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5 Step Self Defense Plan

The following 5 step formula comprises the ideas behind our self defense training. This is only listed as a guide and is used as required in various order, for example, the threat may end after step 3, therefore steps 4  and 5 are not required. To comprehend the formula, you are best to train the situation and awareness during class.


Step 1 Gage the situation

  • How serious is the threat to you? You must evaluate the threat in a split second.

  • Who and what is around? (how many attackers? any helpers? escape routes?)

  • Any weapons at my disposal, what objects can I use to defend or help attack?

  • Be in a state of readiness (hands up to shoulder height, palms out).

Step 2 Manage the distance

  • If you manage the distance, you manage the damage

  • Three-foot rule (the distance where harm can be done)

  • You can move faster forward than they can move back, be on the ball of your front foot.


Step 3 Attitude

  • Start from a non-threatening manner

  • Be humble, "I don't want any trouble", "I have a family", etc.

  • Maintain eye contact, do not look away

Step 4 Negotiate or Neutralize

  • If you have not been touched, you have a duty to retreat. Can you escape the situation by running away?  If so, run away. This is the best option.

  • If you can escape but chose to fight, that is not self-defense. You cannot sucker punch first lest you legally become that attacker. 

  • Can you talk yourself out of the situation? If so, this is the second-best option.

  • You do not have a duty to retreat if you have been touched, grabbed or punched. 

  • For this to be self-defense you must use the least amount of force necessary to stop the attack

  • Injuring or maiming your attacker could lead to charges of using excessive force and/or lawsuits.

  • If they do try to punch you, you want to step into them and strike first. By stepping into them, it’s harder for them to throw a punch because you’re in so close. Generally in street fights, whoever throws the first punch usually wins.

  • Never throw just one punch or execute just one technique.


Step 5 Submission

  • Continue attacking until your opponent seeks to withdraw or can't continue

  • Pin the attacker with a joint lock or choke and request pain compliance

  • In NC, if your opponent submits or seeks to withdraw you must let him.


“Always remember your Hapkido Skills are never to be misused and are only to be applied in a Self-Defense situation when there are absolutely no other means of escape.” Grandmaster Bong Soo Han

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