Minimize your chances of being a victim by being prepared. Being street smart can save your life.
What do you think of when you hear the expression “self-defense training”?
If you’re like most people, you picture a black-belted instructor demonstrating flashy martial art techniques to a classroom of students. Yet, in actuality, the physical aspect of training is only 5% of what it really takes to protect yourself on the street. If you don’t understand the other 95% of the equation, you’ll discover that the real fight for your life begins only after you’ve been knocked down by your assailant.
When a situation is resolved by force, it’s likely to result in one of two outcomes:
- Your self-defense techniques worked. BUT now you find yourself in court trying to convince a jury that beating up this guy was justifiable – which is much easier said than done – especially if you don’t know the legal definition of self-defense. You’re also facing the possibility of revenge (“street justice”) against you or your loved ones by your attacker’s family or gang buddies weeks, months or even years later.
- Your technique didn’t work. Assuming you survived, you’re recovering from (possibly life-altering) injury and long-term post trauma effects, not to mention the costs of your downtime and medical expenses.
In other words, relying on physical force to protect yourself can be a lose-lose proposition. Proper training not only prepares you to fight, but also to prevent violence in the first place. (Yes, it is not always preventable, but more often than not, it is.)
Self-defense is about personal safety, which is really about maintaining peaceful coexistence by means of social awareness, spiritual values (love and respect), and a moral code. That’s why the violent crime rate in the frum community is relatively low. Similarly, recognizing pre-threat cues and learning to avoid or diffuse violence before it unfolds are more essential skill sets than physical techniques.
BEING AWARE IS BEING PREPARED
Here are a few examples of the skills I’m talking about:
- Criminals look for easy prey, not fair fights. If you walk down the street with an alert demeanor and a confident stride, you are less likely to be singled out as a target.
- When talking to an individual that you suspect may be a threat, keep your hands up at about chest level so they are in a useful position in case you need to defend yourself. Gesture as you speak (aka “talk Italian”) so that it seems natural for your hands to be in this position.
- If the suspect keeps his hands hidden from view, be aware that he may be accessing a weapon. Remove yourself from the scene immediately, if possible.
- If the suspect is angry, attempt to de-escalate the situation by establishing rapport with him. Express empathy for his problem and offer assistance if you can safely do so.
- Establish healthy personal boundaries by having a clear idea of which behaviors you will and won’t tolerate, and how to communicate that respectfully but confidently.
- Cultivate the mindset to enforce the word NO. You are worth protecting, and this idea must be firmly rooted in your psyche at all times.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Any self-defense school that doesn’t delve deeply into the non-physical tools necessary to avoid a fight is actually teaching you how to hurt people, instead of personal safety. And, utlimately, you, too, can be hurt.
What’s my point? Be a savvy consumer. If you are looking for self-defense training, find an instructor that teaches de-escalation skills and understands the legal, ethical, and moral ramifications of using force. Avoid macho, ego-driven hulks that pay lip service to the aftermath of violence, but do little to carefully explain and ingrain in students what is truly at stake. Otherwise, you might find that “winning” a street fight leads to consequences your self-defense class never prepared you for.