Much has been written in books, ebooks and blogs about how resource predators might focus on women as mugging targets, but men certainly aren’t immune. If a predator notices distraction, self doubt, or weakness he’ll just as soon take down a man as a woman. Also, keep this in mind. A resource predator can be turned into a survival predator under the right circumstances, and a survival predator losses almost all sense of barrier between themselves and their target.
Consider a drug addict who is coming down off of a high. That drug addict quite literally feels like he is dying, and the only way to save his own life is to get a few hundred dollars fast for the next fix. If you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time your confident stride won’t save you. He is attacking.
Most men think of muggings as one-on-one showdowns. The attacker walks up, shows you the gun or knife, and demands your stuff. You give it to him, but if he looks away for a second…wam! Chuck Norris kick to the hand or head and it’s on. Realistically, when a mugger wants to attack anyone (especially a man) they want as little fight as possible. That means the attack is coming as a suckerpunch or quick stick in the ribs. No muss, no fuss. Your stuff is theirs and they are on their way down the road.
Alternatively, criminals who hang out in a pack will overwhelm you with sheer numbers. This is useful for two reasons:
1. They get your stuff
2. They get to enforce territory and prove to each other how “bad” they are
A robbery like this is both asocial (for monetary gain) and social (prestige gain). While mental and emotional manipulation does happen, the likelihood of violence to put things in order is much higher. When one male feels threatened by another they begin a display of chest puffing, finger pointing, loud noises, etc. This dance can be activated over territory dispute, rule infraction (educational beatdown), or some other perceived slight. In fact, it can start with no provocation at all if the monkey in question wants to prove a point to everyone around them or to their particular group (status seeking shill). The interesting thing about social violence for men is that it isn’t just the little guys who are susceptible. True, smaller men can be pushed around and beaten for fun, which is essentially grown up bullying, but large men can prove more valuable prey. When a large man is beaten a real point is proved and the individual/group doing the beating gains even more prestige. Avoiding social violence is more feasible than most men think. Always remember Michael J. Fox in “Back to the Future”. Nobody calls him chicken…and he repeatedly gets into bad situations because of it.
We humans are sensitive creatures, especially to the subtle cues given off by one another. A criminal’s job is to find viable prey in the right place at the right time. If you have the tools to raise their level of risk or doubt then they will likely pass you up for a better victim. It’s not guaranteed, but it ups your chances.
That being the case, you want as many tools as you can fit into your toolbox.
Tool #1: Training
This is going to seem obvious, especially to the martial artists reading this. Martial arts training can provide you with physical assets to defend yourself. Even more than that, they can give you a sense of confidence that exudes from your posture, eyes, mindset, and walk. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m not an intimidating person in size or appearance. Nevertheless, through martial arts I have developed a gaze and motion that has helped me dissuade trouble on more than one occasion. Like I said, it’s not bulletproof, but it helps. In terms of choosing a particular martial art to aid in your self defense skills, I’m not going to recommend one over another. This article can help if you need a starting point. In truth, it’s going to be the quality of the teacher moreso than the art that helps you develop a potent skillset. Some arts like Krav Maga tend to get right to the point in terms of rape prevention, mugging assault, etc. Arts like Aikido take a more long-term path, but offer higher levels of personal serenity (useful for social encounters, right?). You need to take stock of yourself and your potential predators in order to find the art that will help you most. If all else fails, enroll in a self defense course locally and start building from there.
Tool #2: Habit Changing
While reading this article I hope you’ve come up with a few ways in which you are vulnerable. Perhaps you park in a bad neighborhood. Maybe you’ve walked home alone at night a few times. Whatever it is, you need to have the courage and willpower to make improvements. Walking alone from Class A to Class B may be convenient for you, but is it so unthinkable to inconvenience a friend to go with you? Are there no arrangements that can be worked out? This isn’t just for women. A lone male that looks like he has money and isn’t paying attention is just as vulnerable.
Tool #3: Personal Presence
Fake confidence is useless. Any decent criminal will see through it. Conversely, excessive bravado may instigate a social situation where you get an ego-deflating beatdown. What you really need to develop is personal presence. Personal presence is a smoothness and seriousness that indicates you’re not looking for trouble but are willing to participate if it finds you. Presence requires acute awareness. It isn’t jumpy, lazy, or angry. A smooth glance and a wry smile with serious eyes. These are presence. Prolonged training helps develop presence but you should work on it whether you have training or not. Start with the honest thought that if a person attacks you, you will fight back until you are dead. If you can genuinely adapt that mindset presence will come eventually.
Tool #4: Implements
Self defense needn’t be empty handed all the time. Any woman would be remiss if she didn’t travel with a convenient tool such as a Tazor, pepper spray, Kubotan, or even a gun if they are allowed on campus. The key here is learning how to use them in a pinch. As we mentioned earlier, assaults and muggings can occur quickly. In addition, most people aren’t used to their own adrenalized state and don’t realize the loss of fine motor control that happens. As such, a tool deeply buried in a purse or one that has finnicky gadgets is essentially useless. To make an implement valuable the individual MUST train with it and become routine in it’s usage. Dorm rooms are a must-have location for some sort of self defense weapon. What’s allowable will depend greatly on the university’s specific rules, so check them ASAP. I usually recommend a jo to anybody and everybody. In short, the jo is a piece of solid wood about three feet long. It attracts zero attention from RAs, roommates, friends, or anyone else. Why would it? It’s just a dowel rod that looks like you might hang clothes on it. Thanks to its compact size, the jo can be placed conveniently near your bed or doorway. Imagine if you were escaping from an aggressor where you might try to escape to, or where someone might try to take advantage of you. Have it near there. The length of the jo can keep the assailant out of arms reach until you gather your wits and are ready to really fight back. As a quick note for the jo, I recommend using a thrusting motion to the opponent’s face followed by repeated swinging motions to beat them into submission. Do not start with a swing as most people’s flinch reflex will block it or catch it. The straight thrust causes a better flinch and is much tougher to catch.
Tool #5: Smart Decisions
No one deserves to be assaulted, sexually harassed, or mugged. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen or that your choices won’t effect the outcome. If you’re a woman and you find yourself walking around in high heels, a short skirt, half drunk and alone…well you know. It’s bad. If you’re a guy and you’re dressed very nicely, looking studious and nerdy, with an air about you that you’d really rather not fight…well you know. It’s bad. Keep cell phone usage to a minimum. Dress intelligently for your circumstances and if you need to be at risk in terms of clothing or activity utilize a group.