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Clemmons Family Martial Arts

Strategies  For Staying Safe In Public Places

Avoid Dangerous Places

This is the number one rule of self-defense. If you avoid places where violence is likely to occur, you’ll dramatically decrease the chance you’ll even be considered as a target. These are dangerous places:

  • High Crime Areas

  • Among Violent People

  • Among People Who Don’t Like You

  • Lawless Places

  • In-Between Places

Always be alert and aware of your surroundings.

  • When entering a building, pause a second to scan the area for exits, restrooms and any unusual activity.

  • When exiting a building, pause a second to scan the parking lot for any unusual activity.

  • When you go out to a restaurant, try to sit where you can see the door so you can see any unusual activity.

Most "bad guys" use a selection process to choose whom they will attack.

Most look for someone who is not aware of their surroundings so they can use the element of surprise.  They also look for people who don't appear to be self-confident because they don't want any trouble from their victims. Some less sophisticated attackers just look for an opportunity to attack. More sophisticated attackers may stalk their potential victims to learn their daily movements and routines. 

If you break this rule you chance of being killed increase dramatically.

Never, never, never allow yourself to be taken from one location to a secondary location. The attacker wants privacy so he can do whatever he wants and you cannot escape or summon help.  If you are in a store, this applies to your being taken to the backroom of the store. 

Follow Your Intuition - it’s the best weapon you have to keep you safe.

If you have a sense of foreboding, don’t second guess yourself. It is better to be safe than to ignore your instincts and become the victim of a violent crime. You may be a nice person but you don't have to be nice where your safety is concerned. Maybe you have misread a situation that ended up hurting a person's feelings. While that can make you feel bad, remember that your safety is more important than their feelings.

If possible, don't walk alone during late-night hours.

Walk in groups whenever you can - there is always safety in numbers. Let a family member or friend know your destination and your estimated time of arrival or return. That way, the police can be notified as quickly as possible if there is a problem.

Stay in well-lit areas as much as possible.

Avoid alleys, vacant car parks, wooded areas, and other short-cuts or secluded areas. They are usually not well-lit or heavily traveled.  Walk on the pavement whenever possible.

Walk close to the curb, avoiding doorways, bushes, and other potential hiding places.  

If you have to walk in the street, walk facing traffic. A person walking with traffic can be followed and surprised more easily than a person walking against traffic.  Walk confidently, directly, and at a steady pace.

Don't stop to talk to strangers.

People want to be nice. They don't want to appear rude even to strangers although most people grew up in the time of "Stranger Danger" warnings. You don't have to be nice if you feel uncomfortable about the stranger attempting to engage you in conversation. I have not heard of one case where a person was raped or murdered because they weren't nice. You may end up hurting a perfectly innocent person's feelings but, to reiterate, your safety is more important than the feeling of a stranger.

Wear clothing and shoes that give you freedom of movement.

And don't burden yourself with too many packages or items.


If you are wearing headphones, don't turn up the volume so high that you cannot hear outside noises.

If you are jogging try to run with another person because there is safety in numbers.  One attacker probably won't attack two people. 

Never hitchhike or accept rides from strangers.  

As hard as it may be to believe today, in the 1960s and 1970s, hitchhiking was pretty common. There were even popular songs about hitchhiking, "Me and Bobby McGee" by Janice Joplin was just one of the most popular.  It turns out several serial killers roamed the highways during that time and as they were caught people felt less and less secure about hitchhiking. In addition, there were more and more murders/robberies committed by hitchhikers. Report any suspicious activity or person immediately to the Police or, if it is an emergency, dial 911.  

Avoid carrying large sums of cash, or displaying expensive jewelry in public.

There is still an unsolved case near Asheville, NC, where a person from Georgia stopped to purchase gas at a Convenience Store. He pulled out a large wad of cash from his pocket to pay for the gas. After he left he was never seen again although his truck was eventually recovered abandoned on a deserted side road about 5 miles from the Convenience Store. If you need to sort your money before paying for something at a store, do it in the privacy of a restroom stall.

Only go to ATMs during the day preferably during banking hours. 

If you are going out at night and need to get money from an ATM, get the money during daylight hours-best if the bank is open.

If you are going to a club,

  • Don’t park in front of the club where people congregate, sit on cars, and where people are thrown out.

  • Park in a well-lit area.

  • Never give a doorman or bouncer a hard time.

Never park next to or even walk near a panel van with a sliding side door.

Limit the amount of information and locations you display or register on social websites.

Defensive Tactics If Confronted or Attacked In Public

Establish Verbal and Physical Boundaries

Establish verbal and physical boundaries. Use the Defensive/Interview Stance with Your Open Hands Up at least shoulder height as your physical boundary while using a deep confident voice, "Back Off" or "Stop" to establish a verbal boundary.  Attempt to use reason and conversation to resolve a conflict.


Get off the line of attack.

Fight Back

Studies have shown that people who fight back are three times more likely to get away from their attackers. People with no self-defense training are successful 25% to 30% of the time. People who have had self defense training are successful 75% to 85% of the time. Studies also show that people who fight back are no more likely to be killed than people who don't fight back.

A male Assailant could be 4" or 5" taller and over 100 pounds heavier than a woman. These are areas of an Assailant’s body to attack that doesn’t require strength to execute.

  • Eyes. A slight jab in the eyes causes uncontrollable watering and blurred vision. A forceful jab or poke can cause temporary blindness, or the eyes can be gouged out.

  • Ears. A strike to the ear with cupped hands can rupture the eardrum and may cause a concussion.

  • Nose. Any blow can easily break the thin bones of the nose, causing extreme pain and eye-watering.

  • Throat. A forceful blow causes extreme pain and gagging or vomiting.

  • Side of the neck and Low Cervical. A sharp blow to the side of the neck causes unconsciousness by shock to the carotid artery, jugular vein, and vagus nerve. For maximum effect, the blow should be focused below and slightly in front of the ear.

  • Suprasternal Notch-The notch at the center base of the neck, press in and down.

  • Armpit. A large nerve lies close to the skin in each armpit. A blow to this nerve causes severe pain and partial paralysis.

  • Collarbone. A blow to the collarbone can fracture it, causing intense pain and rendering the arm on the side of the fracture ineffective.

  • Nipples. A large network of nerves passes near the skin at the nipples. A blow or twist here can cause extreme pain and hemorrhage to the many blood vessels beneath.

  • Solar plexus. The solar plexus is a center for nerves that control the cardiorespiratory system. A blow to this location is painful and can take the breath from the assailant. A powerful blow causes unconsciousness by shock to the nerve center.

  • Groin. A moderate blow to the groin can incapacitate an opponent and cause intense pain. A powerful blow can result in unconsciousness and shock.

  • Outside of thigh. A large nerve passes near the surface on the outside of the thigh about four finger-widths above the knee. A powerful strike to this region can render the entire leg ineffective, causing an opponent to drop. This target is especially suitable for knee strikes and shin kicks.

  • Inside of thigh. A large nerve passes over the bone about in the middle of the inner thigh. A blow to this area also incapacitates the leg and can cause the opponent to drop. Knee strikes and heel kicks are the weapons of choice for this target.

  • Hamstring. A severe strike to the hamstring can cause muscle spasms and inhibit mobility. If the hamstring is cut, the leg is useless.

  • Learn Self-Defense Tactics at Clemmons Family Martial Arts.

Two Situations

☯ Whenever you have a choice to use reason and conversation to resolve a conflict, you should take that route.


☯ Ambushes are an attack in progress and you must respond immediately.  In Hapkido we primarily train to resist ambushes.

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