Self-Defense for Women - an Action Plan for Safety
As a police officer and a karate and self-defense instructor for many years, I have found the most important element of self-protection is to understand the concepts. The most important aspect of self-defense is your knowledge and cognitive skills.
We need to have a systematic response in crisis. The way we respond is determined by our training and experiences. Responding effectively to a crisis requires discipline and knowledge of these concepts. These concepts will overlap in meaning and application - much like a meal, these concepts work together for the final product. Our goal is for you to reflect on these concepts to help you be prepared for an emergency. My buddy, Zig Ziglar, says, "Proper planning prevents poor performance!"
Two Types of Capture
Physical capture - When you are physically trapped, or when it is inevitable because of closed surroundings.
Psychological capture - When you become trapped because of intimidation, threat, or demand.
Four P's for Self-Defense
Perceive. Be aware of potential danger.
Prevent. Avoid situations of high risk. Be proactive.
Plan. Plan for safety. Criminals plan. You had better plan too!
Prepare. Physical preparedness. Get in shape. Learn self-defense.
Perceive. Be Perceptive.
Most victims say, "It won't happen to me." We must first perceive that there is a possibility of danger. Then, we must follow the other three steps. It is never the fault of the victim in a crime for being a victim, however, it is best to safeguard against becoming a victim in the first place.
We need to be aware of our physical limitations. These limitations may be due to our health, physical environment (such as being on a plane), or that of our clothing and shoes. We also need to be aware of our surroundings, and see what objects may provide weapons either for us, or to be used against us.
Be aware of the perception that you leave others. If the attacker perceives that you are strong and confident, you are less likely to be a victim. A bully picks on the weak to be their victims. Keep your head up, eyes open wide, and have a strong and confident smile. Look at the person, without staring or a look of condescension.
Prevent. Prevent the Situation.
Safety. It is best not to walk alone. Having a friend walk with you decreases the likelihood of an attack and increases your chances for survival.
Stand properly. In order to protect yourself, your stance is important. You should have your feet as wide as your shoulders, with both feet at a slight angle. It should feel natural. Turn your feet in the direction of where you want to run. Your elbows and knees should be slightly bent (for proper circulation and better mobility). Stay in a monk's position, or in a shielded position. Our eyes must make eye contact. until you decide to run.
Invest in safety. Locks, alarms, and safety deposit boxes are good. The biggest investment you will need to make is your time. Take time to go over these ideas on keeping safe - it is best to explore these ideas with a friend or family member.
Plan. Plan for any situation.
Make a Plan (MAP). Know where you are at all times. Let your friend or family member know the route you plan to take when traveling. Keep your car well-maintained.
Know your surroundings. Observation skills are interrelated with awareness skills. We need to be aware of our physical surroundings. We need to be aware of the people within those surroundings. When you walked into this room today, what did you notice? Did you see new faces? Did you notice the mats and equipment? Be careful of tunnel vision. Develop peripheral vision. Learn the difference between a soft gaze and a hard gaze.
Look around you and know your immediate surroundings. A good example is what can happen to you if you walk to your car without seeing strangers approach you. We need to be aware of your surroundings at all times. When we walk to our car parked car at the mall, or when we get off work and walk to our car parked in the lot, are we really aware of our surroundings? We need to perceive the risk of potential danger signals.
Tunnel Vision vs. Peripheral Vision. When you walk to your car, are you more concerned with getting your keys out of your purse or pocket than you are about your surroundings? If you see several bikers sharpening their knives near your car, or a panel van parked next to your car, will this cause you to be alerted to the possibility of danger?If you are so focused on getting to your car, but not the surroundings, we call this "tunnel vision." Tunnel vision can be dangerous, and none of us are exempt.
Know where to go in an emergency. Go to well-traveled places such as the police department.
Keep a safe distance from strangers. The greatest advantage you can have is distance from the attacker. The easiest time to escape is before physical or psychological capture.
How to keep calm in a storm - from going into psychogenic or neurogenic shock.
It is important that we don't become like a "deer in the headlights." If we tighten our muscles, lock your elbows and knees, close our eyes and hold our breath, we are vulnerable to attack and injury. When we perceive danger and become startled, we usually have a tendency to "freeze" and close our eyes. For example, if you are facing a car in an impending head-on collision, the tendency is to freeze, hold our breath, and close our eyes. These things are counter-productive to our effectiveness to protect ourselves. We have to change our physical response to the perception of danger. This takes practice! If in the above scenario, where a car is headed your direction, it is more practical to relax, breath, keep your eyes open, and re-direct your car. This is only possible when your perception is one of an opportunity for a positive outcome - this is only possible from confidence developed from training - especially mental training!
Below are a few physical actions that will help you to be effective in response to an attack:
- Keep knees and elbows bent. In order to have balance, mobility and to be able to block, you must keep your elbows and knees bent. This will also help your circulation and ability to think because of oxygenation and circulation of your blood.
- Breath control. Remember to breathe. Holding your breath slows you down and makes you more vulnerable to injury.
- Keep your eyes open. Having your eyes open allows you to see and remain analytical. Closing your eyes leaves you vulnerable and unable to recognize opportunities to escape,. When your eyes are open you are using a different receptor site on your brain than when you have your eyes closed. Blinking your eyes causes you to vacillate between both receptor sites.
Look assertive. We must learn eye contact.
Learn confidence. One key to survival is having the confidence to act in an emergency! Knowledge without action is useless! When you know that you are prepared, it gives you confidence in your abilities.
Build self-confidence. Here are some suggestions.
- Train in public speaking. According to Time Magazine and U.S. News and World Report, people are more afraid of public speaking than of dying by a fire or drowning. Get in front of a mirror and practice looking confident. Sometimes we have to act confident before we ever really become confident. Read aloud to your children, teach a Sunday School Class, or take a public speaking course.
- Put yourself in the position to do what you fear the most.
- Get involved in a self-defense class where you can learn physical self-confidence. Those who exude confidence are less likely to become a victim.
Stress inoculation. When you go to the doctor to get a vaccination, you are having a safe introduction of the substance introduced into your system, and your body builds immunity. When we train together, we introduce a safe version of dangerous scenarios to you in a controlled environment to give you the skills that you will need in an emergency. This training builds competence, thus, it builds confidence. This is called "Stress Inoculation".