
a fitness instructor. Ideally, the program will be lead by
someone with on-the job or other real-world experience,
such as a former police officer or someone with special
military training. At the very least, the instructor should
be fully qualified to teach a program that has been developed
by such a person.
★ Realistic approach – Will what you’re taught be useful on
the street? Some programs, especially in martial arts, are
geared more toward sports and competition, which is
fine. But for purposes of staying safe, what you want is to
learn practical, real-world methods of self-defense, not
how to win a point match.
★ Safety – A lot of people think that taking a self-defense
course automatically means getting hurt. It doesn’t. A
good instructor will have designed the program to be as
safe as possible for all students. He or she should
encourage students to do their best, but never push
them past their physical limitations.
★ Flexibility – Is the program designed in such a way that
it will be beneficial to students of all ages and fitness
levels? You don’t have to be a top athlete to learn how to
defend yourself. Make sure the instructor knows how to
adapt the training to each individual student, when
All self-defense courses are
not created equal.
Copyright © 2008 COBRA Defense Systems • • 727-791-4111
★ Variety of techniques – Every situation you encounter
will be different. You might face an attacker who has a
gun, or a knife. Or maybe it’s just some drunk who
decides to take a swing at you. You want to have a variety
of skills at your disposal, so you can know how to
respond appropriately and effectively no matter what the
★ High level of motivation – The best program in the
world won’t do you any good if you don’t stick with it.
Look for a positive, supportive attitude in both instructors
and fellow students. If you enjoy your training, a few
sore muscles won’t stop you from coming to class each
week. It also helps if you will be working toward some
sort of goal, such as an award certificate or a special,
graduates-only t-shirt. Such rewards give you incentive
to complete the program.
★ Individual attention – Is the class small enough for the
instructor to interact with each student individually?
Or are there enough assistant instructors or advanced
students there to give individual coaching and help?
You don’t want to end up stuck at the back of the class
feeling lost. You want someone beside you as often as
necessary, making sure you’re doing it right.
Where to go from here
This report merely touches the surface of the subject of
self-defense. If you’d like further information, or if you’re
ready to sign up for a premier self-defense training
program, consider the COBRA (Combat Objective Battle
Ready Applications) Program.
COBRA teaches realistic and effective self-defense
techniques for all participants, from average citizens to
law enforcement and military personnel.
Students train in a highly-structured and safe environment,
utilizing scenarios, drills, and seminars to learn a
wide variety of offensive and defensive techniques.
Copyright © 2008 COBRA Defense Systems • • 727-791-4111
The program includes many psychological and verbal
combat tactics related to self-defense. The training also
breaks down the mental barriers that prevent you from
functioning in a stressful situation.
The COBRA program was created based on years of
real-life experience and training in the areas of law
enforcement, corrections, martial arts, and reality-based,
hand-to-hand combat.
For further information