“The very least we can do to fight crime is to protect ourselves.” — Steve Pearl
Defense Sense is a monthly offering of practical tips for your personal self-defense. There is no “magic bullet” in self-defense where if you have this one weapon, this one idea, or one martial arts blow that will solve all of your personal security issues. Self-defense skills have more to do with what is in your head than what is in your hand. If you are committed to your family’s safety, you will continue to learn and practice good sense living.
When to Shout
Never scream, honk your car horn, or make noise when a criminal is close enough with a weapon to do serious injury to you. Your voice can be powerful defensive weapon when used at the proper time. If you are putting packages in your car when you notice a person intent upon getting inside your “safety zone,” shout “STOP” “NO” or “GO AWAY” while they are still at a reasonable distance. If you are being chased, all of the noise you can generate is appropriate. If a hurtmonger with a knife is only three feet away and you start shouting, what would be the easiest way for him to shut you up. That’s correct. You may have heard advise from “experts” for years to just make a lot of noise if you are being assaulted. Since your voice is a defensive weapon, it makes more sense to use this weapon at right time. If an assault has not gone physical yet, you do not want to do anything that will escalate it to that point. If, however, you are already in the middle of a physical attack, it is time to use your voice and everything else in your self-defense arsenal.
When on the street or any other vulnerable situation, do not allow strangers inside your safety zone. Ten feet is very reasonable distance for conversation with a stranger. Never give away money or a light which requires letting a person on the street inside your safety zone. It is quite obvious that in certain locations like the city bus or subway and other public areas, close proximity is necessary. We are talking about areas where you are by yourself or at least far enough away that you could be attacked and the people a few hundred feet away would be of no help to you. If you are pumping gas and someone approaches you obviously intent on getting close to you, ask them to stop when they are about fifteen feet away. Use an imperative phrase like, “SIR STOP” or “I don’t mean to be rude but I do not know you, can we talk from right here?” You can also move to another area like the other side of your car to see if this person is still committed to making contact with you. If they continue to approach, you still have plenty of time to move away. This would be a great time for one of those defensive shouts. This is not paranoia, it is intelligent defensive tactics.
The Element of Surprise
Do NOT tell an attacker what you are going to do to defend yourself. A threat from you is only a very clear signal to the hurtmonger that you are not ready to defend yourself yet. I read some material from a self-defense instructor that advises those under attack to say, “ look here sir, I have a can of pepper spray and I am not afraid to use it.” HOW STUPID! If you have any weapon or means of defending yourself, do not let Mr. Dirtbag know about your plans. Can you imagine the football players in the huddle telling the other team what they plan to do on the next play? When you find yourself under attack, use any and all means available to you in order to stop the assault. Surprise may be the ONLY advantage you have, do not give it away.
Shopping Cart Weapon
Don’t laugh, the little metal cart that seems to always want to go in a direction different from the one you want to go is a great defensive and offensive weapon. Always carry a shopping cart out of the store with you even if you can easily carry your packages. The shopping cart become an instant safety zone if someone approaches you quickly from between the cars. If a stranger addresses you from behind, just turn the cart around and face them with it. It is a very non-aggressive move. If it is merely someone asking for directions, you have not had to use your “stop right there dirtbag” response on them. Should it become necessary to defend yourself, your little four-wheeled friend becomes a very handy weapon. Push the cart hard against one of the assailant’s feet and continue to push. With one foot trapped under the basket, the center of gravity of the person begins to move backward as well as his body. One final big push with all of your packages dumping on top of him with be your next blow of defiance on your attacker. Now would be a great time for shouting, banging light poles, yelling police and setting any new land speed records that you have been working on.
For a woman going out with someone she doesn’t know, take this simple yet effective precaution. When your date comes to pick you up, have him come in and sit down while you “finish up” a few things with your getting ready. Pick up your phone in front of your date and call a friend or their answer machine and leave them a message which will include the guy’s name, his cell phone number and what time you expect to be back home. You can incorporate this information into a cute story and make a joke about it. You have just left a trail behind in case this person has any less than honorable intentions. Use this technique anytime you are going somewhere by yourself with a stranger. It can also quite handy to “throw up a yellow flag” when you have a service person in your house that is making you uncomfortable. Ask the repairman how much longer he will be on this job. Again, in front of him, call someone, imaginary or not, and ask them to come over when they are finished shopping. You have just put an unpredictable twist to the situation which should make him more eager to get his work done and leave.