Last week we reviewed the Vital Spots. In this post, we are going to learn how NOT TO BE A VICTIM! In Simple Self Defense our primary goal is to GET AWAY! We have multiple "weapons" available to us to help us achieve that goal.
The lady above is biting the attackers arm. The woman below is kicking the attacker in the face.
We've talked about the 10 second rule and about being prepared, having a plan. So this week, start thinking about weapons.
One of the biggest reasons I started teaching self defense is because I could not find a simple self defense class out there. I didn't have the time that was required for traditional classes. I'm not going to be able to "take down" an attacker by kicking his ass, but I am going to be able to distract the attacker long enough to get away.
We all have vital spots, spots that for one reason or another are more susceptible than other spots.
If someone is grabbing you, trying to trap you or choke you, most probably they have both their hands on you or their intention is to grab you. You have TWO FREE HANDS, TWO ELBOWS, A HEAD, TWO KNEES, TWO FEET, AND TEETH. Use them as weapons. In the movies, you always see victims flailing their arms about, trying to grab away the hands of the attacker or punching them on the side of their arms or their chest. Go for the vital spots to disable an attacker and GET AWAY!
Practice and memorize these vital spots. Practice them on/with a friend or a spouse until they become instinctive. Have them come at you from the front and from behind. And practice GETTING AWAY!
Yesterday I went to "the pond", which is our private pond, passed down from my husbands grandfather. I was the first to arrive and all by myself in the middle of the woods.
Sure, we have neighbors who might be able to hear me if I screamed really loud. They may respond or they may pause and think to themselves, "Was that a scream?", and then wait to see if they hear another scream or identifying sound. By then, who knows what could happen.
I did bring my fearless dog Madeline with me, but she was too busy fishing to pay my safety any mind. So it was all on me.
Before I even got out of the car I grabbed my keys. Remember, one of the 7 Rules of Safety is everything can be used as a weapon. If someone came at me, I had them in my hand and could hit them across the cheek bones or bridge of their nose. Now, my keys are one heck of a set of keys. I have 3 keys on it that I need and the rest are there to add volume, to make a bigger impact! Anyone hit in the face is going to bring their hands to their face. That definitely will give you the edge to get away! By carrying my keys on a lanyard, I not only have a weapon, I also have easy access to "getting away". No jumping in my car looking frantically through my purse while the guy stands there trying to bash in my window. Whenever I see that scenario on a t.v. show I can't help but yell out loud at the t.v., "why did you not have them in your hand?".
As I got out of my car I scanned my area. No one was around and there were no signs that someone could be. Certainly a car or a lunch box and towel could indicate someone was there. I looked around to identify the places that someone could hide. I looked for places that I could hide, or that I could run away to if I had to. I also looked around for other weapons. So in about 10 seconds I knew that someone could be hiding behind the porta-potti, but if I ran in front of the green shed they a.) couldn't get to me fast enough and b.) it would put me closer to the main road and a place where if I screamed for help I could be heard! There was also sand everywhere and if I grabbed a handful of it and threw it in someone's eyes, I'd have an even better chance of getting away! I am not a 3rd degree black belt and although I know I could briefly defend myself, my ultimate goal is to GET AWAY.
Now I don't want to build a world of paranoid people, however if we all just take 10 seconds to scan our environment we are simply being prepared. We also look like we are confident, which in itself can be a deterrent. Criminals are looking for easy target, not someone who looks like they will put up a fight.
So what is the 10 second rule? Take 10 seconds and scan your environment and make a plan!:
Look for places where people can hide
Places where you can hide
Do it right now. You have a timer on your phone or your computer. Set it for 10 seconds and look around. Notice how much you can see and be aware of in 10 seconds! Now make that a habit.
Attackers use the element of surprise to take advantage of their victims. Using the 10 second rule can help us to take that away. If you are AWARE and PAYING ATTENTION, you take away their element of surprise!
One of the reasons I became a Self Defense instructor was that I could not find a class that was short, sweet and to the point! Every class I found was 2 hours on Saturday mornings for 6 weeks, or had a similar schedule. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. Great classes, full of content and form and postures. It just wasn't right for me at the time. I wanted something that I could learn on the spot and use immediately to protect myself and my family.
Have you ever seen a police officer walk with their head down, hands in his pockets? They walk with confidence, constantly scanning their environment looking and listening for clues. One of the best forms of self-defense is to act like a cop! Become AWARE of your surroundings. When you are aware, you take away the element of surprise and are prepared!
The most important thing I learned was to not put myself in a position that I had to defend myself. I was surprised at how many times in one day I compromised my safety simply because I was not paying attention. One of my best teaching moments was when my dog needed to go relieve herself. It was late at night, I was tired and she was whining. Walking grudgingly down the stairs, I walked over to the door and opened it and there was someone standing there. What did I do? I screamed that backwards scream, the kind that takes your breath away but makes no sound and alerts no-one. It happened to be my son, so I wasn't at risk. But I was. If I had just taken 2 seconds, I would have turned on the outside light and looked out the window first and seen him standing there. I would have taken away his element of surprise. I would have given myself time to lock the door, get away and call 911, instead of having to fight him off!
How many times have you been watching a tv show and there's a holdup happening at a convenience store? You watch that person walk in the door, walking into that "ring of fire" simply because they didn't look in the window first. I'm sitting there screaming "stop texting and look up!". If they just followed the 2 second rule, they wouldn't have walked in and saved themselves and others. They would have stopped, ran to their car, locked themselves in and called 911 as they drove away to safety!
Look before you open that door.
Turn outside lights on.
Scan your environment before you walk into it.
Where could someone be hiding?
Where could I hide if I had to?
What's the easiest way to get out of here?
Was that door open before? Why is that window open, it was closed when I left?
Check your surroundings searching for any potential threats.
Listen for sounds. Screaming is definitely a sign. Listen for footsteps behind you as you are walking or slowing vehicles.
We also have something called an Internal voice. Does it just feel like something's wrong? Then it probably is. Intuition is the chill down your spine, the tightening in your stomach, the hair standing up on the back of your neck when you just don't feel good about a situation or a place you are in. Don't ignore those feelings. Respect them and respond accordingly! Whatever your instincts are trying to tell you, pay attention to them!
Avoiding or preventing an attack is the best form of self defense! Take 2 seconds to scan your environment. Make it become a habit, starting today. Stop walking and texting. Don't run with earphones in. Attackers are looking for distracted or unaware victims. Don't be one!
Don't be a target! Attackers are looking for easy targets. They choose victims that look tentative or pre-occupied.
Look at the above image. Who looks more vulnerable to an attack? Who looks strong? Who looks weak? Which one is going to fight back? Which one are you?
Now I'm not saying that people get attacked because of the way they carry themselves. However, based on my experience, research and training, attackers often go for the person that they think will be an easy target. According to a new study cited in Psychopathy and Victim Selection: The Use of Gait as a Cue to Vulnerability,” inmates chose victims based on their gait, on whether they "walked like an easy target."
Project a confident, assertive attitude by keeping your head up, back straight, having a peaceful face and body. People are less likely to be picked on if they walk, sit, and act with awareness, calm, respect, and confidence.
Walk with purpose and long strides, looking ahead and around you. When your head is up, you can make brief eye contact with people and you are much more aware of your surroundings, which is another primary component of safety.
“I am a bad ass and I am ready for anything.” Your body language tells any potential threat, I am capable, confident, and not going to be your target today.
When you are walking with confidence you're also balanced and stable and have the ability to defend yourself or flee. The confidence of your walk will transfer into your life because you feel and look good and strong and are able to absorb or deflect the energy around you, good or bad.
Now put this into practice. Walk over to a wall. Any flat wall will do. Stand up against it, bringing your heels, butt, shoulders and the back of your head flush with the wall. Arms are by your side, chin is parallel to the floor (not tilted up). Breathe in and as you breathe out, step away from the wall. Now slightly squeeze a penny between your butt checks. Yes, I know it's weird, but try it. That should set your core and bring your spine even more in line, essentially stabilizing your stance. Practice walking around like that, with long purposeful strides. Practice this until it feels normal. It is often said that it takes 21 days of repeating something for it to become a habit.Try walking with confidence with intention for 2 weeks and see what happens. Let me know here!
Peters, Justin. "Study Suggests Attackers Choose Victims Based on the Way They Walk." Slate Magazine. The Slate Group, 9 Apr. 2013. Web. <http://www.slate.com/blogs/crime/2013/04/09/journal_of_interpersonal_violence_study_suggests_attackers_choose_victims.html>.