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Before I teach personal safety, I need to talk about the laws relating to self defence. These laws are contained in the criminal law act 1967. These laws state, any force used to defend yourself must be reasonable and necessary at the time. The force must be proportionate to the harm you intend to avoid.
So let’s have a look at this and see what it means to our clients. A person may use such force that is REASONABLE in the circumstances to prevent a crime. The law makes it clear that the force must be REASONABLE. A person may use force if they honestly believe it is necessary to defend themselves or another.
Use of force must be necessary and should only be used as a last resort, in a conflict situation; you should first try to talk the situation down in order to bring the conflict to a successful resolution. Verbal and nonverbal communication skills must be practiced with our clients so they learn to be assertive and send out the right signals, which may put a potential attacker off. Body Language is also very important and this normally says more than words. Target hardening, this means using your body language to look more confident; this makes you a harder target for a potential mugger or bully.
Any unnecessary force can never be reasonable. It must also be stated that a person can use force to ward of an anticipated attack, as long as the person believes an attack is imminent, they do not have to wait, they can strike first, a pre-emptive strike. This is stated in common law-
“USE OF FORCE: If you have an honestly held belief that you or another are in imminent danger then you may use such force that is reasonable and necessary to avert that danger” LORD GRIFFITH
Section 3 Criminal Law Act states:
“A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of a crime or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or persons unlawfully at large.”
The Human Rights Act 1998;
Article 2: The Right For Life;
Article 8: The Right To Respect For Private And Family Life.
Lastly, what is reasonable force? I teach, just enough force to enable you to make your escape to safety.
©Jeff Gonsalves 2005
Awareness training is the cornerstone of good personal security. Awareness is a situational thing, you have to be switched on 24/7 when in the street. One method of teaching awareness is the colour codes.
Jeff Cooper, an American combat pistol instructor developed the Coopers Colour Codes many years ago to help law enforcement personnel have an immediate and visual system of reflecting the changes of threat in their environment. He used the following colours, calling them CONDITIONS. Conditions, white, yellow, orange, red and black are used. We will ignore condition black because this is for deadly force. Let’s have a look at what each condition represents:
Condition White relates to being switched off, this is where 99% of people spend their time. This is victim state; in this condition a person has no awareness.
Condition Yellow This is the condition we should be in 100% of the time; it’s like turning on the radar; this is the scanning and seeing state, you are switched on and alert, having good situational awareness.
Condition Orange This is when you see a possible threat, this is where you evaluate and make a decision. This is what being switched on is all about, giving you time to make a decision. Once the threat has passed you go back to condition yellow.
Condition Red is an action trigger you must turn and get out of there now or be ready for problems. Fight or flight.
So the colour codes do two things: they act as situational warnings, when your environment is about to change for the worst. Secondly, the colour codes act as action triggers, especially in code red. Action triggers are strategies you have already worked out for a threat, so when it hits the fan, you already have a plan of action, this is important because when you are in fight or flight mode or under stress, it is really hard to make a decision.
The colour codes need to be practiced by our clients to make them second nature. Action triggers and strategies should be written down so they can look back at them from time to time.
©Jeff Gonsalves 2005
Training the mind is as important as training the body. If the body is strong but the mind is weak, you will always be defeated. A strong mind properly trained will get you through the stress and pain of a physical encounter. Knowledge of the body and how to control the feeling of adrenaline build up when under stress will greatly help you. Understanding the mechanics of adrenaline greatly lessons its impetus. The shock factor of adrenaline is scary if you do not understand it. This unpleasant and strong emotion can cause you to freeze in terror if you don’t understand what’s going on. The key to adrenaline is don’t panic; this is not easy but the adrenal syndrome needs to be addressed and understood so it can be harnessed and utilised.
Adrenaline is like a turbo charger in a car, fight or flight, but you have to know how to use it for your own good, because if it’s not used for action, panic sets in and the energy will be used negatively.
To help control adrenaline in a confrontational situation, deep breathing and knowledge will help.
When a situation arises that causes the adrenaline to flow we are so unfamiliar with the feeling we panic, so this is why we have to train it and get used to the feeling, so we can get used to it. Psychologists call it the “Fight or Flight” syndrome. In the moment of danger the body injects chemicals (hormones) into the blood stream to prepare the body for fight or flight. Adrenaline is the best know, but there is a whole cocktail of chemicals (Epinephrene, norepinephrine and dopamine). These chemicals help strengthen the body and make the brain more alert, and some are natural pain killers.
Other effects are;
There are many more effects, if you want to know more I suggest you read a good book on self protection “Dead or Alive” by Geoff Thompson or “Streetwise” by Peter Consterdine are two excellent books for anyone interested in personal safety.
©Jeff Gonsalves 2005