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Local expert shares self-defense strategies

Steve Brass, right, teaches a student ‘stun and run’ self-defense techniques. (Courtesy Steve Brass)

The dawn of a new year is a great time to refresh our personal safety toolboxes and begin looking at our world with new eyes.

How often do you discuss your personal safety with your family members? What happens if your home is robbed, you are attacked on the street or in your place of worship? Do you have a plan of action for your business in case it is invaded? As a personal self-protection trainer for many years and a local member of our community, I would like to offer some simple strategies you can begin using today and could save you from an ugly incident.

Situational awareness is the best self-defense of all. Whether you have studied Krav Maga, karate, boxing, mixed martial arts, or taken no training, being aware of your surroundings and planning for a predator makes your safety a priority wherever you find yourself. You begin looking at people and situations differently, and reviewing options if something turns ugly.

Here are some new ways to protect yourself and your property.

Protecting your cash

1. Never carry a wallet. Pickpockets and thieves target those with bulging back pockets or large purses. Keep your cash in front pockets and split it up. If you are out running errands or shopping keep a small bill as a decoy in a front pocket, and if confronted in a parking lot or isolated place, throw the decoy in one direction as you run in the other. Hide larger amounts of cash or credit cards in an undergarment pocket or in different areas like your bra, socks or inside pockets. Better yet, carry only the credit cards you need for the day and put the rest in a home safe.

Hikers, joggers, and walkers should not carry much cash and no cards, except a driver’s license. Have some defensive tool (there are many options, including pepper spray and tasers) in a fanny pack with your phone. Never wear ear buds. Predators love distracted people who cannot hear them coming.

2. Photocopy all your cards front and back, and secure the copies and cards you don’t need to carry in a home safe. If you are robbed, you have a list of which companies to call to report the theft and stop any serious damage to your credit rating and identity.

On the road

3. When driving do not become frozen at stops, looking straight ahead. Look around and be aware of anyone approaching your vehicle. If they want to carjack you, you want time to see them and drive away. Leave at least one car length between your car and the driver in front of you in case you have to make a quick exit. Never set your home address on your car GPS, because if the vehicle is stolen the thieves now have your home location. You can set a nearby store as your home address.

Fresh eyes — situational awareness

4. When entering or exiting any building, stop in the doorway, and survey 360 degrees before entering. If there is a robbery or fight happening you do not want to walk in on it. Monitor the people coming and going, and especially keep an eye on their hands and waists. If they are carrying a weapon, you want to be aware. Avoid falling into a trance on your smartphones and stay alert to your surroundings. When at temple or a theater or business meeting, sit near an exit and have good sightlines of all entrances.

Protecting your ride

5. When approaching your vehicle, stop a few car lengths away and survey your surroundings. If someone is targeting you and your parcels you want time to walk past your vehicle or to drop them, free up your hands and prepare to fight. It might be easier to walk into a coffee shop or store where there are witnesses. Most predators do not want attention or witnesses. You can also call 911 and wait for help. Before getting into your car, check the back seat and under the vehicle to ensure no one is waiting inside. Packages should also be placed out of sight.

Making your personal safety a priority will help ensure a safer new year.

Steve Brass is an international “stun and run” self-defense trainer who also is certified as a use of force instructor. He offers private and small group workshops in Tucson. Contact him at 822-4338 or www.streetsmartdefense.net.