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Self-Defence And Awareness

Author: Yvan Moise, Issue: March 2004, Topic: Safety

Self-defense is not about pretty techniques or playing games. Forget what you have seen in the movies, because most of the time these characters are held up by ropes and are often facing opponents one on one. Self-defense is not a game with rules, nor is it a sport to be practiced once or twice a week. Looking at it this way, you can think that self-defense is very simple: it is about survival. Or, as I often like to think it's about being able to go home tonight and every night. However, self-defense does not start with the physical confrontation. It starts as soon as you get up in the morning and ends when you go to bed at night. By this I mean awareness. My personal opinion is that self-defense is 90% awareness and 10% physical technique. This article does not talk about techniques for physical confrontation (or how to kick someone's ass); it is an article about what I do to avoid bad situations.

Some Basic Awareness Skills

  • Use common sense. I can't stress this enough. I realize this may be difficult for many people, but do try your best :).
  • Get used to looking all around you often, especially behind you (most of us aren't born with eyes on the back of our heads). Be aware of your surroundings. * Try to always have an exit route anywhere you go. Next time you are in a restaurant or similar place, picture a scenario where you have to get out as quickly as possible. This might even affect the way you choose your table!
  • Also, most of us aren't very good at seeing in the dark, so stay in lighted areas! Avoid walking down side streets that aren't usually as well lit as the main roads. Even if this means your trip may take a whole 5 minutes longer, it may mean the difference between going home at night or...
  • If you are walking and someone is behind you and you don't feel comfortable, simply cross the street or, my personal favorite, pull over to the side and fake having to tie your shoelace while the person walks by you. If the person had ill intentions, this maneuver also allows you to scan your surroundings for anything helpful (i.e. other people, an exit, etc).
  • If you are on the train, avoid drunks, unless they are your friends. Though in Japan a drunk on train usually means harmless smashed businessman, when you return to your home countries drunks on trains could be trouble.
  • If you are traveling in a car, lock the doors. This surely must be common sense. When you leave the car, lock the door. Even if you are just running into the convenience store for 30 seconds. It only takes you and everyone else a few seconds to get in your car. Believe it or not when I return to my car at night I always check the back seat for any unwanted guests. If you can make this casual enough and you happen to notice someone is waiting, simply keep on walking and get help.
  • If you know that you will be alone later on, don't drink too excessively. How could you possibly defend yourself if you can't even walk?
  • Have a calling plan. When you get home safe, call your buddy to let them know. That way, if you don't call they will know something is the matter. I actually helped a friend with this system. He was passed out on his front lawn, which is usually safe enough living where I lived in Canada. But, it was in the middle of winter and his front lawn had 3 feet of snow on it. He could have easily gotten hypothermia overnight.
  • When you do get home, have a quick scan around you and it. If everything seems normal than proceed. Your awareness should not end here however. When you enter your home turn on some lights as soon as possible. Even though most of us could easily make our way around our homes in the dark, it is a good idea to turn some lights on and have a quick scan.
  • Trust your instincts. We are, after all, animals.

Please note that these are simply things that I have incorporated into my life. This was not written as a step-by-step instruction guide but simply as an informative article. Though this obviously is not an all-inclusive list, if it gets you thinking about your habits and helps someone out someday, then it was well worth writing.

Interesting Statistics:

According to http://www.wpxi.com/news/1913785/detail.html (FBI uniform crime report, USA, 2000), rapes and such incidents occur 34% of the time by people who are strangers to the victim and 66% of the time by people who are non-strangers to the victim.

The author would like to thank Mike P., teacher and friend

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