BY PHIL VENTRELLO, FOUNDER OF MUNIO SELF DEFENSE
What’s the best thing to try if faced with an attacker?
When it comes to protecting yourself, simple is better.
I still remember standing in the martial arts studio with my fellow students, waiting for my instructor. He had announced he was going to demonstrate his ultimate self defense move.
I eagerly awaited the coming blur of fantastic motion, expecting him to explode into the most flashy kicks and punches we had ever witnessed... and then he stunned us all… and simply turned quickly and ran away!
Oh yah, my great and talented martial arts Master had just run away! At first, I felt sort of let down, perhaps even shocked, yet mere moments later, I was enlightened. Without any disrespect to all the sacrifice, blood, sweat, tears and years that he, myself and countless other people have given to their self defense training, he had managed to strip it all down to what is most important. His simple demonstration revealed the ultimate goal of self defense – escaping an attack safely without harm.
Yep. The best personal safety advice is to use your two feet… and run away!
Now, running away is both a concept as well as an action. Ideally, running away should actually occur before an attack ever starts. Thats the exact concept my instructor was really demonstrating. It's PREVENTION. Simply put, prevention means if you are not in harm's way, you can't get hurt. Prevention starts with your awareness of your surroundings, and being alert at all times. In other words, don’t get caught off guard. Prevention includes avoidance, or the common sense, sometimes instinctive ability to to keep yourself away from dangerous people, situations or locations. You will never have to run away from danger if you can manage to avoid it! Be smart and get away from the situation as quickly as you can! Nothing flashy, nothing fancy... just run away.
You can put prevention into practice. Avoid being pre-occupied since that makes you an easier target for a potential attacker. When you’re walking to your car, have your keys out beforehand, so you’re not digging through your purse or pockets to get them. Texting while walking out into a parking lot, garage, etc. is a no-no. Walking with both earphones in when you listen to your music is also a don’t – if you just can’t be without your music, then leave one in and one out so you can be aware of what’s going on around you. Flat out avoid those locations you know, or even sense are not safe. Maintain a body posture that signals confidence and alertness. These are a few common sense tips that can take the criminal bulls-eye off of you, but are often ignored.
Prevention is Stage 1 of the complete Personal Safety spectrum I teach. But does prevention always work? Are you guaranteed to be safe by either avoiding or running away from every dangerous situation? NO. Unfortunately, there are just too many variables, and sometimes the circumstances will not allow that opportunity. Hmmmm... what then?
Run if you can. Fight if you must.
Look for my next blog which talks about fighting for your safety.
In the meantime, stay safe!
Phil Ventrello is the Founder of MUNIO Self Defense and the inventor of the MUNIO Self Defense Keychain. He is a 5th Degree Black Belt and Master Instructor of the Combat Hapkido self defense program at Foundation Martial Arts in Erie, PA. Phil is a lifetime member of the International Combat Hapkido Federation, a member of the American Women's Self Defense Association, and has been inducted into Action Martial Arts Magazine's Hall of Honor for his outstanding dedication in the martial arts.