The best defence of all is awareness … of your surroundings, your options, the situation and your abilities.

Let’s use the example of going out to your car after a meeting, outside an event or establishment or even late at night coming from shopping.

Once you step outside, are you aware of your surroundings? As you approach your car, do you look around? If not, you should. This is being aware of your surroundings.

Do you pull out your keys as you get closer and if you have a remote button do you unlock it as you come up to it?

Before getting in, do you look around as well as inside your vehicle?

Once inside, do you lock the doors?

What weapons do you have at hand if you were assaulted? The keys in your hand could be used. How you hold the keys is important and what key is used also should be a consideration.

This applies to getting out of your car or house as well as going to it. Bags or books could be thrust between you and the assailant to gain time to run. Change in your pocket can be thrown in the face of an assailant.

Never be shy to use your voice. And, of course, any training you have had regarding using parts of your body such as fingers, fists elbows, knees and feet all could and should be used to protect yourself.

If you are walking somewhere, what should you be considering?

Proper lighting.

You do not want to walk through dark areas at night. Just as we seek the light in our life, we also need to seek the light when we are out in the dark.

Walk where there is light.

If you feel you are being watched or followed, try to stay toward the road side of the sidewalk and not against the darker side. Even walking on the road is better than giving someone the opportunity of grabbing you.

Do not be concerned about disturbing someone if the threat feels real. Look for lights on and where people are living.

Physical Projection

A story I used to tell people is of a real study conducted in one of the worst neighbourhoods in New York City many years ago.

I believe it was a university that took a large group of students into the section of New York that was infamous for the violence there. They had, over a period of time, the students walk through the neighbourhood and document how many times the students were accosted, approached, threatened.

Following that, they put the students through a series of training regarding self esteem, body awareness, martial arts training posture, eye contact, etc …

Then they had the same students go through the neighbourhood after this period of training and found the incidence of accosting or threatening gestures dropped dramatically.

What it came down to was the students projected a much-stronger image, one of strength, self confidence and presence, than what they had shown before the training.

Instead of seeing someone who looked like a victim, intimidated by their surroundings, the assailants found people with strength and confidence.

Not exactly what an assailant wants to see. Those who prey on others will always choose someone who looks weak or unsure of themselves. This is seen in schoolyard bullying and family settings.

Next time, Time & Space and Weapons & Tools and Physical Training

Todd Hardy has studied and taught a variety of martial arts for over 38 years and has trained with many people from around the world. Would you like to comment on what you read here? Contact him at [email protected].