Self-Defense for Pacifists

Can pacifists use self-defense? They’d better. We are all aware that there are criminals who will readily use violence to achieve their aims. Some enjoy violence for its’ own sake. That extreme is abnormal, but most people can be motivated to use force when push comes to shove. However, there are those that are unwilling to harm another human being even in defense. I respect that. I’m not one of them, but I respect it. If we all had that approach, there’d be no need for self-defense. There is a need though.

In typical self-defense training, many of the solutions presented to violent encounters would be objectionable to a practitioner of non-violence. My own guidance is that defenders should not counter a violent attack unarmed. I can see how that would be frustrating. Must the pacifist then acquiesce to the more violent members of the species? No. Not only can the pacifist practice self-defense, but they are bound by the same conviction that prohibits them from harming others. Human life has value. Their human life has value.

One aspect that is true for all of us is that good self-defense relies on avoidance, deterrence and evasion. Evaluate risk and make the adjustments you have to make to keep violence from happening. We should all be doing that. Physical skills are damage control for when things go wrong. We should all prepare for that as well. For the pacifist, this means a greater emphasis on purely defensive skills and evasive footwork. Make yourself hard to corner, hard to grab, hard to hit and hard to take down. Granted, some of those are easier with an eye rake or knee thrown in for distraction. Are you committed to your conviction? Then put in the work.

The generic self-defense seminar may not cover your requirements. A competent instructor will be able to adjust. If they can’t or won’t, move on to someone better qualified.

Be safe. Love your neighbor. Love yourself.