Personal Safety Awareness

Along with instructing combatives I own and operate a specialist security training company.
One of the topics that we cover is personal safety and I would like to share my thoughts on the subject here with you.

In essence personal safety is something that we are all concerned about but not everybody does everything they can to ensure it.

Ultimately we are all responsible in the first place for our own safety, therefore each and every person should have a game plan, they should educate themselves on personal safety issues and remain alert at all times for any sign of threat.

If the country or state in which you reside allows the carry of a weapon, it would be advisable to receive adequate specialist training in the use of the permitted weapon and a careful consideration should be given to carrying that weapon when and where possible.

As the outcome of all breaches of personal safety is a crime being committed, it is important that we first look at crime and criminals.

Why is crime committed? Crime is committed out of three main reasons:

Ability
Desire
Opportunity

Ability

Simply put, ability means that the criminal chooses to commit the crime (e.g. a street robbery) simply because they can. Of course they must be criminally minded to begin with, but this means that they choose to victimise a target simply because they believe that the target is vulnerable.

The criminal will almost certainly choose a target that they believe that they will easily intimidate or overpower. They will not choose someone they perceive to be stronger or more powerful than them.

All criminals, whether they are part of an organised crime syndicate such as a gang of bank robbers or simply a lowly street thief, will carry out an element of pre-attack surveillance of their target prior to initiating their attack. This can range from several months as is in the case of a Jewellery hoist to just a few minutes as in the case of a common mugger. The criminal will be looking for weaknesses in defence in both cases and may decide to pursue another target if they deem the attack too risky to pull off.

Things a street mugger will look for in their targets defence is obviously very different to what an organised gang will examine while staking a high value asset that is most likely protected by advanced security systems and/or manned guards.

Never the less, in both cases if the target is “hard” the likelihood of the criminal choosing this target is slim.

With this in mind, when formulating a personal safety game plan everyone should make a decision to become a “hard” target. 

Desire

What is meant by desire in the subject of criminology is the criminals desire to possess what you have. They want something you have and they are prepared to use violence in order to achieve it.

In order to nullify this element of criminality there is a simple solution. Where at all possible do not display anything openly that might be of value to a criminal. Walking around a downbeat part of a city with a pair of Gucci sunglasses and wearing a shiny gold Rolex on your wrist are a prime example. Drug addicts will see you as their next rock of crack or wrap of heroin and even though you may be bigger, fitter and stronger than them, their need for the drug they are addicted to will heavily influence their ability to assess risks, you become a target by proxy!

Opportunity

Similar in essence to Desire above only that the criminal may not be actively seeking a target, the target simply presents itself. This is commonly referred to as being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

By practicing due care and maintaining situational awareness at all times, it is possible to minimise the possibility of an opportunist attack. 

Think of it rationally, do you look like you are worth attacking? I am not suggesting that people should dress like hobo’s in order to avoid muggings. However common sense and a little fore thought will go a long way.  

Having superior physical presence is a good deterrent but is un-achievable to most, hiring the services of a professional close protection operative will also work as will locking yourself away and having an innate fear of the evils of mankind, besides this there are several things that you can do to make yourself a hard target.

Body language - adopting a positive and confident posture can help deter attackers. Walking with an air of confidence, head up and shoulders back, scanning your surrounds in a normal manner is a good option both to deter attackers and to observe your surrounds. Walk with purpose but don’t challenge people either, these extremes can draw negative reactions. Set personal boundaries using your voice, educate people on how to treat you, scream and shout to cause a scene if needs be.

Avoiding travelling alone or through known crime hotspots. Here avoidance is the key, the best form of defence is not to be there. Areas of high criminal activity are generally avoided by people who know the city. Unless you have business in one of these areas or you happen to live there, there is little need or good in taking a random detour through an area like this. The likelihood of a criminal targeting someone they recognise as not being a local is high in circumstances like this. If you are unfamiliar with a city and are visiting for the first time it is advisable to find out “no go” areas. When city hoping we put great emphasis and invest much time in researching places of interest to visit while there, why not dedicate an extra 20 minutes into researching the areas that should be avoided also?

Remain aware at all times. Criminals love to attack using surprise as a tactical advantage. By displaying awareness you are actively deterring the criminal from choosing you as a target. Your situational awareness will remove the surprise element that the criminal relies on. Awareness also allows you to read subtle signals that warn you to be cautious and allow you to react in a timely manner should an attack occur. There is no such thing as an attacker who “came out of nowhere”, unless they are a bona fide Ninja who has mastered the art of the stealth warrior brotherhood, they always come from somewhere, somewhere close at that, you just didn’t see them because you were not situationally aware.

Confront/escape – don’t be a hero, this is the real world, not Hollywood. If you are attacked, your primary concern should be to escape, not to stand and fight. If your exit is blocked, well then you should fight. At this stage the gloves are most certainly off and a 110% commitment to the fight is essential, there is no room for half measures at this juncture and to hesitate or try to negotiate will be seen as signs of weakness and will only encourage the attacker as they will be of the impression that their judgement to choose you as a victim was well read.

In conclusion, although street attacks can occur randomly even when you have a level of situational awareness and are street smart, having a game plan and following these few very simple guidelines may go a long way towards avoiding it.

About the Author:
Brandon Clifford is the founder and Chief  Instructor at Krav Maga Combatives.
Coming from a traditional martial arts background, Brandon began to train in Krav Maga in 2001 after a particularly violent encounter while working as a door man in Central London.
In 2005 he completed the 150 hour instructors program with the International Krav Maga Federation and began instructing Krav Maga in the greater London area.
Brandon has also trained in BJJ with Roger Gracie academy and in Mixed Martial Arts with London Shootfighters, competing at both amateur and professional levels.
Brandon has a long background in frontline security, having served as a team leader in the Rapid Response Riot Squad in the Prison service, 20 years experience as a doorman and 15 years working as a close protection operative working with many A list celebrities including Jay-Z and Will Smith.
Currently, Brandon resides in Northern Spain and runs a Specialist Security Training company, IST-Academy along with running  intensive Krav Maga boot camps in Spain and monthly seminars in the U.K.

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