Fundamentals of Self-Defense

Lesson 1: Street Safety

City neighborhoods and downtown areas have much to offer residents and visitors. Being comfortable, while going from place to place, can enhance experiences when working or living in the city or while enjoying the city's many offerings. There are no hard and fast rules for staying safe on city streets. Although traditional safety tips are often helpful, there is not a tip for every circumstance you might find yourself in. Instead, knowing some basic principles of street safety can help guide you confidently through a variety of encounters.

Basic Principles of Street Safety

1. Be aware that people who commit crimes against others on the street typically use three things to their advantage- isolation, surprise, and intimidation.

2. Be attentive to the happenings in your environment and prepare some possible responses.

3. Trust your intuition, your "gut feeling", about people and circumstances. Be flexible. Avoid or remove yourself from situations you feel unsure about.

4. Communicate that you are assertive and that you "belong" by using confident body language and speech.

5. Be aware of "hooks" used to engage you in conversation or to detain you. Keep all interactions on the street brief.

6. Plan ahead to maximize your chances of making a fast exit if you are detained or in a threatening situation.

Guidelines for Specific Situations

If your are followed…

If you are harassed by someone who seems to be looking for confrontation…

If you are harassed by someone who seems to want something from you without a confrontation…

If your path is blocked…

Some sample phrases, verbally direct and verbally evasive…

Verbal responses can be enhanced with confident eye contact, a serious facial expression, repetition, a change in tone, and acknowledgment of what the other person wants, e.g., "It sounds like you want to talk. I don't have time to talk."

In conclusion, let me just say this: an attacker does not want to attract attention. There are plenty of easily intimidated people out there and they would rather attack them. If you look and act confident, chances are they will leave you alone and find an easier target. Walk down the street or into a room as if you own it. Be a "Presence". Look people directly in the eye as if to say, "I see you." Move from one place to the other in a purposeful, confident manner as if you know exactly where you are going. If you wish to avoid someone on the street, look them in the eye, to acknowledge their presence, then purposely cross the street.

Think about it. Which person would you choose if you were going to attack somebody? The one who makes herself look small and frightened or the one who looks you in the eye with confidence?

M.Lynne Smith

Japan Traditional Karate- Do

U.S.A. National Karate-Do Federation

International Shotokan Karate Federation

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