I am writing these words at the Hotel La Playa, Isla Verde, Puerto Rico where the soft music blends with the sounds of the crashing waves and everyone seems to be smiling.
I was going for a walk last night (estoy caminando) and I asked my new friend Ivan to tell me a little about the neighborhood' "Is it safe? are there police patrols? gangs? What kind of people live here?"
Ivan filled me on the neighborhood but then said to me, "But you are a Krav Maga instructor, you can handle anything?
Well, good question, pregunda bueno, but the answer is mucho importante.
As IKI Instructor Calvin Longton in Navarre, Fla tells his young students, "Common sense before self defense", Actually common sense is a big part of self defense, the first part.
Some ads for self defense programs say things like, "Do you want to walk down the baddest, meanest streets and fear no man?...buy our DVD and fear no one."
Well, we say, if you know the area is bad, the street is filled with trouble, don't walk down there. Avoid trouble. Remember Mr. Miyagi from "The Karate Kid", "Best Defense - Not be there!" This wisdom would serve us well.
If the streets of a city are bad it is the job of the police to clean it up, not the individual walking home from work. Your job is to get home safely, any way you can. We do not encourage you to challenge anyone.
So when I am in a new area I learn about the neighborhood first, that is my first act of self defense; being prepared, knowing the area.
I recently taught a seminar at a private college in Virginia. Attendance was higher than in previous years, a whopping total of 12 participants! The students told me that the increase was due to recent violence on campus. There had been a series of attacks on students and people were getting concerned.
They asked me for advice on how to deal with the situation, what techniques should they use? First thing I do in these situations is ask for details, "Please describe for me the nature of the attacks. Where, when, how, whom?"
The students on this campus are well to do, the attackers are not students but come from the poorer sections of town. College students come home at the small hours of the morning, stone drunk, walking alone through poorly lit areas. Assailants wait for them, attack them from behind, and take their wallets.
Well, if you are stone drunk and get hit from behind unawares it will take a heck of a lot of training to be able to respond. The best solution is not to be caught unawares, not to be alone and drunk in an isolated area. The only way to defend against such an attack is to pivot and respond. As a friend of mine did recently. (see blog below)
Bottom line my friends, awareness first, awareness last, awareness always.
Be prepared, know your surroundings, Be aware.