When I was a green belt and working my way through the ranks towards black belt, a senior black belt put me in a headlock and told me to get out of it... Without moving!
No surprise, I couldn't do it. I knew there must be an angle or trick to it, but I couldn't fathom it out. The Sensei said he would tell me...when I achieved the rank of black belt!
I trained hard and worked my way to black belt, all the time trying to come up with a solution to the head lock conundrum. Years later, the day arrived, and I achieved the rank of black belt. I was desperate to find out the answer...
("total awareness" in Japanese)
...a concept that is an important part of martial arts. By being aware of your surroundings, you can anticipate danger and avoid getting into a situation where you might potentially be put into a headlock in the first place.
I thought this was a cop out, but the more thought I put into it, the more training I did, the more sense it made. So, be aware, and make your choices.
Years later, and three black belts to my name, my top three self defence tips are:
#1 zanshin (Be aware)
#2 avoid dodgy situations in the first place
#3 know how to defend yourself