Under: karate, Self-defense
27 Oct 2014


I want to learn karate so I can protected myself against “any” attack! How often do you hear people saying that they can protect themselves because they know how to fight? I’ve heard it all of my life and bought into it sometimes. For instance if you have muscles – no one will want to fight you on the beach because you are not an easy mark (assuming muscles equate to fighting ability). Or you are a prize fighter superstar and become a jerk in a bar… thinking no one “can” get the best of you.


This over or sometimes no confidence is common among karate students. Students take lessons to learn how to protect themselves after all. In this post I’ll go over what karate can and cannot do for you as part of your self-defense strategy.


Once when I was working restaurant for a living (a long time ago), one of the cooks wanted to know how to win a fight with a karate guy. I was honest with him and told him his he had better sucker punch first and hard because if he did not get a fast advantage – he was going to pay dearly. More this story later but please read on if you want to hear my thoughts about karate protecting you from an assassin’s attack.



Karate works really well when an attacker gives you a chance to do something or else. He wants your money, car, watch, or to frighten you. The cool thing here is you see the attacker coming. While karate does not give you superpowers – it does give you a good system for defending against known attacks. You can read this website to see many of the ways karate will come in handy.


But what if someone wants to kill you? First off if you have time to think about what to do – the assassin is inept or not not ready to kill you. This is where a self-defense method – i.e. karate can work. You can mount a defense and hope your training will pull you through.


What would happen if the assassin was proficient? You would be dead. I mean any assassin would ideally want to use a devastating surprise attack to kill you. Why knowing he wanted to kill you anyway (for some reason) give you any chance?


The Batman and Robin scenario where they got caught by the bad guys and had time to get away is a comedy of errors on the assassin’s part. Bad guys make mistakes while they are learning the ropes but you cannot depend on someone else’s errors to keep you safe.


So here is the obvious. If a bad guy has a gun and has not killed you yet – you have a couple of choices. Run (yes running you have a fair chance at getting away as many shots miss the mark) or fight (if the gun is in easy hand or foot distance – you have a chance).


Here is what is hard to determine – does the guy want to kill, rob, rape, beat you up, or intimidate you? While there is no good answer for another’s intent, if you get a chance to fight back or run – either of those actions – you are taking a proactive chance in your own defense. You might win or escape or you might lose. If you have determined that this guy might kill you – fighting back or running is reasonable.


If you have determined that you can take the hurt or you are too scared or feel unable to attempt a defense or run – you have to hope you will survive the attack. There are no good or easy solutions here.


So with your options stated – assuming this is an assassin and he has a gun, knife or other weapon and you have time to think – you are extremely lucky! Most assassin’s would have killed you before you got a chance to think.


Does karate protect you against an assassin’s attack? Maybe if the assassin is inept. There is no magic in karate. Luckily an assassin attacking you is not as common as a mugging or other attacks.


I would like to caution folks to use common sense. I advise everyone to learn how to defend themselves and don’t make yourself a target employing situational awareness. Many attacks (of the non-assassin variety) can be avoided by not doing dumb stuff.


But if you have an assassin on your tail – do not depend on karate to work… you only have a chance against a surprise murderous attack if luck is on your side.


Finishing up the story about the cook – he turned out to be a thief that stole money from lots of employees including me. I could not prove it though. But when he heard I knew karate and questioned me how someone could beat a karate expert – I did not turn my back on him after that point. :)

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2 Responses to “Does Karate Protect You Against an Assassin’s Attack?”

  1. Dr. J Says:

    I imagine if he bothered you, John, that guys goose would have been cooked, lol!

    Interesting that fighter pilots, before the days of long range missiles, found that rather than mix it up in a dogfight, the most effective kill was to attack unseen and fast with one quick pass.

    For me, karate gives me that chance to win that I would never have had without it.

  2. Zara Says:

    Hi John,

    Funny question. If I were ever under lethal threat (e.g someone put a hit on me) I wouldn’t rely on martial arts but the cops to protect me, that’s if I had any choice in the matter.

    First of all an assasin will be armed (unless he’s a ninja well practiced in the death touch, think 5 finger exploding heart technique) and I probably won’t be outside my own home. Second like you said someone who wants you dead will use overwhelming force (firearms, accomplices) and/or surprise to get you. Unless he’s incompetent (in that case he won’t be alive or free for very long) or you get really lucky you’re pretty much dead. Of course the chance of becoming the victim of an assasin or murderer will be slim to none if you use the least bit of common-sense and don’t go around insulting dangerous looking men’s manhood (cheating around with a mob boss’ girlfriend would probably do the trick) or threaten their livelihood. See, I knew watching all those episodes from the Sopranos was good for something, lol.

    As to the real question behind your article: like dr.J says knowing martial arts and being good at them will only up the chance of you winning and surviving fights, they’re no garantee you will prevail as this depends on a lot of factors.

    Personally I don’t consider martial arts a necessity for survival and I practice them for fun and because they help me develop as a human-being (physically and mentally). If you really need protection against imminent violence I’d pick a gun or police protection over martial arts any day.

    In our advanced curriculum there are unarmed defenses against knives, sticks and gun threats and even though they’re quite good (they originate in either kali-escrima or krav maga) they should only ever be used as a last resort: a last ditch effort to save your life from lethal danger when the alternative is certain death.

    In any case it’s still a gamble since a weapon confers tremendous power to the person wielding it, even with no training at all. If the guy has any experience with his weapon you’ll almost certainly lose (put a knife in my hand and even my teacher will not be able to disarm me empty handed and I’m not even highly trained in its use), that’s if he’s dumb enough to show it first and not shoot you, club you or stab you right away without any warning.

    Again if someone wants you dead he’ll not be so civil as to show his weapon (or himself) first and give you a chance to react: he’ll hide and attack you hard and fast with no warning whatsoever, preferably with your back turned. In my opinion only luck and the good graces of a divinity will allow you to survive that extreme threat level. The more so in today’s world with sophisticated firearms even a child can learn to operate with only minimal training. People have been killed accidentally by a child playing with a gun so how on earth could you survive a determined attack by someone with experience in firearms?

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