I just got an email from a martial arts “master” who repeated, almost verbatim, one of my least favorite self-defense myths. I am not going to reply to him publicly, but I need to call this out.

The myth goes something like this, “if you do technique x, and the guy has a gun you’re just likely to make him mad and he’ll take out his gun and shoot you.”

The problems with this statement (regardless of what technique x is meant to describe) are many, but here are some of them:

  • For years the, “don’t fight back or your opponent will get mad and hurt you” lie was used to teach women not to fight back against rapists. The truth is that women who fight back stand a greater chance of not being raped or harmed by a rapist. The earlier one fights the less severe the injuries one is likely to incur at the hands of a rapist. Does fighting a rapist have a chance of making them more violent? Yes it does, but the vast majority of the time it does not. The blanket advice suggested above is bad most of the time.
  • Assuming you are defending yourself against a criminal who is armed, they are more likely to lead with the weapon and not save it for later. Most criminals do not want a fight. Self-defense is a different animal than mutually agreed-upon combat. Criminals almost always try to gain a disparity in power level.
  • If a person is armed and “saving” the weapon for later deployment, how on earth are you supposed to guess which technique or tactic is going to set that person off?
  • Whatever else such a myth says you “should” do is based on a specific scenario (probably dreamed up from watching action movies). Your likelihood of ever running into a scenario from your head or from the movies is virtually zero.

I’m working on a report of the top self defense lies, this one’s going on the list.

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