Guest Author - Caroline Chen-Whatley
As we discuss self-defense and safety, the first thing we need to cover is attitude. One of the key components to assuring your safety is to remain calm and alert at all times.
Having a Martial Arts background could help you to gain this calm attitude. One of the first things we learn when sparring is to maintain eye contact and awareness of our surroundings. When one enters combat, you need to be prepared both mentally and physically for the challenge ahead. If you're distracted, you're likely to find yourself off balance and at the mercy of your opponent.
This concept translates well in even everyday situations.
I originally come from the metro-New York area. So often, Iíd spend a good deal of my time in the City with my family. I was amazed, however, when I got old enough to go into the City alone to find out how many of my friends have never set foot inside the City. They had this overwhelming fear that they would walk on the streets and immediately get in trouble.
As part of the millions of people who travel through New York each day, I can assure you that wonít happen. But, there are things, mainly attitudes, you can carry that will help make you less of a target. This is true in New York or any other major city you travel to.
1) Know where youíre going before you get there. I canít tell you how many times I see people standing in the middle of the street, literally lost, with a map out and trying to figure out where to go next. Because your attention is focused on trying to find something, you arenít watching whatís happening around you. Easy pickings.
2) Ask for help in directions sooner rather than later. If you feel youíre off course, donít be afraid to ask for help. The sooner youíre back on track, the better off youíll be. However, make sure to ask someone who is an officer or has a reason to be there, a shopkeeper or building guard. This way youíre assured not only potentially a person more informed of the area but also a person who has a vested interest in your safety as well. After all, what could be worse for business than someone getting in trouble after coming through your shop?
3) Keep your bags closed and your possessions close by. This seems like common sense but Iíve seen this violated all the time by outsiders. Bags left open, purses carelessly slung over the backs of chairs, money that is kept in loose fitting coats or coats that are not on. This seems like a paranoid attitude, but I try to casually keep a hand near or on my purse whenever I get into a crowded situation. In restaurants, I prefer to keep my purse either still on my arm or set on the table in hands-reach. For men, keep your wallets in your front pockets, try to empty out whatever you donít need prior to traveling. Itís best only to carry what you need close to you and not a big wad. And if you keep your wallet in your inside coat jacket, keep the jacket on! While this canít deter a true professional out to get your belongings, it will at least stop the casual pick-pocketer.
4) Always have some backup. Again, another paranoid state of mine but I like to make sure if Iím going into a situation where there might be danger, I have something in backup. So, for instance, I might spread my money around, keep some bills (enough to get safely home) kept in a separate pocket. You never know when you might need it.
5) Listen to your conscience. If the street looks deserted and dangerous, donít go down it. Find another way. Thereís always another way. The worst thing you can do is not listen to your own conscience and put yourself in danger.
6) Stay alert. How many times have I heard people heading into the City to party and get so drunk they are puking on the sidewalk? Or how about falling asleep on the subway or public area? How easy of a picking do you make yourself in those situations? Enough said.
These concepts, while present in many Martial Arts teachings, are simple to follow even if you don't have Martial Arts training. They are key to helping protect yourself and avoid dangerous situations.