Self-Defense: Protect What’s Yours

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In less than seven seconds, your fate can be sealed.

I n a flash, a criminal analyzes your actions to determine whether you’ll be his next victim. By observing you and your surroundings, he’ll know immediately whether he’ll be able to commit a crime against you and make a swift getaway.

Corinne Mosher knows these statistics. As a nationally recognized self-defense instructor, she hears the anger women voice about being the targets of criminals. Yet, their efforts to become “safer” are often misplaced.

“It can be frustrating to teach self-defense when students expect to walk away from class ‘owning’ self-defense,” she noted. “When I teach, I focus on changing mindsets to avoid becoming a target of a crime, rather than on weapons or striking. Criminals are searching for something about you or your environment that will help them facilitate the crime. The goal is being unattractive as a mark by altering how we look to a criminal. Avoiding danger is the key to being safer.”

Placing focus on physical techniques for protection is certainly a part of the plan, but Corinne says that using them is a last resort once everything else goes wrong. The primary goal should be circumventing these situations altogether. She explains that women avoid more car accidents than they’ve had because they have learned to recognize the signs of danger on the road. The same should be true for being a victim of a crime. In her classes, she drives home that point by teaching the acronym ADD: AMBUSH, DISTRACT and DISPARITY.

“A key advantage a criminal has is his element of surprise, which is often heightened by your lack of observation of the environment. Criminals want an AMBUSH situation, resulting in an easy take and quick getaway. To be safer, you must change the way you traverse your environment. You have to change your perspective on the world, and that’s uncomfortable for women because we’ve been taught not to prejudge people, to be kind and polite, even to the extent of endangering our lives,” Corinne noted. “If someone’s approaching you, tell them to stop. A man seldom has a good reason to approach a woman who’s by herself, and a good man won’t be offended by your actions. Remember, your actions could never turn a good man into a bad man.”

DISTRACT is another element a criminal will use against you. Many times, we do that on our own by reading our phones or searching through our purses. But a criminal may intentionally divert you by playing to your good nature. “The idea is that he wants to get close to you, within touching distance, to gain the upper hand. He may take the role of a jogger on the path you frequent. Maybe it’s someone getting on the elevator with you, or someone asking for directions,” she commented. “Don’t let them into your personal space; don’t take that risk. Remember, the one person that wants to hurt you may seem like the last person who would.”

Corinne shares that physical DISPARITY between the sexes is a severe disadvantage for women. A criminal doesn’t need the perfect scenario to commit a crime, and he doesn’t have to have a weapon, find you in a secluded environment or stalk you to learn your habits. More than likely all he needs is the advantage of being bigger and stronger than you.

“I’ve studied martial arts for years; even so, I don’t want to get into a physical altercation with a man,” she remarked. “My best physical techniques are designed to facilitate retreat. We should be wary of allowing people into a proximity that forces us to physically fight in order to get away.” Corinne also points out that females have an invisible bodyguard called intuition. “If something doesn’t feel right, get away from that situation. When we ignore it, we’re giving up our greatest ally,” she shared.

Unfortunately, there are people everywhere who want to take something from us. To enhance your safety, you need to understand what criminals are looking for and then be the opposite. Corinne advises that you use strong mannerisms and assert yourself. Walk with authority, head up, shoulders back and eyes scanning the environment, not on your phone or rummaging in your purse. Don’t be shy and don’t be afraid to come off a little abrupt. If you’re concerned about walking through a parking lot, ask a security guard to take you to your car. “The stranger you choose is better than the stranger who chooses you,” she added.

Corinne recommends researching surveillance videos of actual crimes to observe and study situations and actions. By doing so you’re training your brain to quickly recognize danger and respond without hesitation. “Self-defense isn’t only about learning physical techniques,” Corinne advised. “It’s about taking precautions and changing the way you interact with people and environments.” ■