Self-defense may seem a bit off topic for me, but as I research and plan for my next novel, self-defense strategies keep coming up. When I think of self-defense I always think of walking down a dark alley and what I would do if someone jumped out at me. The truth is self-defense is so much more than that.
There are three different elements of self-defense:
Defending oneself from harm
Defending one’s property from harm
Defending the well-being of another person from harm
I’ve taken self-defense classes at different times throughout my life – the kind of classes that really kick your butt and makes you realize you have muscles in places you never knew. The thing that always amazes me is that typically the instructors of these courses don’t actually condone “fighting”. They teach you how to defend yourself “physically” but stress that the first and most important thing you want to do if you are ever in a position of physical danger for you or someone else is to GET AWAY!!! Put as much distance between you and the attacker as possible and as quickly as possible.
There have been studies showing that the amount of distance needed, in order to deter an attacker from continuing his/her attack is 15-18 feet. That’s right 15-18 feet. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but pull out your tape measure and take a look – it is a lot longer than you might think.
If you sign up for a self-defense class, you’ll do a lot of cardio and strength training, you’ll learn kicks, punches, even slaps to help protect yourself. These are all great things to learn and remember, and honestly I recommend taking a self-defense class to EVERYONE! You are never to big, to small, to old, or to young to learn to defend yourself. It is also important to remember – for those of you that have had training – reacting in a real life situation isn’t always as easy as reacting to an attack you know is coming in class.
MY REAL LIFE STORY…
During my freshman year in college – I won’t give dates – I had an apartment just off of campus. As in so close it was practically on campus. I was a Theatre Major, and my apartment building was directly across the parking lot from the theater building that I spend most of my nights in. That’s right, I would be there for rehearsals, set builds, etc. etc. etc. until long after the sun went down. My campus had on-site security that you could call up at any time. Someone would then come and walk you to your car if you were parked on campus. It was a safety measure. Well, me being the “tough-independent girl” that I was, I never used their services. I figured I could see my apartment building from the theater building and therefore, I didn’t want to waste the security guards time just to walk me fifty yards.
Yes, I can admit that now. I was young and stupid, and full of pride. One night, as I was making my way home someone grabbed me from behind. Lucky for me – I was also a Military Science ROTC student, which meant I was actively involved in self-defense classes and training on a regular basis. My brain told me to get away, but he had ahold of my arm and wasn’t letting go. I turned and stepped into him – he wasn’t expecting me to get closer to him because most victims just struggle to get away – I grabbed his arms and used them for leverage as I lifted my knee as fast and as hard as I could. I connected directly with his groin and he went down, letting go of his grip on me as he fell. I turned and ran the rest of the way home as fast as I could.
You might be wondering what I learned from that experience. I’d love to say that it reaffirmed my “tough-independent girl” nature, but in reality it showed me the importance of never putting yourself in a potentially dangerous situation no matter how tough you think you are. From that point on I always used the “Buddy System” and I made sure my friends did the same. I didn’t let my pride get in the way of my asking for help or asking to have someone walk with me. I never wanted to be seen as the girl who needed a man to protect her, but I also never wanted to be a victim of my pride. The situation above could have gone so much worse, I was very lucky that my instincts kicked in and I reacted the right way, but had he been ready for me to defend myself things could have been so much worse. I believe my guardian angel was watching over me that day, but I know that I can’t always rely on that.
I will leave you with a few things you can do TODAY to help protect yourself and your family:
– Have a safety plan at home –
Do you have a safety plan for emergencies in your house? If there is a fire do you and our family (including kids) know where to go and how to get there? Do you have a plan for if there is a break-in in the middle of the night, or if you come home and the door is open – Do your kids know what to do? If you answered NO to any of these questions – then you need to sit down, as a family, and put your plan in place.
Having a home safety plan and practicing what to do is important not just for adults but for children too. More often than not people panic in emergencies – if you know and practice your plan you are more likely to make it out of the situations safely.
– Have a safety plan for when you’re out of the house –
First off, if its late – you’re alone or with your kids – and you need something from the store make sure you park close to the building AND under a light. If that isn’t possible GO HOME! There is nothing so important that it can’t wait until tomorrow.
Second, you and your kids need to have a plan (A SAFETY WORD) for when you spot or sense danger. Yes, kids are kids and they will argue and bicker from time to time, however, in a store or parking lot isn’t the time to only focus on them and lose sight of your surroundings. Make sure you have established a ‘safety word’ that your kids know and understand to mean ‘Get close, hold hands, and be prepared to run.’ This is helpful for when your walking to your car and spot someone suspicious lurking close by. Once that safety word is said, everyone should know their role – be it grab hands, run to the car, run directly back to the store, etc. If you have a son that feels like he should be the protector make sure he understands that his role is one of the most important… instead of fighting, tell him to run back to the store and call for help. Whatever their role is – you as a parent need to remain calm and make sure they know what they are doing. Practice these procedures, when there is no danger, that way they feel comfortable in cases where there may be danger.
What other self-defense/safety tips do you and your family use? Have you taken self-defense classes and if so what did you find more valuable about the training? Share your tips and thoughts by commenting below!