If you are on the search for good advice on how to protect yourself and your loved ones, chances are that you will find a lot of rather confusing, contradictory and even questionable information out there instead. Personal safety and self-defence are somewhat “no man’s land”, although claimed by many as a domain in which they are experts. In reality, this expertise is often more based on self-promotion, than it is on real-life experience.
Who should you trust?
I have started this blog mainly because I believe that despite an ocean full of security-related material that is already out there on the internet, most of it is either created with a business or professional audience in mind, often getting too technical and complex, or if it is made for common people, it often lacks the professional expertise to back it up. It is not uncommon that you see Instagram influencers, Youtubers, and lately TikTokers giving tips and advice on personal safety and self-defence, without having any kind of real relation to the subject whatsoever. It was exactly the fact that far too many people out there disperse either meaningless, false or inadequate information on the subject of personal safety that made me start this whole quest. Often the information these people shared was pure nonsense, and some of it could in the worst case even get you killed should you try to apply it in real life! This was my initial motivation to start this blog and share useful and relevant free expert advice so people would be able to see the difference. Knowledge is power, so they say and empowering people to protect themselves from crime and violence has become my mission ever since.
The Self-defence industry is chaotic
When it comes to the topic of self-defence, things can become even more complicated, as there is no equally accepted, unified truth on what realistic self-defence even is. If you talk to one hundred “experts” out there, you will very likely get one hundred and one different opinion. If such a thing as a self-defence industry even exists, then it is deeply divided into many different interest groups who are involved in all this. The only thing we all do have in common is usually only the opinion that all the others are doing it all wrong! These differences in opinions often go so far, that it has become very common to call each other out to be teaching unrealistic and completely useless s***, and comments like “this or that will get you killed”, is something you will hear quite often from insiders (you saw me using this phrase earlier 😉 ). Unfortunately, the authorities do not make it any easier or better. Where one would reasonably expect that the Police force which has to deal with violent crime on a daily basis, would be a good source of reliable information and advice, the reality is often far from it. Some advice I have heard coming from officials of the Police in regard to personal safety, make it very high on my personal list of “worst advice ever given”. Now you might have found yourself in the middle of all this chaos as you are searching for proper information and advice on how to protect yourself and your loved ones. But worry not, that is exactly why I am here and why you are reading this article, so without any further ado, let us look into the problem of personal safety a little deeper.
What is personal safety?
It is not my intention to do the same thing as just being mentioned and point at everyone else who comes to mind, saying this s*** isn’t working, or that is nonsense. Instead, I would like to take a different approach and give you, with a series of related posts, deep enough insight into the subject, so that you can decide for yourself what information or knowledge presented to you, will help and improve your personal safety and what might be useless or irrelevant for you and your circumstances. Being actively involved in this industry for years, my opinions are obviously also biased, although I try to be as objective as possible. I, therefore, hope that we can agree that this approach is the fairest. All it takes now from you is to actually read the information provided, eventually do some research on your own and make your own conclusions.
Personal safety and self-defence are not the same
Let me start with this clarification, as this seems to be a widespread misconception throughout the industry. In my opinion, although often mixed up and wrongly presented as being the same thing, “personal safety” and “self-defence” are not the same, or to be precise, self-defence is just one key element of personal safety. I firmly believe that personal safety has to include everything that could have a potential impact on the personal integrity and safety of oneself and the people who live with us and we care about. This starts with understanding the potential threats we are exposed to and what risk they present to us. In one of my other posts, I pointed out that everyone should be concerned about their personal safety, but that being said, it also should be clear that depending on our lifestyles, circumstances or eventually your professional needs, not all potential risks affect everyone in the same way, and I have a separate post about understanding risks. We then should build upon this risk awareness and look into all possible prevention strategies that could mitigate and reduce these risks. These would mainly be things that are under our control, that we can influence and change to make a potential attack on us less likely to happen, like changing our daily routines and behaviour patterns. Situational awareness can help to keep you out of trouble if you are able to identify other peoples bad intentions or dangerous situations and react before it can escalate into a conflict. This can be avoiding the situation by simply walking away, taking a turn, jumping on a bus, or sitting down for a coffee in a crowded place. As a next step, you have a variety of conflict resolution tactics that are focusing on de-escalation, following the principle of avoiding physical conflicts whenever possible! And finally, only as a last resort, when all other methods have failed, we use self-defence techniques to survive a physical attack and escape to safety. You might wonder why that matters, why it is always better to walk away from any potential conflict, why wouldn’t you just fight? Isn’t that why you learn self-defence in the first place? And the answer to this is no, you learn self-defence for the single purpose of surviving an unexpected violent attack by fighting off the attacker and you get the hell out of there! We do not aim for winning the fight, defeating the attacker, knocking him out, or teaching him a lesson. Every violent conflict can easily escalate and end up tragically for one side or the other. I have a separate post just on that subject, so you might wanna take a look at it here here.
Where can I learn about personal safety?
It is also my observation from personal experience, that martial arts schools as well as most franchise self-defence providers, usually only offer some limited form of physical self-defence training. These would usually include practising combatives like punching, kicking, blocking combinations, and/or self-defence techniques against certain attacks. However, they usually do not teach any of the mentioned prevention methods or conflict resolution tactics. Not necessarily because they do not believe in the efficiency of these methods, but rather because they simply might not have the knowledge required to educate people in these subjects, or because it actually doesn’t suit their business model. The focus here is obviously not and has never been on teaching people how to do risk assessments and use basic crime prevention tactics, so they could learn how to stay out of trouble. I often tend to say that practising cross country running, parkour or training for those lately more and more popular mud races, would probably benefit your personal safety more in the short term, than any martial arts training (yes, for running away efficiently, in case you wondered). There are some professional courses available but they often aim at other professionals that need those skills for their work, so they are coming with a more serious price tag. I try to add as much information here as possible and I have also just started to work on a youtube channel as well. However, I am not the only one out there who shares information about personal safety and self-defence, so go and look up people like Randy King or Richard Dimitry they are great subject matter experts and you can find lots of good information there. Besides that, of course, also do your own research, if you invest some time in it, you will certainly find also other videos, blogs, podcasts, books and courses on the subject, maybe also in other languages if that suits you more. Also, be aware that in the UK for example and some other countries are very strict regulations in place in terms of using any kind of self-defence tools etc. Therefore some things being mentioned by people who live abroad, might not apply to you and your circumstances, make sure you inform yourself adequately.
I hope this was informative and useful, if you want to find out more about personal safety and self-defence training check out some of my other posts on the subject in the Personal Safety category.