Self-Defense: Take a Layered Approach

Self-Defense: Take a Layered Approach

When developing your self-defense plan, think in terms of layers. Build-up, or layer multiple defenses that an aggressor must penetrate before getting to you or your loved ones. To illustrate the concept of a layered defense, I will use personal protection and home defense as examples. There are endless ways to build a layered defense and the layers you choose must be personalized to your needs and capabilities.

Personal Protection Layers

When it comes to personal protection, physical confrontation should be your last option. Below demonstrates how can put non-physical layers of protection first.

  • Mindset & Intuition: These are two of your most powerful tools. Plan your actions so that you don’t give someone with the “desire” and “ability” the “opportunity” to do harm. Understand the crime triangle and do not get yourself into situations that make you vulnerable.
  • Situational Awareness: Constantly analyze your surroundings and recognize potential threats before they get close and present imminent danger.
  • Non-Lethal Weapons: If an aggressor were to penetrate the above two layers, have a non-lethal weapon, such as pepper spray, readily available. Pepper spray is highly effective and can be used from a distance.
  • Combatives: In order to get into a physical confrontation, an aggressor would have had to penetrate three layers of your defense. This is highly unlikely if you are diligent in making yourself a hard target.
  • Lethal Weapons: Finally, as a last resort, when all others options have been exhausted and you are in fear for your life, lethal weapons can be an option.

A layered personal protection plan should be organized into a force continuum. No force should be your first option, with lethal force being your last and only option.

Home Defense Layers

Taking the same approach as above, the idea is to create a “bubble” of layers around your home. Notice that the seven layers below can be external to your home. All of these are options to deal with an intruder before they even enter your home.

  • Signage: The most important part of a home security system is the sign. Even if you don’t have a burglar alarm, consider putting up a sign indicating otherwise.
  • Video Cameras: Letting someone know that you’re recording their actions is an extremely effective deterrent. Often times an intruder will see a surveillance system and simply move on.
  • Landscaping: Keep everything well-trimmed and make sure there are no hiding places. Do not allow shrubs to conceal areas around door and windows.
  • Lights: Motioned activated lights are effective because they introduce an unknown. When activated, it is not known whether or not this was done by a homeowner looking out to see who is there.
  • Dog: Dogs make excellent alarms. They scare off intruders, as well as alerting homeowners.
  • Burglar Alarm: Burglar alarms have three primary functions. They can sound an alarm, notify homeowners and call for help. Again, keep in mind that a burglar alarm sign is one of the most important components.
  • Locks: If someone is not deterred by the six layers above, you can make your home extremely difficult to enter. Reinforce your doors and windows with quality locks that well-anchored.

The idea is to make your home feel “prickly” and less attractive than your neighbors. You want to present your home as a hard target, one that would make an intruder select another home.


Relying on one layer of defense presents a single point of failure in your self-defense plan. This will leave you vulnerable. Create a bubble that is difficult to penetrate. Build your bubble in layers. Allow for multiple points of failure before harm can be done. With a little planning, you will be able to construct a formidable defense.

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