When most people think about self defense and urban survival
they immediately envision going to a martial arts studio and learning how to
defend themselves. They think of kicking and punching bags, and yelling loudly
while a young muscular instructor (who always claims to be an ex Navy Seal)
encourages them. While learning how to defend yourself against physical attack
is commendable, this is not the end, or even the beginning of self preservation
in a metropolis such as Los Angeles.
Attending a self defense class such as the one described
above is only an introduction, and it is of limited value. Martial Art study
takes years of disciplined study to be effective, and only works well if your
Martial Arts study is geared toward actual application in the street. Most
Martial Arts, as practiced in the United States are more sport oriented, which
is not what you want for survival in the mean streets of a large city.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m a avid supporter of Martial Arts
study – I have been practicing the Martial Arts since 1972, and encourage
anyone that is interested in investing a lifetime of study to go for it! You
will not be disappointed. There are many layers of benefits that a person
receives from a disciplined study of Martial Art that go far beyond defending
So, what should one do to insure their safety, and the safety
of their loved ones? First, and foremost is don’t be a victim. Nobody believes
that violent crime will happen to them. But violence can rear its ugly head at
any time, and at any place. Granted, some neighborhoods are safer than others,
but do not accept with blind faith that nothing can happen to you – it can.
Accept the fact that you could be targeted as a victim of violence, anywhere or
anytime, and then take steps to minimize the possibility.
Be aware! Be aware of everyone and everything
around you at all times. Being completely aware of your surroundings keeps you
from being surprised by a mugger, rapist or thug, which gives you the chance to
avoid the situation before it develops. Awareness
and avoidance are the
most important attributes for not becoming a victim. Being aware of
your surroundings while going about your business is not difficult at all. If
you practice, it will become automatic, without effort. When you walk down a
street, make a conscious effort to be aware of everyone you see. Stop walking
with your head down, oblivious to your surroundings. Stand up, walk tall, show
confidence, and be aware of everything around you. Then, if you see a situation or a person that could be trouble, avoid the
situation. Take whatever action or
direction that will limit your exposure to the situation that makes
you feel uneasy. Trust your intuition. When you feel something is wrong take
action to avoid whatever it is that is causing that feeling. This is not
paranoia, it is common sense.
Coming in close behind awareness and avoidance, is using
common sense. I think most people know that they should avoid walking in dark
alleys, but how about driving a car with recurring mechanical problems through
rough areas? Do you park in lonely areas? Do you glance inside your car before
entering it? Do you lock your car doors (always)? When you hear someone knock
on the front door of your residence, do you open the door without seeing who is
knocking? Not using common sense and always believing that “it won’t happen to
me” is a recipe for becoming a victim.
Be aware of your surroundings, avoid situations and people
that make you uneasy, and use common sense. If you do
these things you will significantly reduce the odds of becoming a victim.
Serious study of a martial art can reduce those odds even
further. When someone studies a martial art and becomes proficient, they gain
confidence. Confidence in your physical ability to defend yourself will show in
your demeanor. As you walk down the street people will sense your confidence,
and bad people with bad intentions will not normally choose you as their
victim. They will generally pick someone who appears weak, meek and oblivious
to their surroundings. If you can project an air of confidence (regardless of
martial art training) as you are out and about then you have further reduced
the odds of becoming a victim.