Monday, December 7, 2009
Self defense basics
The most important single thing you can do to keep from getting mugged or attacked or run over by a car is to pay attention. That means paying attention to the world around you using all your senses.
If you walk around without paying attention, you will probably be clumsy. If you do it long enough, you may find yourself in an unhappy surprising physical confrontation.
When you walk around you should know where you are and who is around you and you should be paying attention to them. You should definitely be aware when someone is paying attention to you. That doesn't mean that you need to walk around suspiciously eying people down. It means that, in general, you should have your attention focused outward when you are out in the world. The more dangerous the place, the more you should pay attention. Do you hear people walking up behind you? How many and who are they? Do you look at the window reflections around you? What are the people around you paying attention to?
I got mugged when I lived in a bad neighborhood in DC. You know what fighting style I used to defend myself? None, I used Dumbass-not-paying-attention-to-what-was-going-on-around-him-while-waiting-for-the-bus style.
If I hadn't been sitting there in a daze, I would have easily seen it coming. If you are in a bar and a fight breaks out and you didn't feel it coming, you probably are not paying enough attention.
If something happens, the first thing to do is stay relaxed, say the unexpected and don't participate in any fight or mugging rituals. If someone wants to fight, don't act weak, but say or ask something incongruous. If you are about to be mugged, negotiate. "C'mon man, I got mugged 5 times this week."
My brother is a master at this. He used to skate on the edge of conflict just for fun. He was talking to my friend at a bar one time and said, "Dude, people take reflect your attitude if you lead them. Watch this." My brother is not a big guy, nor much of a fighter. This huge football player is walking by and he says, "What the hell do you think you are doing? You just walking around like you own the place. You want some?"
The football player is furious and yells, "What did you say, you little punk?"
My brother just breaks out a big smile and laughs, saying, "Ha! I'm just kidding, man, you're awesome! Gimme five! You want a beer?" They walk off to the bar like good buddies.
When people want to hurt you, you sometimes have a chance to "put them in your movie." Lead the situation. When I would walk around my neighborhood in DC, if I saw a group of young men sizing me up, I would walk right up to them and ask them a question. "You guys seen Tom around?" Tom was a badass dude who lived in the neighborhood so it would make them second-guess themselves.
Anyway this stuff isn't easy to do I'll admit, but it's easier than learning to fight a huge dude or ten people, or someone with a gun.
Also, always trust your gut (your body) and don't feel like you have to engage people on the street. Most of the time if someone is going to harm you, they use an opening to get close to you that makes you feel like you have to respond or you not being nice.
So then if all this doesn't work and you end up getting attacked by someone that can hurt you, you have to run. Run like the wind.
If you can't run, attack, attack and attack again until you can run.
Never go with a person because they have a gun or a knife, take the chance of getting hurt on the spot.
Also, last but not least. You would think I wouldn't have to say this one, but it seems to occur so often that I guess I will say it. Don't get drunk alone in a dangerous bar or club (unless it is "your" bar) or walk around alone and drunk in a dangerous city.
These are just a few basic principles that come way before martial arts, pepper spray or carrying a weapon.