The most important element in self-defense is observation. With good observational skills you can defend yourself without having to use any physical contact. It is always better to avoid a situation than to confront one. The following guidelines would help to enhance your observational skills making you better able to defend yourself.
Observing people in your surroundings should be first and foremost. You should pay close attention to a person’s body language and note their distance from you; the closer they are the more alert you should be. You must observe if a stranger in your surrounding area is staring at you, if anyone is following you and if someone has an aggressive demeanor. This aggressive demeanor would be obvious in their body movements and facial expressions as most people can’t hide their emotions.
Also be cautious of people wearing big clothing and/or if their hands are in their pockets a lot. Big clothes can be used to conceal weapons and you should always have a person’s hands in your visual field.
When dealing with people your personal space is measured by arm’s length. If you feel someone has taken up your personal space, take a step back or politely ask them to give you some room. However, if someone is approaching you fast and aggressive you need to be assertive and let them know not to come any closer. If they persist in a threatening manner prepare to scream for help and/or run away in such situations.
You must also be observant about the environment you are in. If you are indoors, a mall or store for example, pay close attention to the exits and security guards if there are any. You must at all times have an escape route planned or at least someone to go to for help. It would be wise to note any objects in the area that an attacker could use to hurt you or that you can use to defend yourself.
Trust your instincts to help you determine if someone is a friend or foe. Remember not everyone approaching you would intend to hurt so be kind and respectful but at the same time note your escape, help options and potential weapons in your surroundings for example a stone, stick or anything that can cause some damage.
These simple tips are fundamental to any good self-defense training. Observing your surroundings and the people in it, could help you avoid sticky situations or provide you with a means of escape. Observation gives you the knowledge to form a plan of action if threatened in your specific environment. Be aware of the tips mentioned before to help protect yourself.
Approaching your car
Recap from last time; be observant of your surroundings. Pay attention to people, their body language and distance from you. Also look out for security and people who would be able to help if you need. Finally, look for objects that can be used as weapons in your surroundings for your self-defense.
It is common knowledge that approaching your vehicle can be a time of vulnerability, you must always be cautious as you can never tell if someone is targeting you. You should always be mindful that you can be targeted by either someone you know (someone who may have a personal vendetta) or a stranger (someone who may view you as an easy target to rob). Whatever the reason going to your vehicle provides a good opportunity, therefore precautions must be taken.
Proximity is the most obvious rule here, it is always better to park close to the building you entering. This allows the advantage for having a shorter distance to walk and also a cry for help is more likely to be heard.
There are times a close park seems impossible though so practicing our observational skills from our previous lesson will come in handy. Ensure that you know where the security guard is, notice if anyone is lingering around your vehicle, and take a quick scan of your surroundings for weapons to defend yourself.
You may feel confident to approach your vehicle if there isn’t anyone around, however this is WRONG. Instead of going directly to your vehicle it is good practice to walk pass it so you can view all around ensuring no one is behind your Vehicle.
If all is clear at this point, and you feel you can carry about yourself carefree you would be WRONG AGAIN. Now as you approach your door look through the windows to make sure there isn’t anyone inside waiting for you and while opening your door pan your view for anyone approaching you. When you are in the car ensure that you lock your doors immediately.
Scenario one; as you approach your car you notice one or a few, people lingering nearby. In a case like this you can call upon your observational skills to decipher if the people may be a threat. Focus on their body language and if they are close to your vehicle especially on the driver’s side. You can also activate your car alarm to reveal if the individuals are threatening or not. If they clear the path to your vehicle when the alarm sounds you can proceed cautiously however if you still feel anxious you can get security to escort you.
Scenario two; it is dark, lonely and there are no security guards or help available. In this instance if you notice anyone lingering around your car, do not go further, call the police, it is better to be safe than sorry.
In a worst case scenario where you may have to defend yourself and you have not observed any weapons you can use your keys. Take your keys in your hand and form a fist allowing the key to extend through your index and middle finger. The face, neck and groin should be your main targets of these ‘key fist’ punches. When you are safe then you can call the police.
While these are basic tips for you to keep safe, it is highly advisable to get self-defense training to learn techniques to supplement these as it can save your life.