Self-Defense for The Rest of Us
Violence in the news
. . . against religions, immigrant or racial groups. Violence in the streets, violence threatened by our government – it’s enough to make you want to lock the doors, crawl into bed and cover your head.
Some people are stocking up on guns and ammunition. But for most of us at Emergency Plan Guide, daily life goes on without dramatic changes that include firearms.
Still, if you’re feeling less secure these days, it’s worth taking another, no-nonsense look at personal safety and self-defense.
1 – Martial arts skills are a potent defense for some.
Trained martial arts masters no doubt have a much better chance of surviving a violent attack by someone without a weapon or even with one. In fact, everyone can become more skilled, without having to become a master. (I’ve seen classes advertised for children, for young women – “Don’t get raped” — and for senior citizens.)
I think even I could handle several of the self-defense moves illustrated in this article: http://www.cracked.com/photoplasty_1376_16-self-defense-moves-to-impress-your-friends-muggers/
But – and here’s the big caution. I am NOT in the best shape of my life. I have NOT trained or practiced these moves. I’m NOT confident that I would remember exactly which move to apply when. And I don’t have a martial arts class in my future.
So what about you?
In other words, unless you are willing to sign up for a professional class and become proficient if not professional, a casual approach to martial arts is useless and probably even dangerous.
2 — Mental attitude will KEEP you out of trouble.
Being aware is the very first defense, and is likely to be the key to your safety. We have written several times about the concept of situational awareness.
But awareness also requires action.
- If you find yourself driving deeper into the “wrong” neighborhood, an unknown part of town, or into a dark parking lot or alley – make a smart decision, a quick U-turn and simply get out of there before you put yourself at risk.
- If your normally familiar neighborhood or work environment suddenly “feels funny” – you see people you haven’t seen before doing things that don’t make sense, hear sounds that could be gunshots – make a smart decision and remove yourself (and your family, no matter how much they resist) before something happens.
- if you enter what we’ve learned to term a “soft target” area – like a mall, movie theatre, sporting event, or shopping area – make constant note of alternate ways to get out of the area. In an emergency you’ll know just what to do and you won’t be trampled by all the others who will naturally try to get out the way they got in.
All of these mean you have to 1) recognize a potentially dangerous situation and 2) overcome doubt and other people’s criticisms or reluctance and 3) GET THE HELL OUT.
Explain or defend your actions later.
3 – When you have to fight, your ultimate goal is still to get away.
There may be a time when your “antennae” just didn’t work and you can’t avoid a person who is threatening you.
Or, and I hate to say this, YOU may have provoked a situation by threatening, annoying or insulting someone (Road rage? Street protest?) to the point they attack you. At that moment, you need to be able to let go of your own emotions and recognize the danger you’ve put yourself in!
Either way, if you decide that you must fight for your life, then commit to that fight. Any half-hearted attempt will be inadequate and could put you in even more danger.
Some self-protection suggestions that make sense to me:
Yell sharply and loudly right in the face of the attacker!
“BACK OFF!” makes it clear you are not going to be a willing victim. Your aggressive resistance may even be enough to make the attacker look for an easier victim. Note you are yelling at the attacker, not yelling for “Help!” from some unknown source.
Use what you have or can find as an improvised weapon.
If you have keys in your hand, use a key to scratch or cut. (If you are holding a whole bunch of keys in your hand, however, you are likely to stab your own palm if you actually hit something hard with that hand.) Hurl a handful of pocket change. Toss dirt or sand. Launch a pot of hot coffee. Spray an attacker with perfume or hairspray.
Use what you can to distract the attacker so you can get away.
Use “weaponized” personal items.
Any device is useless unless you understand how to use it, and you have it in your hand ready to use. This takes us right back to “situational awareness” and “mental attitude.” Here are some ordinary items that become weapons if you use them that way. Click the blue links under the images to go to Amazon to get current prices and full details.
I try to carry a flashlight all the time, for light and as a weapon. Lately, we have the choice of “tactical” flashlights that serve both purposes.
My favorite “tactical” flashlight has a ridged grip that won’t slip and a sharp front edge that would cut seriously when used as a slashing weapon. Here’s a tactical light that has a wrist strap for easy carrying, offers a super-bright m adjustable flashlight and comes in a gift box. The blue arrow points to the sharp edge.
I also carry a “tactical pen.” (The image at the start of this article shows it clipped to my purse.) It looks pretty ordinary but is anything but. It’s solid, heavy, has a pointed end and a thumb rest on the other end for secure grip. It could break a car window in an emergency. And plunging it into any part of anyone’s body would hurt BAD.
Here’s a better look and a link to the description at Amazon. There are other pens that are more pen than weapon, and pens with small flashlights built in. Take a good look to find what would suit you best.
Be prepared with legal, dedicated self-defense items.
In my estimation, carrying guns or knives requires a level of training outside the scope of an Emergency Plan Guide Advisory. But there are other options to consider.
Stun gun. You hold a stun gun in your hand. When you press it against the body of an attacker, its “electrical punch” can completely disable and disorient him for seconds or minutes, giving you the chance to get away. Before you purchase, be sure a stun gun is legal in your state or county. (For a lot more on stun guns – and tasers, which we do NOT recommend — see our earlier Advisory.)
I like the model shown below because it has a safety disable pin. If you lose control of the gun, the pin pulls out and it won’t shoot. It comes with a wrist strap, too – and in pink and black.
As I just said, for your stun gun to work, you have to press it against your attacker’s body.
That means the attacker is VERY CLOSE to you!
That’s why I prefer to carry a canister of pepper spray. It can shoot a spray at least 8-10 feet! (For more details, see this Advisory.) Anyone over 18 can buy and carry pepper spray.
Here’s one I recommend; I chose the pink color because if you bury this in a purse or briefcase, you’ll find it a lot easier if it’s colored. (This brand comes in black and aqua as well as pink.)
Does any of this make sense to you? Should you make a change in what you normally carry in your car or on your person?
Remember that in all these cases – driving, shopping, defending against an attack – you will only be successful if you
Make a quick assessment
Decide what to do, and
Here’s to your safety,
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team
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