With a background of over 40 years in Martial Arts and teaching self-defence, Sensei Leo Ming shares some of his tips and strategies for keeping safe and avoiding situations where we are an easy target to criminals and might be threatened.
These points to remember are especially relevant for those living in big cities like Johannesburg, where there is a high risk of being mugged, or car hi-jacked.
When in Car Parks
- Place your valuables in your boot, out of sight.
- Make sure your vehicle is locked once you’ve parked it. Double check that it is locked, as Car-jamming devices are a common means to gain entry into your car after you have left it.
- Don’t be distracted by checking your phone, and rather be aware of your surroundings. Scan the area and notice if there are any loiterers around.
- Park in an area which is not out of sight or tucked around the corner. However, also try not to park in between large cars where your car is hidden. Parking out of sight will make it easier for hijackers to accost you.
- It is preferable to also park your car nose out, by reverse parking it into the parking spot.
- When returning to your car, have your keys in hand, so that you don’t have to be looking for them when you get to your car.
- Don’t dawdle to your car and once you are inside your car, don’t linger and delay leaving the car park.
- If possible be with someone. If you are alone, your first defence is your awareness – especially of loiterers.
- When possible, get the car guard to help you with loading your shopping packets into the car, while you keep scanning your surroundings.
When Driving to leave or enter home or work, at the gate on the street
- Awareness is so important. Notice other cars in the street, people hanging around the gate or walking nearby, and look out for anything suspicious or unusual.
- Be cautious in driveways – do not hang around waiting in the driveway or when entering apartment complexes. Boomed off areas can be used as a trap area for car hijacks.
- Be extra vigilant in dimly lit areas or quiet side roads.
- If anything seems out of place or suspicious, rather drive away and call for help before returning.
- Be aware of your surroundings. So don’t walk with your awareness in your phone checking social media. Notice what is happening around you.
- Walk in a busy area if possible.
- And walk with others if possible.
- If it is a casual walk, leave all your valuables at home. Carry your mace / whistle/ body alarm / weapon of choice.
- Walk with a dog if possible.
When waiting at a Bus Stop or for an Uber Taxi
- Yet again safety starts with awareness. Notice what is going on around you.
- Know your bus stop or Uber pick up point and its surroundings.
- Know the arrival times of your bus or taxi. Time your arrival to the bus stop or pick-up point to avoid waiting too long for the bus/taxi.
- Avoid being on your phone texting while waiting for the bus. If you are checking your phone for your Uber details, be sure to keep aware too of your surroundings.
- Be vigilant of loiterers.
How can learning Tai Chi and Karate help with developing a sense of Self-Defense?
Martial arts brings awareness to one’s behaviour. It also develops an attitude of alertness and awareness to ones surroundings. Awareness is key to one’s own safety.
The next aspect is self-protection. Not only does martial arts teach us basic self defence movements, it also teaches us confidence in bodies and in ourselves. With this confidence we can have a different insight and awareness to the world around us, and a more assertive response which is needed to protect ourselves.
One also learns and understands the psyche of people and potential threats through training in martial arts.
All these give us a better insight of scenarios and hopefully our coping skills are heightened.
Be aware, and be safe!