Adventurous travellers often find themselves in areas where crime is common, risk of mugging or an attack maybe considered an unavoidable even acceptable hazard of adventure.
“a little knowledge can be dangerous”
Despite using Kash Lee and Jet Lowe as my models for this post on basic self-defence for traveller’s use of it is to be avoided. In the event of being robbed the best option is always to merely hand over any valuables and stay safe. Such situations are unpredictable and just because a weapon is not brandished does not mean one is not being carried. Regardless of financial or personal value it is not worth getting seriously injured or worse over.
There may be situations however where the intent of the assailant is to cause injury or in the case of women there maybe a sexual motive. If a physical attack is imminent and cannot be avoided then hopefully a little knowledge may help, but remember; “a little knowledge can be dangerous.”
The best form of self defence is always avoidance! Remain alert whenever in an unfamiliar area, watch for dark areas, streetlamps which have been damaged, alleyways which are ideal ‘ambush’ zones or pairs/groups of people congregating in a quiet area. Take a wide berth of these potential risks, cross the road; take a different route even if it means retracing steps to find a suitable alternative. It may later cause feelings of foolishness, but that is preferable to the possible alternatives.
“The best form of defence is always avoidance”
Do not to appear to be a ‘victim’ which requires walking around confidently. Most attackers are essentially cowards. They will be looking for easy targets; if they feel a person may fight back they will almost certainly look elsewhere.
Flash and brash is a common mistake, avoid showing the ‘bling’. Expensive cameras, smartphones, valuable jewellery and designer clothing will all attract the attention of the criminal element. Keep it out of sight wherever possible and they will again look for other targets which for them will be a better return on their ‘investment’.
“attack can be the best form of defence”
If confronted by a potential attacker that appears intent on violence then make plenty of noise in an attempt to scare them off. Do not call for help but instead initially shout “FIRE”, bystanders tend to take more notice. If this fails and the mugger persists, stand sideways on, hands ready to fend off the attack and call loudly “STAY BACK” repeat this several times. This can deter a coward as they will be concerned by the aggressive stance taken and by the possibility of assistance arriving.
If the worst happens and it is obvious that despite all precautions an attack is a certainty then swift, aggressive and decisive action is required. This attacker is determined and possibly desperate so attack can be the best form of self defence.
It will be difficult in such a high stress situation where the ‘flight or flight’ response is kicking in, but attempt to remain calm as the person with the coolest head usually finishes on top in a conflict situation.
There is only one aim however, to escape! Do not press any advantage gained, the initial action may provide this. However once the attacker is temporarily surprised or off balance run as fast as possible to a more public area.
There are a number of vulnerable areas to aim for; soft and hard tissue areas can provide a quick, painful and effective opportunity to escape.
Pressure points are useful, but not for the untrained, as for them to be effective pressure has to be applied to exactly the right spot. This is difficult in a high stress situation and for those unfamiliar with the technique required it will not easily be reproduced.
A quick blow to the throat with just two fingers, stamping on their instep, dragging a foot down the shin or a well-aimed blow to the knee-cap of a potential attacker can provide the diversion needed to escape.
Soft tissue areas especially require a degree of care, being over aggressive may result in the attacker pressing charges against a ‘victim’. Anything more than a short, sharp jab to the throat or eyes can cause serious, long term injury. However if in genuine fear for your life, act first and worry about charges later.
This article merely scratches the surface of self-defence. If interested in learning more attending classes at an approved school or club is highly recommended. Jiu-Jitsu is effective or perhaps find a class teaching Krav Maga or SCARS which can be taught to those without any previous experience and are also effective.
There isn’t any substitute for common sense; keep away from obvious risk areas, remain alert, hide the bling and wherever possible attempt to walk away without it escalating to violence even if it means handing over a wallet or valuables.