In a real encounter against an assailant, most assumptions can get you hurt or killed. When these assumptions carry over to how you train, they can leave gaps in your skills. For example: assuming an attacker will give you time to fish your pepper spray out of the bottom of a backpack, assuming that an attacker will always attack from the front in a karate fighting stance, assuming that an encounter will always happen on a flat surface, covered with mats, with good overhead lighting – all not a good idea.

So are there some safe assumptions, or assumptions which will better inform your training? I can think of two:

1. Assume your opponent is armed: Even if you do not see a weapon, your opponent may have one. Many people who are stabbed, report not even being aware of a knife – that it felt like they got punched. In the heat of the moment it can be difficult to see a fast moving weapon.

If an attacker is not brandishing a weapon at the moment, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have on hidden on his person. It also doesn’t mean he won’t pick up and use an object in the environment, or be handed a weapon by a friend.

It is safe to assume a weapon, becuase the assumption should make you safer. Take every encounter seriously, avoid violence if possible, and train train train for when violence becomes necessary.

2. Assume multiple opponents: Even if you are alone in an elevator with someone, assume that person’s buddies are going to step on the elevator with you at any minute. There have been many people killed or badly injured in an attack when seemingly innocent bystanders turned out to be accomplices.

With the UFC, groundfighting styles are all the rage all over the world. They are good systems, but you do not want to be wrestling someone on the ground in a real self defense situation. You need to stay up and mobile an disengge with an attacker as quickly as possible, because you may have to deal with his friends.

Oh yeah – remember assumption #1? Assume the person’s friends are armed. While you’re going fora triangle choke on the ground, what would happen if the person’s buddies decided to kick you in the head with steel-toed shoes? Or stab you? Or hit you with a tire iron.

When attacked, deal with it fast and look for escapes, improvised weapons, and hard cover. Look for objects that you can place between you and potential other assailants. Do not get caught up struggling with a single opponent if you can help it. Stay mobile and keep your options open.

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