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Common-Sense Strategies for Self-Defense

When it comes to self-defense, common sense should be the number one strategy for protecting yourself and your loved ones. Unless you live in Mayberry and Andy is your sheriff, most everywhere else you go has some sort of criminal element just waiting to rob you of your dignity, your possessions, or your life. Remember, the best defense is a good offense—leave nothing to fate or chance.

#1: Don’t Make Yourself a Sitting Duck

It’s pretty straight forward—don’t put yourself in situations that encourage an attack. Don’t go to the ATM in the wee hours of the morning. Don’t park your car in the far, dark corner of the parking lot. Especially now, during the holiday season, you’re more vulnerable to attack if you put yourself where criminals lurk.

Don’t flash wads of cash in a convenience store. You wouldn’t believe the people I see who pull out a wad of bills after cashing their paycheck, rifle through the whole bundle, and then pull out a 5-dollar bill to pay for a coke and a smoke. Do they think it makes them look important?

It doesn’t. It just screams to the rest of the world “I’m dumb! Rob me!”

If you’re a woman, don’t walk alone on dark streets. And while yes, ladies, we have the right to wear whatever we want, does it really make sense to flash our assets in skin-tight, revealing clothing and then scream when guys move on us with unwanted advances? You’re inviting the wrong kind of attention. Concentrate on the beauty that’s within and matters—leave the skimpy clothing at home.

#2: Stay Aware of Your Surroundings

Predators use the element of surprise in their attacks. You don’t have to go far in nature to see this—watch your cat the next time he stalks up on some poor unsuspecting bug. Nature shows us all the time, in various ways, how the element of surprise is utilized to bring down prey.

Why should a criminal animal use any different method?

Criminals are pretty good as scanning their surroundings and picking up the scent of unsuspecting victims. How are they able to do this? It’s merely a matter of being observant. They’re looking for people who are distracted, people they feel are too weak or old to put up a good fight.

Do you walk with your head down, avoiding the eyes of everyone you meet? If your eyes are on the sidewalk, how are you going to detect the creep that’s sneaking up behind you? How are you going to notice the guy who’s been tailing you through three aisles of the grocery store and is, even now, sliding out the door behind you, still following you to that car you parked in the back, dark corner of the parking lot?

Criminals are looking for surprise and opportunity with the least fight. Don’t give them any of it. Sometimes just a simple glance their way (which lets them know you’ve seen them and know they’re there) is sufficient to stifle any thought of ambush.

Do you ever get that feeling in your gut that a situation just doesn’t seem to be right? You need to listen to that feeling. Don’t let your logic get in the way of gut instinct that is screaming at you to avoid a person or situation. If something doesn’t feel right, avoid it. You can argue until you’re blue in the face that it’s giving in to fear or paranoia—it doesn’t matter. If it keeps you alive, you’re one move ahead in the game.

#3: Take a Step Back and Look Around

Coupled with being aware of your surroundings is actively scanning your surroundings for suspicious people or situations. When you enter a room or a building, don’t get distracted by the ambiance of the restaurant or the merchandise in the store. Do a quick scan and note the people around you and places that may make you vulnerable. You also want to note entry and exit points should it become necessary for you to leave.

Never sit with your back to a doorway. When in a restaurant or bar, always put yourself in the best position to see what’s going on around you.  And ladies, keep your purses close to you and zipped or closed up. Don’t let yourself get distracted by conversation or merchandise that leaves your wallet vulnerable.

Self-defense isn’t just taking care of yourself after an attack has begun. Self-defense is also about being pro-active and not putting yourself in a position of vulnerability to begin with, if you can help it. Learning to become observant of everything in your environment can mean the difference between being a target and being safe.

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