Many times when people think of martial arts they think they need to be a black belt to know what to do in a dangerous situation, well that's not true. A few targeted moves practiced over time can really stack the odds in your favor and give you the inner confidence you need for a positive outcome. Creating safe habits, being aware, displaying confidence, and making eye contact are the first line of defense against a physical assault. Avoiding danger by creating safe habits and these small changes in physical demeanor are signals to a bully or predator that you're not an easy target and they'd be better off selecting an alternate victim.

The FBI did a study several years ago titled “The Three Stages of Assault”. In this study the FBI uncovered the fact that most predators follow a basic pattern of attack.
• First, they select a victim
• Next, they test the victim for perceived vulnerability
• Finally, they commit the physical assault

So the first step for us is to figure out how we can minimize the risk of being selected. We already know that creating safe habits is THE most important thing we can do, but that in and of itself is not enough. Inevitably, there will be times when our path might cross that of a predator. For this reason, we need to develop the habit of communicating confidence in all of our actions, even when we don’t feel confident. Be aware that average bad guy doesn’t have an alternative plan, but they do have an alternate victim.

By appearing more confident, you dramatically reduce the chances of being selected as a potential victim in the first place. The first step to appearing more confidence is a tall posture. Body language can send the message you’re likely to be a passive, easy target, or it can tell a potential attacker that they’d be better off picking someone else. Standing up tall, with your head up while walking with larger steps widens your stride and quickens your pace making you appear taller. Imagine the example of a super hero posture.

Next is eye contact. Always keep eye contact when meeting a stranger and never look down, act shy, or flattered. Maintaining constant eye contact sends the message that you’re aware that they’re there, you’re not easily swayed, and you’re not likely to be a good target. Sometimes compliments from a strangers can be a ploy to see if you are impressionable or easily flattered. They may compliment your clothing, shoes, or hair just to see what type of reaction they’ll get which determines if you’re their next victim or not, so maintaining constant eye contact is crucial. Never look down, by looking down a predator knows they can lure you with disingenuous compliments.

For school age children we teach and practice the value of a polite greeting. Often, the first impression is made when we are being introduced or are introducing ourselves to someone. Therefore, it is very important to deliberately go out of our way to make our greeting polite not only because it shows good manners, but when you look someone in the eye, give them a firm hand shake, and confidently say your name, your behavior says “I’m a nice, honest, trustworthy and confident person, that won't be bullied.” In school environments this first impression can stop bullying before it ever takes hold. 

We also teach children an exercise called “Shykid/Superkid.“ It goes like this: When you say out loud the word “Shykid,” drop your shoulders, look down at the floor and act really shy. Think about how that makes you feel. Typically not very good. Not only does it not feel very good, it also makes you look like an easy target to others. Now say out loud “Superkid”, while you to stand tall, put your fists on your hips, pull you head back and look proud. Think about how this makes you feel. It should feel pretty good. Not only does it feel better, it also makes you look strong and confident and NOT someone that people want to bully.  You may not want to walk around with your hands on your hips like Superman, but you can walk strong and confident.

Learn To Trust Your Intuition. In our everyday lives we should be aware of our surroundings, but at the same time, not add unnecessary fears to them. With this mindset, we can safely go about our business. We can rest assured that if something comes up that needs our immediate attention, our intuition will let us know.

Intuition is a feeling that you have about places or people that you just can’t quite explain. It’s when someone gives you the creeps or when being somewhere makes you feel uncomfortable. Your intuition is there to help warn and protect you from danger. We have all had gut feelings about a person, place or event that we should have listened to, but didn’t. Fortunately, most of these incidents were probably not life threatening.

Our intuition is always right in at least two important ways:
1. It is always in response to something
2. It always has your best interest in mind

Keep this in mind: If you ever find yourself saying, “I probably shouldn’t” …Don’t!

Sometimes our instincts don’t seem logical, but are almost always absolutely correct. Listening to your intuition seems so simple, but it is not always easy. It means that you might have to leave early from a concert, miss a party (because the guy who asked you to go gave you a funny feeling), or refuse a person’s help when it would have been convenient to accept it, etc.

These next few words have probably saved more people from harm than any others:
“If in doubt…Get out.”

In a study, 90% of all recovered victims reported knowing something wasn’t right but they ignored their intuition. Always, always listen to your intuition.

You should never worry about hurting someone’s feelings if you feel that your safety is at risk. “Your safety is more important than their feelings” means that  It would be much better to unintentionally offend someone by telling them to back off or get away, only to find out later that their intentions were completely innocent than it would be to go along with someone’s seemingly innocent request because you didn’t want hurt their feelings, only to find yourself in bad situation.

And if all else fails, there may be times where you need to physically defend yourself. More important than the actual techniques you use is the mindset that you have. Have you ever tried to pick up a 5 pound toy poodle that didn’t want to be picked up? If not, you can imagine that it would be pretty painful. Remember, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it is the size of the fight in the dog.

You must be totally committed and totally ruthless in your defense. Follow these basic rules of self defense:
• It is always better to strike first. An attack delivered with “S.L.A.P.” surprise, leverage, accuracy, and power (strength & speed) is nearly impossible to defend. Also known as Hit Hard, Hit Fast, Hit First, or Hit Back First. Action is faster than reaction.
• Know where to hit (striking zones)- nose, neck, eyes, ears, knees, groin, shins and instep should be primary targets.
• Expect to get hit, expect to get hurt. It may not happen, but if it does, you won’t be freaked out if you’re prepared for it.
• Fight through it!! Do not quit until the opportunity to escape arises. When in doubt, keep hitting.
• Show no fear! Looking frightened usually energizes the attacker.
• Make as much noise as possible – scream, break a window, yell fire, call 911, etc. The last thing your attacker wants is attention.
• Get away, get help, and report the incident immediately. NO, GO, YELL, TELL

So remember even if you're not a black belt you can always do something. I am reminded is this very important principle by a recent account of one of our TNT students, Meg Fiandaca, a green belt, who went over to Cambodia and taught women and girls how to defend themselves using the striking zone previously mentioned.

Meg visited Cambodia with the organization AIM during which time she shared her martial arts experience and taught self defense classes to girls and women in one of the highest trafficked areas of Cambodia. Meg taught 2 back-to-back self defense classes for a week, by the end of Meg’s stay her class size had doubled. Meg passed on her knowledge of how to protect yourself and that you can defend your body. Meg ended each class with a chant “I am strong!” in both Khmer and English.

Meg is scheduled to return next year and hopes to continue using her martial arts skills to empower and protect girls and women of Svay Pak, Cambodia for years to come. Thank you Meg for your sharing your knowledge to help make a difference in the lives of others.

If you would like to schedule a LiveSafe seminar for a high school class, business, group, or organization please contact us today at www.Kovars.com/Livesafe.

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