Self Defence – Avoidance

Black Tiger Karate & Self Defence

Self Defence Technique No. 2 – Avoidance

Avoidance, when we talk about self defence is really all about common sense and some times we have to teach common sense. Our list of Ten “10” self defence items is not in order of importance. However avoidance is likely on most self defence courses, at the top or very near the top in order of importance.

When we speak about avoidance we are specifically talking about avoiding trouble. That old cliche comes to mind,  if you look for trouble you will find it. The inverse holds true, if you look to avoid trouble, you can generally keep away from it and in so doing stay safe.

Avoidance is not paranoia, it is awareness and the ability to avoid trouble before it occurs. We have all read news articles about muggings, robberies, rapes and murders. It seems like most  occur at night and in desolate or isolated areas.

The victims are in many cases attractive to the perpetrators because they have something that is wanted and can be taken. In order to avoid trouble you must be aware of how you can attract trouble. For the perpetrator of crime it’s all about a risk reward scenario, as a potential victim it’s your job to make yourself less rewarding to the criminal element.

To avoid trouble, especially robbery – you do not want to display items that may be considered by street robbers to be hot items, items they can readily sell or trade for other items.

Street robbers search for victims who appear to have money or other valuables—for example, students and tourists. They also target people who appear to be the most vulnerable—like young adults using ATMs alone at night or under the influence of alcohol.

Offenders also look for victims who seem unaware of their immediate surroundings. Pedestrians who look lost, are using a cell phone, are rummaging through their bags, or are listening to MP3 players and might appear less alert and more vulnerable to street robbers than other people.

If you know you are going to be in an unknown area plan ahead and locate the safest routes to and from your destination. These will be the busiest routes, the most popular streets and well lit areas with plenty of public transportation.

Try not to get off the beaten path, avoiding crowds is a good idea but not when you become the only person in an area. When you are in an isolated area you become a target for predators.

Avoiding big crowds is wise as many times robbery by pick pockets or purse snatchers occur in these large groups where everybody is pushed into one another. Avoid both extremes of isolation and overcrowding, if you do find yourself unavoidably in one of these situations then you must minimize the reward and maximize the risk to any potential predators. The more aware you are of your surroundings the more risky it is for the predator.

Often times a predator will choose his targets based on some conception of risk vs. reward. The predator wants to get one or more things out of the attack (reward), and minimize his chance of getting injured or caught in the process (risk). There are exceptions, as some predators may be reckless, mentally ill, without self-worth, suicidal, or under the influence of drugs.

But consider that very few robbers will attempt to rob a person of obvious authority, someone in uniform, but many will rob a well dressed woman with an expensive purse, lots of jewelry, and headphones in their ears. Anything you can do to increase the risk and decrease the rewards for a potential predator, will decrease the chance that you’ll be chosen as a target.

In general, a predator will choose victims they think they can successfully attack. While you can’t change who you are, there are some things you can do to make yourself a higher risk target.

Paying attention to your surroundings is the greatest deterrent, if a predator sees they will be unable to take you by surprise, they will probably choose a target who is paying less attention. Walking around with headphones in your ears, listening to music, talking on the phone, or texting, is a sure sign you’re not paying attention. Avoid these acts of obvious inattentiveness, particularly when in isolated areas. Along similar lines, don’t loose control by taking drugs or drinking alcohol. Drunk and drugged up people make perfect victims.

When people are physically fit, they have many mannerisms that transmit to potential predators. And attacking a fit person is more risky than attacking one who is visibly out of shape. Aside from the mental and physical benefits, regular exercise, martial arts training, body conditioning and weight lifting will make you a higher risk target.

The clothing a person is wearing can inhibit movement. Who would you prefer to attack, a woman in a tight skirt with high heal shoes, or a woman wearing jeans and running shoes? The clothing and shoes a person wears can tell a predator a lot about them. Wear clothing that allows you to move well.

Listen to your instincts, if you have a feeling of unease pay attention, as it could be  a good warning system for you. You see a group of people gathered in an area and they seem rowdy. If  you cross the street you have avoided a potential threat.

Fear is that instinctual feeling that many tune out. Yet fear is a natural feeling, it is your intuition and it is something you should be aware of as it can be the guiding force to bring you awareness to avoid whatever it is that you fear. So do not ignore your instincts, if it seems threatening it likely is something to be avoided.

A few points on self defence, common sense items that everyone can put into practice. And as to getting in shape, visit our dojo and take an introductory karate class. We hope to see you soon. Our next online lesson will be on the KIS principle.

Stay tuned. Be safe.

Contributed by; Paul J. Youngman Aug. 2016


1. Centre For Problem Oriented Policing

2. Functional Self Defence