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How to protect yourself while traveling – self defense measures

Posted by on November 29, 2011
woman wearing jewelry una mujer lleva joyería

I couldn't imagine someone wanting to wear expensive jewelry while traveling. But a robber might think that this is an easy or at least a worthy target of a big payoff.

You can be trained in any martial art and consider yourself to be well-prepared for any physical contact or even arm yourself to the teeth with guns, bombs, missiles, knives, and swords but how practicable can that be during traveling? In my opinion, if you’re that concerned about your safety while traveling to foreign countries and getting robbed and/or assaulted or whatever, then don’t travel. That’s my advice to you – stay home and stay comfortable where you are at. Don’t go out and don’t risk it. But if you’re truly wanting to visit foreign, exotic lands but still worried about your safety, then here’s what you need to do: do your research about that country that you’re going to, look confident when you’re traveling, and dress like the locals so you don’t garner any attention to yourself such as wearing flashy clothes, jewelry, or flaunting large amounts of money. That is the best thing to do which is through research because by learning to blend in, you will be less of a target and this is where perceptions will play a big part because if you look like an average looking person, you’re probably going to be carrying average or zero amount of money or no valuables at all meaning the robber’s level of effort won’t be worth the risk at all. Whereas a rich-looking person looks to be a far more tempting target.

That’s why prevention is the best solution to any possible assault or robbery. Act like you’re not rich. Look like you’re not worth the effort to get such a minimal gain of return. Make it look like a robber would stand to gain 58 cents and a broken nose from trying to rob you. By looking like you’re confident about having nothing and can throw a heavy punch and they know it – thieves won’t bother trying at all.

fight in the street, reyerta, batirse, pelea, agarrón en la calle

If someone tries to rob you (and even fight you), chances are no one is going to get physically involved. Just look at the other people in the picture standing around while the participants duke it out.

Another thing to do is learn some of the words of the foreign country because if you’re confronted in a situation where you need assistance, you’re going to need to yell or shout for help from the fellow people around you or for the police. But if there were to be no one and all you’ve got was a knife or gun pointed at you or you’ve got several big guys standing in front of you, you better just give in to their demands. In any condition, you should never resist unless you know what you’re getting into because injury and death is very possible.

But if you know that you’re going to be in impending attack/assault and there is no way to avoid it then by all means fight back especially if it looks like to be a very un-promising situation. But remember, the goal then is to create enough space for your exit because more than likely, your assaulter will have more than one buddy, probably located nearby, to help back him/her up.

Here are some moves to escape:

Blind/distract attacker (opens new window)

Do not look into the person’s eyes because you’ll give off the impression that you’re going to do something. By quickly hitting him or her in the eyes (try for both), you can then create temporary blindness. If you have some mace or even a handful of salt or flour or dirt, utilize that to throw into the face. If you don’t have anything like that readily available, you use your hands with your thumbs aimed at the eyes with enough force to create some pain and discomfort.

savate front kick chasse bas self defense

A kick that can get some distance from an attacker.

Savate kick (kick to leg) (opens new window)

This move is great if the attacker has a knife and is looking to stab you. By utilizing the bottom of your foot and quickly applying force to the attacker’s knee it will temporary put him/her off balance. Remember to aim for the upper knee area. This may require some practice so if you’re desperate, use this move and try to run away. Just note that you might be able to disable someone (especially if he or she is much bigger than you) in two by breaking his/her kneecap and thus run away to safety.

Foot stomp to get away from bear hug or grab (opens new window)

If someone grabs you with his/her arms from behind your body pinning your arms against your sides, you won’t be able to move at all especially against a very strong person. With your arms and hands blocked, the only body parts available are your head and feet. You could try to head butt the attacked using the back of your head but it could more damage to you if incorrectly attacked. That’s why I advocate using the foot stomp. More than likely the attacker’s feet will be close to you so it makes sense to pound as much as force from the bottom of your foot to the top of the attacker’s foot which can potentially break the bone in his/her foot. It might take some more foot stomps but eventually the attacker will have release his/her grip which then you can go for an elbow to the stomach and an attack to the face to create space away which would allow you to run away successfully.

Note that this move can also work if the attacker gets a choke hold on you from behind. You have to move quickly against a choke hold from behind otherwise you will faint and possibly suffer permanent brain damage or even die from oxygen deprivation.

elbow strike codo batido batear thai

A blow to the head by an elbow can do a lot of damage.

Elbow swing to the head (opens new window)

If the attacker closes the gap too quickly where you cannot create space away from him/her, guard your head area first! Your head is the most vital region and if you see an opening, punch quickly to the jaw and then after the punch, cock your arm back and throw the elbow back into the attacker’s head to knock him off one more time. The force itself is strong enough to knock someone out but like I said before, you’re looking for an opening so this can potentially put him/her on the backside. You can also punch to the head if you have the space for your arms/fists.

Self defense for escaping bear hug (two arm grab) (opens new window)

The attacker might just go for the grab towards your shoulders or throat by using both hands to grab whatever body part. If he/she is facing you, put your arms and hands like you’re going the attacker’s face from underneath and put your elbows and as much weight and force on top of the attacker’s arms to break his/her grip. Once the grip is released, go for a knee to the stomach or groin and push away to create space and get away.

If the attacker grabs you from behind by the waist, then try to elbow your way out by using your elbow as a weapon to the attacker’s head in order to free yourself. Lastly, use the foot stomp if you need that last ounce of power to break away.

If the attack is from the front when he/she grabs you with both arms, aim for the eyes to cause considerable pain to release the grip on you and then go for a knee to the abdominal region to fully break free.

Note: this can also work on one hand grab (bear hug) as well

If the attacker comes from behind with both arms, your aim to break the grip. Spin around toward the attacker with your arm spinning but over the top of the attacker’s arms. Once you have enough space, you can kick at the attacker and even punch him/her to further release the grip and then make your escape.

Note: this can also work on one hand grab as well

women fighting in a parking lot

Not even women are out of the danger zone. Ever seen 2 girls go at each other's throats in a club or after a party? It can happen - I was in Spain and watched 2 women beating each other and it was not pretty at all.

As I said before, do not try to fight back but give into the demands because the potential injury or death is just not worth it. I only advise fighting when you know that you will get attacked no matter what – do not get on the ground fighting as that will impede your escape ability. Sometimes you won’t know that you’re getting attacked until the moment of. So apply common sense going anywhere in the world and don’t go into known dangerous areas and read up on places of note.

And lastly, take classes from a licensed professional. Don’t take my word about self-defense as your only way of fighting back or whatever. Just use it as a guide.