06 January 2012

5 Most Important Skills For Protecting Yourself

5 Skills to avoid violence
Note: This is the first guest post published at Low Tech Combat! Go to Authors Box at bottom of post for more details of Author. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Low Tech Combat. 

It is unfortunate but we seem to be living in a more and more violent society. Inner city crime rates are on the rise again and the recent widespread riots across London and other major cities in the UK highlighted the extent to which criminal gangs control our cities.

As stupid as many muggers and thugs appear to be, some really are not completely dumb. Like any successful predator they target the easy prey. If someone is walking along the street looking confident, strong and alert then a mugger will often steer clear. It is when people are looking nervous, timid, day dreaming or simply too weak to defend themselves that a mugger will attack. So, to avoid a dangerous situation learn to carry yourself in a more assertive way by following these safety tips.

1. Stay Alert, Look Ahead

If you have a habit of day dreaming while you walk you may find yourself walking into trouble. A mugger often relies on the element of surprise and it is very easy to surprise someone who is walking along while day dreaming. Make sure that you are always looking ahead so that you can spot signs of danger. If you see someone, or a group, on the path up ahead that look out-of-place cross the road early to avoid them.

If you are walking late at night always be extra alert. This is the most dangerous time as most criminals only attack when it is dark and they are high on drugs or alcohol. There is nothing shameful about looking over your shoulder every now and then to check who is around you.

2. Walk Confidently but not Arrogantly

A confident person is rarely targeted by a mugger. This is connected with staying alert, but also you should walk with assertiveness and confidence. Just changing your posture can quickly change the impression people have of you.

Standing up straighter with your shoulders back and your chest puffed out slightly can ward off any would be attackers. However, do not look too arrogant as this can attract too much attention too and the moment your shield slips you become a greater target. Remember, attackers are just predators that prey on the weakest.

3. Know When to Run

There are really 3 key skills that could save your life - swimming, running and fighting. Swimming is not relevant on the street, so your focus on staying street safe should be running and fighting.

As brave as it may seem to take on a mugger it is always better to avoid a confrontation and there is no shame in running. There are 2 advantages of running from an attacker. Firstly, you may out-run them and get away without a fight. This is the ideal situation should the need arise. Secondly, if they do catch up with you and you are fit and have learnt to fight too, you should be in a better position to take them on.

Often though an attacker will not take chase. When a 26-year-old was attacked with a knife one evening in 2010 (Knife Attack in Burwell, UK) he quickly ran off which saved him from further assault and loss of property.

4. Use Quick and Effective Techniques

Never underestimate the fitness and fighting ability of a mugger - even if you have several years of martial arts training under your belt for they may have a decade of street fighting experience under theirs! It is for this reason that fighting is best avoided, but should you have to fight, make sure that you are prepared.

Ideally you should learn some basic self-defence and learn to strike where it hurts. There is no shame in attacking vital organs, you do what is necessary and then get out of there as fast as possible by running away from danger.

If you have to fight, make sure you strike hard and quick. Forget any soft styles you may have learned and never push someone off as this just gives them more space. If you find yourself in close you must strike hard and hopefully wind your attacker and then quickly make your escape.

When training in a martial art it is important to learn the differences between training and the real thing. When practicing in the gym you do not suffer from elevated adrenaline levels, tunnel vision and reduce conscious thought. In a real life situation these can occur and your training should teach you how to manage them and still make a clean escape. The key is to be stressed in training but calm in real life.

5. Stay Away From Trouble

Sounds obvious doesn’t it? But answer this: how well do you really know your town? After the recent trouble in London many people admitted they only just realised how many people were living so close to them who had such poor economic prospects.

Every year we hear that many people are living on the poverty line, but how often do you stop to question who these people are and how they survive? Staying out of trouble could be as simple as taking a slightly longer route home when walking, cycling or even driving. Know your neighbourhood, your streets and learn the safest routes.

Staying out of trouble also means avoiding dangerous nightclubs and even some house parties. Doormen in clubs are notorious for allowing people to smuggle weapons in. People carry knives, hammers and even guns into some night clubs.

These simple tips could keep you out of serious trouble. Although we learn martial arts to defend ourselves, the ultimate form of self-preservation is to not put yourself in danger.
“To have 100 victories in 100 battles is not the highest skill, To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill.” - Sun Tzu
And of course, even better than subduing an enemy is to avoid meeting one altogether!

AUTHOR BOX: This guest post was written for Low Tech Combat by Jack Roberts of Black Eagle Martial Arts.

Image via Lua Ahmed

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  1. Excellent. Wise advice and very well presented. Thanks to both Adam and Jack for sharing this.

  2. Good stuff. I am especially glad to see that tunnel vision was mentioned as it is what I experienced last time I had a confrontation with a small group of teenagers


  3. One drill to overcome this tunnel vision is to always ensure students are looking 360 degrees in any scenarios or when when they are sparring or when they have controlled an attacker such as have them in a hold. It is only when people scan 360 degrees in training that they will do it in the real thing

  4. I've lived in inner cities for a while, have had two sketchy experiences (quite good, for the scary stuff that could happen). One time, getting off a bus to walk the last half mile, a dude is checking me out. Asks me if I know what time it is (this I also consider a feeler to check your vulnerability). My headache and bad mood surely showed when I said "no". An apologetic or contrite answer is often reason enough for someone to decide you might be a good target. Grouchy, irritated, unfriendly people, not so much.

    Another time, walking home, very very tired, too tired to properly pick up my feet, likely look quite drunk. There's a deserted section between the shops/bars and where I live, and I notice someone following me. I look back, it's a woman wrapped in a blanket. I consider running, but am too tired. I turn around, walk back to her, and she all of a sudden looks scared and startled instead of menacing. I scream in her to back the f**k off, quit following me, and she does as I shuffle off, though she stands there yelling about what bitches me and my whole race is. Even crazy people don't like to mess with crazy people.

  5. Thanks for sharing your stories Julie. Interesting reading.

    In both cases, you defeated a potential attacker without fighting. It doesn't get any better than that. Well done.

    I wonder, what else about the woman made you think she was up to no good besides the blanket?




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