1/28/2019 2:26:00 PM Keeping eyes open is the best defense
Young and beginning students at Andy Bradbury’s Taekwondo school do some basic stretches before starting class in the Activity Center on Lincoln Trail College’s North Campus. January is Personal Self Defense Month, and while Bradbury teaches all levels of the Korean martial art,
he says situational awareness is still the best defense. (Tom Compton photo
January is National Personal Self-Defense Awareness Month and the best defense is to be aware of your surroundings.
When most people think of personal self defense the first thing that comes to mind is some type of martial arts and carrying lethal and non-lethal weapons to fend off a would be attacker, but according to experts the best personal defense is being aware of where you are and what is going on around you.
"Be aware of your surroundings," said Robinson Police Sgt. Dan Strauch. "Whether it is at the store or the park, if something seems out of place, something is not right or you have a gut feeling, be aware."
Strauch explained, while not wanting to "blame the victim", people often put themselves in bad situations because they do not pay attention to warning signs. And personal self defense is not always about a physical attack. Identity theft, cyber crime, and social media assaults, can be just as victimizing.
"We see that a lot," said Strauch. "Something happens, and afterwords people tell us all these things that should have been red flags. Internet crimes especially. People get caught up in the moment. If something sounds wrong or too good to be true it probably is."
Strauch also cautions people to be aware when traveling. "While we don't have a lot of cases of people being run off the road, you need to be aware of who is around you."
In many situations knowing how to defend yourself is your best chance against a bad situation and while most people think of self-defense as physical moves, it also involves mental skills. Sometimes the best defense can be remaining calm and alert in dangerous situations.
Andy Bradbury, 49, has been teaching the Korean martial art of Taekwondo for 34 years. He started learning as child when he was being bullied. "Fortunately I had an instructor that taught me right," said Bradbury.
For Bradbury personal self defense is more than physical altercations, it is situational awareness.
He related his observations from a recent family trip. "We recently flew on vacation, and I was astounded at the number of people who were only looking down at there electronic devices," said Bradbury. "They had no idea what was going on around them."
"Always be looking around," he said. "When you go anyplace, a grocery store or the park, you need to have situational awareness. Body language tells a lot."
Bradbury currently teaches two classes, one for children and young beginners, and a second for youth and adults. Each of the classes provide physical and mental develop that can be applied to everyday life.
"My thought is toward the mental aspect, and attempting to ingrain that in everything I do," said Bradbury.
He explained that he teaches all levels of students, and several families participate together. "It is a way for families to get off of electronic devices, get some exercise and be together as a family," said Bradbury.
Self-defense is a mind set, explained Bradbury. "Be ready, but not paranoid. Being aware and just being observant," he said. "Look people in the eye, be prepared when you approach your vehicle. Don't be looking for your keys, already have them in your hand. Look around as you approach your car. Look under it, or at areas around it where someone could hide. Don't ignore things that don't look right."
It is also important to know where not to go. "Know where to stay away from," said Bradbury. "Around here we don't have any really bad places, but in Terre Haute there are some, and I don't go there."
Bradbury said as he trains his students in self defense he emphasizes training for perfection, but he also believes that it is 10 percent physical and 90 percent mental.
"In classes if you are just going through the motions, that is all you are going to get out of it," said Bradbury. "We go at it hard, without injuring of your partner. Repetition is important, forms and coteries."
Each student is tested as they achieve higher levels. After a two or two and half years of training students will begin to break boards. "It is evidence of the power they have achieved. It lets them understand how powerful the technic is," explained Bradbury.
Building confidence in the student is also part of self defense and Taekwondo. Every four to eight months students test their skills and the confidence they have built. Martial arts build confidence in adults and kids. As self esteem builds, students no longer look like a victim.
Experts suggest that communication is only 7 percent verbal and 93 percent non-verbal, with 55 percent body language.
While self defense and physical activity are important, for Bradbury he also sees his teaching as a way of ministry outside of the church.