Personal defense: the S.A.F.E. method

The 6 Dragons Kung Fu’s S.A.F.E. method for self-defense

Reconnecting us with the discussion about the use of martial and psychological abilities in terms of self-defense (read The 6DKF’s diagram about the use of violence) we want to share a method that, in many cases of danger, can be easily applied (once developed the correct mindset).

Note – This article has been asked by one of our Core Course practitioners on Patreon (see how to attend our home study classes here Learn Kung Fu online: a beginner-to-expert course).

We have developed the S.A.F.E. method after:

  • Several experiences (direct and indirect)
  • Studies and comparisons with other methodologies

The acronym has been chosen because it is simple to memorize and it reminds us, in every situation, what to do and in what order.

In the specific, S.A.F.E. means:

  • Safety
  • Argument
  • Flee
  • Engage

A note by Master Kongling – This, obviously, is not an all-in-one solution to all the possible critical contexts but in moments of intense psychological stress (read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///), a simple mental pattern like this could be the key to solve the situation in the least possible invasive way.

S.A.F.E. method: how does it work

Without repeating what has already been said (read for example Self defense: how to behave) and without going too far into the detail of the practical scenarios, here is the significance and practical application of each of the 4 S.A.F.E. “commands”:

  1. Safety – It means prevention (read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///), alert (read Constant attention: what is and how it works), both in terms of active danger (set an immediate defensive strategy, do not raise the tension level beyond the limit, make sure being legally protected, reaching or contacting other people / law enforcement, etc.), both in general (planning our activities, avoiding dangerous places, inappropriate behaviors, risky encounters, activities that make us vulnerable, etc.)
  2. Argument – It means maintaining a critical situation under control through a peaceful, respectful but assertive dialogue (read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///); we must keep the right concentration level, we must discuss (read Self defense: 10 correct attitudes during a quarrel), negotiate (eg. giving what’s less important, like money, etc.) and / or use deception if necessary (for an example see the article Personal defense and psychological tricks); any non-violent / lawful way is preferable (read Best martial arts for self-defense) to ensure our safety and the one of who is with us (or at least to make us gain time)
  3. Flee – It means eliminating the problem by moving away from it, to reach a safe place (law controlled, crowded, inaccessible, etc.); in doing this, if possible, we must move slowly and discreetly, without ever showing any fear, anxiety or rush; if the aggression is already started, naturally we could have to run but in all other cases, walking (and talking) offers advantages not to underestimate; to act with calmness it does not trigger forcibly rapid reactions, it approaches us to our safety point while still keeping our energies almost intact (and this can be indispensable in a hypothetical second time where we might have forcibly to run, fight, etc.); the flee may appear simple but it is not, it’s the most difficult action to take (read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///)
  4. Engage – It is and it must be the last option, no one knows how a street fight will end; we are saying this not only because 6 Dragons Kung Fu promotes peace but also (and above all) because a no rules combat is not a game, its consequences can be lethal and/or legally devastating (for all the persons involved, including us); in addition it must be said that we rarely know enough about our aggressors (their real number, what are they capable of doing, what they are willing to do, with what tactics, abilities, weapons, determination, etc.); in 90% of cases we do not necessarily have to respond with violence to other violence but if we have come to the point of not being able to prevent, discuss or escape and our lives are in danger we must face our opponents with everything within our reach (technique, deception, weapons of defense / attack, proper / improper, etc.); in doing this, we must not forget that the goal is simply to put an end to hostility and to stop the people who are attacking us; where possible / reasonable we must try to defend ourselves in the least lethal possible way (blocking, disarming, dislocating, breaking, stunning, terrorizing, etc.); an excess of defense is not preferrable, it could bring us endless problems (revenge, legal problems, remorse, onerous legal fees, etc.)

A note by Master Kongling – Remember: we are the first and the worst enemy to face: we must not become victims of our superficiality. Each of these phases must be triggered by the failure of the previous one. From prevention to struggle, nothing must be skipped or left to chance.

Final notes

A few thoughts and conclusive tips:

  • Let’s never underestimate the fact that in moments of real personal defense the lucidity is very difficult to maintain (stuttering, legs trembling, blood to the head, adrenaline, etc.) and we will never act impeccably
  • Without good psychophysical preparation, the mere use of the word “safe” does not really change the much but if we relate it to the 6DKF’s principles, tactics / strategies and techniques (mental and physical) it can really make a big difference (in some cases, probably, even between life and death)

In-depth articles


Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Which is, in your opinion, the most difficult step to apply?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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