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'Self-protection' is simply used to refer to any proactive methodology that is adopted with the goal of preventing harm from coming to oneself. 

Not Always Violence-Related

'Self-protection' methods are not limited to dealing with violence. While much of the time violent encounters with other entities becomes the focus of most peoples' self-protection training, just as there are many other threats to one's safety so too there are many other possible focuses of self-protection training. For example, many self-protection practitioners maintain awareness of, set up and train procedures for dealing with:

  • The threat of fire and other domestic hazards
  • The threat of extreme weather and the effects of changing climates
  • Political, legal, exploitative and sociological threats that are not in themselves violent
  • Threats to health and wellbeing, including psychological, emotional and social issues
  • Threats originating from technology, for example the Internet, industrial pollution and electromagnetic frequencies
  • Threats originating from outside the confines of Earth, for example spaceweather and falling objects

Proaction and Reaction

Proaction is the act of creating or controlling a situation by effecting changes in it.

Reaction is the act of responding to a stimulus.

Distinction from Other Terms

'Self-protection' is often used synonymously with other terms, such as 'self-defence', 'fighting', 'combat' , 'military combat systems' and 'martial arts'. For the purpose of clarity in communication, ESP practitioners adhere to simple, clear-cut distinctions between these terms. The terms are not, however, always mutually exclusive, which should be borne in mind.

As a simplified reference, here are our usages of the terms (click through to the respective articles for more detail):

  • 'Self-protection' is a proactive system of concepts and training as aforementioned, often focussed on the threat of human violence more than other threats but this may not always be the case.
  • 'Self-defence' is a reactive system of concepts and training, usually focussed solely on responding to violent human situations but this may not always be the case.
  • A 'fight' is a consentual violent encounter between two or more individuals. This can be within the confines of a sport or game as a competitive fight with rules, or it could not be. The distinguishing factor here is the fact that the participants want to participate.
  • 'Combat' is simply the state of being in a violent situation.
  • 'Military combat systems' are systems designed for multiple people fighting multiple people in opposed groups of affiliation by any means, on any scale.
  • 'Martial arts' are much more difficult to come to a satisfactory definition for, but a workable definition is any system of martial practice that is concerned with aesthetics or artistic creativity. Even this is problematic, mainly due to the varying usage of the term 'art', though it is a workable terminology usage for ease of discussion.

Note that these definitions are meant to be descriptive rather than prescriptive; they are not attempting to label the systems people train in or to place value judgements on them or their practitioners. They are merely a description of the way the terms themselves are used by ESP members, in order to offer clarification and resultant efficiency in communication on these topics. They are also subjective and, as all terminology in real linguistic use, subject to changeable definition in contextual placement.