The idea of training in self-defense or martial arts first requires you to understand that there are people out there bent on harming you or your loved ones. Harming you physically, emotionally, or financially; or in combination thereof. Hopefully no one reading this ever has to be in a situation where self-defense is required. But that doesn’t mean you should not prepare. You have smoke detectors in your home to protect you from the threat of injury from fire. You wear a seat belt in your car to protect you from a possible auto accident. And you’re here now, reading this, and contemplating how to protect yourself and your loved ones from bad people that mean you harm. That’s a good first step.
There is a popular saying in the law enforcement community: “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” When that drunk threatens you in the parking lot after your date night or that thief breaks into your home in the middle of the night, the police are unlikely to be nearby. You need to take personal responsibility for the safety of yourself and your family.
When I think about basic self-defense, I think about the core concepts that cover the “Four Ds” and only one of those Ds is the martial defense you are probably envisioning.
Dodge (, getting the heck out of). Avoidance is the first line of self-defense. Work to avoid putting yourself into a situation where you may be threatened.
Deter. Discourage a potential threat from even thinking about messing with you by instilling doubt or fear of the consequences. Don’t be an easy target.
De-escalate. Reduce the intensity of a conflict or potential conflict.
Defend. Resist an attack or otherwise protect yourself from harm or danger.
Home and car preparations
I believe generally that most of us in society in have a pretty set pattern of how to maintain a basic safety perimeter of control for ourselves at home. We have doors and windows that lock, outside lights, and maybe even an alarm system. If we are really on the ball, we have a good family watch/guard dog of medium or larger variety. “Raiden,” our family dog, is an excellent early warning system when there is any movement around the house and he doesn’t require batteries or an electrical outlet.
In this day of home invasions and burglaries, with my home gym out back behind the house, we make it a habit to know who is coming, going, or has called ahead just to drop by. In the daytime, if the doorbell rings and no one has called ahead to announce themselves, I believe in responding to such a surprise visit as a perimeter violation and I mentally prepare for the possibility of a surprise attack or aggression. During the evening hours my alert-response is even more heightened to such risks. My wife and I don’t have any children in the house, so we only have the two of us to keep track of. She or I will respond to the doorbell by actually opening the door only after assessing who it is or why they are on the property. Such basic skills as these are easily implemented into any household and can mean a serious increase in personal security and your family’s home safety.
A further consideration is when returning home or entering the work place. The area approached must always be visually scanned. The same is true when assessing a vehicle at any location. It must first be checked both externally on approach and internally before entering. A vehicle that lends itself to easily visibility on the interior is a good asset. For example, my truck and SUV would be difficult for anyone to hide in and are easy to visually sweep and assess. Environmentally, the surrounding area including bushes, other vehicles, or individuals walking or standing close by should be scrutinized. Driving awareness should be refined to include recognizing if any specific vehicle has been close by or following for any length of time. This is especially crucial for any family member approaching the home who does not recognize a vehicle tailing them.
In first seeing the potential threat, only then can preparatory or deterrent actions be taken. In contrast, when in a vehicle, even I have taken the precaution of driving past my home and around the block to approach my house more cautiously when needed. The bottom line is, for family security there are no details too small to consider regarding safety. Even if you are an expert in self defense there is great value in researching and documenting self-defense tips to display them where family members can view them; on the refrigerator, by the key rack, near the front door, or on the weekly To-Do list.
Basic measures for family preparedness
There are several basic measures individuals and families should take to be prepared. As we’ve previously discussed, the world has bad people in it that are bent on doing you and your family harm; be that physical, emotional, or financial. Being prepared is simply being smart. Some things to think about as basic measures for family preparedness. We’ll dig into these more over time.
Controlling your immediate environment-home.
Maintain security rules about immediate perimeter control.
Doors and windows locked.
Use and set alarm when alone and at night.
Call ahead if possible if you are arriving early, late, expecting a visitor, or bringing someone with you.
Always use caution when answering doors. Know who’s knocking before you open it.
Communicate location, destination and arrival time when driving.
Discuss work concerns, parking lot issues, access areas, and building security with family and other employees.
Maintain family communication-before, during, and after emergency situations.
Have cellular or direct telephone contact numbers for where you are.
As a family, discuss a safe central location to go to in case of emergencies, have home escape routes, supplies etc.
Decide on a contact list of friends so that any family member who is not accessible at the time of the emergency can contact some alternative source for information.
Research crime statistics, known criminal activity, and registered sex offenders located within your neighborhood or where you plan to travel.
Become acquainted with neighbors, local businesses, and police.
Teach everyone in the family how and when to use 911.
The last point above is an important one. Everyone knows to dial 911 in an emergency. But how much thought have you given to what you need to tell them. One thing that has been going through my mind since the recent Craigslist diamond ring, home intrusion robbery and murder in my hometown of Tacoma is to prepare a set of guidelines specifically for how to call and give information to 911. The child who called the operator to report the crime was scared but still answered questions in a lucid and concise manner. Emergency information preparation is something we all need to practice, in order to be mentally prepared with emergency communication skills if need should arise.
Inform the 911 operator with specific point by point information such as:
1) Your name
2) Your address and specific location
3) What is the threat?
4) Who is involved?
5) Are weapons involved?
6) Is there anyone injured?
7) Is the threat still on the property?
8) Where are you now?
9) How many people are in the immediate area; is it at home-work-school-shopping, public access area
10) Any descriptions of the suspects; gender, race, age, height, build, clothing, hair color, tattoos, physical markings, scars, verbal remarks, slang language, a car you did not recognize in close proximity of the crime, the color, make, model, old or new, two door, four door, etc.
Pre-assault planning and training should include specific psychological and physical preparations. The purpose of any good tactical training is to provide such preparation. Many times I have heard people say in response to a crime situation or assault, “I didn’t know what to do; I was in total shock. If I had known something like this could happen, I would have prepared for it!” Realistically, just because potentially threatening situations have never materialized or resulted in actual physical harm to you, common sense alone should still prompt you to prepare.
At the heart of the self-defensive psychology must be the insight, the acknowledgement of the fact, that in human society the possibility that you or a loved one could become the target or victim of violence is real. There are crime statistics readily available not only nationwide but regionally (and no doubt specifically in your neighborhood) that absolutely prove out these assertions.
Assault, abduction, home intrusion, rape, robbery, harassment, and other crimes are a warning sign of our times; they are a detrimentally integral phenomenon in society and none of us should ignore such hard facts. To do so is the antithesis to the warrior mentality. To be a fighter, to be a warrior (or whatever moniker one cares to give such an archetype), one must first acknowledge that danger is real and then get prepared and be willing to deal with it. Just because someone else became a victim does not mean you have to be! As harsh as it sounds, it is a true life lesson that we must learn from the misfortune of others.
In this manner a negative incident becomes a positive call to action so hopefully others including your family do not become victims as well. Logically before anything bad happens you need to work out your moral and ethical issues with regards to violence. You should think long and hard about what you are willing to and capable of doing to prevent physical harm to you or the family. This also entails being able to deal with the possible aftermath of knowing you have injured or killed another human being. No one can truly prepare you for this trauma; only you can accept the personal responsibility needed to protect yourself and family.
But know this: if you have a family, you are already a bodyguard on multiple levels – financially, educationally, physically, and so on. Without you the stability of the family can suffer dearly. Are you willing to leave the fate of your family in the hands of a potential criminal? With that question asked, could you blind someone? Could you shoot them, or kill them? What if they… really, what if? Such difficult questions must be asked. Such scenarios must be worked out in the mind beforehand, for when the chips are down, there will not be time to decide where you morally stand in regards to using counter-violence against another human being.
Your self-defense preparation must begin with an awareness of safety issues or concerns you have over the places you frequent, where you live, work, travel, and so on. These concerns will change, will be fluent throughout the day as places and circumstances change, so such awareness will always also be in flux, changing and adapting to the circumstances. In addition to this awareness, one must determine and maintain a personal safety perimeter, a secure zone, for yourself and family, that when breached, is strictly defended. If yours or a loved ones safety is challenged, WDS provides the skills necessary to respond at a level of force contingent to the threat posed.
In dealing with the general public, realize that “profiling” your surroundings and strangers about you may or may not be a fruitful endeavor.
Personal prejudice can and will come into play and may color ones perceptions inaccurately. Statistically speaking, it is unfortunate to realize that most violence will be committed against another firstly by a family member, then next, more often by a white male age 15 to 40, and then by a black male (but then, only if the target is another black male). Often the perceptions we hold over what a “perp” or predator will look like does not hold water. They may or may not be crazy looking or dirty. They may approach in a suit and tie and with a smile, like law student Ted Bundy. And today, in a growing number of violent cases, an offender may not be the classically male-gendered villain, as women are now entering more and more into the criminal and gang fray.
Sam Colt may have made all men equal, but the firearm allows nearly anyone of any size or age to be dangerous today and such considerations must always be a prime focus in the self-defensive mindset. An opponent is an opponent, and a threat is a threat, regardless of gender, age, or size, especially if armed. In combat, from Vietnam to Afghanistan, children have been armed and/or booby trapped and used as pawns in combat. And here in the USA, from the streets of Compton to Cabrini Green, youngsters packing heat pose as much threat to cops and civilians as their adult counterparts. Ultimately, for your family’s safety and for your own, the only sure-fire philosophy to implement on the street is to consider ALL strangers – male or female; white, black plaid, or polka-dotted; young or old – as a potentially criminal or violent threat until they aren’t strangers anymore, which will be rare.
“Presence” can be understood as a projection of one’s inner and outer qualities perceived by others without verbal communication being exchanged. While body language is a strong component of Presence, other factors come into play regarding this concept pertinent to self-defense. These factors detailing the concept of Presence can best be organized into 2 basic levels: Inner (or covert) and Outer (or overt).
Inner (or covert) factors to Presence include one’s mental confidence level, will-to-fight, overall health and vitality, state of awareness, and energy level. Outer (or overt) factors include bodily posture, eye contact, type of clothing, size and build, and whether one is alone or accompanied. Let us examine these factors in a bit more detail.
INNER FACTORS TO PRESENCE
1). Mental Confidence Level: Mental confidence in ones self-defensive ability is crucial for proper Presence, the inner condition being reflected in one’s outer essence, aura, and behavior. Such confidence can only be gained or improved upon by proper tactical training, such as that provided through the WDS curriculum modules. At the highest levels of martial development, such as that gained by Masters and champions, such inner confidence is almost tangible, palpable from them, even though they may otherwise seem very ordinary, humble, and unassuming people. Such inner confidence can be said to outwardly reflect as Spirit, and such Spirit is easily read by predators. That is, predators interpret such Spirit as a warning to stay away. Like any predator, whether in the jungle or on the street, a predator is looking for an easy meal, not a fight. That which they perceive as weaker or slower or sicker or smaller or older are prime targets. Those that walk with confidence, with Spirit, with Presence, more often are not.
The Japanese have a saying that true mastery of martial arts is not exhibited by fighting and winning, it is rather, exhibited by deterring the foe with one’s Spirit of mastery alone. Musashi too, in the Book of Five Rings, speaks of defeating ten men with nothing but his Spirit. And Sun Tzu, in The Art of War, tells us the acme of skill is to win without fighting. Such a philosophy also rests at the heart of Aikido where non-contention is considered the route to victory over adversaries. (And interestingly enough, we almost hear a reflection of such Zen-like adages in Jesus who tells us to “turn the other cheek” and “resist not evil men;” near perfect Christian reflections of Taoist yielding and predating Ju-Jitsu’s famous motto – “push when pulled, pull when pushed” – by nearly 2 millennia!).
2). Health and Vitality: Health and vitality are likewise intangible aspects of one’s being that are nevertheless perceptible outwardly by others. As we stated above, since predators are looking to target the weaker, staying healthy and strong is an obviously important component to not only the physical application of self-defense but equally to Presence.
3). Awareness: Awareness is the key factor to maintaining your safety perimeter, for how can we be safe if we don’t know what the hell is going on in our environment? An aware person is much more difficult to surprise, to deceive, to target as a victim. Again, the predator is aware of who is and who is not aware. Guess which one he targets?
To be aware takes both physical and mental attributes; physically, a 360 degree visual perception, or as close to it as possible, must be maintained by use of scanning and peripheral vision. Such awareness offers you the opportunity to be informed about all action and movement around you; therefore, learn to position yourself so you can see what is happening at all times. Learn how to exercise visual scanning in your environment without being noticed doing so. Do not allow words like “paranoid” to impede your ability to maintain or assess whether you are in harm’s way or someone suspicious has entered the proximity of your secure zone. Listen to your instincts. Train your intuition, simply listen to that little voice in your head and pay attention to what your senses tell you. It’s called a gut feeling for a good reason.
Mentally, imagine yourself within the center of a clock: the direction you are facing is always 12:00, thus what you cannot see directly behind you is at 6:00. As you turn or pivot to change directions the clock moves with you. Stay alert while you are in public and do not hesitate to pay close attention to anyone who is within your immediate vicinity. Those behind your 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock areas are those that pose the most threat to you, as they are the least visible in your field of vision. Never forget the use of hearing in regards to staying alert to who is behind you (i.e. footsteps, breathing, etc.).
Familiarize yourself with different ground surfaces, recognize when the terrain changes and be prepared to adapt to the effects of weather patterns on the surfaces you frequent. Slipping, stumbling, tripping, are all potential concerns that can impede your mobility, yet can also be beneficially crucial when evading someone who is unaware of their own footing. You should be aware of your location and proximity to everything around you.
If you are parking a vehicle scan the area well before entering a parking stall or exiting your vehicle. Loading and unloading a vehicle places you in a negatively susceptible position to be blindsided very quickly, pushed, grabbed, or controlled with your back to the perpetrator, so be aware at all times. Lastly, while obvious, it amazes me how many times this happens in today’s world – checking your text or email messages is not a great idea when transitioning between places, such as in a parking lot, on the street, in a stairway, or from the mall to your vehicle!
4). Energy Level: Like health and vitality, one’s emotional or “pranic” energy level is also an important factor to self-defensive Presence. Presence includes the energy you are projecting out, but also includes the energy coming-in to you from others. Perceiving these subtle flows of feeling and force is a very instinctual attribute that all possess, but that few realize and even fewer finely hone. Know, however, that through tactical training, as that provided in WDS, these perceptions can be developed for self-defensive purposes. While most of us can easily feel when we are receiving positive energy from someone, as in attraction, training must work to sharpen one’s sensitivities to negative energy in our environments as well, like that extended by a predator prior to an attack.
5). The Bodyguard 24/7: You must assume a mental attitude of being a bodyguard for yourself, home, and loved ones 24/7! When one starts looking at the world and the changing circumstances of our day-to-day lives in this viewpoint, it is then that a self-defensive mindset can become habit, second nature.
OUTER FACTORS TO PRESENCE
1). Body Posture: People can be read like a book through their non-verbal communication, or body posture alone. Psychologists tell us that 80% of human communication is non-verbal. Posture reveals inner states of being: shyness, fear, awareness, strength, confidence, and more. Thus, the self-defensive state of Presence must also contain a strong, upright, and aware body posture that conveys in non-verbal language to all strangers, “Not to be approached aggressively.”
2). Eye Contact: Do not hesitate to make eye contact with anyone, as it conveys awareness and confidence. Likewise, gazing into a foe’s eyes will help, even in a split second, to reveal his intent whether it be attack or hesitation. As Zen says, “the eyes are a window to the soul” (and Jesus too, “When a person is full of light, so will his eyes be. If he be in darkness, so the eyes.”).
3). Clothing: How you are dressed says something about you, so logically that applies to anyone you happen to notice as well. For example, a black leather biker jacket projects a completely different aura, a different spirit, than an Armani suit and tie. Also, on a physical level, the wrong kind of clothing can also restrict your mobility; bulky clothing can hide weapons (on you and the foe!); thick clothing may be useful as quasi-shielding against a strike or cut; and so on. Clothing (or even hairstyles) can also be used to grab and create stronger leverage to drag one down or pull one off-balance (think neckties and ponytails – or Donald Trump and Steven Segal!). Ladies – high heels may be good for a stomp, but are not facilitative to running fast and getting away! Those flats may be a better choice (for both speed and long-term posture issues). T-shirts and shorts may be light and cool in the summer, but leave a lot of uncovered, open skin against edged weapons. Such examples are endless and illustrate the mindset of properly dressing on a day-to-day basis for self-defense and Presence.
4). Alone or Together?:
TRAVELING WITH ANOTHER – This can be an area of difficulty if you are the only safety conscious person willing to address any concerns, but in general, there is better safety in numbers. Communication between yourselves regarding fears or concerns is important; do not hesitate to express yourself. Be honest and clarify your understanding of how you could possibly be targeted. Stopping for gasoline, rest stops, convenience stores, or long stretches of highways are all potential areas when you can be tested, targeted, or threatened. I cannot stress enough the importance of awareness when traveling.
TRAVELING ALONE – This is an equally concerning situation as the above shared information. Let’s address driving a vehicle along an Interstate Highway. From my perspective a busy road with moderate traffic is safer for a lone driver than an open road with few vehicles. Consider those same guidelines when it comes to taking a break. Only pull off at areas that offer ample services and selections. Don’t force yourself to accept stopping at an area that feels weird, or not right. . . it probably is! As we have said, listen to your instincts.
Keep fuel levels sufficient, carry a cell phone, let people know where you are going and when you will be arriving. Set up phone call verification of arrivals and departures with a loved one. Have a generalized defensive strategy for the type of travel being affected. If you experience any kind of minor accident – say a person bumps into you – don’t get out of your vehicle. Signal them to follow you to a well-lit occupied area with witnesses and always engage law enforcement immediately. If they are honest they will do just that. Safety first and foremost!
5). Verbiage: Use of verbal communication is an absolute way of conveying Presence to another, as your explicit intent and state of mind can be told directly to them. Don’t hesitate to state with authority to any stranger closing on your safety perimeter in a suspicious way to, “Stay away!” or “Back off!” or “Give me 5 feet!”
In a way, you must come to understand the right to say “No.” This is simply a matter of self-respect, of knowing how to draw boundaries for yourself against the wrongful intrusion of others. If you do not respect yourself in this way, no one else will either. Stand tall without arrogance or boisterousness. Be confident in standing where you are right, taking a stand and saying “No!” with authority. More than a physical action, the right to say “No” is a psychological voice of strength that is not only empowering but intimidating to a potential predator. It is the voice of authority and immediate positional challenge to the situation at hand.
Verbal commands should be reinforced with physical posturing, direct eye contact, and if possible, evasive action to retreat from the area of conflict. Verbal commands can create an opening to escape a potential physically threatening situation. Understand that the use of such commands are far different then instigating a conflict with the mouth. Your goal is to deter the conflict, not spark it. While beyond the scope of this module, learning key words to verbally de-escalate a situation is an art unto itself, but is not that difficult to research. There are many complete verbal de-escalation systems that can guide you in dealing with people who are in a highly emotional or violent state, such as the methods taught to mental health professionals and social workers. One of the most famous and proven is “Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion” available in paperback for only $10.00 on Amazon. I encourage anyone interested in self-defense or strategy to purchase it and share the content with your family and friends!
As far as the opponent’s use of verbiage goes, be prepared for his attempt to use language as a weapon; as a means of intimidating you or gaining your passive compliance to their criminal demands (i.e. “Get in the car or your dead”. . .“Give me your purse if you know what is good for you,” etc.). Such use of inflammatory words, threats, and profanity are some of the typical ploys predators use in trying to control or take psychological command over another individual. Such intimidation is a fear-induced power maneuver that can precipitate physical contact such as assault, rape, or robbery. When in doubt, verbally respond confident and loud with words such as “Back–off me!” and seek immediate safety away from the aggressors.
From a technical perspective, if evasive maneuvering does not work, create the deception that you will comply with the predator’s demands, then strike powerfully with surprise to a vital point (like a kick to the knee, knee to the groin, and gouge to the eye) and then run for safety. Call 911 immediately to report the incident. Learning how to employ such deception or distraction against a foe is a vital strategic skill in self-defense.
I think we can agree that the potential for a confrontation or physical violence within mainstream society is becoming more relevant. Establishing a personal strategy to address fears and concerns is important. Physical, psychological, and verbal defense should be balanced to assure you have appropriate options to neutralize the situation with the least amount of interaction with the individual whom you perceive is the threat. As we have said, understanding how to prevent physical contact through awareness, posturing, and if need be, by loud, direct communication is a key to personal safety. It is an imperative to avoid unpredictable attacks by monitoring your immediate proximity; walk in well lit areas while avoiding corners, vehicles, and other environments where someone could hide or surprise you suddenly.
Beyond these external considerations, however, exist the internal, emotional factors of fear and anger. Such emotions are at the heart of confrontation, as all homo sapiens experience these feelings when met with violence. While rightfully considered negative emotions, fear and anger are the inner forces that can save you in a self-defense situation. Why? Because both fear and anger are adrenaline driven emotions and Adrenalin can be the chemical edge one needs to prevail in self-defense. You must learn to trigger, to transmute your fear into anger when threatened by thinking, “How dare someone risk my life or safety?” Such an internal mantra can assist in reversing the fear driven emotion and strengthen you while allowing you to balance your response more rationally.
I am sure it can be argued that neither fear nor anger are logical emotions to draw from when in danger, but we’re not discussing chosen options here, we’re discussing forced options. Both fear and anger are important natural emotions necessary for survival. Using common sense and rationalizing the distinctions between these emotions can assist you to make more defensively valid decisions.
The five T’s of personal safety
The following sequence of 5 steps are indicative or typical in most self-defense situations. Knowing these steps and the strategies to implement in response helps to greatly improve the basic mental and physical preparedness level of the defender.
TARGET – Identify the target of concern; know the warning signs of attack; read body language; perceive glances, mannerisms, movements, and gestures.
TEST – A predator may initially try to verbally interact with you as a ruse to hide an attack, to make you feel comfortable and unaware of his true criminal intent. Comprehending the true intent is the key. Remember, you have the right to say nothing, walk away, or resist.
THREATEN – If you feel a person’s approach is overly aggressive, respond with authority, use your gut instinct and assertively communicate that you are not interested in their approach or when you feel uncomfortable with how someone is closing on you.
TOUCH – If you feel physically threatened and are physically touched without consent you need to immediately retaliate with a force-appropriate response. Understanding basic striking target points and the ability to strike efficiently without injuring yourself should be a priority. As a basic example, vital point strikes are delivered primarily with the hands and elbows to areas that can have a disabling effect if delivered with enough force. As the term implies, vital targets would include eyes, throat, temple, and side of neck; base of the head, kidneys, heart, floating ribs, and groin. The human body is very resilient and it is difficult to stop an average size man immediately in his tracks; thus the goal should be to create enough physical trauma to escape the immediate area and seek safety ASAP!
TAKE OFF – When reacting to an immediate danger, it is imperative to neutralize an aggressor’s positional dominance. If you have experienced any of the prior mentioned levels of confrontation the “Take Off” is the final phase of a self-defensive situation. At this stage, the predator can be in a high emotional state of panic and now realizes what he has done is a criminal act. Without question their motives will be unpredictable and you need to trust your instincts to escape without further injury. Evaluate the threat, strike fast and accurately, and escape the immediate area; then report the incident as soon as possible.
Physiological responses and awareness
Most of us are familiar with the automatic physiological responses in our bodies that result from some stimulation. These “gut reactions” are telling us something and we ignore them at our own peril. When our “hair stands on end” it’s time to pay attention, make decisions, and get ready to act.
In science, this is called “Defense Physiology” and refers to the collection of body function changes that occur in response to a stress or threat. In every day language, it’s fight or flight.
In this automatic response, the nervous system initiates, coordinates and directs specific changes in how the body is functioning, preparing the body to deal with the threat. Our purpose here is not to get into the specific medical conditions, but instead to discuss how you will feel and why, so that you will know it in yourself and, importantly, know it in others (because your attacker likely has to “amp” him or herself up to this in order to attack you).
To prepare you for violent muscular action and clear, quick thinking, your body will begin these changes:
Acceleration of heart beat and respiration. Your heart will “pound” and your breathing will quicken.
Your face, ears, and other extremities will feel warm as you flush. Soon after, these extremeties will pale and feel cold as you shunt.
Your stomach will “knot up” as digestion slows or stops
Your mouth will get dry.
You may start shaking. Blood flow to the skin constricts as blood flow to the muscles dilates causing you to overall feel colder.
Your ears may ring or you may feel like you have ear protection on making it difficult to hear clearly.
Your eyes may hyper-focus, otherwise known as getting “tunnel vision”
You may feel mentally hyper-sensitive.
The pitch of your voice may rise.
All of this happens from what is sometimes called the “adrenaline dump”. This is getting you read to fight or run. Importantly, it’s also likely happening to the person intent on attacking you (though pure sociopathic types learn to manage this and some mentally ill people don’t feel it at all). Know what it looks like!
From the attacker, they will usually be breathing heavily. If they talk to you they may talk quickly and in a higher pitched voice. They may also seem to break eye contact with you or lose focus. They are getting tunnel vision, too, and they may be trying to look around before they attack.
It’s critically important that you think about four things:
How are they approaching you?
Are there others attempting to surround you?
Where are their hands?
What is their body doing?
If you sense these things in another and you feel them in yourself, ACT NOW! Get out of that area. Make eye contact with the attacker. Ask someone nearby for help e.g. “Hey, can you help me? That guy’s freaking me out.” Cross the street or go in another direction. Your attacker is acting, you’re reacting. Give yourself those seconds back so that you have the advantage in defending yourself.
Verbal defense for talking your way out of a jam
Although we train in martial arts, physical violence is an action of last resort. Avoiding an altercation entirely is of the utmost important, for physical, emotional, legal, and financial reasons. One way to do this is by good old “talking your way out of it.”
But talking your way out of it is not winging it. It’s something you should plan for and practice. The “moves” of verbal defense are as important to train in as physical defensive moves. That’s probably why “talking your way out of it” is often called Verbal Judo.
The late George Thompson is the founder of Verbal Judo. In the video below he goes into depth on the subject and it’s required study for complete self-defense. You’ll also be pleased to learn that the same concepts can be applied at home, at work, and in almost any situation where there is some sort of disagreement.
Three key things you need to do when employing Verbal Judo are:
Deflect using empathy
Paraphrase to show understanding
Negotiate to get the outcome you want