How to Mentally Prepare to Fight for Your Life Against an Attacker

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2016. In light of recent attacks, we thought it might be a good time to revisit this excellent advice. 


Before you fight for your life against an attacker, you need to have the right mental preparation. If you are thinking, “Oh I don’t really want to hurt him,” then you really do not want to survive an attack. Yes, you DO want to hurt him! You must settle this in your mind long before an attack comes. I do not go looking for trouble. I am a peaceful person. But if I am attacked, I must be mentally prepared to the best of my ability to prevail over the person who is trying to kill me. Here are six tips to get your mind right for a violent encounter:

1. Be aware of your situation.

Do not “zone out.” Stop looking at your phone. Be aware that this is a dangerous, fallen world, and that there are dangerous predators sizing you up to see if you are an “easy target.” Scan your surroundings, especially as you are going to your car. Keep your head up, look at people and know where you are. Want to prevent being a statistic in the “knockout game”? Then avoid known, dangerous areas, keep strangers at a distance, and be vigilant.

2. It’s not just about you.

You are not fighting to defend only your life; you are fighting to defend others. If you lose, the attacker will move on to his next victim. So, you must have the attitude that you are fighting not just for yourself, but you are also preventing this person from hurting your grandparents, your spouse, your children, your co-workers, your neighbors.


3. Understand that in a fight, it will not be easy to escape with your life.

You will get hurt to some degree. Determine now that you will fight hard so that you can get home to be with your family. Also understand that one strike will probably not end the conflict. Be prepared with a short “menu” of strikes that you will rapidly unleash upon your attacker.

4. Attack the attacker.

If you are attacked, and you cannot run away, you must seize the offensive. Attack him! He has a plan. Almost anything you do will throw him off. You must overload and overwhelm his senses with rapid, brutal, relentless strikes to vital areas of the body. (I have explained these strikes and areas in previous articles: “6 Best Targets to Strike on the Body if You’re Attacked,” and “6 Best Body Weapons to Defeat an Attacker.”) Drive him back. Seize his battle space! Do NOT give him time to think or plan a counter-attack. Scream while hitting; throw things. But stay on the offensive. Remember, you can advance faster than he can back up. Make him wish he had never met you with a pre-planned onslaught of strikes.

5. Get out of there.

Remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible. Once you have unleashed a volley of strikes, and you think you can run for it– do so. Call the police as soon as possible.

6. Train now.

Every day somebody in this world is training to kill you. How are you training? If you think that merely reading this article prepares you to face a violent attack … then you are in for a seriously rude awakening. If you think that you will miraculously “rise to the occasion” … you will not. You will fall back on your training. How can someone train to be mentally prepared? Here is what I do with my students: I put them through “stress drills.” I hold a kick shield and tell them to pummel the shield with all the strikes I taught them while I (and others) are screaming at them. They must attack for 15 seconds without stopping even to catch their breath. Or, if you are training solo, attack a heavy bag in the same way. Make your own heavy bag out of a duffle bag and hang it up. Attack it mercilessly for as long as you can while music is blaring out of a radio. Train in dim light or with an emergency light flashing. Be creative, but you want to create as much confusion as possible while you are focusing on striking the object in front of you.


Mental preparation is key. But without physical preparation, your chances of survival are slim to none. Remember, you will fight like you train!

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