Street wise self defense for the urban jungle

In the wild, self defense is natural and innate. Even the deadly cobra, when threatened,...

In the wild, self defense is natural and innate. Even the deadly cobra, when threatened, will first try to flee and only fight after being cornered. In our modern-day urban jungle, only structured self defense training can provide the necessary skills to conquer the terrifying threat of physical attack. Expanding this snake analogy into a useful acronym (VIPER - Strike) will help you remember key self defense concepts you can apply to real-life "fight or flight" scenarios.

Use the VIPER strategy to become: Vigilant, Instinctual, Prepared, Engaged and Relaxedand know when to tactically Strike when all else fails.

Vigilant Be watchful of your surroundings. Avoid dark alleys, open fields, empty stairwells and vacant stations. Wait for a controlled and safe environment before wearing your headphones, reading, texting or sleeping.

Instinctual Pay attention to your gut feelings when you sense someone take a covert or unhealthy interest in you. Avoid confrontation or arguments that could escalate to violence.

Prepared Be ready for a surprise attack by:

  • Carrying a can of pepper spray in your handbag.
  • Hanging a whistle on your key chain.
  • Programming emergency numbers as rapid dial or voice commands for your phone.
  • Planning safer routes for routine destinations.
  • Locking doors and windows out of habit.
  • Getting to know people near your home and workplacea corner store or neighbor's porch can serve as a safe place in an emergency.
  • Asking a coworker or friend to accompany you to your vehicle or public transportation.

Engaged Be proactive and preemptive when you are being followed.

  • Change direction, cross the street, walk confidently and look back purposefully at your aggressors.
  • Shout to get the attention of others and sound your car alarm; create a noisy disturbance.
  • Head towards a crowd for safety in numbers or towards an area like an ATM or office building that might have security guards or surveillance cameras.

Relaxed Stay composed in order to think clearly and react intelligently. Focus your energy and respond to the evolving situation. If you are held up with a weapon, be ready to calmly surrender your valuables. Try to remember details about your attacker's appearance and dress.

Strike and escape tactics

Strike vulnerable areas. Generally, you will not be able to overpower your attacker and you could be outnumbered. Targeting fist, elbow and knee strikes to nerve centers like the groin, eyes, nose, throat and solar plexus will inflict enough pain to allow you to break free and run.

A good self defense program will provide theory and hands-on demonstration of these concepts that you absolutely need to protect yourself from bodily harm. By learning and practicing rudimentary martial arts techniques, you will be able to respond quickly and efficiently in a worst case scenario.

Make sure to get a complete check up with your Atlanta physician before starting this vigorous physical activity.

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