Prepare Your Defence
posted on 4/07/2015 1:07:00 AM
Usually, most articles written about self-defence are slanted towards, or written specifically for, women. This is because the average woman going about her daily business may feel more concerned for her safety. And while it is true that women are more likely to be at risk of an attack, many men are also concerned about safety, both for themselves and their families. Social stigma dictates that men should automatically know how to look after themselves, but not all of us have grown up in environments where we have learnt to fight or,
rather, ‘defend’. So unless you have specifically trained in the martial arts or other fighting codes, you may not have any confidence in your natural ability to protect yourself.
Let’s be very clear what we are talking about here: this article is not about how to win a bar fight. In fact, it is the exact opposite. This article is about how to avoid confrontations that may lead to violence, and in doing so keeping you, your friends and your family safer. Most people think about self-defence the very second they need it, but by then it’s too late. If you are ever attacked, you will be attacked at a time that the attacker dictates, in a place that they choose, using a method that they want. Just like predators in the wild, criminals often attack the weakest of the herd; the people they perceive to be weaker or more vulnerable.
You are constantly communicating with the world and people are reading these messages that you are giving off. You give away clues all the time. Criminals are very good at reading
body language, as their livelihoods depend on it, and they want to stack the odds in their favour. They are not looking for a fair fight.
A study (Attracting assault: Victims' nonverbal cues, by Betty Grayson and Morris I. Stein) videoed pedestrians without their knowledge, walking down a busy New York footpath. They showed the tapes to 53 criminals who had been convicted of assault crimes. There was a clear consensus among the criminals about whom they would have picked as victims. The criminals were assessing their victims by the vulnerability of their body language. This was based on several nonverbal signals including posture, body language, pace of walking, length of stride and awareness of environment.
AVOID LOOKING LIKE A VICTIM
- Be alert and pay attention to what is going on around you.
- Walk tall with your head up and eyes focused.
- Walk with a confident stride, not an arrogant stride.
- Know where you are going and how to get there.
- Avoid excessive eye contact with strangers.
- Keep a comfortable distance between yourself and strangers.
Awareness is probably the most important aspect of self-defence. Most people equate awareness to what is happening in their surroundings… but awareness is also having a sense of what is happening to you internally. When experiencing everyday activity and interactions, the brain is able to control the adrenaline response because there is no perceived threat. When the interaction is sudden or unexpected, however, your body signals that something is wrong and that you need to take care of it. Chemicals then begin flooding the body, including cortisol and adrenaline, as it is preparing you to fight, flee or freeze. This release of adrenaline can act almost like a mini super power or, if you are not used to it and don’t know how to control it, can possibly cripple you with fear.
By recognising the symptoms of an adrenaline dump, you are more able to control the fear that may come and you are more able to formulate a plan of escape. When most people get adrenalised, the first thing they do is either hold their breath or they get rapid shallow breathing. This escalates the negative effects of adrenaline, as there is not enough oxygen
getting to the brain, which makes it harder to use cognitive, problem-solving functions.
A great antidote to this is modulation breathing. This takes you out of your emotional state and into a clearer, more rational, problem-solving state. Navy fighter pilots have been taught this as a way to control and channel the adrenaline in their bodies during times of stress or arousal response.
HOW TO DO IT:
1. Take a breath in through the nose and as you breathe in make a big “Buddha belly”.
2. Lift the air up into the lungs and fully inflate the lungs.
3. Breathe out through the mouth as you pull the belly button towards the spine.
Because it is not a natural breathing pattern and you have to think about it, it forces you into the cognitive higher brain state which allows you to find a creative solution rather than resorting to an emotional knee-jerk response.
THE COLOUR CODES
It is important to understand where you are in the spectrum of human conflict. Sometimes it is obvious. For example, if someone is hitting you, there is no ambiguity, you are in a fight. The real confusion happens at the lower ends of human conflict where your social conditioning and denial tell you that “this can’t be happening” or “did he just say what I think he said?” It is natural to rationalise or deny that the concern or threat may exist but you need to build up the skill to overcome that denial to be able to take control. In the intensity of a situation, where adrenaline may be flooding our body, we need a reference point to determine:
a) what is the level of threat and
b) what is an appropriate response to that threat. This is called the colour code of self-defence.
The FBI calls this the Victim State. This where you are most vulnerable as you are oblivious to what is going on around you. Maybe you are daydreaming, listen to your iPod or texting.
You will be caught by surprise. You never want to be code white.
This is your everyday manner. You are relaxed but attentive. You are aware of what is going on in your surroundings. You are trusting your intuition.
Something has triggered you and now is the time to start formulating your plan. You are giving the threat the attention it needs. You may be searching for an escape route or formulating your verbal or physical response.
No question about it. You NEED to respond. Right now. You may need to react physically but there is still a small chance you can bring this level back down to code yellow.
You are now physically dealing with the situation. No time for indecision, it’s survival time!
You want to match your level of response to the level of threat so that you don’t over-react or under-react. By building the colour codes you are priming your body and your mind to do the best job it can to de-escalate the situation - but you are prepared to act if it does get to code black.
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