The Truth On Stun & Run Tactics For Self-Defense

My concern, especially since I deal (primarily) with women’s self-protection, is the level of safety revolving around the “attack response.”  I teach that, when a confrontation is deemed a threat to your safety, pre-emptive striking (that is, striking before they do) is best.  Remember, the situation dictates the response.  Male or female, fear will be present.  Our bodies will automatically transition to a heightened state of alertness.  If a threat exists, and verbal communication/de-esculation fails – or is non-applicable to the situation, you must ACT!  If it’s a true threat to your Life, I pray that you do!

A question that raises some eyebrows, even with highly-experienced teachers is, “Hit and Run or Hit, Follow-Up (and/or Finish Him) and then, Run?”  This article was inspired after reading from Geoff Thompson’s book, The Art of Fighting Without Fighting.  He writes:

If you are forced into an attack situation – this should be an absolute last resort – make it a telling blow to a vulnerable area.  Explode into the opponent with every fibre of your being, then run!!  Many defence gurus advocate a second strike, a finisher.  If there is a choice in the matter, don’t do it.  The few seconds you buy with your first strike could easily be lost if you linger for even a second.

On this one point, Geoff and I differ slightly.  Although this is a “safe” answer, the situation must be defined.  Is this a strong male with any martial art background, or is he talking specifically about a female, possibly with no experience at all?  Does he/she have a route of escape or is he/she “boxed in?”

Just to make it clear  – I teach both aspects: Stun & Run, AND Stun, Finish & Run.  I believe that many (not all), but many of my female students could, if they properly employed the 3 Ts (Tools, Target Area & Tactics), ensure their chance of escape – They do this by exploiting the “aftershock”/time lag  (The time between when the assailant gets “clocked” and the time it takes him to respond from the blow) following a quick, stunning shot.

As long as students (male & female) are taught to think & train realistically on “how they are to react” it prepares and offers greater flexibility when encountering a real-life violent encounter.  Hit & Runs surely open up a window of opportunity, but has it been truly put to the test when a male attacker has the environmental variables (ex. no bystanders to intervene) to chase their victim down?  Does a follow-up shot put the attacker at a greater disadvantage or does it do the opposite – which is, more time/distance to grab, restrain and continue with his initial plans?

The lines are open! Let everyone know your opinion.


Even better than your vote, is a detailed comment.  Help your fellow students, and instructors by enlightening us on your thoughts on this very important topic.

9 Responses to “The Truth On Stun & Run Tactics For Self-Defense”

  1. I agree Michael…the individual’s values system will dictate their response based on the situational context. Sometimes it’s A, sometimes it’s B, and so on.

  2. [the following was posted from Facebook regarding this article & topic, from Steve Kardian, a NY police office, campus speaker & head hancho off http://www.nydefendu.com%5D

    “Man vs. Woman = Overwhelming odds! Having investigated crime against women for more than 30 years I can say that no 2 cases were exactly alike. In general, we teach women to defend themselves and immediately flee once they have disabled the aggressor. We also know that when our female loved ones have to resort to self defense that all else has failed. I have personally observed the “finish” the guy cause complications, legally. That being said I encourage my female students to do what they have to escape or survive. Thanks for writing and keep up the good work, women’s safety and self defense are so important!”
    – Steve

  3. Hey Michael,

    Again to agree with others, there is not definite answer. I do teach people overkill as far as strikes go because I believe it is more effective to have people train delivering multiple strikes and be able to pull back and run than it is to teach one strike and hope it is enough. You will fight the way you train, so I would rather teach the overkill principle. But always, the sooner you can run, the better.

  4. An average man can close 21 feet in 1.5 seconds. Most individuals (not just women) who have not had much training will stop and hesitate, possibly thinking “omg, what did i just do”, or stay put enough to admire their work… but as it usually turns out, the first strike doesn’t do enough, the attacker turns back to face his victim and the situation turns worse. I hope we come to a consensus that (1) The situation dictates the response (2) We should alway stay thinking (i.e. where can I find help, what’s an improvised weapon, etc), and (3) Your safety comes first (don’t worry about hurting your attackers feelings, breaking his nose, etc). He made the mistake of tangling with you in the first place. BUT as Chris inferred in his above comment – when there is space, Run (this goes for men too!)

  5. Richard Barnes Says:

    Circumstances dictate the answer but Geoff says “Explode into the opponent with every fibre of your being” means just that. Remember the primary object is escape to safety and there are also legal implications in the use of reasonable force. battering someone because they deserved it is no defense.

    Do what you have to and get away. That’s it. I also have a small issue regarding such incidents as ‘fights’. I would suggest there are no winners what ever happens in an attack just survivors. Having said all this using the best self defence weapon we all have can make all the above useless. Be aware and don’t put yourself at risk.

    • This is a big concern. I think that we (as instructors) have a universally agreed-upon stance of “escape” as the optimum safety measure. And although I saw where Geoff was coming from,… the fact remains that when you “pressure test” this situation (going “as real” as possible) [and using the example of man vs. woman]… 9 times out of 10, the man will catch her … or even as he’s recoiling, grab her and control with strength.

      It needs to be strictly emphasized (in my opinion) that “exploding with every fiber of your being” should be employed generously until the threat is dealt with. That is to say… until you can escape in safety. The statement does not exceed the principle of “excessive force.”

      Thanks for your comment Richard! We sincerely hope that you the others keep coming by and offering your insights.

      Congrats on your 100th Podcast with Geoff Thompson! That’s fantastic.

      Cheers. -Michael Joyce

  6. An interesting article which does raise the question what will really work. In my experience, against a determined attacker regardless of skill level,stun and run is too simplistic. Stun, scream, run, and repeat until you are free is more effective Never linger if you cam get away.

  7. Depends on the situ, both leave out though the amount of violence needed when its a female victim against a male attacker, get real world if you are making statements public, we are talking serious ball gripping, eye gouging, biting, screaming fear……

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