5 Important Skills for Protecting Yourself

From the “clearing out my backlog” files…

From LowTechCombat comes an article about the “5 Most Important Skills for Protecting Yourself“. As with all LTC’s stuff, a solid article.

Before I discuss the article, you need to go read it. Go on, read it. I’ll be here when you get back. :-)

You’ll notice that no where in the article does it say “have a gun”. Yes, I talk a lot about guns and find them to be a valuable and useful tool, but I know that self-defense goes well beyond that. It’s like Insights Training‘s hierarchy:

Mindset

Tactics

Skill

Equipment

Mindset is most important, and equipment is least important. We all talk equipment because it’s cool, it’s fun, but once you get your equipment figured out, it’s time to move on and build up the more important things.

Back to the article.

1. Stay Alert, Look Ahead.

Indeed. All too often the story you hear from people being attacked is “they came out of nowhere”. No they didn’t, you just didn’t pick up on them until it was too late. Col. Cooper would call that being in “code white”. We should strive to be in “code yellow” most of the time, but life is what it is and we’ll likely drift in and out of yellow and white throughout our day (and hopefully we won’t escalate up the scale).

This is part of mindset, to be aware, to stay aware, and to have your head in a place where you know attacks can come out of nowhere, suddenly. For if we knew an attack was coming, say an appointment tomorrow at 3:00 PM, why would we willingly walk into it? No, they are surprises, “when you least expect it”, so do your best to expect it. Sure we’ll be surprised some of the time, but do your best to minimize the chance. So take out your earbuds, stop texting while walking, and use all your senses (yes, even taste might sometime be relevant) to be aware of what’s going on around you.

2. Walk Confidently but not Arrogantly

That’s a new maxim to me, at least in phrasing. I think it’s a good one because yes, if you have too much swagger out there, could you be drawing in a challenge you don’t want?

But confident is good. I know I go back to Insights a lot, but those guys have a lot of… well… insight into such matters. I always liked Greg Hamilton’s take:

Most people are grass-eaters with their heads down on the ground. The jackals and lions know this and think of them as that. Hold your head up and walk like you are the biggest, baddest lion that walks. The jackals and lions will notice and leave you alone because they don’t want to get hurt. Don’t challenge them because they might feel they have to respond to it. All you want is their respect, not their dignity.

So there you go, same thing said differently.

3. Know When to Run

Amen. Yes there’s something to be said for fighting, but we must always remember the key point is to survive, to go home, to see tomorrow. Sometimes fighting will be the right answer, but sometimes running will be too. And remember you gun folk… just because you have a gun doesn’t mean you have or should use it. Same for you black-belt martial artists; just because you know 3608 deadly techniques doesn’t mean you need to try them out and prove your skill. There’s a time, there’s a place, and sometimes Nike-Fu is the best martial art.

Implied in this is to not going looking for trouble, but that’s discussed in #5.

4. Use Quick and Effective Techniques

The article was written by a guest author at LTC, a Jack Roberts of Black Eagle Martial Arts. I don’t know for sure what Jack studies, but it appears likely he studies a traditional empty-hand martial art. Regardless, what he discusses here is spot-on, in that you want to keep it simple and use whatever skills and techniques are truly effective and that can be applied (by you) under pressure… which implies you need to train under pressure. If you do study a traditional martial art, ensure there’s some sort of “alive” training. If all your techniques are just too deadly to actually practice for real (full speed, resisting partner, etc.), you may want to try a different art (if your goal is fight skill, self defense, etc.). But note that even in such arts, there’s likely a subset of techniques that you can focus on (I always think about Kuk Sool’s “Ki Bohn Soo #9” as such a technique)

It doesn’t matter what you’re working with, be it empty hand styles or firearms or whatever. Acquire good skills, simple skills, effective skills, that you can apply under pressure.

5. Stay Away From Trouble

I would put this as the #1 skill for protecting yourself. If you do your best to stay out of trouble, trouble generally won’t find you. John Farnam summed it up quite nicely:

Don’t go to stupid places; don’t associate with stupid people; don’t do stupid things. We will add to that, be in bed by 10 o’clock.

Not much more to be said.

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