Recently, a woman was attacked while walking her dogs on the “rails to trails” in Vernon. Fortunately, the woman did all the right things during the altercation and was able to scare off the attacker. The story can be found here. But this event started me thinking that an article about some basic self-defense for the average person might be a pretty good idea.
Now I may be a bit biased, but as the owner of a martial arts school, I think an excellent way to keep yourself out of harm's way would be to take some classes. I can’t teach you how to fend off an attacker in an article. But what I can do is give you some ideas to help keep yourself safe out in the world. So here are some basic concepts.
Don’t go it alone.
Funny that this still needs to be said, but you’re much safer when you’re with someone than when you’re by yourself. I know, sometimes you just want to get away from it all. Just realize that your chances of getting attacked are much higher. As the old saying goes, there really is safety in numbers.
Avoid the night
Avoid isolated areas when venturing out after the sun goes down. This isn’t about being paranoid, it’s about being prudent. For example, don’t be the last one leaving the mall late at night and then walk out to your car alone. If it’s that late, and no one else is around, ask the mall security to escort you to your car.
Don’t think your dogs are going to protect you
While some dogs might tear into someone trying to do you harm while hiking out on a trail or in the woods, many won’t. It’s certainly better to have a dog or two with you if you’ve got nobody else, but don’t be lulled into thinking that you’re perfectly safe because your dog is with you.
Keep your wits about you
I get that being attacked is going to send most people into a state of panic, but panic puts you at a disadvantage. That’s another good reason to train in the martial arts. While training, we purposely put ourselves in difficult situations all the time. We do this so that, God forbid, if we’re ever really attacked, we’re less likely to go into panic mode. The more clear of mind you can be in an emergency, the better you’ll be able to handle it.
If they ask you for your money or your bag, give it to them.
Money can be replaced. A Coach bag can be replaced. You can’t be replaced. The goal is to get yourself out of the situation alive and unharmed. Don’t make the mistake of escalating a situation into an all-out fight when all the other guy wanted from you was a few bucks.
If attacked, yell, scream, scratch and kick
I think it’s pretty safe to say that most attackers aren’t hardened criminals. Most of these perps don’t want a problem, they just want what they want. If you put up enough fuss, they’re likely to take off for easier prey. This is exactly what happened in the recent assault in Vernon and it worked like a charm.
Yell and scream as loud as you can. It might attract the attention of someone you don’t see. If nothing else, your attacker will be worried that you’ll attract someone’s attention.
If the attacker grabs you or takes you to the ground, scratch and kick like a wild person. Kick or knee the groin, scratch at the face, arms, and neck. Scratch wherever you can. The more damage you can do in the first few moments of an altercation, the better your chances are of scaring off your attacker.
Having to defend yourself while being attacked is the most difficult self defense of all. I tell my students that if you ever have to use your physical skills to defend yourself, then you’ve failed as a martial artist.That’s because there is so much you can do before an altercation happens to prevent its occurrence.
I always say that the self-defense you do BEFORE getting attacked is the most important self-defense of all. Don’t think “that can never happen to me.” That’s what every victim of an assault thought at one time or another. You are important — people around you rely on you and would be grief stricken if you got hurt or killed. Take a little time to think about how you can make yourself a bit safer while you go about your daily routine — for yourself and those who love you.