The Ultimate Guide to Unarmed Self Defense by David Erath Jr. of FunctionalSelfDefense.org is a really good book about practical self-defense. As all good books about this, it emphasises prevention, awareness, and avoidance and scenario-based training. But it stands out thanks to its focus on effective training methods and its approach to physical self-defense, namely the “covered blast” - i.e. staying “covered” against the aggressor’s (counter-)attack through the combination of distance, positioning, attacking, physical blocks, physical control of the opponent - and its “FSD Fundamental Five,” simple conditioned default responses that are applicable against a wide range of attacks and follow the covered blast principle (Hit and Run, Blast - a continuous attack, Hack and Smack Entry, Crash (into a punch attack), Crack (a blending of the previous two), Takedown Defense, Clinch Entry).
The strategy in FSD - when violence is unavoidable and “hit and run” is not an option - is to use one of the fundamental five to achieve physical control of the attacker, primarily via the Head and Arm Control or Arm Control, so that the most potent weapons - knees, elbows, and joint locks - can be applied.
As the author stresses, physical self-defense requires practice - a lot of it. He builds on an existing good base, namely the “MMA Base,” which combines techniques from boxing, Thai boxing, and Jiu-jitsu, and is taught in every other gym. He then adds self-defense realism to this sports-oriented base with effective attacks (targeting eyes and groin), avoiding high kicks etc., and the aforementioned “covered blast” and “fundamental five.”
Regarding training, the author promotes “progressive resistance” and “progressive integration.” A new technique is first introduced and then trained in cooperative drills with progressive resistance, i.e. starting slow and relaxed and progressing to fast and hard, as the practitioners become comfortable with it. Finally, they learn to use them in sparring with a fully uncooperative partner (as in a boxing match). (You can also introduce “random flowing” as a transition between the two, essentially a cooperative drill with some randomness.) New techniques go through this progression and are added to the integrated mix one by one. The last step - uncooperative sparring - is crucial.
Chapter 8: Environmental Applications explores practicing for real-life situations. My favorite practice is where the “attacker” approaches you, asks a question - and sometimes attacks, sometimes continues the conversation, sometimes goes on.
Krav Maga is mentioned as a very good self-defense system - though it always depends on the quality of the instructor.
You can learn lot about the content from the many posts and videos at FunctionalSelfDefense.org. And if you are interested in the prevention and de-escalation of violence and what is it like in a real life, you must read Rory Miller’s Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence.