Updated: Oct 12, 2021
You can download a printable PDF version of this training with quizes below!
The purpose of preventative self defense training is threefold:
Prevention: lower your risk of being attacked by becoming a high risk target and avoiding high risk environments.
Response: understand how to respond to a real attack to increase chances of intervention and survival
Basic Street Smarts: there are some rules that should always be followed. Understand common lures, signs of danger, and predatory behaviours.
All together, prevention training is a major component of good self defense. When applied, these strategies can help you avoid having to rely on physical self defense as your last resort to personal safety. We have condensed the most important actionable steps you can take for prevention in this document.
There are three main things to understand about the attacker process.
An attacker's first priority is to not get caught. Carrying out the attack is always secondary to that.
The two things that an attacker needs are a target, and an opportunity.
Both are selected based on their risk-level and likelihood of getting the attacker caught.
Therefore, a good prevention and response strategy centres around increasing the chances that in any situation, an attacker believes that they will get caught. The following training teaches you how to become a high risk target for any attacker, and how to recognize and avoid high risk environments.
Low Risk VS High Risk Targets
A low risk target is someone that is perceived to be unlikely to fight back or draw attention. Someone who, through their body language and level of awareness, is judged to be unlikely to cause a scene, scream, fight, and make things difficult for the attacker. Our goal here is to present ourselves in a way that tells an attacker that we are a high risk target.
1. Body Language
In studies that identify what plays a role in victim selection among violent offenders, body language has repeatedly shown to be the number one factor. In one Ontario study, offenders were shown videos of hundreds of different women walking down the street. They were asked to rate each woman from 1-10 on their perceived level of vulnerability. Essentially all of the offenders gave each woman the same rating, and narrowed down their ideal target to the exact same woman. When asked what it was that they were looking for in each candidate- how they could tell a woman's level of vulnerability to an attack- the clear factor was not size, race, looks, or age, but by the way each woman walked.
The way that a person walks conveys essential ‘non-verbal cues’ that attackers can pick up on extremely well, and tell the attacker whether a person is likely to fight back or not. So what does a ‘vulnerable’ walk look like? A vulnerable walk can be seen as an in-confident, defeated walk. Shoulders slouched down, head down, slow walking pace, arms that are covering the torso, stuffed in pockets, or nervously fidgeting. A vulnerable walk doesn't take up space, doesn't want to be noticed, and doesn’t move with purpose.
How can we walk better for preventative self defense?