This weekend, The Times newspaper wrote an article ‘Jihadist attacks prompt rush to learn self-defence’. Several martial arts instructors who run self-defence courses commented that they get more enquiries after acts of terrorism especially when the terrorists use knives and swords rather than bombs and bullets. People get the feeling that they stand more of a chance with this type of attack and they’re right.
Learning self-defence skills won’t make you bullet-proof but practical training will help you to improve your chances of staying safe in any dangerous situation. Any weapons defence training will improve your chances of survival. Even if your odds are only slightly improved, it’s better than nothing.
Here are my top tips for your personal safety:
1. When you’re in a public place, always be aware of your surroundings and people nearby. Try to avoid distractions which will make your reaction times slower, such as listening to music with earphones, talking, texting or browsing on your mobile phone.
2. When walking along the pavement, walk against the oncoming traffic. The last 2 London terrorist attacks involved vehicles mounting the pavement and running pedestrians over before further atrocities were carried out.
3. Regular training in martial arts improves your confidence. This oozes out of every pore when you walk, talk and breathe. Bad people like to pick on weak people. This is solely because they don’t want to get hurt themselves. If you have confidence, bad people tend to avoid you.
4. Be aware of what you have to hand that can be of use to protect yourself should an attacker approach you. Everyday items such as bags, belts, keys, coins and clothing can be used to stall an attack giving you precious time to escape. Although knives are difficult to defend against, they’re not impossible to overcome.
5. First aid training is vital in saving lives. It’s a life skill and courses are very reasonably priced these days.
6. Wear a Millwall shirt.
Unfortunately, an attacker almost always has the element of surprise and so you will almost certainly be fighting off the back foot in a dangerous situation. Developing the mindset not to freeze in these situations doesn’t come overnight and sometimes never at all. But regular training in practical and effective self-defence techniques should help you to respond without emotion and hopefully see the danger for what it actually is.
Sensei Stephen O’Brien