Although in this day and age we are just as likely to get mugged in London as we are in Lima, the fact is we’ll be travelling through some desperately poor countries where our appearance alone will present us as wealthy, affluent foreigners (despite us probably looking more effluent than affluent). We’ve prepared ourselves as well as we can in terms of security of our possessions but our personal safety is also a prime consideration. Avoidance is always key; don’t wander in dodgy parts of towns and cities alone late at night, don’t display valuables, be careful at ATM machines etc.
However, even with preventative measures in place, there is still a risk there that can’t be ignored and to help us be prepared for this extreme scenario we enlisted the help of Trevor Leech and Sean Murphy of Jujitsu Guernsey. Trevor and Sean are a 5th and 4th Dan respectively, with over 55 year’s joint experience in Jujitsu, a Japanese art of weapon less fighting. They are affiliated with the United Martial Arts International Guild and World Budo Kai. With limited time, they taught us the fundamental basics of responding to a personal attack. The focus was on breaking free from the hold of an assailant to allow us to run away fast from any potentially threatening situation.
They taught us that an attacker never expects their victim to react in a fast, targeted manner so with this element of surprise you are already altering the balance of control. Self defence is about moving in such a way that makes it difficult for an attacker to maintain their grip or hold on you, in addition to possibly striking a sensitive part of their body. No matter what the size or strength of an aggressor, you can cause sudden pain by striking their nose, eyes or groin. If grabbed from behind, a sharp slide down the shin with your heel in addition to stamping on their foot will cause enough pain for them to loosen or release their hold on you, providing an opportunity for escape. Even if pinned down on the ground with your hands held tight either side of your head, a fast ‘snow angel’ downwards movement of your arms shifts the assailant’s centre of balance forwards allowing you to knee them forwards and momentarily incapacitate them. Although the focus is not on fighting, we did practice punching effectively (ie not like a girl with your thumb inside your fist). We were both told we pack a mean punch!
We are enormously grateful to Trevor and Sean who freely gave their time to demonstrate and educate us in some basic self-defence. We plan to practice these techniques regularly so the response becomes second nature. The bottom line is that is someone wants your wallet or your camera and they're pointing a gun or a knife at you, you give it to them. No question. This knowledge is absolutely for the worst case scenario but should it arise we will be equipped with the vital skills. If the ‘bear hug’ from behind is from an actual bear let’s hope the same moves apply!