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13 Self Defense Tips to Keep you Safe

Don’t believe the doom mongers that believe rising violent crime levels are about to create another crime epidemic in New York City similar to the plague of attacks we saw here in the 1980s. We can all do a lot to stay safe and defend ourselves without having to rely on others.

The sad fact of the matter is that muggings, sexual assault, bar and street fights are a rite of passage for most young men and women these days. The economic climate, low employment rates and poor job prospects have ushered in a new wave of uncertainty that has the potential of derailing crime management plans in NYC.

Federal and State Government efforts and the media’s attention have once again been drawn to the problem of tackling crime.  Traditional NYC policing methods have helped in the past and we can feel confident that the NYPD will do as much as they can.  However, as was recently seen in the UK during the recent riots, crime can be unpredictable and difficult to control even with the toughest policing methods.

Law enforcement services are being stretched as a result of budget cuts so it would be unrealistic to assume that the NYPD alone can tackle escalating levels of violent crime. That being said, it wouldn’t be politically expedient for Mayor Bloomberg to suggest that New Yorkers learn Krav Maga or another form of self-defense in an effort to defend themselves and their families.  So it is up to organizations like the Krav Maga Institute to encourage New Yorkers to learn focused fighting methods and self-defense techniques in an effort to feel more secure and deal with any problems that may arise. There is always going to be a risk to your personal safety no matter how efficient policing methods are or how much crime rates fall. Getting fit and feeling confident in your ability to deal with problems is a huge advantage.

The Krav Maga Institute, through its various programs in hard-to-reach communities in NYC (Harlem, the Bronx and Brooklyn) as well as around Manhattan, tries to encourage communities to learn Krav Maga in an effort to educate and inform those most at risk. Here are 13 things you can do to defend yourself, your family and your friends that do not require you to attend a class.

1.  Stand tall and be confident.  IKMF Master Avi Moyal recently visited a number of violent criminals in prison.  He asked each of the prisoners he met how they chose their victims and discovered that they all had a tendency to prey on easy targets (less of a risk to them, ‘easy money’ one person said).  So, be calm, confident and stand tall.  Attending only a few Krav Maga classes a month will give your confidence a boost. The air of calm confidence will put off anti social behavior and attract the right kind of people.

2.  Don’t drink or take drugs excessively.  It sounds obvious but it’s true.  ‘A study of sexual assaults among college students found that 73% of the assailants and 55% of the victims had used drugs, alcohol, or both immediately before the assault.’ (read more: Sexual Assault: The Silent, Violent Epidemic —

3.  You know who your friends are. The National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center Medical University of South Carolina found that ‘only 22% of female victims were assaulted by someone they had never seen before or did not know well.’  Don’t get paranoid but just be aware of the effect that drinking and taking drugs can have on the behavior of your friends.  If some of your friends get violent and aggressive when drinking, they will attract trouble.

4.  Learn how to identify anti-social and aggressive behavior. If someone gets too close to you, moves into your personal space or oversteps the line, act immediately.  Don’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings; they are more likely to respect you for it.

5.  Use your voice.  The first thing to do when someone gets aggressive with you is to use your voice. Don’t shout unless there is a weapon or attack involved. Raise your voice, tell them to stop and back off in no uncertain terms.

6.  Educational stop. If someone approaches you, in an aggressive manner and your voice doesn’t put them off, keep your hands up (palms of hands showing) as it asking them to stop.  If they continue towards you extend your hands (full arms length) and slide two fingers on one of your hands into the jugular notch. It is an uncomfortable sensation that often helps defuse a situation.

7.  Run.  There is no shame in running away from a bad situation you want to avoid. Just make sure you run to a safe place or at least towards a small object (see below).

8.  Small objects. Use whatever you have at hand to defend yourself. Water in a cup, keys, a handbag, cell phone (unless it’s an iPhone 5 or smart-ass Android) or even a shoe. If you have to run towards a small object to defend yourself, do so.

9.  No ego. Most fights are caused by people’s egos getting the better of you. If you sense something is escalating out of control, the easiest thing to do is to walk away and resist trying to impress others or trying to avoid losing face by not backing down. Don’t regret not letting something go in the heat of the moment.

10.  Be assertive, confident, not paranoid but trust your instincts. Communicate clearly and confidently because if you establish boundaries early on and someone crosses the line, you can act quickly and do what you need to in order to remove yourself from a difficult situation. If you feel uncomfortable or threatened, don’t worry about being polite.

11.  Keep your wits about you (cell phones and iPods). Don’t listen to music with headphones or use a smart phone that someone would want to steal if alone at night. It affects your ability to hear what is happening around you and attracts attention.

12.  Get fit. A fitter leaner person is stronger and more likely to escape difficulties. Learn some form of practical and reality-based self-defense (IKMF Krav Maga classes are available from trained professionals all over New York City including the financial district (Tribeca), Harlem, Brooklyn and on the Upper West Side).

13.  Learn some self-defense.  Make sure you choose a trainer that tests your physical responses and technique under pressure (i.e. mental and physical stress that simulates a real attack) or there is no point. The best thing about learning a practical form of self-defense is the confidence boost you get.  You will exude a calm confidence because you will know that if trouble comes your way, you will know exactly what to do.  Not only is this kind of confidence an aphrodisiac, it makes you feel fitter and stronger and builds self esteem by channeling your daily stress into something positive.