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Ready to Defend

Find out the best way to defend yourself should you ever need to.

Two men in martial art outfits preparing to spare and practice their martial art skills

From the Bible

Blessed be the Lord my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight (Psalm 144:1).

A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished (Proverbs 22:3; also 27:12).


Out of nowhere, it seems, someone attacks you. What do you do? If this was a total surprise and the person is in personal contact, you do not have time to pull out your pepper spray or concealed firearm. You need to defend yourself with whatever you already have in your hands, or with empty hands.

Two questions arise:

  1. Do you know what to do?
  2. Can you react in time?

In the News

Los Angeles, California, January 24, 2012 - A young woman, age 25, was waiting at a bus stop. Two teen boys came up and tried to snatch the gold chain hanging around her neck. She resisted and fought them off. They tried again, but bystanders came to her defense. The boys ran away, only to be stopped by two police officers on patrol. They looked to where they were running from, and saw the defenders coming toward them. The boys were identified as the attempted robbers, and they were arrested.[2]

* Note: The would-be robbers didn't expect a fight.

Nashville, Tennessee, June 24, 2023 - A woman walking along a street near downtown Nashville heard footsteps behind her. Looking back, she saw a man close to her. She walked faster, then ran. The man closed the gap and tackled her. She fought him, including kicking. Eventually he left the scene running. During the fight he had choked her and threatened to rape her. Six days later, police were still looking for the assailant.[3]

* Note: Situational awareness gave the intended victim a head start.

Seattle, Washington, March 11, 2017 - A woman in her mid-thirties was running in training for a marathon. She stopped in a park to use the restroom. While washing her hands, she sensed that someone was there. Turning around, she came face-to-face with a man.

The man attacked her in an attempted rape. The woman, who had recently completed a self-defense course, fought him. A phrase, "hard bones go in soft fleshy places," came to her mind. She kept on fighting, including screaming and clawing at him, until she broke free and headed out the door. A passer-by closed and barred the door, trapping the assailant inside to wait for the police.[4]

* Note: Self-defense training paid off.

Tacoma, Washington, October 26, 2023 - Three friends met in a garage in Tacoma for a good time. They sat at a table with the door open. Meanwhile, a man and a teen in masks got out of a stolen car and approached the garage. The man had a .22 rifle. Everything was caught on surveillance video.

The two entered the garage. The man pointed the rifle at the three men at the table and demanded they turn over valuables. The three just sat there. When the juvenile reached over to grab one man's phone, the man jumped over the table to grab the young robber. The older robber hit one of the men with the rifle barrel. The victim grabbed the rifle and wrestled the robber for it. The robber was unable to fire it. When the victim took the rifle away, the robbers fled to the car, which was stolen. The driver rammed one of the victim's vehicle, then drove off with the robbers. They were later apprehended after a high-speed chase.[5]

* Note, the robbery victims watched for a chance to act effectively.

Survival Training

Why during two world wars did no one invade Switzerland, even though all the surrounding countries were fighting? After all, the Central Powers and the Axis had no qualms about violating neutrality.

Every adult in Switzerland had military training and had his own weapons. An invading army would have been fired upon from behind every tree and rock. The Swiss were ready to defend themselves.

This example shows the value of being trained and ready to defend yourself. Would-be attackers know they do so at their peril.

Kris Interviews a Self-Defense Specialist

In a November 7, 2024, the YouTube channel Sheepdog Church Security Academy posted Kris Moloney's interview with Michael Caughran, the founder and CEO of American Reconstruction Concepts (ARC). The mission of ARC is "to train, educate and inspire responsible citizens and first responders in life saving mentality, skills and tactics."[6][7][8]

Michael served as a career SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) instructor in the U.S. Air Force. In this capacity he trained members of other U.S. military services. After leaving the Air Force, he founded ARC to train survival skills, especially self-defense, to anyone who needs it. This includes church personnel. In his conversation with Kris, he shared a few insights into personal safety.[9]

ARC shares basic concepts with Target Focus Training (TFT) founder, Tim Larkin. Caughran quotes Larkin in regards to what weapon may be used in self-defense, Larkin says, "You are the weapon. Anything you hold in your hand is just the tool." This means that you can use anything - especially your arms, hands, legs, and feet - in effective defense.[10]

It does not matter your gender, age, or size (if you are over 100 lbs.) as long as the force is effectively applied: "It only takes 15 pounds of pressure if applied correctly to break someone's bone." An example is the ear cup - or ear slap - when applied to the ear. Hold your hand as though it were a cup of water. Slap the open side to the attacker's ear and flatten the "cup." The sudden compression forcing air into the ear canal can damage or rupture the ear drum. This then gives you time to take other measures, such as kicking, tripping, pulling off balance, hitting with a cane or purse, etc.

Training with ARC

ARC lists eleven courses - plus "Custom Courses - with links to booking them. They are located in Spokane, Washington, so the range of in-person training by instructors is basically limited to the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and parts of western Montana and northern California, Nevada, and Utah).

Caughran advises finding trainers within your own range. However, he says the focus should be more on the mindset and knowing how to use whatever you have in any situation rather than focusing on many specific moves. It's better to know one or two moves well than to somewhat know many moves. Learn the principles and practice recognizing and reacting to threats.

ARC is developing DVD self-defense courses, which will expand the range of who they can train.

TFT, based in Las Vegas, Nevada, has seven DVD courses with appropriate products (such as targets).

Unarmed Self-Defense and the Law

There are some legal fences to mind when using unarmed self-defense.

  1. Not the aggressor
  2. No excessive force
  3. No unnecessary force

Not the Aggressor

If a person attacks you without provocation, you naturally have the right to defend yourself. This is also true the other way around. If you assault someone, including making a move of aggression (such as swinging your fist in their direction when close enough to hit them), they are the ones with the right of self-defense, not you.

This is the old playground story, where Johnny swings at Tommy, who then pushes him away. Then Johnny yells, "Tommy shoved me!" The monitor asks Johnny, "What did you do?" then asks if anyone saw what happened. Guess who gets detention?

For a Church Safety Team member, this means holding a defensible posture without being threatening. Then exercise alertness with self-control.

No Excessive Force

The force used in defending ourselves must be proportionate to the force used in the attack. The extreme example is pulling a knife on someone who's just shoving us (an exception I be if he's shoving you onto the subway tracks).

No Unnecessary Force

There are news stories about persons being charged with assault and battery who continued to beat an attacker after the attack had stopped. The defender became the defendant. In the eyes of the law, defense had become revenge, an act of anger. This means we need to know when to stop.

Anyone Can Use Self-Defense

No one is too small or too old to effectively defend themselves. In the 1970s, a newscaster told this story on the radio (this is an approximation of the narrative):

An elderly woman holding a purse with a long strap was walking along a city street. A man came up and tried to snatch her purse. She pulled it away. He kept trying to get it, even shoving her, but she managed to keep it away. Finally he grabbed at her and yelled, "Let me have it!" She let him have it, all right! She swung the purse with its long strap and he ended up in the hospital with several head injuries.

This woman needed to defend herself from a robber. All she had was her purse, so she used it.

This is what Larkin and Caughran mean by "Targeted focus." Focus on defense, doing whatever it takes. For example, a small woman can go after an attacker's eyes with her fingers. She can step to one side and trip him if he lunges at her. If he's close enough, she can knee him where it counts. If she has high heels, she can stomp on his foot with a heel. If he's not expecting resistance, this is a psychological blow. The woman in Nashville sent her attacker running.[3]

Defense Begins with Awareness

Situational awareness if the first line of defense. Simply put, this is awareness of your surroundings. In the news stories from Seattle and Nashville, the defenders were first aware of the threat and were steeled to defend themselves.[3][4] One person simply sensed that someone else was there. The other heard footsteps.

Repeated often is the advice to stay alert when in public places, especially on the street. Do not be texting, reading the phone (or anything else), or listening with headphones (at least leave one ear open). Make it apparent that you are watchful.


Self-defense begins with the mindset of defensive readiness. You are the weapon. What's in your hand (or the hand itself) is the tool.

Training Notes

The Safety Member Certification program includes self-defense and legal issues in the training module "Basic Use of Force Laws." This covers the Use-of-Force Continuum, citizen's arrest, and legal issues. The Church Security Guide article "Self Defense Laws, Your Rights and Use of Force" also covers this topic.[1][11][12]

All Safety Team Members are encouraged to be trained and certified through the Safety Member Certification program. This includes not only church-hosted classes (Team Certification) and self-paced online instruction (Individual Certification), but also live Zoom classes (Online Events). The 2023-2024 Online Events school year is in session. Enroll now and you can take all eight classes (16 hours of training).

Kris has videocasts on the YouTube channel Sheepdog Church Security Academy. This includes coverage of articles and special subjects as well as interviews. Viewers can learn a lot from his perspectives and his guests.


  1. Kris Moloney, "Basic Use of Force Laws," Safety Member Certification, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2020 [].
  2. Police staff, "Woman & Bystanders Foil Robbery, 2 Suspects Arrested in Downtown," NR12044pv, Los Angeles Police Department, January 25, 2012 [].
  3. Aaron Cantrell, "Assault victim successfully defends herself, suspect not yet found," News Channel 5 Nashville, June 30, 2023 [].
  4. Kristine Brabson, "Female Jogger Fights Back Against Her Rapist, Screaming 'Not Today, M— F—!'," Good Housekeeping, March 13, 2017 [].
  5. Michael Ruiz, "Washington men beat up armed robbers and wrestle away their gun, wild home security video shows," Fox News, November 9, 2023 [].
  6. Kris Moloney, Sheepdog Church Security Academy channel, YouTube [].
  7. Kris Moloney, "Interview with Michael Caughran ARC | Church Security Roll Call 376," Sheepdog Church Security Academy channel, YouTube [ (copy and paste this URL into the address bar if using Microsoft Edge)].
  8. Michael Caughran, American Reconstruction Concepts [].
  9. "Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape," Wikipedia, Original article July 10, 2005, latest edit on November 12, 2023, accessed November 15, 2023 [,_Evasion,_Resistance_and_Escape].
  10. Tim Larkin, Target Focus Training [].
  11. Kris Moloney, Church Security Guide, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2018 [].
  12. Kris Moloney, "Basic Use of Force Laws," Church Security Guide, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2018 [].