How do attackers choose their victims? James Field, a seventh-degree black belt in shotokan karate, has taught self-defense for four decades. During that time, he’s carefully studied how predators pick their prey.
“While in college, I worked in recreation centers and talked to young thugs,” Field recalls. “They told me they could simply look at certain people and see they were easy targets.
“There was something about these potential victims: their posture, demeanor, the way they walked. Many avoided [making] eye contact.”
One way to prevent an attack, then, is to avoid looking like an easy victim. “Walk with energy and self-confidence,” James Field says. “Make brief eye contact with people you encounter, but don’t act aggressively and don’t try to stare them down.”
Your body language often reveals whether you’re a potential victim. Rest assured that the bad guys are watching you — always.
If your efforts to avoid conflict fail and you must take physical action against someone, hit and run. “If you do strike an attacker, don’t prolong the situation and exchange punches,” Field says. “End the fight quickly and leave.”
“Ideally, when you’re attacked, you’ll react automatically. The further you go in your shotokan training, the more your techniques will become reactions. They’ll become second nature to you. At the junior level of training, you learn basics. But when you graduate to the upper level, you learn the reaction of application.
“We don’t teach you how to fight per se. Rather, we teach you how to defend yourself.”
(Photos by Sara Fogan)
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