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Self defense teaches you how to defend yourself by building reflexes that become natural so that you don't get hurt or stunned if you get caught off guard by an attack.
If you get hurt or stunned during a fight, everything will become vastly more difficult to pull off.
You ultimately fall a step behind in the fight and put yourself in more danger.
Having good awareness and good reflexes, by training them, is the key to not being caught off guard and maintaining your awareness in a real life threatening situation.