BY RACHEL CHEESEMAN, FOUNDER OF STREET SMART SELF DEFENSE
While scrolling through the local news, I came across the following headline “Attempted Abduction”. It was an incident describing two 12-year-old boys out walking together. A man drove up beside them and asked if they would be interested in getting into his vehicle to go and play video games. Fortunately, these kids were both smart enough to realize this was a ploy to gain trust in someone with bad intentions. They successfully escaped and reported the incident to proper authorities. The decision to run away saved both of them from a potentially disastrous set of consequences.
I’m a big fan of teaching “Run-Fu”. Obviously, this is by far the best method of self-defense if at all possible. Increasing the odds of success with any escape plan requires the “would-be victim” to keep as much distance as possible. A major successful component for these kids was their refusal to get into the vehicle. The fact that the “would-be assailant” had a barrier between them (the car door) made it much easier for the kids to run away without being caught.
Another good deterrent for distance is using your voice and confident posture (not to be confused with a fighting stance). A loud, firm tone that states “back off”, “leave me alone”, “don’t move”, is a very effective way to maintain a good amount of room between you and someone with bad intentions. It forces them to “stop…look…and listen.” I liken it to drawing the imaginary line in the sand between the good and the bad. This way if you must turn and run, that distance will come in handy for a nice head start. However, keep in mind that once an assailant closes the distance of less than two car lengths, it becomes much more difficult to outrun a committed criminal if you don’t have a barrier such as a car or trashcan to place between you.
Remember, the perpetrator always has at least a half-second (if not more) advantage over your initial thought process and reaction time. This means you always need to prepare for having the initial disadvantage. That’s why your overall awareness skills and gut instincts need to be heightened while out walking or jogging. The sooner you can recognize a threat, the easier it is to create the distance you need for an escape to safety without physical violence.
Rachel Cheeseman is a 2nd degree black belt and has studied the martial arts for the past 28 years. She founded Street Smart Self Defense Academy in Erie, PA 17 years ago to empower women, due to the rape of her sister in her off-campus college apartment. She is a certified instructor for the national full-contact self-defense program called “Model Mugging” and a certified instructor for the MUNIO Self Defense Workshops. Rachel is also a member of and former seminar instructor for the American Women’s Self Defense Association, and she has been inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame, Action Martial Arts Magazine Hall of Honors and the World Karate Union Hall of Fame.