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21 self defense questions you (and your teenagers) may want to think about

As a martial artist, I know self defense techniques I hope never to use. When I became a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician (EMT), I found myself in reality-based training sessions that could make your hair curl — figuratively and literally.

As professionals, we prepare for the worst because it saves lives.

Most of us don’t like to think of the worst case scenarios when it comes to self defense. Denial seems to be a sweeter, softer place. But parents can’t have that luxury. Parents sign on to help their children grow up and be strong and to give them the tools for success they need in life.

Wise parents prepare their children for best case and worst case scenarios in all areas of life because it saves so much physical, mental, and emotional pain.

I know it’s difficult to take a hard look at the list of questions below. They represent dangerous situations, and no one ever wants to feel inadequate or fearful at anytime in their life.

selfdefensescenarioBut, as I wrote in my post How would you face danger or disaster?, if a person has never thought through danger, disaster, or self defense, they may be empty of options when disaster strikes.  However, the more you think through your options beforehand, the more able your responses.

People with even a small sense of control over their situation perform better that those who believe they have no control. When you realize you have options, you are enabled to take more effective action.

Please look over these questions and play some What Would I Do? scenarios through your mind. This is by no means an exhaustive list. You may know of similar instances from your life or stories told by friends or family members. When you are done, talk to your high school teenagers and help them visualize their options as well:

✦  How far will I go to defend myself?

✦ What if someone walks into my school with a gun?

✦ What if someone picks a fight at a party? At a bar? At a family gathering?

✦ What if I’m in a store or bank that’s being robbed?

✦ What if my plane is hijacked?

✦ What if someone enters my church with a bomb?

✦ What can I do if attacked by more than one person?

✦ What will I do if the office sleaze propositions me?

✦ What if I wake up and a stranger is standing by my bed?

✦ What if I notice my front door lock is tampered with?

✦ What if I forget to monitor my drink at a party?

✦ What will I do if I get a text message that a shooter is in my building?

✦ What if someone starts showing road rage and tries to hit my car?

✦ What if a noise wakes me up, and I hear an intruder in the house?

✦ What if another parent at a youth sporting event threatens or strikes me?

✦ What if I work at a convenience store and someone pulls a gun on me?

✦ What if a date gets possessive in a way that freaks me out?

✦ What if my date starts to undress me and won’t listen to my objections?

✦ What if I’m walking by myself and notice someone following me?

✦ What if my car breaks down on the road, with no nearby help?

✦ What if my boss threatens to fire me if I don’t start dating him?


Thank you for visiting and learning about self defense.
If you think others can benefit, please pass it on!

Lori Hoeck

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Davina August 2, 2009, 9:03 pm

    Lori, I have to admit that I don’t want to think about these scenarios. They are frightening. On the other hand, I trust that somehow I will get through whatever comes up. I took a self-defense course years ago and had trouble with the idea of hitting someone to hurt them. But, I have a feeling that if I were in a situation that called for some action, my survival instincts would kick in. I got my training from growing up on a farm with two sisters 🙂

  • Barbara Swafford August 3, 2009, 2:48 am

    Hi Lori,

    Like Davina, I don’t think of a lot of those scenarios either. Although I try to stay alert, I’m sure there are times when I could be caught off guard.

    Thankfully I now have your blog (and book) to read to keep me informed.

    P.S. I’ll be back to catch up on the posts I missed when I was gone and/or busy with life. Your lessons are too valuable not to read.

  • TrinaMb August 3, 2009, 1:00 pm

    Fabulous points to ponder, education and preparedness vital. Thanks for making us think more. Incidently, I have always believed in playing ‘what if’ games and a worst case scenario discussions with my kids even when they were little – just used age appropriate situations/phrasing.

  • janice August 3, 2009, 2:24 pm

    Thank God you’ve mentioned these, Lori. I can’t tell you how many times folk have called me gloomy or warned me of the dangers of attracting what we fear by focusing on it. I don’t think occasionally talking to my kids about situations like these counts. How the hell else are we supposed to give them an alert, prepared edge so that they can relax and enjoy life as resourceful, alert young folk, without turning into totally unaware targets and panicky people! These situations exist! I had family at an infant school where a massacre took place. It changes everything and you never take anything for granted in the same way again.

    Thanks, Lori. You keep us real.

  • Betsy Wuebker August 3, 2009, 5:33 pm

    Hi Lori – Even though I’m married to the Original Boy Scout ™, as in “be prepared,” I just realized the crowbar under the bed (yeah, I know) won’t phone the police for me now that we don’t have a land line and the cellphones are charging in the office downstairs from where we sleep. Intruder in the house or strange man at the bedside? Well, I ain’t one of the Golden Girls yet, so this could be a problem, no? Great list of questions. I’ll admit after Columbine I had a little chat with my highschoolers about what they’d do. Thanks.

  • Lori Hoeck August 3, 2009, 6:32 pm

    Hi Davina,
    When I was between first and second degree black belt, I enjoyed learning the martial arts, but felt my life was no better or worse than any others and realized I could lay my life down rather than kill. But then I realized my family and friends have a right to have me around and my nieces have a right to having me live long enough to help them with something like this blog. I realized anyone walking a path that leads to trying to hurt me or those I care for, has chosen an unwise path, a path with consequences that allows me to protect myself and others to an equal level of force. For me, it won’t be a matter of hurting them; it will be a matter of self protection. They choose their actions, and I choose mine in response.

  • Lori Hoeck August 3, 2009, 6:34 pm

    Hi Barbara,
    Quite frankly, I no longer think that much about the scenarios since my responses are rather well trained, but I remember when I had no clue what to do and wished like crazy that I did.

    Thank you for the positive words!

  • Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach August 3, 2009, 6:44 pm

    Excellent ‘what would I do’ questions. I go over with my kids again and again how NOT to appear the victim…and how to be alert to things that just aren’t right. This is one reason why I harp on them never to walk on the streets with earphones – too easy to miss steps behind them.

  • Lori Hoeck August 3, 2009, 6:49 pm

    Hi TrinaMb,
    You’re welcome!
    So happy to hear you did that for your kids. And yes, age-appropriate phrasing is needed. For the 4-5 year old karate students, we’d make up stories about grumpy elephants trying to whack them or coconut monkeys trying to throw coconuts at their head to teach blocks. Yes, self defense can be fun!

    Hi Janice,
    Sorry to hear about your family’s ordeal. I can’t imagine the horror of it all.

    I don’t want people to dwell on these questions, just come to some understanding — something to work with when you know what hits the fan. Karate students train to fight so they never have to fight. Top black belts from good schools rarely get into fights, not because they are constantly focused on self defense so much as the inner peace from being prepared for the worst radiates out from them.

  • Lori Hoeck August 3, 2009, 6:52 pm

    Hi Barbara Ling,
    Thank you. I’m glad your kids have you to watch out for them about this subject!

    Yes, earphones cut a vital sensory input in self defense. It also means the person will be twice as startled and thus more easily controlled.

  • Kathy | Virtual Impax August 5, 2009, 6:19 am


    I’ve found in parenting that giving the “reason why” is a GREAT TOOL when I’m trying to instruct my children on what they should do.

    You’ve done a GREAT job of doing exactly that here.


    Because – “top black belts from good schools rarely get into fights, not because they are constantly focused on self defense so much as the inner peace from being prepared for the worst radiates out from them.”

    Thanks for “taking us there” Lori. It’s a place we ALL need to go – even if we don’t want to.

  • Davina August 6, 2009, 11:44 pm

    Thanks for this “reframe” Lori. “For me, it won’t be a matter of hurting them; it will be a matter of self protection.” Studying the martial arts is an intriguing idea and something that I wouldn’t mind looking into when time allows. I’m curious about the philosophy even more than the physical training.

  • Lori Hoeck August 7, 2009, 8:36 am

    Hi Kathy,
    Thank you, Kathy, for your words and the great way you put that!

    Hi Davina,
    Thank you for stopping back by to tell me of the reframing.
    I’m curious about what part of the philosophy you would want to read about. I have yet to write under that category here, though I have the category listed. Perhaps I’ll write a post on why the martial arts isn’t “just more violence,” which I’ve heard some people say about what I do.