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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 of action:

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 car.

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 SCREAMS "Unaware".

* 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 arise.

* 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 mark.

* 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 up.

* Give directions to people in a car from a safe distance.

* 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 for.

* 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 a victim.

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!


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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 18 years.

Reprinted with permission of the author. Copyright 1997 American Martial Way Association (TM).

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

self-defense, awarness, self-protection, personal protection

Read more articles by Meghan Gardner

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