Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Kids Self Defense and Realistic Expectations: Defending Against Adult Assailants

 We need to have a realistic sense of our ability to protect ourselves.  This applies to adults and it certainly does to children.  Movies, and other media, sometimes offers a very exaggerated sense of what a child can do against an adult. Some scenes show children of eight or ten years old defeating a man (or men) in hand to hand combat.

This is extremely improbable.

Even without training, an average adult would be able to subdue a ten year black belt in any martial art/self defense system.  Does this mean self defense for children is useless?  Of course not.  What it does mean is that we have to manage our expectations and focus on what they can do.

So what do we advocate when it comes to surviving adult assailants?
  • Awareness and Avoidance
  • Escape Tactics
  • Getting Help
  • Fighting to Buy Time/Escape/Get Help
Awareness and Avoidance:  Similar to adults, children need to develop awareness of their environment and adult behaviours.  Where are safe places to run for help?  Walk facing traffic to be able to encroaching cars.  Avoid adults who ask for directions (especially if they are asking the child to step closer to their vehicle)...

Escape Tactics: Certainly a strength for most kids - active kids in particular.  A healthy kid can be very agile, elusive, and quick.  They also need to focus on where to go  - a safe destination - rather than simply getting away.  This involves identifying escape routes needs to become a habit.

Getting Help: Leave me alone! Help! Help!   It is hard for even the most apathetic adult to ignore a child calling for help.

Fighting to Buy Time/Escape/Get Help: If a child is grabbed they have to fight.  It is very unlikely they will disable the adult but they might be able to escape, or, at the very least buy some time and get the attention of someone who will help.

Fighting is a last option - when escaping and avoidance have not worked.  The goal, it must be consistently emphasized, is to escape, not fight.   Accordingly, learning to flee to a safe exit to get away and get help must be an integral part of the training.  We build these skills through games rather than scare tactics.  We want to empower rather than instill fear.

Stay safe,

Christopher Gagne
Lead Instructor, International Krav Maga FederationToronto

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