Self Defense, Don’t Make Yourself a Target

MartialArtsPicThis is a picture of Master John Baylor and myself with some of the kids from the Upper Marlboro Martial Arts Center.  It’s a great place to learn martial arts for adults and children.  Master Baylor also has a great after-school program.  Visit or stop by in person.

Before I get started on this subject, I said that I would report on my progress with the latest round of weight loss.  As I mentioned in my post about fear and health, I’m on the downward side of my yoyo.  I lost five pounds in a week.  That’s a heck of a lot and it is not a normal weight loss for a week.  I calculated my calorie intake for the week and I should have lost two and a half pounds just by the numbers. 

There are two possible reasons why it was more..  The first is my initial weight may have been inflated by the “pig through the python” effect.  I ate a lot through the holidays and weighed myself soon after.  I may have still been processing a bulk of food.  The second reason is that I turned up the burn on my workouts a bit.  I’m going to the gym in the morning five days a week and to martial arts at night twice a week.  I am doing extra at home.  I am training for my fourth degree black belt test that I will be taking in February.  You can do all of that when you’re retired.  I don’t expect that kind of weight loss again.  I’ll be happy with a pound or two a week.

In martial there is something called “The Art of not Being There.”  This refers to not being there to be hit by an attacker’s strike.  It can also mean not being where the criminal is and not looking like an easy target to a criminal.

In my mind there are two reasons to be a attacked.  Either someone is after you personally or you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  When it comes to personal attacks, I can see two ways to help minimize your chances of facing this danger.  The first is to avoid dealing with criminals.  This should seem obvious but regular people will deal with criminals in order to do one of the cool but illegal things.  You aren’t going to score your favorite recreational drug in the local grocery store, you have to deal with a criminal.  If you want to sit in on a big money card game, you are likely dealing with criminals.  If you’re getting a loan from John Doe down the street because he doesn’t do a credit check, you’re likely dealing with a criminal.  Once you are in their environment you are painting a target on your back.  I know the cool people on TV do it all the time, but when the get hurt, it’s not for real.

The second way to avoid a personal attack is not to be a jerk.  Treat people fairly in all aspects of your life.  Screwing people over a coworker to get ahead not only may paint a target on your back, it only gives you a short term advantage.  Sooner or later the word will get out and advancement from that point on will be questionable. 

Avoid financial dealings with friends.  If a friend is stuck for money and needs a little help, it is better to give them a gift than to lend them money.  Owing money or being owed money is the good way to ruin a friendship and it may lead to a target on your back. 

Deal with your romantic relationships fairly.  You are dealing with some very strong emotions and your never know how your partner will respond.  I know it sounds extreme to be saying that you could get attacked for doing things people do every day, but watch the news, how many crimes of violence start from personal conflict.  Of course you should be doing all of these things because it’s the right thing to do, but, if you can’t do it for that reason, consider doing it to keep a target off your back.

When it comes to random attacks by criminals, my advice not to look like a target.  This also goes for the appearance of your home.  When it comes to random attacks criminals take the path of least resistance.  If John Doe looks like an easier target than you, they will pass you by an attack him.  So what makes you look like a target? 

First, it is where you are.  It’s bad enough crime happens everywhere but don’t make it worse by finding reasons to be on the rough side of town.  At least let the criminals come to you. 

Second, parking in a dark area or parking away from other cars.  I know when you have a new car you’re afraid of a door ding in a crowded parking lot, but risk the door ding; It’s easier to fix than your body, 

Third, walking in a parking lot with your hands full.  This is one that I’m afraid I do far too often.  If I only have a few bags I will take them out of a cart and carry them to my car.  It is better to push the cart to your car.  That way your hands a free should you need them.  Also, please put the cart back where it belongs; carts left in the parking lot is a pet peeve of mine.

Fourth, not being aware of your surroundings.  Wondering down the street with your eyes fixed on your phone, or being totally consumed by your music, paints a big target on your back.  You quickly move to the top of the list for pick pockets and purse snatchers.  You also risk becoming another one of the growing number of people hit by cars crossing the street.

Finally, when you get to your car, be aware of people around you.  Many criminals wait for that moment when you unlock your car to strike.  Also, don’t unlock your car from twenty feet away, that is a major invitation for a car jacking.  The last thing you want is to have someone waiting for you inside your car.

This is all simple stuff but the best self defense is not to be attacked in the first place.


Pete is a retired software developer, a writer, and a martial arts instructor. He lives in Maryland with his wife Cathy and they are enjoying their retirement. Pete is the author of four novels, "The Teacher", 500 Years from Home", and "The Long Journey Home" are available at; and "Pioneers" in available at the Kindle Book Store.

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Posted in Diet and Fitness, Health and Safety, Martial Arts

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