"Attack life. Don't let life attack you," has become my mantra — my road map to creating my best life. I discovered the positives in self-defense, and it changed every aspect of my life. You can adopt a lifestyle full of safety habits that will remove you from the path of danger and help prevent violence.
Here’s how you can make yourself a hard target by increasing your situational awareness (your understanding of your surroundings).
1. Use peripheral vision.
Use your peripheral vision when in public so that you are automatically seeing more and will therefore recognize something out of place sooner.
2. Know where you are going.
When you know your destination and how to get there, you will avoid getting caught in the wrong area — and you will also portray a sense of alertness that will make you a harder target.
3. Cut the distractions.
When you are traveling, eliminate any distractions, such as listening to music or texting on your phone, that will lower your awareness of your environment and make you an easy target who can be caught off guard.
4. Use technology.
Always have your devices charged, and use a map or GPS app on your phone so that as you go from place to place, you have a clear understanding of where you are and what is nearby — and you have a fully charged phone for communication.
5. Identify real exist.
Where is your exit if you need one? Remember, real exits are ones that immediately lead to a safe location.
6. Trust your intuition.
Trust your gut when it sets off an alarm that someone has crossed into your public and personal circles.
7. Use barriers and surface areas.
All surface areas can be used to your advantage. You can eliminate a threat or an act of violence from directly behind you by standing in front of a wall or a pillar (this will keep someone from creeping up behind you or sucker punching you from the back). Any piece of furniture or barrier-like object can be used to keep distance between you and an attacker — or can just get in your way. Be smart with your surroundings.
8. Carry a purse.
Not only is the purse a great improvised weapon, but also you should always carry with you keys, extra cash, forms of ID, a charger, and a pen (improvised weapon).
9. Use improvised weapons.
Get in the practice of locating improvised weapons around you. Remember, anything can be used as an improvised weapon when your objective is to disrupt the attacker’s thought process.
10. Eliminate predictability.
The best routine is no routine. Don’t make yourself predictable, even if you do have a regular schedule. Whether this means taking a different route home, or waiting with people and taking a safe ride home, it all adds up to making you a harder target to anticipate.
11. Buddy up.
Whether you are working out, going out on a date, or attending a college party, make sure you have a safety buddy or someone who can help keep an eye out for you. At the very least, make sure someone you trust knows where you are.
12. Scan for weapons.
If you do see a suspicious person, immediately scan his hands for a weapon. Take note of any other obvious signs of aggression through body language and verbal language.
13. Confirm a threat.
Once you have scanned the suspicious person, if you can escape, that should be your first defense. However, if you can’t escape, you will be faced either with an active attack, which means that the attacker is on the move toward you, or with a nonactive threat, which means that you have identified and confirmed the threat but he is not yet active. These scenarios are what you can begin to train in your visualization minutes.
14. Find safe locations.
Identify locations that can offer you immediate safety, such as a crowded street, a coffee shop with people inside, or any other professional establishment such as a bank, police station, or office building. I recommend knowing safe locations on routes that you frequent, and if you’re traveling somewhere new, do some research on the Internet beforehand.
15. Visualize how you would react to a violent threat.
Again, nothing will be retained if you don’t train for reality. It is best to play out the possibilities in your mind and visualize your reaction so that you can get your survival mindset familiar with the available options and necessary survival tactics.
Copyright Avital Zeisler 2015. Excerpted from WEAPONS OF FITNESS with permission from Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House.