Global Self-Defense: Truth, Justice, and a Knockout Left Hook

Zack de la Rocha sez: “If ignorance is bliss, then knock the smile off my face.”

Often, the only way to know if a battle can still be won is to keep on fighting. Sometimes, when all seems lost, all it takes is one punch to turn the tide. A Left hook, perhaps?

Contrary to popular opinion, cinematic fisticuffs, and fighters with poor fundamentals, the hook is not a wide, looping punch that originates somewhere in left field and leaves the puncher exposed. They call it a “hook” precisely because your arm position should resemble a hook: a 90-degree angle at the elbow with your palm facing down at the point of impact.

Some basics from my book, Self Defense for Radicals:

  • Tuck your chin down into your left shoulder
  • Pivot your hips, waist, and front left foot in the direction of the punch; torque your whole left side to generate power without expending too much energy or movement
  • The hook can be thrown as part of a combination (e.g. jab-cross-hook or jab-hook) or as a single punch to catch an opponent who’s on the attack
  • Mix up your targets: Hook to the head, the body, or double up

“When using a left hand leading stance,” says Michael Margulies, owner of East Side Training, a mixed martial arts (MMA) gym in New York City, “your left hook is essentially thrown outside of your opponent’s vision.” Using a right hook in such a stance can leave you wide-open for a counter. The hook is an economical blow that, when executed properly, has the full force of your body weight behind it and is awfully tough to see coming. Margulies concludes: “It is a knockout blow that can stop a charging opponent in his or her tracks and change the momentum of any battle.”

Hmm…is that metaphor I smell brewing?

As you read the above, I’d imagine you sensed some big picture musings in phrases like “catch an opponent who’s on the attack” and “change the momentum of any battle.” Make no mistake about it, the battle lines have been drawn and the corporate and military bad guys are winning. Big time. That means: No More Mr. Nice Guy.

Being nice has gotten us undrinkable water, polluted air, and often inedible food. Being nice has us believing that coal is clean, nukes are green, and climate change can be reversed by switching to recycled toilet paper. It’s time to not be nice…and that also means keeping your toolbox full.


Let’s say you’re a handy man/woman/human and you get hired for a job. I’m guessing you’d bring your full toolbox to the worksite. After all, you can never be sure what might pop up and what tools you’ll need. In other words, if we have a job to do, it would be illogical to decide beforehand that certain tools are off limits. Keep all our tools at our disposal—even if some remain untouched—just in case.

Some Tools:

*We’re not victims (remember: victims are helpless) but we are volunteers. Due to our compliance and/or silence and/or inaction, we’ve played a role in bringing our culture to the brink of social, economic, and environmental collapse.

*We’re not being “attacked” for our choices. For the record, I prefer to save the word “attack” for, say, those being targeted by American predator drones (subsidized by our tax dollars and thus launched in our name).1. Accept our role

*We’re not being judged as guilty. It’s a little too late for that.
*We’re not being judged as innocent either. We’re all participants and/or witnesses.

*We may think it’s not “fair” that we’re the generation that has to change everything about the way we live…but to paraphrase Clint Eastwood in The Unforgiven: “Fair’s got nothing to do with it.”

*We are not alone. There are more of us than you ever imagined. As Utah Phillips reminds us: “If you can’t change (your community), if you can’t make this place where you work and live better, then where can you? Just get busy.” If you feel like you don’t have a community, create one. By the way, Utah Phillips also sez: “The earth is not dying. It is being killed, and the people killing it have names and addresses.”

2. The 4 R’s of defending our collective soul
(to be taken as literally or metaphorically as you choose)

Reality and Reaction

*Self-defense “moves” rarely (if ever) work and can cause you to not trust your instincts as you struggle to remember what you’re “supposed to do.” Memorizing a few moves before a conflict is not unlike only learning 20-30 words prior to a spelling bee.

*The attacker always has the advantage—at least initially. He knows before you when, where, and how he’s going to attack.

*Your first option: run. If you can’t run, create and maintain distance from your attacker(s)

*Know your enemy: Expect the worst because that’s exactly what you’ll get.

*Facing a weapon can be frightening but some weapons can serve to “limit” the attacker’s psychological approach and thus, his options. Exploit that advantage.

*Practice awareness of your habits, surroundings, routines, and overall “presentation.” Don’t allow yourself to be an easy target.

*Contrary to popular belief, you are never unarmed. Use your body and/or whatever you can get your hands on. Plus, as Ice T declared: “My lethal weapon’s my mind.”


*Decide in advance to survive. Ask Derrick Jensen explains: “The Jews who participated in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising had a much higher rate of survival than those who went along. We need to keep that in mind over the next ten years.”

*Condition your mind to defend what you love (read: courage)

*Condition your body to endure—through exercise, lifestyle choices, and healthy, earth-friendly eating habits (read: vegan diet)

*Take time to learn some useful tools like kicks, punches, blocks, etc.

*Anything goes: There’s no such thing as fighting “dirty”


*Memorize these 13 “magic words” when dealing with your local occupying army, I mean, police: “I am going to remain silent. I would like to see a lawyer.”

3. Face up to your fears

Participating in sustained direct action is not a popular choice. It could put us at odds with our friends, family, and community. It could jeopardize our careers. It could even lead to direct conflict with law enforcement officers. Scary stuff, for sure. But ask yourself this: What frightens you more, being judged for getting ticketed for disorderly conduct or comprehending that 80% of the world’s forests are already gone? How will you answer when future generations ask what you did to defend all life on earth?

There are good reasons to be afraid. There are better reasons to be bold.

It’s time to deliver a collective Left hook…

Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook.

Print Friendly
  • laura kenney

    I don’t think we’re killing the Earth. We’re making it uninhabitable for our species and lots of other(unwitting) ones. As George Carlin said, “The Earth will shake us off like a bad case of fleas.”

    Nice piece, Mick!

    • Mickey Z.

      Thanks, Laura..while I’ll agree you are technically correct, I personally dislike that literal distinction because I feel it plays down the devastating impact of human culture. The fact that life may re-blossom long after humans are gone offers no solace to those (human and non-human) who are suffering and dying today.

      With 200 plant and animal species going extinct PER DAY and our landbase (including oceans) approaching a point where it may not be able to sustain much life for a long, long time, I feel comfortable quoting Utah Phillips when he uses the phrase “killing the planet” as a wake-up call.

  • Anita Hullavacheck

    I have been researching activism in US History and watching what is going on all over the world and I have noticed some things that work and some things that dont. The Black Panthers did a lot right.1. They had great charismatic leadership of young thinkers with great ideas. 2. They served their communities with day care, community gardens food pantries and youth activities. 3. They united activists from across the racial and legal spectrum creating a true “rainbow coalition”. 4. They organized and drilled in a theatrical way forcing authority to take notice. 5. They caught the popular interest creating a greater movement. 6. They included women in a uniquely egalitarian manner so that no ones talents were wasted. The panthers were so sucessful that COINTELPRO destroyed them with a brutality and savagery that defy imagination.
    It is important to understand what we are up against so I suggest reading about COINTELPRO.
    Workers, unions, women ,LGBTs,and racial minorities need to unite with environmentalists. We are fractured by identity politics so we fail to make an effective fight.
    The bottom line for me is understanding that we are all human beings, including the police and that you can’t out evil, Evil.
    As a society we must refuse to participate any longer. No, you can’t have my kids for your wars. No, you can’t drill my land and water, No I won’t pay your taxes. No, I won’t buy your gas. No you can’t drive your coal trucks down the road, no you can’t move your goods by truck at all,no you can’t have an electrical grid, No, you can’t use the airport.
    A general strike and nationwide labor slow down is what I think would work. A nationwide labor slow down would bleed corporate america by having production slashed AND having to pay workers salaries. They could not hire replacements just more workers to work slow and collect a check. I got that idea from an IWW old timer. We should be students of activist history so good ideas and succesful strategies from the past can be modernized and used now.

  • Pingback: Bring the Noise: Can “Occupy Wall Street” Revive Left Activism? | The Fair Share of the Common Heritage()

  • Pingback: Occupy Montana: Howling in the name of wolves | The Fair Share of the Common Heritage()

  • Pingback: Occupy4GeneralStrike (#HitEmWhereItHurts) | The Fair Share of the Common Heritage()

  • Pingback: Occupy Infoshop » Occupy4GeneralStrike (#HitEmWhereItHurts)()

  • Mike

    This is going to seem extremely off topic, but have you heard of Thorium? Specifically liquid fluoride Thorium nuclear reactors? I just need to throw it out there everytime someone mentions “nukes”. If you haven’t please look into it. I’ll just say that if “the people” had LFTRs the world would be pretty darn different.


  • Pingback: exohuman | Some Things are Bigger than Any of Us()

  • Pingback: Occupy Participation #SomeThingsAreBiggerThanAnyOfUs | Am@zing Nieuws Blog()

  • Pingback: Occupy Radical Fitness: #MaintainMilitantMuscle | The Fair Share of the Common Heritage()

  • Pingback: Occupy Radical Fitness: #MaintainMilitantMuscle « Centre of the Psyclone()