I have heard many, many well respected martial artists say that if you get attacked, your best option is to run away. You may have to engage briefly in order to create the opportunity to run, but ultimately, you're best to run away.
I can see a lot of logic in that. I see little point in reiterating points about risk of jail, risk of getting beaten up and possibly even killed etc. Such points have been made many, many times before.
But very often, this sounds advice to run away is presented as a one size fits all solution. It is not. In some scenarios I think it is terrible advice.
We know that your typical opportunist street thug likes to choose what they perceive to be an easy target. An old person, a very young person, someone with a physical disability for example.
Let's say I, as a mid 40s slightly overweight man were to get attacked on the street by a spritely teenager. Should I run away? If he runs after me, he will easily catch me, only whereas before it would have been my strength, skill and experience against his, now I'm out of breath and he is still full of energy.
I'm also a family man. What if a group of young thugs were to start while I'm out with my wife and kids? Do I run away and leave them to fend for themselves?
Perhaps the recurring advice to run away is really just meant to make people feel less bad about what they'd probably do anyway. Instinct drives us to move away from danger. Such instinct is good. It keeps us alive. But there is another instinct that we strangely overlook despite training it every time we step into the dojo. That is, to become the danger. Instead of the one size fits all advice to run away, perhaps we should explore the use of posturing and such to try to make the threat go away, rather than running away and leaving our slower family members to fend for themselves?
As an aside, this is built in. Dogs are especially good at it. Anyone that has ever seen a small dog try to ward off a much larger dog will know this. Small dog has no chance if it really turns nasty, small dog probably knows this. But small dog makes so much noise and shows such ferocity in its face that bigger dog often decides it's taking no chances.