While I would never recommend physical violence as a solution to any problem, sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where we are left with no option but to fight back for personal safety. This is especially so for women who are accosted by thugs and criminals. When a peaceful approach is not an alternative by any stretch of imagination, you may need to adopt a more aggressive form of self-defence. This is where lessons from Krav Maga, the martial art form, can come to your rescue. The motto of Krav Maga is: “So that one may walk in peace”.
Here are some ideas from Krav Maga that can enhance your safety and minimise your chances of becoming a victim:
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Develop a good ‘street sense’ by knowing who and what is around you in your environment. While this certainly doesn’t mean living in a state of constant paranoia, it does mean not doing things like walking down the street while texting on your mobile device and wearing ear buds while jogging.
- When confronted by a threat, your first reaction should be to escape. If you can’t run, defend yourself until you are no longer in danger and then run.
- Don’t tempt fate by hanging out in dangerous places with people doing, shall we say, ‘less than intelligent things’. Maybe it’s a sketchy nightclub in the city or a local park after the sun goes down. That little voice inside your head will tell you. Be sure to listen so that you can minimise your chances of getting in danger.
- Don’t make yourself an attractive target. Resist from flaunting money or other valuables in public, such as electronic gadgets or the car keys to your new Lamborghini that’s parked outside.
- Have a personal ‘zone of safety’ and be alert if someone crosses that line. This is based on personal preference and could be anywhere from 1 to 2 metres. You obviously need to relax this rule somewhat for crowded locations such as the subway or a concert but in these environments you need to remember to still be on the alert.
- If you are mugged and there’s no escape, give the mugger what they want—unless it’s too much. Many times, a mugger simply wants something from you such as your wallet, purse, or cell phone. These are meaningless things in the grand scheme of things and can easily be replaced—hand them over. Your life and personal safety can never be replaced. If the mugger wants something more than you’re willing to give up, however [say, your child or yourself] then it’s time to fight like a wet cat to defend your life.
- Never go with your mugger to a secondary location. Stand your ground and fight if you need to but never leave with your attacker as worse things will certainly happen.
- Attack first as a last resort. If you are in a situation where a physical altercation is unavoidable, when there’s nowhere to escape to, you should always attack the threat first. There is no time to wait for the first punch to be thrown by the bad guy. If you must fight, attack hard and fast to neutralise the threat, then escape to safety.
- On the street, there’s no such thing as a fair fight. Violent attackers will do whatever they need to do to get what they want. They follow no rules and oftentimes don’t have many limits to what they’re willing to do to you. Thankfully, this doesn’t apply only to your attacker but also for you. If you must fight, make sure that you fight dirty. Use whatever is at your disposal to get you out of a dangerous situation and into safety: a chair, rock—almost anything can be a weapon.
- Don’t expect pepper spray or a house key clutched between the fingers of your clenched fist to be your ‘clever’ self-defence option. Far too many people place too much faith in these simple and often ineffective strategies and end up becoming easy victims. For example, did you know that deploying pepper spray often disables the person using it just as much—or even more—than the person it’s meant to hit? Or that a key wedged between the fingers can greatly injure the fingers of the person using it more than their actual attacker? You need to continually upgrade the self-defence tools in your arsenal to increase your odds of staying safe.
In whatever way you choose to protect yourself in today’s world: by learning Krav Maga, upgrading your ‘street sense’, or training in some other martial art, remember that you are the one ultimately responsible for your own personal safety. You owe it to yourself to know as much as you can and to arm yourself with the best tools at your disposal so that you can stay safe and live out that motto, to never become a victim of street violence and to always walk in peace.
Although the fundamental techniques of Krav Maga can be performed by practically anyone, the martial art is not for everybody any more than square dancing, fire-eating, or foie gras is. Like all martial arts, Krav Maga has a high dropout rate among new students, as much due to it being physically demanding as it is due to people realising that it is simply not for them. Nevertheless, if a student decides that Krav Maga is right for them, and they’re willing to commit to it, they can succeed regardless of age, gender, or physical fitness level.
This was first published in the March 2014 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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