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Basic Self-Defense Tips

“Denial is a useful defense mechanism until it’s not.”
~Rosalind Kaplan, M.D., Author and general internist specializing in women’s health issues and medical management of eating disorders

Knowing how to defend yourself is important not only in your daily life but in a survival situation as well. There are plenty of threats and dangers around you every day. Essentially, a person should be prepared for anything: bad weather, wildfires, natural disaster, blackout, stock market collapse, and any basic personal threat like attack or home invasion.

“Self-defense is not just a set of techniques; it’s a state of mind, and it begins with the belief that you are worth defending.”
~Rorion Gracie, Jiu-jitsu Grand Master, writer, publisher, producer, and lecturer

Here are several basic self-defense tips that any instructor will tell you in a self-defense class.

  1. Always be aware of your surroundings when you are out on foot. The best way to defend yourself against a threat is to avoid it altogether. Don’t walk around or go for a run with your headphones on. You want to hear what is going on around you. If you have long hair, pull it back before going out so that nothing blocks your peripheral vision.
  2. Always survey your destination prior to walking to it. If you are approaching a gas station, a store, an ATM, a restaurant or any other establishment (especially after dark), survey it prior to walking there. If anyone looks suspicious, go the other way.
  3. Only walk or run on streets that are lit. So many situations could have been avoided if people had not been walking on a dark street.
  4. If you are parking in a parking garage, park as close to the exit as you can, away from the elevator. 
  5. If running is an option – run. Self-defense is not about fighting people; it’s about putting a stop to an attack and escaping. If something feels wrong – run. If someone starts following you at a distance – run. If you are attacked and manage to temporarily disable your attacker – run. If you are attacked with an intention of being robbed, then throw your belongings away from yourself and run. Essentially, whenever an option to run exists – run.
  6. If you are in close proximity and have to fight back then fight back as hard as you possibly can, hitting the most vulnerable spots: eyes, nose, face, neck, knee or solar plexus (hollow point at the bottom-middle of your rib cage).
  7. Use your feet. Chances are, your shoes are harder than your fists so if you are grabbed, stomp on your attackers feet as hard as you can. Also, Use your elbow. Your elbow is the strongest point on your body. So hit, jam, and jab with it as hard as you can.
  8. Use pepper spray. Pepper spray is a very effective means of disabling an attacker. It’s legal in all 50 states when used in self-defense, but check Oklahoma law to see if there are any restrictions that could impact its use, and any pepper spray warnings.
  9. Never go anywhere with your attacker. Let them have whatever you have but don’t leave with them. If someone broke into your car and wants you to drive somewhere (even at gun point), floor the gas pedal and ram your car into a wall or something (avoiding pedestrians of course) to attract attention and cause others to run over to check on you.
  10. Don’t let strangers into your house, and don’t leave the door open for a family member either. It’s way too easy for an attacker to kill you if once they breach your doorway. So don’t be naive, be cautious. 
  11. Download it. You can download a bunch of different apps to help keep you safe. My Panic Alarm turns your phone into a flashing siren when you push a button. Other apps like Companion send a live-feed map of your whereabouts to your contact list, so friends and family can virtually walk you home. You should also always tell people where you’re going and when to expect you back, so they can check in on you.
  12. Use the buddy system. Traveling in groups can prevent people from mugging or attaching you in the first place. If you can, walk with friends when you are out at night.

Part of staying safe means having a plan and being prepared to act.

If you want to know more, you might look at these Expert Security Tips, and Basic Self-Defense Moves Anyone Can Do (and Everyone Should Know).

“When it comes to self-defense, it is better to have the power and not need it than to need it and not have it.”
~Kevin B. Shearer, Author, street cop, counselor, artist, inventor, philosopher, Kung Fu teacher, winemaker, husband and father