March 20, 2016
There are times in life we face overwhelming odds, there are times that no self-defense, no matter our skill, will make a difference.
The Jewish people, a great warrior nation, faced the Roman Empire. Three times in less than 70 years the Jewish people rebelled and fought against Rome. In the end the nation lay devastated, the land ruined, cities destroyed, the Holy Temple of Jerusalem in ruins, and the people dead or enslaved. It took us nearly 2,000 years to recover.
At that point what could we do? The odds were against us, in an overwhelming way. The only thing we could do was wait, hope, and rebuild slowly. And...keep the faith and hope alive, never give up.
But what can we do in the way of prevention? What can we do to avoid such situations from happening again?
We must avoid the overwhelming odds.
In the first Jewish revolt the Jews fought in open territory, there was no chance as they were facing overwhelming odds. In the third revolt the Jews avoided the open battlefield and used guerilla warfare tactics, they achieved much more success.
Lesson: Avoid a situation where you will face overwhelming odds. This is not a movie and you are not Bruce Lee/Chuck Norris/Steven Seagal.
On a side note; I was once a fan of those movies, I am no longer. They create a totally false impression of the martial arts and the abilities you can hope to achieve. At least the Karate Kid movies teach some real values.
What we must learn to do is avoid facing overwhelming odds, for there are odds that none of us can realistically overcome.
What can we do?
Situational Awareness: This in a nut shell is everything, the rest is interpretation. Be aware of your surroundings at ALL times.
Check the House and Door:
I was in Mexico. I had on me a large amount of cash. I am not Mexican, I am not fluent in Spanish and I guess it is not difficult to spot me as a foreigner. So rule number one...Do not ever carry a large amount of cash on you. But what are our options when we are abroad, far from home?
I was at a friend's house. I can become what appears as a bit neurotic; I ask many questions. What kind of a neighborhood is this? are there many home break-ins here, do you have a safe?
People whom I stay with know that I always ask these questions. I am the outsider, I must ask the locals what the risks are.
At this person's house I asked to check the doors, the locks, the hallway. I wanted to understand the entire layout of the house. On one hand I did not want to carry with me large amounts of cash in an area known for trouble. On the other hand I did not feel safe leaving money in a private apartment. Tough choice.
After a thorough check of the house and the surrounding areas I felt it was quite safe, and also a highly unlikely target as it did not seem like an appealing apartment to rob. It was a student's apartment. Students are known for being poor. Nonetheless I still found a very creative way to hide my money. It all turned out well. But it is always a gamble. You must always weigh the different options; take the money with you, or hide it in a home.
Clothing for travel, hidden pockets: When you travel you must choose your clothing carefully. I shop for pants with pockets in the front, extra pockets, pockets that can be closed with a zipper or button. This makes it much more difficult for someone to pick-pocket you. Never put money in a back pocket.
On a bus, train, airports, criminals are everywhere. They know that travelers have money and they want it. You must prepare with Alertness, appropriate clothing, and knowledge of self defense.
Cash: Try not to carry large amounts of cash with you. Some people, due to the nature of their business, deal with cash. Try to find a bank on the road to send it home, deposit it.
Hide money - Say you are going to the bank to make a deposit. Banks, ATM's, Western Union, these are all places that involve money. Criminals know this. Either you are depositing money or withdrawing money, so they can get you either coming or going. What can you do?
One helpful suggestion is having a decoy wallet. In this wallet have $50, an expired credit card etc. Hand them this wallet and get away. Your real money, your real credit card will be in another wallet, hidden deep inside your clothing.
Do not try to save money: I am guilty of this myself, but I am changing my ways. Should I take a taxi or the train? Should I take a proper taxi or the cheap rogues who hang around airports. SPEND THE MONEY and get a proper taxi. If you are carrying valuables you may be robbed on the train or bus. Saving money will end up costing you money.
Hotels: Some hotels are more likely to be robbed than others. When I stay at the Hilton I feel safe. There is a doorman, there is security, it is not easy for someone to walk in off the street and get to your room. And the doors are solid.
But on a roadside motel, a cheap hotel, and yes I have stayed in these, it is not safe at all. Yes, you save a few bucks but your door leads straight to the parking lot. Anyone can come in, day or night, when you are in or out, and break down that door, attack you or steal your money. It is not worth it. Do not save the money. I do not sleep well in such hotels and I never leave money in them. Remember the cleaning lady has a key to the room as well. You get what you pay for.
As my parents would often say what is cheap is dear, what is dear is cheap. The cheap way will end up costing you more money, the expensive way will end up saving you more money.
I "saved money" for years by not protecting my house properly. I paid for it with a break-in, home robbery, last year. And then I still had to pay for the home security.
Do not save money at the risk of your safety.
There are situations in life where physical abilities, no matter how great, will be ineffective. If you are faced with three guys armed with rifles, well, I am not sure Krav Maga can help you. But where we can help you is train you to understand prevention, precaution and preparedness. We can train you to avoid a situation where you face overwhelming odds that no man can overcome, unless you are a movie star.
We do not live in the movies, we live in real life, and sometimes real life is pretty bad. We must be ready, on all fronts, in all ways.
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