Self-Defence: Should You Learn It, and Is It Worth the Hype?

by Naomi Achin
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Is self-defence an important life skill to learn? Should it be for a particular gender, or is it just hype? 

There is no assurance of safety, and unanticipated circumstances or situations may occasionally threaten our tranquillity or risk our lives. In such a case, assistance may be difficult to come by. It is critical to understand how to protect and defend yourself. 

In this article, we will be looking into what self-defence entails and the understanding of the need to learn fundamental self-defence as a Nigerian.

What is Self Defence?

Self-defence is the use of force to protect oneself, one’s family, or one’s property. We do not debate or consider including self-defence in our skill set or curriculum in our area of the globe, maybe because we are naturally and intuitively motivated to defend ourselves when we are assaulted or threatened. In other circumstances, our instinctive reaction is to escape from the aggressor or scream for aid. 

Principles Governing the Use of Self-defence in Nigeria

Following one’s instinct in tight situations is good, but we should not continue to rely on instinct because people react differently to dangerous or violent circumstances. There is a correct way to conduct everything we do, and there are laws that enforce them; that is why knowing the law is vital to understand. 

Self-defence is recognized by law and is enshrined in the Nigerian constitution, which implies that there are principles governing the use of self-defence

The Criminal Code Act and the Penal Code of Nigeria both contain extensive provisions regarding the defence of self-defence. These provisions cover sections 286-293 of the Criminal Code and 59-67 of the Penal Code Act.

The phrase “private defence” is used in the Penal Code, which is operative in Northern Nigeria, rather than the term “self-defence,” used in the Criminal Code, which is operative in Southern Nigeria. The provisions of the Penal Code on self-defence are quite similar to those of the Criminal Code and it is not an implied provision in the constitution.

Two of these principles can be summarized as;

  •  A person is justified in employing reasonable force in self-defence if he or she has a reasonable belief that physical harm is impending and that force is required to prevent the danger.

 In such a circumstance, a person is spared from prosecution if he kills someone in self-defence and is not charged with manslaughter under the penal code.

  • A man is justified in employing a proportionate degree of force against an aggressor in defence of himself or other individuals whom he is obligated to defend if he believes his or other persons’ lives are in danger. 

This concept states that bringing a pistol to a knife fight is not acceptable. The force used in self-defence must be equal to or greater than the force used or threatened to be used in the situation. 

Five Common Martial Art Forms Suitable for Self-defence

Martial arts are a combination of several arts of physical combat and self-defence without the use of weapons and originated from East Asia. It is also a form of sport in many countries. There are over 100 types of martial arts with different origins, and they are practised for various reasons, including self-defence sports, self-expression, discipline, confidence, fitness, and meditation.

Read Also: Learning Martial Arts in Nigeria: How it Works

Some of those that are suitable for self-defence include:

  1. Taekwondo 

 Taekwondo is a martial art that has its origin in Korea and was founded by Choi Hong Hi. This art form focuses mainly on the legs and how to deliver a powerful kick, as our legs can deliver heavier strikes than our arms. It is an excellent basis to start with as you will develop your flexibility and agility.

  1. Judo

 It is one of the most popular martial art forms because of its realistic effectiveness and availability. Judo is typically a grappling-based martial art form that involves throws, locks, sweeps, and everything that has to do with grappling, which is an innately human way of fighting; our arms and hands evolved to grasp and hold.

  1. Kung fu

It is only natural that kung fu will be on the list of self-defence mentioned. It is perhaps the closest we have come to martial arts from childhood by watching the animation Kung Fu Panda. Kung fu training goes beyond just fighting or self-defence; it is an art that develops the body, mind, character, and soul.

  1. Karate 

Karate is an umbrella term used to describe smaller styles and branches of martial arts. It has its origin in Japan, and Gichin Funakoshi is considered the pioneer of the form. Karate combat employs the use of hands and feet to deliver and block blows. It is more effective than taekwondo for self-defence if mastered properly.

  1. Muay Thai

Muay Thai is a very versatile martial art form for self-defence as it allows you to fight and strike at any range. It is also called the art of 8 limbs, which represents the use of elbows and knees, fists, and feet to strike. 

 A thorough knowledge or little knowledge of any of these five martial art forms will sufficiently help you defend yourself and your property while also developing your body, mind, and character.

Which of the listed above have you seen in action or interest you the most? Kungfu? Taekwondo? Please share your thoughts on our Whatsapp community page with other fantastic readers.

Five Self-defence Techniques Without Martial Arts

It is possible that martial arts centres or trainers are not readily available, and proper training dojos are not exactly affordable for the average man or woman. I got you! 

There are other techniques to help you practice self-defence and effectively protect yourself. While some of these techniques may work in certain situations, you might not be able to use them in others, as every situation is different. They include;

  1. Maintain a safe distance from your attacker or assailant

Putting a distance or space between you and your attacker makes it easy to assess the situation and act quickly, as you will need that space to fight back or run for help.

  1. Maintain a non-confrontational stance

An attacker assumes you are unable to defend yourself, so you have an advantage of the element of surprise. Compared to when you take a judo or karate pose, your attacker will get more aggressive as he expects you to fight. So, a non-confrontational stance is advised so when you need to strike back, it will not be expected.

  1. Do not panic when you are down

Yes! It is unsettling, but it gives you a chance for either of these attacks: the eye and knee strikes. 

The eye strike is just driving your fingers into the attacker’s eyes, which will give you a chance for the knee strike, which is hitting the groin area with as much force as possible.

Read Also: How to Stay Calm Under Pressure: 7 Useful Tips

  1. Don’t pause at any point in time. 

The fight is not over until the attacker is unable to harm you. So yes, kick and hit with all force and aggression where it will hurt, target areas such as the groin, the throat, and the thigh. And feel free to grab objects around as weapons. 

  1. Never try to win. 

It is not a movie, so you should leave the scene of the attack once you get the chance. If there is an opportunity not to engage your attacker and flee from the scene, that will be way better, too.

Another bonus tip is to own a pepper spray, carry it around with you at all times, and keep it in your homes as well. You can easily make pepper spray by pouring a pepper and water mix into a spray bottle.


Self-defence gives you confidence, and knowing you can care for yourself and protect your property and loved ones makes you feel safer. As much as you can protect and defend yourself in violent and threatening situations, it is also essential to try and steer clear of threatening environments and persons, as prevention is better than cure. 

The world can be scary sometimes, so learning to be safe online and offline is essential. If that sounds great, Subscribing to our Newsletter to get updates like these will keep you informed.

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