self-defense “magic formula”


magic potion
Image by Homies In Heaven via Flickr

One of the first posts on this blog and still one that gets some of the most frequent “hits”. It’s interesting how in the comments some readers translate this advice into “living a life of no fun or adventure”. If you think that boozing and visiting high crime areas is what makes a life worth living you need to expand your horizons IMO. I still stand by this advice. 

As a LEO I believe I can give you the “magic formula” to avoid 99% of “street attacks”:

Don’t participate in illegal activity. Don’t hang out with people who attract trouble (need I clarify that?). Don’t hang out in places that attract trouble. Don’t get drunk or high. Don’t tolerate domestic violence, call the police and/or leave the abuser. Be alert to your surroundings and if something “feels” wrong…leave. Many people stick around thinking that they are being needlessly paranoid.

For that remaining 1% of instances where you are attacked while just “minding your own business”…study an art that exposes you to striking/grappling/fighting with a resisting opponent and exposes you to getting hit and working through exhaustion and stress. Be aware of your states self defense laws, and have a plan for “post-incident” already thought out.

And throughout it all, everyday, practice your skill sets.

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20 thoughts on “self-defense “magic formula””

  1. Hey Tom,

    Nice post and that really does cover quite a bit on how to avoid violence. Particularly if something feels wrong….leave. That has always served me well. I would also point out that I agree that if you surround yourself with good people who do not attract trouble then your chances in life regarding everything are better. These are commons sense type of things but people need to pay attention to them.

  2. Hi Brian,

    Yup. People seem to harbor the belief that violence is random and around every corner. While you have to be aware and alert at all times, because there is “random violence” out there, far and away the greatest threat is always going to be what you are exposed to 24/7.

  3. I usually use the phrase “The best defense is living well” to present the very points you list Tom.

    Treat yourself well, treat others well, and keep people who treat you well around you.

  4. Wow, I love this magical formula. I think it should be presented to the National Board of Health, as it will not only prevent 99% of all attacks, but also keep you out of jail, in mental and physical health, and kill 99% of all fun activities. A wonderful formula for staying in your comfort zone and ensuring boredom. Great home-spun philosophy.

    I’m clapping with one hand.

    1. Did you read that “you must” or “you should” do anything in my post?

      I’m just telling you the truth about how to avoid violence. How you determine your personal risk/safety balance is entirely up to you. Hell my hobbies and profession open me up to a LOT of “risk” I’m just aware of what those risks are.

  5. Hey, I do believe I know you from the OG.

    As a psychologist who worked in forensic contexts in the past, I’ve given similar advice: Don’t consume a lot of alcohol, and don’t hang around where lots of alcohol is consumed. In this day and age, there is an incredible array of ways to go out and have a good time without drinking, and if you stick to those, you’ll scratch your head every time you hear of a violent incident wondering, “man, how does this stuff happen?” …. because it’s so far off your radar screen.

    1. It’s sort of sad that some people thing that boozing and doping is “what makes life worth living”.

      They obviously haven’t live much of a life.

  6. The points you make are obvious but need to be said because they are often overlooked – my pops always told me the best way to handle a bar fight, is not to get into one

  7. So don’t do most of the things that make life worth living…that will keep you out of trouble. Thanks for the advice?

  8. How is tolerating domestic violence going to lead to a life worth living?

    How is participating in illegal activity (and the subsequent violence related to it) ‘better’ than finding another way of getting out of your comfort zone?

    Most of the people I’ve known who lived life under the assumption that partying, drinking/drugs, and hanging out in bars with a lot of ‘action’ tend to wallow in their comfort zone and don’t ‘explore’ too many other options because they are too busy to go to college, workout, make a family, or do a lot of other things.

    I’ve never been a heavy drinker, never done an illegal drug, and never been a ‘partier’ at bars with violent reputations – but I’ve avoided being stuck in a comfort zone through military service, martial arts, college, skydiving, rock climbing, rappelling, acting, singing, teaching, parenting, photography, hiking, fishing, hunting….

    wow I’m pretty boring and ‘comfortable’ for a guy who doesn’t have a problem with (for the most part) using this ‘magic formula’…

    Imagine how much more I could do with my time if I could just kick this internet/TV/Movie habit LOL!

  9. http://www.wgrz.com/news/article/158272/37/Niagara-Falls-Man-Charged-with-Raping-Teen

    Case in point. This 21 year old man is being charged with rapine a 14 year old girl. It’s a “he said/she said” situation which ends badly for both parties:

    1. The 14 year old may have been raped because of associating and participation in drugs.

    2. The 21 year old will have this on his record, never mind the fact that, even innocent, future employers/colleges and so on googling his name as part of the pre-employment screening will find this story…

    Never the less, I don’t see this as worth the ‘risk’ for a sense of ‘life worth living’ for either person no matter what version of the story turns out to be true.

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