As you are reading this I'm sure most of you have either attended a self defence seminar or taught one. We spend a lot of time on techniques and how to bash the bad guy and so forth. We mention awareness and avoidance but do we emphasize it as much as we should?
The fact is if you’re in a street fight you’ve probably missed at least 10 things that got you there. No matter how big the next Super Datu Ninja Commando Killer Fighting System it still isn't as effective as plain old awareness and avoidance. No matter what, the best way to survive any violent conflict is to never be in it.
However there are a lot of well meaning and inadvertent fear-mongers out there that make this seem unmanageable and overwhelming when they cover it. It can be very confusing to someone new. They can make it sound like you need to be afraid every time you leave the house. This of course is wrong. The changes you need to make are actually pretty small. I've put together a few exercises and tips in this article that I have picked up along the way that will help you get a reign on this subject in a proactive way. I didn't invent any of this and I'm not the first to write it down but I hope this will help you feel a little less overwhelmed.
Let's look at an exercise. To my knowledge it doesn't have a name but that's ok you can make up your own name for it. If you sit down and actually think about it you don't really go to as many places as you probably think you do on a regular basis. I'm guessing you probably really only go about 7 or 8 places. Now in this we aren't talking about vacations or anything like that this is about your normal daily routine.
For me I go to the track, grocery store, the gas station, etc. Just normal places like that. I want you to get a piece of paper and write down all the normal places you go routinely. Once you've done that I want you to ask yourself some questions. Ask yourself in any one of these places - What, How, Who, Where, and When would I be attacked? Do it for every location you wrote down. You'll come up with things you never thought about and you'll already be finding solutions. Still a little confused? I'll do one with you as a sample and we'll use a grocery store. It's some place we all pretty much have to go.
Who would attack you?
This is a question only you can answer. It could be a random mugger sure. Does someone have a reason to be mad at you? For example do you owe someone money or going through a nasty divorce where child custody is involved. This can vary from person to person and depending on time and location. Take some time and think about it. Put some real thought into it.
How would they attack you?
Would they just bum rush you? It's possible but probably not. The large majority of these assaults or attacks start with some type of verbal exchange. In self defence circles it's often referred to as the interview phase of the attack where you are being sized up. Let me give you a few tips on how to tell if something doesn't fit. I'm sure others could add to this all day but these are some good ones.
1. Looking around as they approach - Someone says, Sir or Ma’am do you have a moment? Then they look around for no apparent reason as they approach you. This is very odd, they could be looking to make sure there are no witnesses; they could be looking to see if there is a security camera up that could identify them. Either way, this is out of the ordinary and you should be leery of it.
2. The arms don't move as they approach - In anthropology humans are what are known as diagonal walkers. That means when the right foot moves forward the left arm sways a little bit. It's normal for people's arms to move. In the animal kingdom when animals lumber around on all fours it's perceived as a sign of anger and aggression by other animals. It should be perceived that way by you as well. This should also be a trigger for you to look at the hands. Are they clenched? This could also be a tell that they are concealing a weapon in one hand or the other.
3. Watch for the weight shift - When a person shifts weight and begins to blade their stance an assault could very well be imminent. This isn't always noticeable and definitely isn't noticeable if you aren't paying attention. This could very well be a chance for a pre-emptive strike on your part to escape. They could also be using this to attempt to conceal a weapon draw from a pocket or waistband. A good idea in this case is to look at the elbow. Look in the mirror and try to take something from your waistband without bending your elbow outward. Probably can't do it can you? That's a good thing to know.
4. Protect your space - Of course the best thing to do in these circumstances, when possible, is to get the hell out of there. Barring that, if you see any of these triggers don't let them get near you if possible. Get loud and draw attention to yourself, curse if you have you. You don't have to let them into your space. If something doesn't feel right it probably isn't. Do not ignore your intuition. Intuition is a great tool and you should listen to it.
With what would they attack you?
So let’s say you blow all of that stuff. Are they going to be empty handed? Is it just a plain old assault? Would they have a gun? Would they have a knife? Do you have training to deal with these things? If not maybe you need to find some. Honestly it could be any of those things. As a general rule your money isn't worth your life. If that's what it's about just give it to them. Even if you have some training there's no guarantee that you won't be stabbed or shot. However if they are attempting to move you to another location you probably need to fight. They could very well be moving you somewhere else to kill you there or do something else to you.
The Where and the When.
These two may be separate but for this example of the exercise they are related. I picked the example of the grocery store. As far as the where it probably isn't going to be in the produce section. I just can't see someone flying up out of the lettuce bringing the Black Death. In a public place like this the usual culprit will strike when you are on your way into the business or on your way out of it headed back to the car. To deal with this only requires common sense.
This could also be true of a parking garage. Don't talk on the phone on the way to your car or text. If your car isn't a keyless entry then get your keys out before you walk outside. Be aware and confident; don't look like someone who isn't paying attention. Just simple things like this make a huge difference. The when of this situation is basically going to be when it's most opportune for the attacker.
I know there are grocery stores and super-markets that stay open all night. Some people like to shop there late at night because there is less of a crowd and it's more convenient for them. Remember safety in numbers? It's more convenient but also more dangerous. If you’re going to do this, try parking as close to the entrance as possible, where it's better lit. Take someone with you when you go shopping. If you’re not comfortable, ask someone in the store to walk you to your car and in most cases they will.
In closing, take a night when you aren't doing anything and sit down and write this out and do this exercise. Be proactive about awareness and avoidance. If you do this you'll be surprised at how much you teach yourself. A lot of the places you go the techniques will overlap. You’re going to find out this is easier and more manageable than you ever thought. You don't have to be afraid to go out and live your life. Just be smart and change simple things. Do this exercise and you'll be surprised at just how much more aware you become without really even being conscious of it. Most of all don't be afraid to do the things you do and don't let anyone tell you that you should be. Just simply be cautious and use good judgement. Be aware and be safe!