[dropcap]I [/dropcap]was at the local market a few weeks ago picking up a few things for the house. As I was walking out to my car I noticed a lady putting her groceries into the trunk of her car. She was just going about her business without a care in the world probably thinking of what she had planned for dinner that night or what errands she would run in the morning. As I passed I noticed that she had set her purse in the basket where one would normally place their child.
You know that little fold down plastic seat near the push handle. She was between the basket and her car. This seems like a convenient position to be in. She could pick things out of her basket and turn around and put them into her trunk easy enough, but she had made a tactical mistake that could have ended badly. I thought to myself that if I were a thief she was presenting me with an easy opportunity and she would probably not have noticed until I was gone and she was done loading her groceries.
To save her what could have been potential grief, I got her attention and suggested that the next time she was putting her groceries away that she first open her car and lock her purse inside then go about loading her groceries. I told her that it would be quite easy for a thief to simply wait for her to turn to her trunk to put something away and while her back was to her cart just pick up her purse and walk away. It would have taken about one second. Then I began to think about my girlfriend and the many times she had near misses getting things stolen. I like to think that I am just ever vigilant by nature but some would say that I am paranoid.
After telling my girlfriend about this incident I began to think. That reminded me of the rash of purse snatchers that would prey on women at fuel stations pumping their gas. Women would leave their purses in the passenger seat of their car and get out to use the pump. Thieves would just stroll by, open her passenger side door, grab the purse, and take to the wind.
If these ladies made these mistakes, there was a good chance that there were other women making these same mistakes. Not only that, but they were probably making other mistakes as well. In an attempt to better safeguard the woman I love I was inspired to write this article. I asked myself a question. What areas could of could women use the most protection? I came up with three.
There will be those times were no matter what precautions are taken there will be moments of vulnerability but with the right knowledge, training, and equipment she should be able to travel with confidence. Too many times have I heard women say that they will just get their daddy, brother, boyfriend, or husband to handle what may come. This may be a sound strategy at times but last time I checked the majority of adults have jobs and therefore spend a large amount of time in their own company.
So she must learn to protect herself. Two places women should be capable of protecting themselves is at home and out in the street. Having said that, personal protection and self-defense are not just matters of fighting skills. True enough hand-to-hand techniques are vital elements, but true personal protection is about being self-sufficient and self-reliant.
Five Things Ladies Can Do At Home:
A person’s home is their castle. That should be the one place they can go to and retreat from the world. Home is the last safe haven. In this environment one can be completely relaxed, or at least they should be. Every woman has the right to be completely and totally free in her own home. And because there are those out there that would enter uninvited to disrupt that relaxation, she would do well to learn how to protect her home and keep herself safe within its walls. Here are five tips she can use to protect herself in her home.
Get Good Locks
Sounds simple enough right? If you want to keep someone out just get good locks. Well with the right knowledge it is quite simple. When you come into your home note every entrance and exit. I am not just talking doors either. A thief or invader will gladly climb through a window. Some thieves don’t mind a bit of athleticism and will even climb to a second story to gain entry so never just focus on the ground level.
Ask yourself this question. If I were trying to break into my house on a scale of one to ten how easy would it be? If the answer is below five then you had better take measures to beef up your security. A thief, who knows the tricks of the trade, would have next to no problem.
Start with your front and back doors. Are they the ones that are big and beautiful with six or eight small panes of glass? It is true that these look nice but they are a defense nightmare. How many movies have you seen where someone uses an elbow or the heel of a shoe to break the little pane near the door knob, reach in with a gloved hand to unlock the deadbolt, and just stroll right in. Yes, it is common enough.
Maybe you have the solid wood door with a peephole or small window near the top. This is indeed a better choice but maybe your frame has seen some wear and tear. Now your solid wood door and superman resistant titan deadbolt can be opened with a well-placed kick. The lesson here is that your lock is only as good as the door it is attached to. Door security is a combination of things.
You must have a solid door. A small viewing window near the top or a peephole is your best bet for seeing who is at your door. A door that is half glass is really only half a door and waiting to be broken in. Your door frame must also be solid and functioning properly. It will not serve you well if it is falling apart and cracking.
Again a well-placed kick can possibly knock the frame out of the wall with the door still attached. So make sure your frame is intact. The frame itself is attached to 2X4 studs that hold the walls up. A cheap and effective way to strengthen your door security is by taking three inch length screws and screwing in your hinges and strike plate. This way the door itself will be anchored to the wall stud and not just the frame.
So have a solid door, deeply anchor your strike plates and hinges, make sure your door and frame are intact, and then you should have good locks on your door. Apply these strengthening measures to any door that leads to the exterior of you house. If you have a garage attached to your house take precautions with that door as well. Your interior doors need not be too beefed up.
If you have a sliding patio door you only need two things to secure it. It should have a lock but do not count on it keeping anything out by itself. First make sure the door pane is made of Plexiglas or some other shatter resistant glass. Next you will want to cut a length of dowel rod to place in the track long enough to keep the door from sliding open if the lock fails.
Now take a look at your windows. Every window should have a locking mechanism already. The window should open one of two ways. Either it will slide on the vertical or on the horizontal. Either way just like the sliding patio door, a short dowel rod set into the track on one side will stop the window from sliding even if the lock is worked open somehow. Also you can consider putting panes of shatter resistant glass in your windows so no one can throw a brick through them.
Security System and a Dog
I am a dog person so I would get the dog first. They are great companions, loving, and loyal to a fault. But they are also our protectors and early warning systems. A dog’s acute hearing and sense of smell will allow them to sense approaching people and vehicles long before you can hear or see them. They can tell when inclement weather is coming and are better than any smoke alarm. A dog will come find you to warn you of danger and a dog will fight to the death to protect you.
Also they are the one security system that will empathize with you and want to snuggle up to comfort you. As great as they are they do have a down side. They require constant maintenance. You must feed them and care for them. Some breeds are naturally territorial and protective while others need training.
You will get out of them what you put into them. Having said that, I would recommend any dog you get for guard duty is trained for that task. You must also keep in mind that they are living things and must sleep at some point. This can be a weakness to a cleaver thief.
When you are away they cannot call the cops if something happens. This is where an alarm system will surpass a dog. An alarm system will run twenty four hours a day every day. Most services now have technicians that monitor your systems continuously and will contact you if something out of the ordinary happens.
Security systems must be armed and disarmed by a security code. This feature allows only those that have the code entry into your home. There are even ways to have multiple codes for different people. That way you can know who was in your house and for how long. An integrated security system will monitor the opening and closing of every door and window in your house.
Though they are a bit more expensive, some services will mount cameras throughout your house to provide around the clock video surveillance. This will allow you to identify intruders and have a video record of the events in the instance you need to sick the authorities on them. They will be much easier to find if there is a description of them floating around. Just like the dog nose smelling that roast burning down stairs your alarm system can work in tandem with your smoke alarms and notify the fire department if a fire breaks out.
Having a dog or having an electronic security system is a great stride toward better protecting yourself in your home. In fact you can double your efforts by using both. Have the dog and have the alarm. This way the areas the dog may fail in there will be the security alarms to make-up for it. This would be your best bet unless you could somehow train your guard dog to use the telephone to call the police.
Have An Invasion Plan
Now you have gone through the process of enhancing your home security. You have solid wood or steel doors and the strongest locks your money could buy. You sprang for the alarm system and you bought the cutest red nosed pit-bull you have ever seen that will kill on command.
Now you lock up for the night and let your dog inside to roam the halls like a sentry. You snuggle into your bed and it’s off to the dream world. You are completely safe from the outside world right? Well I would say you are very close.
There is a saying that locks only keep out honest people. This means that a determined attacker will not be deterred from trying to circumvent a challenging lock. If something is locked up really tight then there must be something valuable inside. That is the mentality you will be combating.
Locks are machines and nothing more. They are useful tools and they do their job, but just like all other machines they can fail at the most opportune moment. Your guard dog, though a very intimidating and powerful ally, can be dealt with by a knowledgeable and skillful adversary. Dogs can be trained to attack an intruder but those that train them must have the knowledge to keep themselves safe.
Your alarm system can be thwarted by someone who knows the functions and weaknesses of the system. What do you do when you awake to glass breaking in the middle of the night, your dog is not barking, and your alarms is not sounding for some reason. You were not expecting any visitors but you can clearly hear someone moving around down stairs. What do you do? This is a scary thought, I know, but it is a very real possibility.
Bad guys will never play by the rules. So, in spite of your best security efforts, there are some that can overcome them. What do you do? You have a backup plan. Not only do you have a backup plan, but you have a backup for that backup. Those that fail to plan, plan to fail. Your plan “A” was the locks, dog, and security system. Those were for keeping someone out. If those fail and someone does make it in then you must resort to plan “B”.
Plan “B” will be surviving contact with the enemy. There are three simple steps you must follow. It is up to you how you follow them but they should be in this order: RUN, HIDE, and FIGHT. First run away. Unless you are trained military or law enforcement you have no business trying to outfight an unknown enemy. You may have the advantage of being in your own home but you will have no measure of the enemy’s strength and no time to gather that information. So get out of the house and run for help. Get to a neighbor’s house and call the police.
If you cannot get out then you must hide. Stay out of sight. It is your house so you should know the best places to hide yourself. When you do hide remember a few things. Remember that the human as an animal is a predator. Use that knowledge to your advantage.
Hide above or below the average eye height. People will look down more often but will seldom look up. Do not hide in obvious places, in the closet, under the bed, etc. The human eye senses movement first so when in doubt remain absolutely still.
Second, the eye senses outline. Have you ever seen a shirt or jacket out of the corner of your eye and been startled by it? That is because your eyes told your brain that it was a human shape and it took a moment to realize that it was not actually a person. Do like the military snipers do and breakup your outline. Hide under a pile of laundry or even behind a large plant. More than likely the lights will be out or dim at the very least and if there is nothing that screams human form the eyes may skim right over you. I cannot stress enough to remain absolutely still.
Third, the eye sees color. Do not contrast with your background, blend with it. For example if you happen to be painting a room in your house and everything is covered with drop cloths don’t wear all black and try to hide in there. Black sticks out like a sore thumb in an all-white environment. Again, stay still, breakup your outline, and don’t contrast with whatever you are hiding in.
Maintain noise discipline. In low light your eyes are mostly useless so you must rely on your ears. Unless one of you has night vision capabilities you will be functioning at about the same capacity. So do yourself a favor and be absolutely quiet. Try not to knock anything over or brush up against anything. Most importantly control your breathing. Controlling your breathing aids in keeping you calm so you won’t panic and you won’t pant loudly giving away your position.
Your last resort is to fight. If you cannot run and there is nowhere to hide then you are left with one option; you must fight for your life. Make damn sure that you fighting is a last resort and you are not letting pride or ego cloud your judgement. Don’t get it in your head that someone has broken into your house and you are going to make them pay for it. That is a job for the cops.
You would much rather be alive and disappointed in yourself for running away than in the cemetery having been brave. Don’t be a hero. If you have loved ones in the house that is a different dynamic and you must add them into your plans but solely for the lone female defending herself. Make sure it is your absolute last resort.
First, arm yourself. Ambush your adversary. Attack them from behind. Launch your attack with extreme levels of aggression and violence. You are fighting for your life so you must not hesitate. If you have something to hit them with aim for the head and do not stop hitting them until they stop moving. If you have something to stab them with aim for the top half of their trunk. This contains the most immediate vital organs for them to function. The heart, lungs, and spine are going to be your main targets. Again keep stabbing until they stop moving.
This is not a movie so it will not be glorious and have a sound track. This will affect you long after the fact and you may need to seek counseling, yet another reason why direct combat should be your last ditch effort. Your overall invasion plan is RUN, HIDE, and FIGHT. We will call it plan “B”.
What is a Safe-Room? A safe-room, also called a panic room, should be part of your invasion plan. It is section in your house that you have dedicated solely to safety in the event of a home invasion. There are some safe rooms that are completely self-contained, have their own outside air intake and exhaust, have restroom facilities, food storage, sleeping quarters, and can keep you protected and locked down for as long as your food will last. A panic room of this magnitude would take a significant amount of time and money to build and depending on the area may be necessary.
For the average woman this would be a bit much. There are ways to have virtually the same level of protection for most occasions and with a fraction of the cost. You only need the skills and the knowledge. The purpose of the safe room is to be a place you can hide in and fight from in the even you were unable to flee. It should be large enough to put your family in. It should be easy to get to in a hurry.
There would be no point in making your basement your safe room when you will be asleep on the second floor. When danger comes that will be an unknown adversary and two flights of stairs you will have to negotiate before you are in a place to begin to defend. I suggest retrofitting your closet in your bedroom as your safe-room.
If your bedroom has a bathroom attached that could function as well. The goal is to not make it easy for an enemy to get to you. Your bedroom has a door and so does your closet. In the even they make it to your bedroom there is at least two obstacles they must get beyond. It would take little time, minimal construction skill, and next to no money to buy and install a door bar on your bedroom door.
Then in an emergency your bedroom door could be closed and the bar slammed into place in a matter of moments. If they want to get in then they will have to spend time ripping down the door. This will buy you time to get away, arm yourself, or plan your next move.
What should you put in your safe-room? First off you want some sort of firearm and spare ammunition. If you cannot have firearms then you are left with bladed weapons and blunt weapons. Make sure they are large enough to do significant damage but short enough to be wielded indoors. A long sword would do you no good if it gets stuck in the ceiling or in a wall. A baseball bat or a hand ax make excellent close quarter fighting weapons.
Aside from arms you will want a cellphone and charger. You may not have time to grab your personal phone. A land line can be cut. You want a phone to be there when you need it and cellphones should be able to call for help even without network service. Keep that phone charged and keep the charger in the safe-room with the phone just in case you forget to charge it.
You will want some level of first aid equipment in there. Even if it is nothing more than alcohol and cotton balls, those are better than nothing. Fighting is dangerous and dirty business and if it comes down to it you will get dents, cuts, and scratches at the very least. After those essentials you can add whatever you think you may need.
After designating a space and stocking equipment, it is a matter of training, practice, and planning. Every week take ten or fifteen minutes out to see how quickly you can get to your safe room and bar yourself in. If you have a firearm learn to use it. Get an instructor to teach you how to shoot. Get dummy rounds and practice loading and unloading it.
For a house I would recommend a shotgun. Pistols, though very popular, are underpowered and easy to make a mistake with. Your handgun is a tool that should help you to get to your rifle or shotgun.
If you find yourself in a no run situation follow these steps. First, arm yourself. If you fail to bar your door at least you have a fighting chance being armed should your intruder be at your bedroom door before you close it. Second, close and bar your door. In the event you have to shoot let it be through the door with the intruder being tangled up trying to get through the door. Then get into your safe room and call for help on you cellphone.
Put the phone on speaker so that both of your hands can be free and the person on the other end of the line can hear everything going on. Dispatch operators usually record everything that happens on the line. Tell the dispatcher everything that has happened and is happening as it plays out. Keep calm, control your breathing, and try not to panic.
Keep an eye on your bedroom door for disturbance. If you cannot hold them at your primary door, then bar yourself in your safe-room and start the process over again. Use your doors as soldiers used barbed wire during WW1. Allow your enemy to become entangled and open fire.
“Fill your hand you son of a bitch!” – Rooster Cogburn in True Grit. Fill your hand means arm yourself, pick up a weapon. It means so much more than that though. Now people tend to use fire arms and other weapons as security blankets. Having them makes them feel better and once bought or acquired then the work is done. They are safer just by being armed. This is false, an untruth, a fallacy. This idea is just an illusion.
The truth is your mind is your weapon and your tactics and strategy are your armor. Your guns, knives, and clubs are just the tools you use to get the job done. So when I say arm yourself I mean prepare for war. If your tool is a rifle or pistol then you must train to shoot. If your tool is a club or a knife then you must learn how to swing them.
You must keep in mind that your battle ground is the inside of your own home. I say this because some weapons work better than others in that environment. You may want to have the highest powered Barrett 50 caliber rifle you can find, but remember that you are responsible for every round you fire and if a stray shot travels over into the next county and hits some kid’s leg while he is sleeping in his bed, in the eyes of the law this is entirely your fault.
Wield the largest caliber you can handle. A big gun does you little good if you drop it or fall down every time you fire it. Rifles are very powerful but those long barrels can be cumbersome if you need to run through doors and down hallways. Not to mention that rifle rounds can penetrate multiple walls and even go into a neighbor’s house.
Be careful and know where you are shooting. Also it may be wise to only load indoor loads when you are at home. These rounds will fragment when they hit a will and not travel outside of your house but will still do maximum damage to your adversary at the ranges one finds indoors.
A shotgun is a fine weapon for indoors and arguably the best. A single trigger pull sends multiple projectiles at your enemy increasing your chance to hit. An added bonus to long guns, rifles and shotguns, is the can be used as melee weapons if a fight becomes hand-to-hand. Look up rifle fighting techniques. These moves are basic, easy to execute, and very effective.
Pistols are underpowered, yes, but what they lack in power they make up for in maneuverability and concealability. Pistols can be tucked into a pocket rather quickly and will not be as cumbersome if you have to run. When you shoot aim for the center of the chest and nothing more.
Like I said earlier this is not a movie. Those clean headshots everyone is capable of in the theatre are nearly impossible in real life. Aim for center mass and keep shooting until the threat is neutralized. DO NOT FIRE WARNING SHOTS!!! This is a silly idea.
You may have the urge to scare them away by firing a warning shot. Don’t do it. It only tells them that you have a weapon and gives away your location. If you feel you need to shoot do it from cover and concealment, and make it a surprise. They should be down or dead before they realize they have been fired upon.
If you are wielding a blunt or edged melee weapon, then find someone that will teach you how to fight with it. You do not need to be a karate black belt with it or a samurai level blade master. You only need to know how to grip the weapon, throw a few simple strikes, and know where to hit on the human body to do the maximum amount of damage.
After that you need to practice, practice, and some more practice. How much practice do you need? Remember this saying, “more sweat in the gym means less blood on the street”. Take that with you and go with God. Heaven help you if you ever have to use any of this for anything other than training.
Four Things Ladies Can Do In The Street:
Naturally the next logical place to learn to protect is in the street. I do not mean the literal street of course but the entirety of the chaotic world you have absolutely no control over. You can control everything that goes on in your home down to the temperature of the room you are in if you felt like it.
Out in the open world the only thing you have control over is yourself. So to better prepare yourself you must learn as much as you can about the potential danger and the potential safety aids.
You must learn operational risk management and the ability to recognize threats before they coalesce into a bad situation. Again, just like with the home and car, many of the principles carry over into the street so do not abandon those when you move from one environment to another.
Strength Train (Get Muscles)
Have you ever been to the zoo and seen the lion or the tiger exhibit? It is not very glorious. They are just big cat really. They just kind of sit there doing a whole lot of nothing. From time to time you see them get up and walk from here to there seemingly without concern for anything at all. But then there are those times when that class of ten year olds decide to collectively bang on the glass trying to get the animals’ attention.
They really just end up irritating the hell out of them much to the dismay of the young guide trying to get the kids to calm down. Usually the lion will just move to the other side of the habitat. Then there is that rare occasion where the lion has had enough and charges at the cage glass.
In a few steps it is at a full sprint all mane and teeth. You see its lithe body flex and contort every time its paw beats the ground and it is at that very moment you wonder I this glass can truly keep this big animal out. You are truly grateful that you are on this side and that cat is on that side.
Now keeping that in mind imagine for a moment that you walked into a room and there was that same lion in the corner just sitting there. It is not showing its teeth or acting aggressively. It is just minding its own business. How would you feel? Unless you were crazy, had a death wish, or spent years working with these animals you would probably prefer to be in another room if not another building entirely.
Why is that? The lion was not threatening you yet you feared what it COULD do. You could look at it and know that if it came down to it, that thing would hurt you. Why is this important? There is a very valuable tactical lesson you can use here.
If you saw two men, one six foot five inches tall, maybe three hundred pounds, and one five foot eight inches tall and about one hundred and fifty pounds, which man would you pick to have to deal with in a physical fight? Nine times out of ten you would more than likely choose the smaller guy because the larger one would potentially be stronger and can cause more damage.
The fact that the larger man is nonviolent, has been huge his whole life never having to fight, and does not know how to fight, and the smaller man boxed professionally for ten years and won all of his fights by knockout is completely irrelevant. You would have to know them in order to get that information.
On looks alone one man can have an edge and potentially win a fight long before it even begins. He is the lion in the corner. He looks like a predator. You want this to be you in a sense. No, you are not going to be able to grow to six five and three hundred pounds of solid muscle. That’s not what I mean. But you can make someone second guess wanting to bother you.
How you ask? Read the title of this section again. Get strong and get some muscles. You must strength train. First unless you are a fitness fanatic and know every trick in the book to gaining the perfect physique then forget what you think you know about working out.
Nothing against the body builders and beach body pros but this is not for them. This is for the working women, the stay at home moms, and the college student that has so much on her plate that she averages five hours of sleep a night. You no longer care about working off your love handles, losing ten or fifteen pounds, or any of that aesthetic bullshit.
I am sure you want to look good and that is fine but we are talking about survival and last time I checked real jackers don’t give a rat’s ass about how cute your ass looks in your favorite pair of yoga pants. I am talking raw strength to do work and functional muscles.
Aesthetics can come later. First you need to protect yourself. You need to lift weights and you need to life heavy weights. “But I just want to tone and I don’t want to bulk up like a man!” I am tired of hearing this. Stop thinking like that.
If you want to “tone”, then you have to actually have something to tone. Get some muscles. You cannot bulk up like a man. You are not a man. Men have an abundance of testosterone. You do not. You will not pack on bulk muscle like a man. Those bodybuilding women I mentioned earlier that do build up like that are a special case. They train their diet and take an assortment of supplements to get that effect. So don’t worry about it.
You want to look solid, yes. You want to look like you can do heavy work. You want to look like you can actually use your body. More importantly you actually want to be able to use your body. You need to be able to travel by foot, maybe move and carry heavy objects, and fight if you have to. Look up a basic level general strength and conditioning program.
You can find tons of free ones online. It doesn’t really matter which one you pick as long as it meets a few different criteria. You want a resistance strength training program that works the entire body. It must target the major muscle groups. You want it to have an element of cardiovascular endurance training though this is not the main focus.
Walking on the treadmill for an hour will not give you what you need if you ever have to hop a fence or lift a manhole cover. You want the program to be realistic and help you establish attainable strength goals. What are those goals? I mentioned some of them before. You may need to run or walk for extended periods of time. You may need to carry weight. You may need to push a car or lift a manhole cover at some point.
If you have a BOB can you walk ten miles with it and still have enough left in the tank to push that car blocking the way and still fight? You may need to climb a rope or a tree. You may need to climb a fence. With training and time you should gain the strength of body and mind as well as the confidence that there is no place you cannot go or obstacle you cannot overcome.
This is the strength you are trying to gain. Predators hunt for prey. They look for easy targets that will not put up much of a fight if any at all. They look for those that they can overpower with little to no effort.
Predators do not hunt other predators. They may fight with them if the time comes but they do not go looking for them. There is an old saying that if two tigers meet on the mountain one will die and one will be scarred for life. Be the tiger. Be the lion in the corner. Train your body until you can say “don’t [email protected]#$ with me” without ever uttering a word.
Learn Close Combat Techniques
Now that you are on the road to having the strongest body you can get you are going to want to learn how to handle it. You can deter quite a few potential opponents by being that lion they do not want to mess with. You look like too much of a challenge so they will not even try.
Now you have to plan for those that are not deterred by your physical presence. They are going to try and test you. So aside from having a body that can do a great deal of work you must learn to defend it from physical attack. This entire article is about personal protection and self-defense.
I have stated this more than once. Self-defense is ninety percent prevention, everything from being aware of what could happen and not putting yourself in situations to not looking like an easy target. Now we shall discuss the other ten percent, what happens when your self-defense efforts fail and a situation degrades into hand to hand fighting. You must know how to overcome these types of situations.
There is not enough time in the world or space in this article to write all of the things you would need to know to survive a fight. So I am not going to try. What I am going to do is try and guide you in the right direction so you can find the information and training you need wherever you are.
First recognize that you need a live instructor that will show you the ways of war and you will need someone to practice with. It would do you some good to enroll in a local martial arts program and just keep up with your training.
If you are going to do that you need to be made aware of one issue. Teaching and training is a business and most instructors set up their curriculums for the long road. They want to pass on their arts to those that will dedicate significant time and energy to the study.
That is okay if you have the time but understand that if you start today you may not be able to use what you have learned for at least a year. There are too many parts and they are all high skill activities. This is the one issue when studying traditional martial arts styles.
Though is works out much better in the long run. Your body with be fine-tuned and capable of near superhuman abilities. A shorter more immediate route is modern military combative or reality based martial arts. These styles focus mainly on situational training for specific attacks.
The strength in these is that they tend to gear everything towards self-defense and real street combat. They are not as high precision as some traditional styles but the skills can be used in some capacity after a few classes. Where traditional styles focus on skill building reality based styles focus on defensive drills.
If you have the time and the energy you should do both. It can only help you develop. Now, there is the combat sport route, i.e. boxing, wrestling, kickboxing, and mma. You can get a lot out of these types of trainings but know that the focus in these is going to be more sport than life-or-death street combat.
A bonus is that these will build your body as well. Seeing as they are fighting arts, being offensive and not defensive in nature, they tend to build the body to take a significant amount of damage. I would recommend the elderly or the infirm be particularly cautious if you choose to participate in these types of training.
What you will get a lot of though is person to person experience. Every training you will be testing theories and using techniques against live bodies.
You will also get used to being hit and be better able to handle being struck in a real altercation.
So shop around and visit different gyms and schools. Find something you like. If you like it you will be more inclined to keep up with it. Anything you choose you will have to commit and be consistent with. No matter what you pick, the long road or the short cut, if I helps you to fight better then learn it.
Just remember what you overall goal was, personal protection, and let that be your guiding light. If your coach, teacher, instructor only focuses on academics or competition then you may want to move on to someone that will give you what you need. There is nothing wrong with studying theory and philosophy, or testing your skill and will in competition, but you want to be better able to protect yourself above all else.
EDC Tools: Flashlight, Knife, Gun
We all have items that we carry with us every day. You will have your car keys, you cellphone, some form of money i.e. cash, debit, or credit cards. Some of you may carry a purse and I will not go into the vast assortment of things that can be in there. I am sure it is different for ever woman.
To better protect yourself I suggest three items you should never be without. You should never be without your flashlight, your knife, or you gun. Go everywhere with these and have them go everywhere with you. There are some items you can have and others you can do without but let these three be your bare essentials.
If you are in a place that does not allow you to carry a firearm then you must make due with whatever you have. Still carry your flashlight and your knife. If it is possible substitute a firearm with mace or pepper spray. This is a poor substitute but you need a standoff weapon with a range that is beyond arm’s length. You want a projectile because distance buys you time.
Your flashlight is your first line of defense. It has a variety of uses. Invest in a powerful tactical flashlight with a pushbutton on-off switch at the base of the handle that can be depressed with your thumb. Shy away from the models with the button on the side or the ones that you have to twist part of the shaft to activate the beam.
With the button on the side if you ever have to use the light as a weapon you will unintentionally blind yourself turning the beam back on yourself to strike your attacker with the butt. Twisting a part of the shaft to activate the beam will require both hands and you don’t ever want both of your hands occupied when there is a chance you will need one for defense. With the switch at the bottom you will be able to depress it with your thumb and hold it at the ready for a counter attack.
I say invest in a good flashlight because this item will have more use than any other. Illuminate dark corners as not to walk blindly into an ambush. If you are in a parking lot at night light in and around your car as you approach. Make sure everything is as it should be.
You would not want to get into your driver’s seat only to find that someone had broken your rear passenger window and gotten into the car. By the time you notice it will have been too late. Light it up and see.
Most tactical flashlights have serrations around the beam emitter. These can gouge into flesh if you ever have to use the light as a bludgeoning tool or as a glass breaker if you ever have to punch through a window. Make sure you opt for a light with a strong beam. If approached by someone you are uncertain about you can shine the light into their eyes effectively blinding them and lighting up their faces for identification.
Keep it with you and keep fresh batteries in it and it will never fail you. You can even look online to find other ways to use your tactical flashlight. Be creative and see how many different uses you can find for it.
Next on the big three list is a knife. It is pretty clear what a knife does. It cuts stuff. What is not clear is all of the other things you can use it for. In skilled hands a good knife with worth a whole field kit of other tools. You can opt for a knife with multiple blades and tools or a single blade model.
The only thing you must have is a blade that locks. You want to be able to open the main blade with one hand. If it take two hands to close it that is fine but you should only need a single to deploy the main blade. Aside from just being a sharp cutting and stabbing instrument your knife can act as a screwdriver, a small pry bar, and door jimmy. You can dig with a knife. You can hammer with a knife.
Depending on the model and the strength of the blade it can, if the situation calls for it, aid you in climbing. If at some point you were to fall through ice you will want something you can get to quick that you can stab down into the ice and an anchor. Your knife will be by your side. I am not going to explain how well it will aid you in combat. There are literally whole books already written on this subject. Do not be caught without your knife.
If you have the means arm yourself with a firearm. This item only has one use for you and that is to shoot people that may harm you and nothing more. You will not be shooting locks off of doors and you will not be using it to hold someone at bay like you are a cop.
Unless you are in fact a cop, you should leave that to them. That is what they get paid for. If you skin that smoke wagon you should be getting to work. It is not a toy. It is a weapon for killing.
Learn that fact, know it well, and remember it often. This being an EDC item it will very likely be a handgun. I doubt you would want to lug you granddad’s double barrel shotgun or the cool new AR-15 you just bought. It may seem cool but carrying that plus ammo will get really old really quickly.
It really doesn’t matter what weapon, caliber, or model you get. Should you get a revolver or an automatic? I don’t care. It is entirely up to you and what you like. Whatever you get you need to learn to use it and use it well. Learn the weapons pros and cons and learn to work with the pros and work around the cons.
After that it is just a matter of keeping it and your skills up to par. I implore you to train hard and practice often. You may have to stake your life on what you learn.
Now your flashlight, knife, and gun will do you no good if they are not with you when you need them. So you must carry them on you when you go out. I repeat you must carry them ON you when you go out.
I know for some that a purse is an essential fashion accessory. This may be true but if you think for a moment that it will be ever so convenient to toss you flashlight, knife, gun, and every other piece of EDC equipment into it and build a little survival purse, you may want to rethink that.
You may have a utility purse that rivals Batman’s belt but what good is it going to do you if that item gets snatched from you? You decide to wear that sexy sun dress you just bought and someone snags your purse and with it your cellphone, wallet, money, driver’s license, flashlight, knife, and gun. In one swoop you have been totally disarmed and without the ability to call out for help or pay for a bus ticket.
God help you if you put your house and car keys in there as well. That poses a whole new dynamic. Now you have a perp running around with the address to your house on your identification and a key to your house. It is a scary thought.
The saying goes “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” So take heed and don’t put all of your important stuff into one convenient little package waiting to be pilfered. Get a knife that you can hang on a lanyard around your neck if you have to. Get a weapon holster that fits your ankle or you thigh.
Those will hide well with a dress depending on its length. If you are wearing pants with a belt then carrying your weapon, knife, and light will be easy enough. If not buy a shoulder rig and throw a big T-shirt over it. You have options so explore them. Shop around and see what you can use. The important thing is to have what you need on you when you need it.
Self-Aid /First Aid
You can learn awareness. You can drill hand to hand techniques. You can learn what steps to take to prevent bad things happening to you and the ones you love. You can know the best toys to carry with you to give you the best chance of survival. You can know all of that and in the event something does happen and you make it out the other side, be totally unprepared for the aftermath.
Now we close with one of the most important skills that not only helps you to protect yourself but makes you an invaluable asset to those around you. No personal protection training is complete without self-aid and first aid. Self-aid because you may fight off that aggressor but get stabbed in the process and bleed to death shortly after you get to safety. And first aid because you may be present and the bad things are not happening to you.
Would you know what to do if you walked up on one of your neighbors laying prostrate in his driveway? Could you stop them from slipping away long enough for help to arrive? There are a few key things you can learn that will give you and those around you the best chance of survival should someone become injured.
Step one is make sure you are safe before you attempt any lifesaving interventions. There would be no point in wading in all gung-ho only to make yourself into the one that needs saving. Use your eyes and ears, be aware and very conscious. If you come upon an injured person remember this “If he is awake sing him his ABC’s and if he is sleep then call him a CAB.”
These are of course acronyms for the vital systems to sustaining human life and the order you would asses them in should you encounter an injured person. “A” is for Airway meaning their ability to breathe. Can they get air into their lings to oxygenate their blood and get blood to their brain? If they choked on something, drowned, or were strangled they all had their airways compromised and need to breathe.
“B” is for Breathing meaning the actual mechanical effort of their diaphragm drawing air in and out of their lungs. Are they breathing? Do you see their chest rising and falling or can you hear breath going in and out of their mouth and nose?
“C” is for Circulation meaning is their heart pumping and blood flowing to their brain and essential vital organs? Can you feel a pulse? Can you hear their heart beating? Do you see any blood running out of their bodies?
These are question you need to learn how to answer. I am not going to get into specific techniques for reasons of liability but you should take classes in first aid to learn what I am talking about. You need to learn life saving techniques like CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, how to stop bleeding, and what an AED is and how to use it.
The Red Cross gives classes on first aid. CPR is offered as some local recreational centers especially those that have pools. You could volunteer at your local fire department and get real-world training and lifesaving experience. Learning these skills will aid you in acting as your own first responder should you need to. Once you learn them you can teach them to your loved ones and can look after each other. Now go out and learn it.
And One for the Road
There is always more to learn. You can never stop learning or growing, and that is as a person and as one who wishes to stay safe. Safety and personal protection are mindsets. You have to work to stay ahead of those that would aim to bring you harm.
There are whole libraries of books dedicated to this subject. These are just fifteen tips and tricks you can use to protect yourself. If there were ten others writing this article each one could have a different list without there ever being any overlap. Take this list. Research these topics. Try and utilize these techniques.
If you cannot use them and you have something better then use it. Constantly grow and improve. Then when you do be sure to give back and pay it forward. Pass on the information to those that do not have it. The only way we are going to survive this is together. Now print this out, get out of your chair, and go become that lion. GOOD LUCK!!
I am from Houston, Texas. I began studying combat when I was six with my first teacher being my father. He took me into our backyard and began teaching me the deadly arts of western boxing. It was like a game then. Later on I got into the Asian styles and it was a flood of whatever I could get into, Taekwondo, Shotokan, Tangsoodo, various styles of Kung Fu, Aiki-jutsu, and Iaido. I also got into Viking Combat for a while and learned sword and shield techniques.
A few years back I joined the world’s greatest Air Force. I did some time in the sandbox and made it home without a single scar, physical or otherwise. I have friends that were not so lucky. The majority of my bush craft comes from a combination of my time as a boy scout, my father, small pockets of military training, and my mentor Vietnam era old corps force recon Marine.