In the women-only class we were practicing defending against being dragged off by our feet. As a prelim I had them lay prone on the floor arranged with each defender a few feet ahead of their intended attacker. On "GO" they jumped up and ran, the defender trying to reach the safe zone before the attacker could catch them and drag them back to the starting line.
Some defenders were half-assing it because the knew their attacker wouldn't hurt them if they caught them. So I told the attackers to drag them back by their hair. Women generally hate being dragged around by their hair, so all of a sudden they were jumping up and running FAST.
But I really gave them no true head start & sometimes the attackers were just faster & would catch them & drag them back. So the question came,
"When should I run and when should I fight?"
I asked the class what they thought and as usual someone nailed it:
"You run when you can and you fight when you must." True!
One thing I notice in running these types of drills is that the fleeing trainee generally waits until the attacker has a hand already grabbing them or is starting to bearhug them. I personally think that's too late, because his momentum is going forward and he's already got the jump on you. To turn and fight at that moment puts you at a disadvantage because you're changing the direction of your own momentum and responding to his attack defensively instead of taking charge of the whole event. It's very difficult because you're making a decision in the blink of an eye within a frenzy of movement and being pursued by a predator tends to make people a bit panicky. So, I think we're going to keep practicing making that decision in the moment.
We did it again later out in the parking lot. The chasee got a 1 second head start running toward the building to get into the front door - which I had rigged to not open on the first try, so unless they could force it open they'd have to make their stand and fight. It was creepy! And again, the attacker was always right on top of them before they made the decision to fight.
So here's the rule we'll play by: Run when you can, fight if you must - but fight before they're physically on you and do it with everything you have and then RUN again once it's safe to escape. Get to safety.