Friday, 23 April 2010

Self Defense in your Home

Self defense is primarily about awareness and preparation. We are most vulnerable when we are relaxed and off-guard. Nowhere are we more off-guard than in our homes, where we feel safe, that is how we are able to sleep at night. But wake up to this: you are not as safe as you think.

Imagine these two scenarios:

1) It's 10pm. You've had a couple of drinks. A violent gang of robbers and rapists knocks on your door and forces their way in when you answer... Or maybe they just kick the door in to start with. (How secure is your front door?) Your burglar alarm is going off but they don't care. They're high on crack cocaine and they are here to rape your wife and daughter, and then take your car, which they've seen parked outside. You are about to give them the keys, if they're not already somewhere obvious like in or on a cabinet or a hook by the front door, or your jacket pocket (by the front door!) If you have a nice car, don't park it outside your house! Put it in the garage or park it nearby! Thieves often target homes with nice cars outside and often when the victim is at home. Keep a nice weapon near the front door, out of sight but very fast and easy to grab. A baseball bat or sledgehammer handle is ideal. (Not a knife though, unless you're highly trained in knife fighting - it's too short, for one thing). Keep another weapon in the room where you relax and watch TV - this is probably where you spend most of your time at home other than when sleeping. Odds are high that you will be here when trouble knocks on your door (of smashes it in). Be ready for that. Assume it will happen. Always think of the worst possible scenario and plan for that and be ready for it, in everything you do in life - and especially in self defense.

2) You are asleep in bed, upstairs, where the rest of your family is also sleeping. Wakey-wakey!! Our friends from scenario number 1 above have just woken you up by smashing your door in downstairs. Their wishlist is the same as before. Your wife, your daughter and you car. No where's that weapon? Did you leave it downstairs? You need another one by the bed, where you can get it fast in the dark. A torch is good too, especially a big, long, heavy metal one. You can shine the beam to blind people and then hit them with it. (Where to hit? their most vulnerable pressure points of course!) Do you have an escape route planned? Is the key to that window handy? Can you fit through? Would your kids be able to get through? You may think it's an unlikely scenario, so here's one that is very likely and happens to people a lot: a fire breaks out in the home while you are asleep...

3) So it's 2 a.m. and the smoke alarm goes off. (You haven't got one? Get one! Today! Put it at the top of the stairs - smoke rises and it will be louder in the bedrooms.) Maybe the house next door left a cigarette burning on their sofa and it spread. Or maybe our good friends the mad murderers from scenarios 1 and 2 decided to let you off lightly. They poured petrol through your letterbox and lit it - or sent a petrol bomb through the window. Your exit route through the front door - and possible even down the stairs - is blocked by flames that will strip you to the bone in 10 seconds. And you are already growing dizzy from the fumes. You will be unconscious in 30 seconds. You and your family are going to die. Top tips for a fire scenario:

1) The cleanest air is closest to the floor - hot gases and smoke rise up. Get you and your family down on the floor and stay there as you make your escape.

2) Be careful when opening a door - check to see if the handle is hot. If there's a fire behind it, opening the door will feed the fire with oxygen making it rage out of control.

3) Get a smoke alarm.

4) Did you get a smoke alarm yet? Go and get one!

5) Keep escape routes clear. Is there an upstairs window you can exit through? Keep the key near the lock. You won't have time to look for it. (Did you get that smoke alarm yet?) Keeping a thick, knotted rope upstairs will help you escape. Or even a rope-ladder. Check it's long enough.

6) Improvise a rope by tying bed sheets and tough clothes together - it's an old trick that works. Throw pillows, clothes, etc., down to soften your landing. Remember though, breaking a leg is better than dying!

7) Keep a fire extinguisher downstairs - and one upstairs.

8) Did you get that smoke alarm yet?

9) Make a plan and rehearse - so your whole family knows what to do. This will also expose any problems with your plan such as, "oops, the window is too small", or "oops, it's too far to jump down!"

Monday, 5 April 2010

Self defense in your car

We spend a lot of time in cars and they feel like our personal space - we can feel a false sense of security. It's important that we think about what we would do if somebody attacked us in our car.

If somebody wants to steal your car and they point a gun at you through the window, you'd better let them have the car. But if the weapon is less of an immediate threat there are some things you can do.

If the car is moving a little and there's space to go, lock the doors and drive away as quickly as you can. Hit the horn to startle the attacker and buy a couple of extra seconds, as well as getting the attention of anybody nearby - the last thing the attacker wants. (Don't make them jump if they have a gun!) Even wipers, or a spray of screenwash might help distract the attacker for a moment.

If they are close to the door you could ram it open on them, but this is a risky option as they've then got access to you inside the car - if you do this you'd better be very sure you're hitting them hard enough to end the attack or put if off for a few moments.

It's worth having some sort of weapon in case you need it. Think short, like a rolling pin. (Some steering locks are suitable - keep it handy if you have one). Too long and you can't easily swing it around inside the car. You should also think about jabbing with a short stick for very close quarter fighting. Make sure your weapon is where you can reach it, especially if you expect to drive through a nasty neigbourhood. Beware of knives and guns - they can get you in trouble and they can easily be turned on you. As with everything in self defense, you should practice a little in the car, to see what works on an attacker outside or inside the car with you.

Don't just lash out, think about the pressure points that will have the most impact in a self defense or combat situation.

Awareness, as ever, is important. Before you get to that bad place you really have to drive through, lock the doors and close the windows. Keep moving, don't stop unless you have to. As you approach a stop sign or traffic lights, make sure you're aware of who's around, where they are, what they're doing, what they're holding and your possible escape routes.

If you really think somebody is trying to get at you or somebody else inside the car with really bad things on their mind then stop at nothing. Run them down if you have to. If it's kill or be killed, make sure you're doing the killing.