by guest author Lucas Gregson
Most adults feel incredibly capable of functioning in their day to day activities. They have bought insurance, put locks on their doors and generally adhere to the standard commonsense notions of maintaining their personal security. Occasionally they will be caught unawares and become the victim to some form of crime. After bemoaning the loss of their wallet or iPod, they will either assume that they could not have avoided the burglary or will step up their precautionary measures and go back to feeling safe and prepared.
However, simply buying pepper spray or watching fights on Jerry Springer will not ensure your ability to protect yourself. There is far more effort and introspection involved in appropriately preparing to protect your personal security. For the purposes of this article, I would like to approach the subject matter from a self defense standpoint, wherein the first objective is to avoid harm, and not from a fighting mindset. There is a huge difference between doing everything possible to avoid a physical interaction with a would-be assailant and standing your ground and meeting the challenge with equal if not greater force.
Recognizing the need for personal protection… won’t do anything at all if you aren’t prepared to use it.
Step 1: Recognition of a Potential Problem. Most advocates of personal security devices and training are happy enough to list off the potential dangers inherent in our everyday activities. They can tell you the local crime statistics, and rattle off a laundry list of situations and scams that you should be aware of and take steps to avoid. They can scare the pants off of you and make a condition like agoraphobia seem like the sanest approach to personal security. They may not tell you this one fundamental truth: you can’t prepare for every possible contingency.
You can attain the highest level available in every form of martial arts and feel prepared. Nevertheless, none of these things will protect you in every situation. The best thing that you can do for yourself, is mentally walk through situations wherein you cannot win or escape and prepare yourself for how you will function in that depressing scenario.
Joe Lewis said it best, “Everyone has a plan until they’ve been hit”. Accept that there will be times when you will not be able to win or escape, for there will always be situations that you could not prepare for. There will always be new tricks or crimes that will render all of your prior training useless, whether through new techniques, the use of extortion or sheer dumb luck on the part of the criminal. The key is to accept the situation and allow your intelligence and resourcefulness to break out of your training and creatively assess the new situation. Are you prepared to lose? How will you handle it?
Step 2: Preparation. Whether you are learning martial arts for protection, taking weapons training courses or preparing yourself for potential real emergencies, the most important step was the first one; you recognized the need for the knowledge and pursued a course of action to find it. Now you need to focus on sticking with the program and seeing the training through to completion.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are completely prepared once you finish the course. You may never forget how to ride a bike, but learning how to safely react and remain calm during a terrifying encounter is something that must be practiced. Don’t assume that because you attained your orange belt in a Karate course when you were ten, that you can safely defend yourself against an adult physical threat.
Maintaining your fitness level is an essential part of an intelligent personal security plan. After all, physical encounters should only ever be a last resort. You should be looking to avoid potential issues and not rising to provocation.
Running away, or having the mental stamina to see you through an altercation, requires extensive practice. The added bonus is that most attackers or would-be assailants are looking for easy marks, and not someone who is physically strong and capable of defending themselves. The awareness of your environment that comes from this form of training is priceless and not something that can be learned in an afternoon. Incorporating real life applications of your self defense training into your regular fitness routine will help you to hone your awareness and new-found perspective.
Step 3: Commitment. Simply learning how to protect oneself isn’t enough, you need to be able to see past the training and realize that if you aren’t willing to put it into effect and follow through with your intentions, then you are wasting your time. A true opponent or attacker will be able to call your bluff, sensing if you are insincere or lacking confidence in your abilities.
If you find that you have exhausted all other available escape plans and that a physical response is your only choice, you will need to accept this with complete confidence. Your ability to inflict damage–in order to flee–relies on not pulling your punches, and following through with your trained responses. This one step will be the one that saves your life–after all, recognizing the need for personal protection and actively preparing for a potential danger won’t do anything at all if you aren’t prepared to use it.
With these three essential steps comes a lifetime of practice and dedication on your behalf. Once you have recognized, prepared and committed yourself to taking responsibility for your own personal protection, you will find that your heightened senses and awareness of your surroundings will enhance your daily interactions in so many more ways.
For more excellent self defense facts you can also check out this engaging list of Five Personal Protection Facts They Don’t Want You to Know.
About the Author: Lucas Gregson is a Personal Security Specialist with a keen desire to help people stop behaving as victims and take more of a responsibly active role in their own protection, whether through the use of self defense products or a course in personal security.