The Shiv Akhara, being an ancient institution has a rich oral tradition. This includes elaborate battle chants, verbal formulas, advice for self-defence, and, as to when and under what circumstances combat can be utilised.
The traditional self-defence advice is thus:
"Let the Guru's Sikh remain cow-faced (i.e., adopt a humble demeanour in life). If some evil person antagonises you, annoys you and won't let you be, and, if it becomes a question of defending one's Dharma, honour, family or self; when all other avenues have been explored, then only as a last resort, take up weapons. Know then either I will die or the opponent will die. Then, as a tiger pounces upon its prey, you pounce! Do not hesitate for a blink of an eye! Do not look backwards (i.e., be decisive in action). Know that the Guru Baba [Nanak as my cause is just] protects me. Then, apply technique and strike down the enemy and save oneself."
Punjab in ancient times was a dangerous place where self-defence, in general, involved responding with lethal force. Today's Shastar Vidiya 'Sava Rakhsha' (self-defence), though derived from those ancient times and capable of responding with lethal force, has been adapted to reflect more civilised and relatively gentler times. As Gurdev Nidar Singh Nihang states:
"There is no point doing a bit of defence and then going to prison for twenty years or so. Like to everything else in life, give an appropriate and measured response which results in the best of results for you and all concerned."