How to defend yourself according to oriental philosophies

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How to defend yourself according to oriental philosophies

In martial arts one learns to fight in a masterly way, but not to attack, but to defend oneself. In these disciplines, the best fight is the one that doesn't happen, and not the one that causes destruction, both against others and with oneself.

Last update: May 03, 2022

Life requires every person to learn how to defend themselves. Even the most peaceful person in the world, sooner or later, will find himself in a conflict situation in which someone will want to impose himself or limit his actions in some way. Or, there will come a time when you feel offended and want to react.



When faced with aggression or an insult, the most common reaction is a counterattack. Someone yells at you and you respond in the same way. They try to physically attack you and you respond in the same way. This is the most obvious reaction because, in reality, the West is not taught how to defend oneself in any other way.

“Masters and saints can seem stupid. Pretentious people only prove to be beginners. "

-Gichin Funakoshi-

On the contrary, Eastern philosophies have long reflected on the theme of war, combat and conflict. The fruit of these reflections are the martial arts which, in turn, put defense at the center of the discipline.

If you want to learn how to defend yourself from these martial arts postulates, take notes.

How to defend yourself with martial arts: philosophy

Martial arts experts avoid confrontation until forced to. This is the main strategy, both in attack and defense. All tactics are geared towards a single goal: neutralize the opponent or persuade him to desist from combat.



Whatever you say or do to defend yourself must respect the following principles: do not destroy, harm or humiliate the opponent. To do so would be to feed the anxiety of violence. And the exact opposite is desired: to preserve harmony.

The Orientals know perfectly well that the cost of conflict is always very high. When harmony is broken, the ideal is to look for the path to restore it and not the ways to sharpen and aggravate the contradictions. This is the first principle that one must have clear to know how to defend oneself according to Eastern philosophy.

Attitude, a fundamental aspect

Faced with an attempt at physical aggression, the Orientals recommend first of all to maintain a relaxed attitude. This must be reflected in the body, which must be extended and not contracted.

This reaction is achieved with practice and starting with the control of breathing. If you breathe rhythmically, the muscles relax and you will be less rigid.

The art of knowing how to defend oneself from physical aggression also includes the following gestures:

  • Keep as far away from the attacker as possible.
  • Do not make mechanical or automatic movements, but think before moving.
  • Be empathetic and try to understand the opponent's attitude.
  • Learn to fall and stand up.
  • Try to see things from the outside.
  • Maintain an upright posture, with your feet firmly on the ground, but your muscles relaxed.

These tips are a very simplified summary of the basics of martial arts. Each point contains a founding philosophy and requires years of experience before it can be put into practice in the correct way. However, it is useful for illustrating the fundamentals of this discipline and as a practical basis for learning to defend oneself.


In summary, physical attacks are very similar to verbal ones. They use similar mechanisms, even if they use different tools. The same principles used to defend against a physical attack also apply to reacting to a verbal attack.


How to defend yourself from verbal aggression

Orientals insist very much that no one should allow verbal insult or humiliation. However, if they do occur, you shouldn't react to these attacks by responding in kind, but by using other strategies.


Some of them have to do with body language. It is necessary to communicate firmness and, at the same time, harmony. The following attitudes are recommended:

  • Look the attacker in the eye for a moment and then look away without looking down.
  • Look at the other making a gesture of misunderstanding and move away from him.
  • Maintain an upright and elegant posture and do not close.
  • Do not avoid eye contact, even if the situation can be embarrassing.
  • Do not speak if the other is not listening.

If you can confront the opponent on the field of understanding and compassion, then you will know how to defend yourself. And obviously, it is important to know each other well in order to convey your emotions.

When you have to face verbal aggression, Orientals recommend one of these three strategies:


  • The retreat. It is the best strategy when, due to the opponent's attitude or circumstances, you feel that there is a high probability of losing the confrontation. In these cases it is better to remain silent, move away or change the subject.
  • Make a respite. It is used when one senses a certain degree of reasoning in the other or if the aggressor is very sorry for what happened. We try to reach an agreement, starting from the recognition of the value of the other.
  • Don't react. It is used when the offense is totally gratuitous, or when you are not sure if it is a valid offense. In these cases, to defend yourself, it is better to remain calm and silent, even better if with your eyes closed.
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