7 Reasons “Just Run Away” is Terrible Self Defence Advice

"just run away" bad self defence advice
One of the most common (and stupid) pieces of advice I receive on social media whenever I post anything related to self-defence is “just run away.” 

In my opinion, it’s an insult to anyone who has ever actually experienced an attack. Yes, everyone can run, so at first it appears intuitive because almost everyone has two working legs. But in reality, nearly everyone who has been a victim of violence has two working legs. And you know what? Running didn’t work. Because “just run away” is probably the worst suggestion you could give to someone looking to protect themselves.

Let me explain. In an ideal world, yes, if you spot danger early enough, you should absolutely move away and avoid dangerous situations altogether. However, this is easier said than done. Most people who suggest running away don’t fully understand what a real threat entails.

Simply saying, “If you find yourself in a fight or facing a weapon, just run away,” doesn’t prepare them for the complexities of such situations. Instead, we should focus on educating people on how to position themselves and handle the situation effectively, which will then allow them to escape safely.

There are several key factors to consider when attempting to run away from a dangerous situation, and many people overlook these.


running away from a threat

1. Physical Fitness

There are a lot of physical aspects to a fight that you have to take into account. If you’re already not physically fit enough to defend yourself in the first place, then running away is never going to be an option.

You have to check your physical fitness because not only do you have to fight this person off and potentially grapple with them and fight over a weapon, but then you also have to be able to run away on top of that. 

Making things more complicated, you have to be able to run faster than the person attacking you, who could be bigger, stronger, or even faster than you.

Another thing to think about: what if you are injured? Or worse, we rarely sprint with a cold start because the probability of an injury is high. Same rules apply in the street.

2. Emotional and Physical Strain

The stress of a real fight is different from training. Emotions and adrenaline play a huge role. 

When someone starts attacking you, the fear and stress can be paralyzing. Even seasoned fighters find real altercations more tiring than training sessions because of the emotional and physical toll that fear, uncertainty, surprise and many other factors play in a real-life threat.

3. Ability to Run

You also need to consider your ability to run. Not only do you need to fend off an attacker, but you also have to outrun them, which can be challenging if they already are aggressive and attempting to engage. 

The latest active stabbing in Bondi Junction saw many people with stab wounds from behind, as they were attempting to flee. Injuries sustained during the fight can also hinder your ability to escape. Whether it’s a minor bruise or a more serious injury like a broken bone, these can prevent you from running effectively.

Also, footwear and clothing need to be taken into account, are you dressed something that isn’t going to impede your ability to run?

4. Who are you with

self defence with kids

Running away when you are with family members, especially children or loved ones, is not an option. It leaves them vulnerable to the threat and increases the chances of chaos and confusion, making it harder to ensure everyone’s safety.

Children and loved ones may not have the presence of mind or skills to protect themselves or escape effectively, putting them at greater risk. This is further complicated with is your loved one injured, are you or your partner with your child in a pram?

Instead, it’s crucial to stay together and use strategies that maximise the safety of the entire group, such as finding a safe place, using defensive techniques if necessary, and staying calm. Protecting and guiding your loved ones through a crisis is essential, and staying together enhances your ability to do so.

5. Location

Your location plays a critical role. If you’re attacked on a plane, bus, or train, running away isn’t an option. In a crowded bar or restaurant, escaping can be difficult due to the number of people. In open spaces like a street or park, you have more room to flee. The environment determines your ability to escape and the time you’ll need to deal with the situation.

6. Nature of the Attack

The nature of the attack also matters. If someone blindsides you, you won’t have time to react, let alone run. If there are multiple attackers, escaping becomes even more challenging. Physical fitness alone isn’t enough in these situations; you need to know how to handle multiple attackers.

If your attacker has a gun, I’ll let you imagine the consequences of running.

7. Activating the Aggressors Predator Drive

activating an attacker's prey drive

Running away from an aggressor can trigger the aggressor’s predator drive. It taps into primal instincts where the sight of a fleeing target stimulates a pursuit response. This reaction is deeply rooted in the natural behavior of predators who are conditioned to chase after escaping prey. 

When you run, you inadvertently signal vulnerability and fear, reinforcing the aggressor’s dominance and control over the situation. This can escalate their aggression, transforming what might have been an avoidable confrontation into a more dangerous chase. Consequently, running can often provoke a more intense reaction from the aggressor, making the situation more perilous.

The Importance of Proper Training

Instead of just advising people to run, we should teach them how to create opportunities to escape. This involves learning how to de-escalate situations, strike effectively, fight in the clinch, and grapple. These skills are acquired through consistent training.


self defence at sgs krav maga

How To Get Practical Experience

I recently conducted a seminar for friends who had experienced dangerous situations. Despite being active and reasonably fit, they struggled with the physical demands of fighting and realised how tough it is to handle such scenarios. They learned the importance of proper training in striking, grappling, and situational awareness.

In conclusion, running away should be the end goal, not the initial advice. 

Teach people how to handle and escape dangerous situations effectively through proper training. Find a nearby gym, whether for striking, grappling, or self-defence, and start training. 

Consistent training prepares you for real-life situations and makes you safer on the streets. Understanding what it takes to fight and protect yourself is essential, and the more you train, the better prepared you’ll be.

Join us for an upcoming workshop on Defending Knives and Knife Attacks and be better prepared for a dangerous encounter with one of the most common weapons on the street.