The 5 D's provide a framework for understanding and conveying all self-defense tips, advice, and concepts along with the emotional states that accompany them. What you do in response to an assault is driven in part by your emotional state, not just by what you know.

Your emotional state is conditioned by your preparation. Effective self-defense training requires a realistic assessment and evaluation of your emotional state in assault situations not simply instruction of what to do. It is your emotional state that determines your ability to execute the actions of disrupting your attacker, and thereby creating the opportunity to escape and disengage.

The 5 D's are a visual blueprint of a complete self-defense strategy and plan of action.

Plan and Prepare for Aggression
DECIDE is the preparation step. It is the foundation of self-defense. It is made up of planning, education, acceptance, training,conditioning, avoidance, and strategy.

Decide not to be a victim. Use preparation and planning prior toan act of aggression. Learn about crime and criminal behavior.

Train to respond to all forms of aggression. Practice avoidance and risk reduction. Acknowledge the existence of risk. Condition your body and mind for the realities of violence.
Prevent and Repel Aggression
DETER is the prevention step It begins when you leave an area of safety and continues until the moment of the actions of DISRUPT.

It involves repelling all potential aggressors and building your readiness for a physical assault. It is characterized by awareness, intuition, attitude and appearance, assertiveness, body language, boundary setting, and deception.

Deter and prevent an act of aggression. Learn how to de-escalate a confrontation. Project confidence with body language. Be assertive.

Practice situational awareness.Respond to the warnings of intuition. Create safety zones. Utilize boundary setting. Deceive when necessary.

Build readiness. Determine Confirmation of Bad Intention.
Shock and Surprise your Aggressor
DISRUPT is the violent and most physical step of self-defense. Its sole purpose is to create the opportunity to escape.

It begins with the trigger to act and involves the concept of attacking the attacker to surprise, shock, or cause injury to your attacker.

Disrupt the aggressor. Respond to the Trigger to Act. Foil his plans.

Apply verbal and/or physical techniques. Use tactics such as the employment of weapons of opportunity. Execute a decisive strategy.

Attack the attacker. Utilize any means available. Create the Opportunity to Escape in order to disengage.
Evade and Escape from your Aggressor
DISENGAGE is the immediate goal of self-defense. It involves your complete commitment to get away from your attacker.

Alternatively, it is the result of your actions that has caused your aggressor to discontinue the attack. It is characterized by your flight to safety, or either the aggressor is unwilling, or unable to continue his attack.

Disengage and get away from the aggressor. Respond the Opportunity to Escape. Create an ending. Carryout an exit strategy. Cause the aggressor to break off his actions.

Evade and escape. Terminate the aggressor's ability to engage and cause harm. Flee to safety. Get out of there.
Discuss and Heal to Reduce the After Effects
EBRIEF is the long term goal of self-defense. It is the aftereffects of an assault.

The ultimate purpose of self-defense is to minimize the long term consequences and the aftermath of aggression.

This concept includes creating peace of mind. Debrief and discuss the consequences of aggression.

Reduce the after effects. Promote physical and emotional healing. Get legal advice. Seek support and assistance. Learn resilience.



You are waiting for a friend ...

You are waiting for a friend outside a local convenience store. Suddenly you notice large man walking rapidly toward you. He is looking directly at you and his clothes are in disarray. You start to feel panic, but you force yourself to remain calm.

Unfamiliar with the effects of adrenaline and uncertain what to do, you do nothing. The man steps right up to you. Before you have time to react, he grabs you by the throat, squeezes and demands your wallet.

Unable to breathe or speak, you are barely able to comply. After pocketing your wallet the man departs. But not before he gives a final vicious squeeze that permanently damages your vocal cords.

In this situation, your mindset was conscious, your body state was adrenalized, and your emotional mode was calm/controlled. Since you had never decided how you would handle this type of situation, you were completely unprepared. As a result you did not act to protect yourself and received a serious injury.


You have recently attended a self-defense seminar...

Same situation as scenario #1, but this time you have recently attended a self-defense seminar in which your practiced situations similar to the one described.

As a result of your training you recognize the impending danger. Confident from your training, you remain calm. You think to yourself, "If he grabs my throat with his right hand I will kick him in the groin with my left foot, then I will pivot and use a downward strike with my left elbow to remove has hand. Next I will grab the rear of his neck with both my hands and knee him in the stomach,..but if he grabs me with his left hand I will ...".

You prepare yourself for the throat grab as the man reaches for you. But instead of grabbing your throat he grabs your hair and slams your head against the store's brick wall. After you fall unconscious to the ground, the man removes your wallet and walks away.

In this situation, your mind mode was conscious, your physical state was neutral, and your emotional mode was protective. You had DECIDED and trained for this type of situation. As a result you recognized the impending danger. But no effort was made to DETER the aggressor.

This combination of mindset, emotional mode, and body state is ineffective for handling the physical violence of the DISRUPT stage and you were quickly overwhelmed. This result is typical of self-defense training that does not take into consideration the importance of the psychology of self-defense.


You have recently graduated from an intensive self-defense course...

Same situation as scenario #1, but you have now recently graduated from an intensive self-defense course where you have learned techniques of pre-emptive strikes and follow- up techniques to cause serious injury. You learned how to transition your emotions into violence mode and your body into fight state in order to maximize your attack.

The man approaches you and crosses your threat zone. Wordlessly, you spring forward and strike him in the throat crushing his Adam's apple. You then perform a neck twist take-down that sends the man crashing to the pavement, where he lies unconscious.

After the police arrive, you learn that the man had just been in a car accident. He was reaching for the pay telephone next to you when you struck him.

In this situation your mind transitioned from conscious to unconscious mindset. Your body transitioned from neutral to fight state, and your emotions transitioned from calm/controlled to violent mode.

This is the proper combination to execute the DISRUPT step. You had clearly DECIDED and trained. But due to the lack of the DETER step you never received Confirmation of Bad Intention or the Trigger to Act. As a result you are now in jail for assault with intent to kill.


The Application of the 5 D's...

Same situation as previously described, but as the man approaches you look directly at him and state clearly "what do you want"? Responding to your voice he looks at you with a sinister smile.

Immediately your intuition senses danger. You raise your hands forward and forcefully state "back off!" (DETER).The man ignores you and you escalate your verbal intensity and yell "BACK OFF !!!

The man continues to rapidly move toward you (you have now received confirmation of bad intention).Your mind becomes more instinctual (mindset is now in transition) and your body is filled with a surge of fear and energy as it is charged with adrenaline invoked by your yelling (body is in adrenalized state).

You are filled with an overwhelming urge to protect yourself (emotions in protective mode). As the man reaches out (you have now received the trigger to act which transitions your mind to subconscious mindset, your body into fight state, and your emotions into violence mode) to grab you, your hand instantly shoots forward into his face, two fingers strike his eye.

Filled with the motivation to stop him from harming you, you strike him repeatedly with the heel of your palm in the bridge of his nose while continuing to yell. (DISRUPT). The man filled with pain and unable to see through teary eyes hesitates (you have now created the Opportunity to Escape).

Sensing this opportunity (your mindset moves back to transition, your body goes from fight to flight state, and your emotions go from violent to protective mode) you flee into the safety of the store (DISENGAGE).

In this situation you applied the 5 D strategy of self-defense. The use of the verbal boundary setting in the DETER step provided you with confirmation of bad intention that the man was dangerous. Had the man not intended aggression, he would have responded and stopped upon hearing your verbal command of "BACK OFF!!".

Once your conscious mind had been convinced of the danger, your mind began the transition to subconscious mindset.Your protective emotions sensing danger and the need for immediate action called upon your body for adrenaline. As a result, your body went into the adrenalized state.

When the man reached out for you, he crossed your boundary and you responded to the trigger to act which transitioned your mind into subconscious mindset, your emotions into violent mode, and your body into fight state.

You now have maximized your effectiveness to DISRUPT your attacker.You used the strategic tactic of attacking the attacker and the physical tactic of using targeted unexpected focused explosive strikes to instantly and repeatedly strike the man in a sensitive area in order to create the opportunity to escape.


ASSOCIATED NEWSPAPERS LTD 2005Police said the girl's self-defense training helped her escape Carl Moore after he began (DECIDE) fondling her and demanding sex. When she screamed DETER, he allegedly grabbed her throat but the girl bit one of his fingers (DISRUPT), hit the alarm and fled (DISENGAGE) as the doors open. She reported the incident to police. (DEBRIEF)


ABC7Chicago.com"He said to get into the car and I kicked him (DISRUPT), then I grabbed my arm away and I got on my bike and went home." (DISENGAGE) said Emily, who learned how to fight from her brothers (DECIDE). "They said whenever someone tries to hurt you, kick them as hard as you can," said Emily.


11Alive.com 9/27/2006"He grabbed my wrists and told me to get into the car," she said. 'I guess it's just instinct I hit him in the face,' (DISRUPT), and he let go." (DISENGAGE)


6:35 am EST November 8, 2007UPDATED: 8:48 am EST November 8, 2007NEW YORK --New York City police said a deli owner being robbed at gunpoint refused the man's demands and struck him with a machete (DISRUPT), slicing off a finger and wounding him in the head and arm.


An Oviedo post office employee was attacked and stabbed Friday morning
Fla. -- An Oviedo post office employee was attacked and stabbed Friday morning. Now police are searching for the two men who did it.

The employee was sleeping in his truck (Selection of Victim) an hour before his shift started, when the men pulled him out of the truck. (Physical Attack) The stabbed postal service clerk drove himself to the hospital (After effects) and the men who tried to rob him have not been caught.

That same military mentality he developed in the Navy perhaps helped save his life (DECIDE) Friday morning. He said he was taking a nap in his 1959 Chevy pickup when the men attacked him."Two people came up and pulled me out of the truck and accosted me. I just started fighting back, punching, kicking, yelling, whatever it took," (DISRUPT) he explained. Before he knew it, he was on the ground bleeding from two stab wounds. Whoever attacked him ran away.

"They didn't take any money. They didn't take the truck," he said."Survival is what you're thinking about. I wasn't gonna stand still," he said. (DEBRIEF)


The suspects struck her vehicle with their own, then fired a weapon at her

Monday, November 19, 2007Silent Witness / Phoenix PolicePHOENIX -- Below is a release by the Phoenix Police Department regarding an attempted sexual assault:

The crime occurred at approximately 2:00 a.m. when the victim was driving in the area of 59th Avenue and Glendale. The suspects struck her vehicle with their own, then fired a weapon at her (Selection of Victim). As she attempted to flee they followed her down the access road at 59th Avenue and Campbell where she entered a dead end.

Her car was blocked in and the suspects forcibly pulled her from her car (Physical Attack) and tried to force her into their van. She fought them (DISRUPT) and was subsequently thrown to the ground and her clothes partially removed. The suspects attempted to sexually assault her (Physical Attack) and she continued to fight as she was being physically assaulted. (DISRUPT)

She broke free (DISENGAGE) and was confronted by the second suspect who was in the victim's vehicle. It was at this time that investigators believe the suspects were interrupted by nearby citizens and fled the crime scene (Completion of the Crime) in their own vehicle. The victim sustained serious, but not life threatening injuries (After Effects)



The following tips and advice are commonly known and repeated "sound bites" of self-defense.

Be assertive
Kick to the groin
Use anything available as a weapon
Fight with everything you have
Get medical attention
Never be taken to a secondary location
Be aware of your surrounding
Escape at the first opportunity
Stomp on the instep
Never give up
Carry a mobile phone
Get away as fast as you can
Talk to someone you trust
Gouge the attacker's eyes
Yell as loud as you can
Have an exit strategy
Take a self-defense class
Use your intuition
Don't Take a shower
Walk in groups at night
Never corner the attacker
Write down what happened

DO THIS...DON'T DO THAT...These "sound bites" are only useful if you are able see them as mere examples of the five steps of self-defense.Each one may be catagorized by the stages of DECIDE DETER DISRUPT DISENGAGE DEBRIEF.


Using the framework of the 5 D's allows the "sound bites" to be ordered in a manner that creates understanding. All tips, techniques, tactics, and strategies of self-defense can be organized and catagorized in this manner.

Never be taken to a secondary location
Carry a mobile phone
Take a self-defense class
Never give up

Be aware of your surroundings
Be assertive
Use your intuition
Walk in groups at night.

Kick to the groin
Use anything available as a weapon
Fight with everything you have
Stomp on the instep
Gouge the attacker's eyes
Yell as loud as you can

Escape at the first opportunity
Get away as fast as you can
Never corner the attacker
Have an exit strategy

Don't take a shower
Talk to someone you trust
Write down what happened
Get medical attention


The Five Stages of Physical Assault represent a model for understanding the predatory mind in assault situations.

The model is used to make the concepts of assault easier to understand and defend against.

Every situation of assault is different. Therefore the model is merely a flexible guide for providing insight into the criminal mind and behavior.

Motivation to Commit
The predator decides to commit a particular crime. The amount the aggressors motivation will determine the level of response necessary for self-defense.

Selection of Victim
The predator actively chooses a victim for his crime. Part of this stage is the "interview process". The predator interacts with a potential victim to determine suitability for attack.

Physical Attack
The predator initiates a physical attack on the victim. The physical attack requires the opportunity to attack in the form of close proximity to the intended victim.

Completion of the Crime
The physical attack enables the predator to complete the crime originally planned and/or additional crimes of opportunity.

After effects
The consequences and after effects of aggression on the victim.


Illustration of the Five Stages from News Stories

A man approached the young woman just after 8:30 p.m. Friday as she walked to a stairwell leading to the street exit. He asked her the name of a street (Selection of Victim),

then pulled a black handgun from his waist and demanded her money.
She said she had only a few dollars, but offered her ring and other belongings so that he would not harm her, according to the report. Instead, the police report says, he dragged her to a stairwell leading to Columbus Avenue (Physical Attack) and waved away witnesses who asked if everything was OK.

He then ordered her to take off her dress and underwear, and raped and beat her (Completion of the Crime). She was treated at the hospital for her injuries. (After effects)


She was waiting at a bus stop to get to the doctors,
and from what she told me a group of girls started making jokes and hasseling her (Selection of Victim).

She just ignored it, because ya know, why bother with those kinds of people? One of the girls must have gotten mad or something that my sister wasn't responding, so she walked up to her and pushed her down from behind (Physical Attack).

She almost landed in the street. The girl started kicking her and grabbed her purse, calling her an "F-ing ..." and much worse things. My sister was trying to grab her feet, but she couldn't because she had landed face first, really. That's when the old lady started screaming and whacking on the mugger with her purse.

The group of girls and mugger took off running (Completion of the Crime) because she had attracted a lot of attention. My sister gave a police report and was taken to the hospital for 3 broken ribs (After effects)



The Concentric Circles of Personal Safety is a visual system that illustrates the multiple layers of a comprehensive plan for personal safety. The circles represent the different categories of defenses used to counter a wide variety of threats. As the circles decrease in size, the defenses become more critical, and are more specific to an immediate threat.

C1 - YOU: Or what matters to you most;

C2 - PHYSICAL DEFENSE: Use of Body, Weapons, Environment
Striking, Biting, Kicking, Yelling, Gouging, Clawing, Ripping, Kneeing, Clawing, etc.
Firearms, sharp objects, blunt objects, electrical, chemical, weapons of opportunity, etc.
Cover of darkness, position of the sun, building layout, room furnishings, other people, etc.

C3 - VERBAL DEFENSE: De-escalation, Diffusion, Assertiveness;
Conciously reducing the stress level of the confrontation to create a non-violent conclusion.
Dissapating and redirecting the hostile forces of a confrontation into a manageable situation.
Communicating your will in a forceful, yet non-aggressive manner.

C4 -PERIMETER DEFENSE: Body language, Entry/Exit, Positioning
Communicating your intentions with non-verbal cues and body positioning.
Manuevering yourself to create entry points for safety, and exit strategies for evasion.
Placing yourself into most advantageous position relative to the immediate environment.

C5 - AREA DEFENSE: Environmental awareness, Avoidance;
Knowing what is happening around you , and within your own body and mind.
Staying away from potentially dangerous locations, individuals, and behaviors.

C6 - LIFESTYLE DEFENSE: Activity, Relationship, Habit risk levels
Accounting for chosen lifestyles and their associated risk levels; Ex. clubbing, drinking, etc.
Acknowledging personal relationships and their associated risk levels; Ex. Jealous lovers, etc.
Examining and modifying repeating actions; Ex. walking the dog late at night.

C7 – HABITUAL DEFENSE: Daily, Periodic, Conditional life long habits;
Actions done on a daily basis that enhance personal safety. Ex. locking doors after entry, etc. Actions done periodically. Ex. examining your home for areas and situations. Actions done regularly in response to existing conditions. Ex. always exercising with a friend when outside.

C8 - PERMANENT DEFENSE: One time measures for home, Auto, Work, ID;
Safety precautions that require initial time and resources, but can be maintained with little ongoing effort. Ex. Installing an alarm system, photocopying important documents.

C9 - EDUCATIONAL DEFENSE: Reliable, Up-to-date, Accessible knowledge;
Gathering education on all aspects of personal safety from sources that provide accurate, timely, and actionable information.


The D-cycle of Defeat represents the internal decision making process that occurs when a person is confronted by an unexpected stressful situation. The duration of this cycle may be either short or long term depending upon the individual. The longer the cycle lasts, the more likely that the outcome will be defeat.

Denial is the beginning step of the cycle. The person does not acknowledge the presence of an immediate threat. Delay is the 2nd step. The person is aware of the threat, but is unsure of how to respond. Do Nothing is the 3rd step. The person is frozen in inaction.

The three steps become a cycle when they form a self reinforcing pattern.

- It won’t happen to me
- It can’t happen to me
- It is not happening to me
- It is out of my control

While walking down the street one evening, you notice a person following behind you. You look straight ahead, and continue in the same direction.

- I need more time to act
- I need more information
to act
- I am too afraid of the
consequences to act

You are now acutely aware of the person behind you. You are unsure of the person’s intentions. Therefore, you continue walking, anxiously waiting to for what happens next.

Do Nothing
- I am unable to act
- I don’t know how to act
- It will not matter if I act
- It will make it worse
if I act
Suddenly, you feel a touch on your arm. Your heart skips a beat. Your vision narrows. Time seems to stop. Your feet feel like lead. You are too afraid to turn, too afraid to speak, and too afraid to run.


#8 - The 5D Decision for Life

From this day on, I decide:

- to plan and prepare to keep myself,
and the people I care about safe, and healthy

- to do my best to deter, and prevent unsafe,
and unhealthy situations from happening to
me, or those I love

- to do my best to disrupt, and interrupt
any unsafe, or unhealthy situation in progress

- to do my best to disengage, and get away
from an unsafe, or unhealthy situation
as soon as I am able

- to debrief, and discuss with a trusted
person about any unsafe or unhealthy situations
that have occurred in the past, or may occur
in the future.

___________________ __________
Signed Date

Reading, considering, and signing the 5D Decision for Life means that you have created a contract with yourself. Only you have the power to enforce it. You have now joined with many
others who have also decided to take control of their personal safety and well being.