Mind Body Defense’s Safety Tips
The holiday season is a time for joy, family, and relaxation. The glue that holds these things together is safety. It is difficult to enjoy anything when you are not sure of the dangers that can be thrust upon you.
In order know how to protect yourself against violence, it is better to know the types of violence that threatens you. There are 2 main types of violence: social and asocial. Social violence is generally seen as the escalation from intimidating body language to a verbal confrontation that can end in a physical scuffle all done to show dominance. This type of violence usually requires both parties to escalate the situation and witnesses to observe the results.
Asocial or antisocial violence is the opposite because the aggressor can execute the violence without the other side doing anything to aggravate the situation and there is a lack of witnesses to the crime. This type of violence is generally seen in robberies, muggings, batteries, and sexual assaults. Since you can generally walk away from encounters of social violence, then it is the asocial violence that we must learn to predict, recognize, avoid, and fight.
With respect to asocial violence there are 2 categories of predators. The first is the resource predator who wants something from you like your money, clothing, bag, or vehicle. If you needed $200 cash and only could rob 5 people to get it, think about your choice of target. Where in the neighborhood would you find them? How would they dress? What vehicle would they drive if any?
You know if someone has a laptop in their backpack or if a house/apartment is suggesting an expensive interior. If you can tell if someone has money, you can recognize if you yourself look like someone who has money. You cannot hide all of these signs, but that does not mean that you are indefensible.
The second is the process predator who wants to do something to you like battery, vandalism, or rape. Like the resource predator the process predator can tell by your physique, movement, and general awareness if you are ready and able to defend yourself against a physical attack the same way you can tell if you could handle someone else. Both of these predators are looking for good targets and good circumstances in order to justify their attack.
Predators generally do not want to risk getting caught, which allows you to build your defense. This begins with truly intentionally being alert to the persons and property in your proximity. To physically touch you, they have to get close to you.
Look at how others are moving or standing around you. Are they cognizant of your presence or are they minding their own business? Are they aggressing toward you or blocking the sidewalk and forcing you into an uncomfortable position? Is someone hanging around someplace that should be vacant like the ATM, gate to your building, or your car? Listen to the sounds around you. Does a conversation suddenly stop or change in tone when you arrive? Are there suddenly footsteps appearing in your blindspot? Did you hear the gate lock behind you?
This awareness sends a signal to the would-be attacker that you know what is happening. They like to go after people who are distracted or ignorant of the flags of danger. Lastly you have to listen to your body.
If you feel uneasy, then there is a reason regardless if you can explain it or if it seems unreasonable.
In all of these situations, you have 3 options. You can fight it by saying something or calling for assistance. You can flee from it by not addressing the situation, changing your plan, or waiting for it to change. The third is to go into the situation as if it is normal although you may be on alert.
There are several ways to address, de-escalate, or avoid a potentially violent situation (which we will be discussing in upcoming articles), but initially displaying a show of awareness will make you less of an ideal target because their best weapon, the element surprise, will not be available. Although it may not seem that awareness is actually doing something remember that the first level of de-escalating violence is presence.
Think of the child looking around before they go for the cookie in the jar and see the parent watching intently. The parent may not know exactly what the child was planning, but they know that something is up. This is no different except for higher stakes. You are letting them know that you know, and it is not going to be that easy. This little step will help prevent many possible threats.
Torriente is the owner and head instructor at Mind Body Defense a kickboxing and self-defense school at 4143 N. Broadway Chicago IL 60613. He teaches class, workshops, and has written a book Everyday Self-Defense all with the purpose of helping people to empower themselves.