Defense Through Awareness
By Meghan Gardner, Director of Guard Up, Inc.
Too many times I see it: The mother pushes her shopping
cart up to the car, opens the passenger door, deposits
her child into the car seat, shuts the door and THEN
goes to load the groceries into the automobile.
What is wrong with this picture? I'm certain most
of you do the same thing without realizing it.
New scenario: Mother (you) puts child in car seat,
closes the door and turns to face a man/kid with a
gun held at the level of your eyes. "Give me the Keys!
NOW!" he commands, shoving the barrel of the gun against
your forehead. You fumble for the keys in your coat
pocket, all the while begging for him to let you take
your child out of the car. But he is in a hurry -
there might be witnesses - the cops could arrive any
moment. The last thing he wants is you delaying his
escape. He grabs the keys out of your hands and cracks
you across the face with his gun. You fall to the
ground, your vision fading into darkness as you watch
your car screech away with your child inside, crying.
Now the same scenario, but with one simple change
You approach your car, open the back door and start
loading your groceries, all the while chatting with
your child who is sitting in the shopping cart's child
seat. Suddenly a gun is in your face and a voice demands
your keys. You quickly hand them over. As he rushes
to the driver's side of the car, you push your cart
and child out of harm's way.
And the only difference in your actions was the order
in which you placed your groceries/child into the
I live in a very quiet and safe family neighborhood.
Many of the women to whom I teach self defense consider
their home town "above" such scenarios. They believe
self-defense is only needed in those "bad parts of
the city". Unfortunately, this is not true. Children
are being abducted out of their homes in the small
towns and rural communities. How many times have you
heard of the police finding the distant farm house
as the sight of a grisly murder? It happens.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying one should
become paranoid. Simple AWARENESS is enough to forestall
most attacks. Establishing small habits and breaking
others can keep you from becoming a victim. Some examples
are as follows:
Don't go walking/jogging with a walkman - this
Jog/walk with hand weights. They can be purchased
small (1lb or more), are good for your upper body
workout and make great weapons, should the occasion
Vary your jog/walk route. It keeps your exercise
interesting and keeps criminals from discovering
a pattern in your routine.
Nervous about a certain person? Look them in
the eye. Let them know you are aware of them and
can identify them later, if need be. NEVER turn
your back to them.
Keep in mind that any weapons in your home might
be used against you.
Do not label your keys with any identifying information.
Never specify that you are "Not Home" on your
answering machine. Instead, use the term "Unavailable".
All repair/delivery/inspection persons should
call in advance and carry photo ID.
Never give personal information to door-to-door
or telephone solicitors.
Do not read while walking/standing on the street.
Don't let gas gauge on your auto fall below 1/4
Check inside and around your car before getting
in. If you're concerned about a vehicle near your
own, either leave and return to your car later,
or enter by way of the passenger side.
Give only the auto ignition key to parking attendants.
Lock your car doors and keep the windows rolled
Give directions to people in a car from a safe
Have your car keys in your hand BEFORE you get
to your car.
If your car has broken down, ask anyone who stops
to call the police - don't get out of your vehicle.
When confronting a dangerous dog - DO NOT turn
and run. This action can trigger the "hunting
instinct" in the dog. Stand still, do not look
it in the eye, and in a low, firm voice say "No!"
There is no "guaranteed" self defense aid (sprays,
stun guns, etc.) no matter what the advertisers
claim. Nothing works against every attacker in
every situation. Realize also that your weapon
may be used against you.
Never depend entirely upon one weapon/technique.
Nothing in your purse/wallet is worth fighting
Don't walk like a victim. Whenever possible,
a criminal will avoid the determined and aware
and choose the helpless and oblivious.
Most importantly: Listen to your INSTINCTS! Pay
attention to those warning bells going off in your
head - DON'T try to pass it off as just "paranoia".
Our senses are more powerful than we realize! Better
to risk a little embarrassment then to risk being
And remember: No one can tell you what you should
do (or should have done) in every situation. Only
you can make the judgment call for the appropriate
action. If you decide to fight - make sure you fight
hard! If you decide to stay passive, try to remember
every possible detail about the attacker.
Stay Well; Stay Aware!
About the Author
Meghan Gardner is the CEO and Instructor Director
for Guard Up, Inc., a company that offers programs
to companies and organizations in martial arts, Japanese
fencing and swordsmanship (Kendo and Iaido), European
fencing, boxing and Street Defense. ASAP Seminars,
a subsidiary of Guard Up, provides assault prevention
training to clients across the country.
Mrs. Gardner is also the founder of the American Martial
Way Association, a martial arts system based out of
eastern Massachusetts. She has been actively training
and teaching in the arts and assault prevention (with
a specialty in Knife/Counter-Knife Techniques) for
Reprinted with permission of the author. © 1997
American Martial Way Association.
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