Personal safety (or self-defence)

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At some point in our lives we all come across a situation which makes us feel vulnerable, or in which we fear for our personal safety or those around us. A small percentage of us may be the victim of a random act of violence.

There are many reasons why this might occur but the three main ones are:

  • Lack of awareness
  • Body language
  • Wrong Place, Wrong time

When you are out and about or in an area that is unfamiliar to you it is important to always be aware of what is happening around you. The way you look and your body can effect a situation so make sure you keep your head up and be obviously alert. If you can avoid being alone especially in a remote area. Don’t drive through known bad areas at night.

Below are a number of things that you can do to keep safe.

While out and about

  • Avoid being on your own when possible, particularly after dark and in remote areas.
  • Wear sensible clothes and shoes. Keep long hair tied back.
  • Walk facing traffic to avoid someone in a car coming up behind you.
  • Avoid short cuts through dark alleys, parks or waste land.
  • Keep to the middle of pavements away from car doors and hedges.
  • Try to use well lit busy areas.
  • Let people know what time you expect to be home.
  • Do not have expensive items like jewellery on display.
  • Don’t carry large sums of cash or valuable items that are not necessary.
  • Keep your distance to strangers when walking down the street.

What to do if you think you are being followed

  • If you think you are being followed cross the road. If someone is following you they will probably do the same.
  • Go to the nearest public place (pub, shop or even a house with lights on).
  • Call a friend or the police.
  • Do not resist if someone grabs your bag or possessions.

What to do if you are threated

  • Scream and shout. Make as much noise as possible to attract peoples attention.
  • Get away as quickly as possible.
  • Always ring the police as soon as you can once you are in a safe place.
  • If a vehicle is involved, try to get the make, colour and registration.

When using public transport

  • Try to avoid waiting at isolated bus stops.
  • When on a bus sit as close to the driver a possible or at least within view of a CCTV camera.
  • Avoid sitting in empty compartments in trains.
  • Do not leave a handbag loose on your lap or on the seat next to you.
Self-defence classes Oxford
How to keep safe.

While at the pub or a party

  • Don’t stay in a place if the atmosphere does not feel right.
  • Avoid large groups of rowdy men.
  • Always check where the exits are when entering a room.
  • Never leave your drink unattended.
  • When entering the toilets check around and use mirrors to check blind spots before you enter the room.
  • Appoint one individual to stay sober and look out for the group.
  • Only accept drinks from people you know and trust.
  • Never share or exchange drinks.
  • If you decide to go home with someone, make sure that you introduce them to your friends (or bar staff or security) and make sure they know that you have been seen together.
  • If you feel dizzy or light headed but have not had much to drink, quickly get somewhere safe or with people you know and trust.
  • Keep the number of a reliable taxi company with you.
  • Always sit behind the driver in a taxi.
  • When a taxi arrives make sure it is the one you ordered.
  • When in the taxi make a note of the name and number of the driver.

When returning home

  • When arriving home by taxi or a lift from a friend, ask the driver to wait until you have signalled that you are safe from inside.
  • When approaching your door have your keys ready for a quick entry rather than providing an opportunity for an intruder while you fumble for your keys.
  • When you approach your home scan the area for signs of forced entry or any unusual activity. If you notice any signs then move on by and call the police from a friend or neighbour’s house.

When driving

  • Check the rear seats and the floor before entering.
  • Don’t park next to vans. A potential aggressor could pull you into the van through the side door as you get out or in your own car.
  • Check cars that are parked next to you. If an individual is sitting in the car then do not approach your vehicle but go elsewhere until the car has moved or is empty or get someone (police/guard to escort you to your vehicle.
  • Make sure that on long journeys you have enough fuel and that you know a good and safe (busy) place to stop to fill up en route.
  • Try to park in areas that will be well lit and populated when you return.
  • Do not leave valuables on display in the car.
  • Never pick up hitch hikers.
  • Never stop if you feel you are being followed. Drive to a safe place and raise the alarm.
  • If you are followed into your own drive do not get out of the vehicle. Ensure the widows are shut and the doors are locked and make noise with the horn.
  • Never leave keys in the ignition even for just a few moments.

At the Koushinkan Aikido Oxford club we take self-defence seriously. We always include safety exercises in our classes and through training in Aikido you will learn the skills needed to deal with a threatening situation. We also offer one-off self-defence classes to groups.