Self Defense...
The Element Of Surprise



Element of surprise: How to use distractions and decoys. Why timing will increase strike technique effectiveness. Three simple examples to help you understand how it works. Timing your escape, and how an attacker’s way of thinking can give you a chance to use good timing and the element of surprise to strike back.

Timing is important in all sports and is just as important for self-defense. If you can time a technique so that your attacker is not expecting it, your technique will be more effective. You can use a distraction or a decoy to take his attention away from the area you want to hit…

Example: Do you remember a trick that goes like this? Appear to be reaching for a person’s shirt in the middle of the chest. At the same time say, "What’s that?" The person naturally looks down. With an open hand, you then playfully tap them on the chin and say, "Hey, gotcha!" The shirt is the decoy and the tap on the chin is the strike. Try it on a friend, they’ll love it - maybe!

This coordinated timing trick can be adjusted and used in most strike techniques. If you can catch your attacker off guard by using timing and the element of surprise, you will increase your chances of having the strike technique pay off with stunning effectiveness.

A right and wrong way to use timing

Have you ever had someone sneak up from behind you and loudly say, "BOOO?" If you have had this happen to you in one way or another, you probably jumped with fright. What would happen if someone did the same thing, but approached from in front of you? Probably not much, because it would be timed poorly… you would see it coming. If you or an attacker can see something coming, the element of surprise is lost.

Throw a ball trick

Another trick of the surprise trade is to throw a ball up in the air. Your attacker will naturally follow it with his eyes and be distracted by it. While he is distracted… you strike. You don’t have to use a ball, any small object will do the job. Your car keys would be all right to use, but if you drop them when you hit him, you may lose them. Remember, hit and run as soon as possible.

Not only do you need to time your strike technique so that you catch your attacker off guard, you need to time your escape well too. When you strike, ask yourself, "Will I have time to escape or will he recover, come after, and catch me?" If your first strike stuns him, but not enough to allow you to escape, you need to follow through with a second or third strike… the opposite is also true…

If your attacker is a bully from way back, he will have a "stop when victim’s hurt" way of thinking. When he sees that you have been hurt, he will stop hitting you. That’s what he used to do at school and it’s become a habit. Like all of us, he is a creature of habit. He will do what he has always done. But instead of running away, he will stand there with his guard down.

If you appear to be beaten, he will drop his guard and give you a chance to use good timing and the element of surprise to strike back. Only fight back if you believe that he has not finished hitting you. If he has blown off enough steam, he may just walk away.


Clearly, using distractions and decoys to give you the element of surprise can be very powerful. Try to time your strikes so you catch your attacker off guard. It is important to work out if your attacker will catch you if you run, and if he will, you need to use another technique.

A special thanks to Self-Defense Now for allowing us to use the above article! The Self-Defense Now website has all kinds of practical tips and techniques on self-defense. The Self-Defense Now website can be found by following this link: