The new is full of reports regarding people getting mugged, robbed in their homes, kidnappings, rapes or just general assaults. As a result, self defense training has become increasingly popular; both armed and unarmed. Hundreds – dare we say, thousands – of martial arts schools teach effective and non-effective methods of how to escape or control a situation where an individual has been attacked.
The truth is, if you have to use those techniques, you missed many opportunities to prevent the attack in the first place. This article is about how to build good self defense habits to keep yourself safe regardless of your environment.
Habit #5 – Avoid noisy places
One of the tactics people are taught if attacked is to scream and make a lot of noise. That is rendered useless if the environment you are in is already noisy. Crowded bars, open-air concerts and large dance clubs are some of the worst locations to be in from a self defense viewpoint.
There is a LOT of activity, the noise will cancel out any pleas for help and the people around you are more concerned about what they are doing than your safety. Does that mean that you need to stop enjoying these events? Of course not!! Just be smart about where you go, who you go with and your position in these events.
If you want to go to these large, people-strewn, noisy places, go in groups. It’s always better to have people you trust watching your back than to try to tough it alone. These places are perfect for double or group dates where you are in a public venue. There are several benefits to this.
- Your date is more comfortable because he/she is among friends and can relax.
- If you have to leave the group as a whole (i.e. a nature break), you can take backup.
- You have someone to watch your drinks and possessions if you choose to leave them at your table.
Positioning is just as important as numbers in these venues. Here are some tips to help you remain safe if you find yourself going to a large, crowded and noisy place.
- Locate and stay near an exit. Most venues have 2-3 entry/exit locations to help with traffic. This doesn’t mean you have to be right on top of it; just try to stay within 15-20 feet. This puts you in view of the posted security and discourages attacks.
- Stay where you can see the whole room. Some locations have room dividers or half-walls. Stay away from these. They are false locations of security and someone meaning harm could be using them as cover for their actions.
- Don’t go near parking lots alone. Cars are perfect cover for malicious activity and the get-away vehicle is readily available. Take friends.
Habit #4 – Take corners wide
Whether in the city or in a rural area, there are buildings, rocks or other large object predators like to hide so they can ambush their prey and take them by surprise. A surprised victim is easier to control because they are reacting instead of thinking and responding.
Knowing what is around the next corner before to turn is a good way to be
prepared for what you are about to encounter. Note any low-hanging objects, suspicious people or uneven ground that might have surprised you and taken you off guard.
Pay attention to lighting and the width of a corridor you want to go into. Is it wide enough for a weapon? If it is, what does the space allow for; a bat, a knife, a firearm? A firearm fired in an enclosed space will likely deafen the user as much as harm the target. A person holding a firearm on you in a small space (unless it is suppressed or they are wearing ear protection) is not likely to fire and is probably using it to threaten You can take advantage of that by pointing it out to the attacker.
If someone or something was trying to hide, where would they be? Play a game with yourself and try to pretend you are an attacker. Where would you hide? This serves not only the ability to preempt an attack, but if you need to hide, you have already located a likely location.
Habit #3 – Engage your environment
Knowing what and who is around you within 30 feet at all times is something every self defense instructor cautions. It’s good advice, but not what we are talking about here.
Be friendly, smile and say hi. A happy and outgoing person is less likely to be attacked as a person trying to keep to themselves and not be bothered. Ironically, a person trying not to draw attention is going to draw the most attention from the wrong people. If you see something that catches your eye in a positive way, say something about it.
“Hey, nice shirt!” or “I love your boots” turns strangers into unwitting and instantaneous backup and witnesses. This also keeps your eyes moving around you and you are more likely to see someone out of place than if you had your nose in your phone.
Habit #2 – Walk against traffic
We teach our young to walk against traffic to avoid being hit. Again, this is good advice. It serves a self defense purpose as well. A kidnapper or someone meaning harm is less likely to turn their car around to get you than if they could just drive up next to you and take action.
A person on foot is more agile than a person with a vehicle. If a vehicle that you can’t see inside suddenly turns into a parking lot you are walk near and heads toward your location, you will see it coming and have time to take action. Ducking into a business or into an area the vehicle can’t go is perfectly acceptable to avoid any trouble.
Habit #1 – Look both ways
We teach our children at an early age this tactic to avoid getting hit by cars as they cross the street. We can use the same advice to note anyone following us, see if someone is too close or note any strange behavior. It only take an extra second and will save you a lot of hassle in the future if you know what and who is around you.
I, personally, make the habit of looking behind me as I turn a corner; looking into the area I am leaving. I don’t make a spectacle of it. I just glance or use my peripheral vision to check to see if anyone is following me into the new area.
Too many people are more concerned with where they are going than where they have been. This gives a potential attacker an effective “safe zone” to use to hide in the open and get close to their chosen victim. A quick glance in the direction you came from will help make sure that victim isn’t you.
Safety isn’t an accident. It’s a choice.
Make a conscious effort to work for your own safety. It isn’t what you carry or the years of martial practice that is going to let you get home to your loved ones safely. It’s knowing what is around you and some simple practices and habits you can develop that begins the process of self defense.
If you have any questions or have something you want to add, please feel free to drop a comment. Have fun and be safe, my friends.