Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Self Defense and Subways

Subways are public places but assaults still occur as people travel to work, home etc...  Some examples:
  • In April 2013, as a subway approached Davisville station a man was stabbed in the throat. 
  • April 2010, 2 men held down and mugged a 79 year old man on the subway near Chester station.  There were 20 to 30 passengers on the subway.  No one helped.
Surviving a subway assault requires you to be aware and to understand the particular challenges of this environment.

Here are some points to consider.
  1. Public place = safe place?  Sadly, no. Subways are a public place but as the above examples remind us, assaults still occur.  Be aware of who is on the subway and be mindful of their verbal and body language.  
  2. Confined space.  A subway is a confined space meaning escape options are severely limited.  Accordingly, you might be forced to stay and fight. 
  3. Limited space. Subway aisles don't offer a lot of room to move. This is exacerbated during busy travel times.  Flying spin kicks will have to be rejected in favour of short range striking tools (knees, elbows, etc..),, and grappling.  You must also be aware of obstacles such as seats, poles, suitcases, walls... 
  4. Getting Help.  Be aware of the presence of security personnel so you can ask for their help.  Subways also have emergency notification systems.  Be aware of where they are and how to use them.  Don't assume bystanders will intervene.  
  5. Defending From a Sitting Position.  There is good chance you will be sitting when an assault takes place putting you at a disadvantage.  If you are involved in self defense training ask your instructor for tips and to include such scenarios in your training. 

Subways are generally a safe way to travel.  Be aware and if you are involved in self defense training ask your instructor to help you prepare for potential assaults. 

Stay Safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

Image courtesy of Matt Banks at

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