Remember in Miss Congeniality when Sandra Bullock taught the Miss United States’ pageant audience how to defend themselves from assailants? To SING: Solarplexus, instep, nose, groin? I’ve been thinking about her lesson a lot lately… could I protect myself if I am ever attacked?
Actions have consequences'” we sometimes forget how easily we put ourselves at risk. Walking home alone after a night at the bars. Taking the back alley shortcut. Running with a friend at sunset. Holding your apartment door open for a stranger. We get comfortable with our routine and have a false confidence that we could handle anything that comes at us.
The past month was a whirlwind of heightened anxiety for San Franciscan women. Rumors spread how my once safe neighborhood morphed into a hotbed for crime against women. The assailants had perfected their routine: approach the female from behind, throw her to the ground with a quick punch to her face or, easier, spray mace into her eyes and grab any valuables. What made matters worse was hearing how the attackers came in twos and threes'” swiftly fleeing the scene in a getaway car as the victim lay dazed and confused, robbed of both belongings and dignity.
With the Facebook statuses, tweets, and e-mail chains from friends warning of attacks in my neighborhood, I took control. I invested in pepper spray to keep on my key chain and enrolled in lessons at my local Krav Maga studio, a self-defense system focused on reacting to and deflecting attacks with your basic instincts.
I urge you to take control, too. You should never feel unsafe in your own neighborhood. And, you should always be prepared to defend yourself. You will only benefit from learning the basic knowledge of self-defense. To kickstart your learning, I asked Krav Maga instructor Rick Armstrong to share five self-defense tips:
1. Exude confidence.
Thugs are looking for a victim, those people who walk down the street with their eyes looking down, afraid to make eye contact, slouched in the shoulders, etc. Wherever you find yourself, always have that confident swagger with your head held high, shoulders back, and never be afraid to look someone straight in the eye.
2. Be mindful of your surroundings.
First and foremost, basic self-defense means keeping your head on a swivel. Be alert to the happenings around you at any given time so that in the event of an altercation, you have time to identify the immediate danger and react accordingly by either fighting, fleeing, but not ever freezing. Does the hair on the back of your neck stand up just before you go down the alley for a shortcut home? Avoid it and take the long way because you have nothing to prove.
3. Avoid distractions.
They prevent you from being mindful of your surroundings. It drives me absolutely crazy when I see individuals walking down the street without a care in the world: earbuds or a phone up to their ear, head down looking at their phone while texting, etc. I even heard a guy loudly giving his credit card number over his cell phone with his wallet in hand in the middle of the street recently. Thugs call these type of individuals “targets.”
4. Be at the ready.
When you are out and about, make sure you have something handy or within reach that you could use in the event that you felt threatened. It could be something as easy as walking with your keys in hand, a flashlight, pepper spray, etc.
5. Keep the mentality of getting home safe.
Whether you find yourself in a situation where you must act or if you were able to avoid an altercation, you do what it takes to survive and get home safe. Remember, it’s not a ring sport on the street…it could mean survival.
What precautions do you take when walking alone at night? Have you ever taken a self-defense class? Join the conversation @levoleague #selfdefense