What do you think of when you hear the phrase "Self Defence"
"Whoopah! Ka-Pow! HIIIIIYAA!" These are the sounds of masters at work… and super heroes. But chances are that you aren’t a ‘Master’, and I’m here today to tell you how to make all of your current skills- no matter your level- REALLY work for you, absolutely anyone can learn to defend themselves and the ones they love; regardless of whether you are an old master or a total beginner of martial arts.
Hundreds of students have been through the doors of Guardian Defence over the years, all have come to learn Krav-Maga and all have come for different reasons. Some have come to release their inner mortal combat player, others to gain the confidence they need to tackle everyday situations, many for fitness and all to have some fun along the way.
Since 2006 Guardian has been teaching people from all walks of life to "fight like a girl" that is to say, kick the butt of any who try to harm you or your loved ones.
Beginners learn how and when to strike and when to disengage, advanced students learn to defend against potentially armed attackers, disarm guns and how to defend others. The common factor however, between all levels of training from white rank, to triple black rank, is how to assess their surroundings and act defensively. The simplest form of self-defence, Situational Awareness.
Situational awareness, regardless of your level of capabilities, is the single most important part of keeping safe. At home, the grocery store, walking down the street and out in the clubs; if you are aware of your surroundings and are able to assess potential threats before they escalate, nine times out of ten you can de-escalate or avoid the situation altogether. You can only perform a bad-ass take-down as shown below, if you are aware of someone posing a threat to you!
Finding A Needle In A Haystack
I hear you saying “I have the reflexes of a Ninja! No one is getting close to me unless I let them.
The question I pose to you is: What does a criminal LOOK like?
**Insert your description here**
Burglars, thieves, rapists, murderers; there is no common physical trait that defines these people, no common facial makeup, no universal tattoo (though a teardrop may be a hint *) but no REAL identifier. They don't wear name tags or carry their rap sheet around with them. So how do you figure out who gets close and who you stay far, FAR away from?
No two attackers are the same, they do however, employ similar tactics. Most often attackers will use "interviewing" techniques to assess whether you are the person they want, or in order to get closer to you.
The Dreaded Interview
There aren't many of us out there that don't get nervous at the prospect of an interview, but what happens when you don't know you're in one?
Seemingly benign questions such as "Do you have the time?" or "Where is such-and-such bar?", or even "Have you got a cigarette?". These types of questions should raise a warning flag for you, sometimes the question is genuine and it's OK to tell people the time; but maintain your distance as much as possible to maximise your chances of evading attack and having time to react.
These types of questions give attackers an excuse to move closer to you (losing vital reaction time) It has the added effect of lowering your emotional guard. Suddenly you’re not imagining having to kick them in the groin anymore… you’re too busy looking in your purse or pockets for your phone or fags.
You might as well be wearing a blindfold.
The best thing you can do if you are uneasy about the person (your gut instinct is usually RIGHT!) Keep your guard up (hands at face height), creating a non-threatening, physical and psychological barrier.
If you are not in a public space where help may be available continue to move away from the person and say something along the lines of "I'm sorry. I have to go."
If they continue to close the gap in your personal space, you can be fairly certain that they want more than the time.
If it's dark, for the love of pete: Don't pull your phone out straight away, the brightness will take away your night vision making you more of a target. Again, get to a safe space before calling for assistance if necessary.
Full time criminals study all of these things, they know the tricks and so should you. All of the information is out there.
Which brings me to my next topic on situational awareness, Phones. Specifically, smart phones.
Smart Phones, Sitting ducks
Since the advent of smartphones we have never been more ‘connected’ to information and our friends and family, through the internet and apps. It’s great, I agree, but we need to keep our heads about it all. Becoming too engrossed in the wonderful world of the internet can have unintended consequences.
Take the story from the image above; on sept. 23, 2013 a man pulled out a .45- caliber pistol in the carriage of a light rail train in San Francisco. He raised it, pointed it across the aisle, put it down and continued to pull it out multiple times. Absorbed in their phones, not even one of the dozens of passengers noticed or reacted, until he fired a bullet into the back of a 20 year old man. Tragically, if they had not been so engrossed in the virtual world, a life may have been saved.
We listen to music, play games, look at Facebook and answer emails all day long while on the go, and miss a lot of what is going on around us in reality.
Do I Hear Bells Ringing?
Don't worry, it isn't tinnitus. It's the sound of the great new album your listening to, while you walk home from work, to your car, even while you jog.
The large headphones that cover your ears are pretty good at blocking external sound, the small ear-buds give you the illusion that you can hear everything going on around you, in reality both options are just like earplugs. Having your senses impaired or dulled by devices makes you less aware and more likely to be a target, attackers can see you from a mile off and you're an easy pick because you won't hear it coming.
In 2014, a serial “sex pest” was being hunted by police for preying on women in Melbourne’s West. All of the victims in this case were listening to music through headphones whilst they jogged, making them ‘soft targets’ - meaning they would be easier to attack or more vulnerable.
Instead of having both ear plugs in while on the go, have only one in, turn the volume down a bit, and always keep an eye out for trouble.
It's All About Confidence
Situational awareness is more than just ‘being aware’ of your surroundings. Rather than meekly avoiding eye contact and hunching your shoulders, walking and behaving in a confident manner can make you less of a target.
Most Attackers aren't looking for a fight, they want easy prey like a predator taking down an injured antelope.
I Am Not An Antelope!
Key points to NOT being chosen as prey:
Eyes up (looking down shows submission)
If you feel you are being followed, let them know that you know.
Look back confidently across your shoulder, scan for reflections in shop windows to see people behind you. Contrary to popular belief, showing people you know they are there, is more likely to deter someone than egg them on; again, they don’t want to take on someone who will fight back.
Take Away Please!
Learning striking techniques, movement and training your situational awareness skills, and just playing it smart, will help to keep you and your family out of harms way.
I encourage you to practice situational awareness wherever you go in daily life, try to pinpoint any potentially dangerous situations that you may put yourself in and think how you can make yourself safer.
Every Day Safety Tips:
Scan each new room or environment as you enter, including public transport and your home.
Check the cars parked either side of your car for people, and scan the back seat of your vehicle before entry. Lock the doors to your vehicle once inside.
Position yourself to face the door in cafes, restaurants and public transport, to allow you to assess new people entering the environment.
At Guardian Defence we want everyone to be as safe as possible, and always make it home safely!
We would love to hear about the ways you keep safe, and any tips for others you have. Please leave comments below!