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There exists a law, not written down anywhere, but inborn in our hearts; a law which comes to us not by training or custom or reading ... a law which has come to us not from theory but from practice, not by instruction but by natural intuition. I refer to the law which lays it down that, if our lives are endangered by plots or violence or armed robbers or enemies, any and every method of protecting ourselves is morally right. -MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO, 44 BC
"Don't make a sound or I'll kill you ... just do exactly what I say"-a ruthless command and a lethal threat on an innocent human being. It wasn't a statement coming through a television set from an episode of Cops or a Lifetime movie. Nor was it a practical joke carried out by one of her friends. It was real and it was happening to Caryn-a tall, thin, and ultrafeminine woman who had always thought with confidence, It [rape] won't happen to me. But there he was and there she was.
At ten o'clock that night, Caryn had checked that her doors were locked, as usual, before shutting the lights off and going to bed. She assumed she was safe within the protection of her apartment walls. A typical night coupled with a typical attitude. At four o'clock in the morning, the scene drastically changed. Her worst fear had crept out of her nightmares and forced its way into her bedroom. While she slept, a man had broken into her locked apartment and moved silently into her bedroom. He woke her from a peaceful sleep with the forceful words, "Don't make a sound, don't move." That statement would resonate in her mind for years. Don't ... don't ... don't, he was telling her, while he granted himself permission to violate her body any way he pleased.
This desperate, angry man-a man she'd never seen before in her life-stood over her in her bedroom and made one last reminder for her not to do anything. Caryn's mind raced back to my self-defense workshop, and she was reminded of the emphasis placed on fighting back in order to surprise the attacker. Don't think of anything other than survival. Find the opportunity- it may be as little as five seconds-when he is vulnerable and use it to your advantage. Fight back. And that is what she did. She knew she needed to remain calm, assess the best time for defense, and strike.
He pulled back the blankets that covered her and lifted a leg to climb on top of her as he started to unbuckle his belt. There he was, with only one foot on the floor, fingers clumsily fumbling with his pants. She recognized her opportunity and went for it. Bending her knees and thinking of nothing but survival, she kicked him in the chest with both of her feet, using all the force she could muster. As she watched his body fly across the room, Caryn was amazed to see the shock resonating on his face. He was caught so physically and mentally off-guard by her blow that she had enough time to escape. As she rushed out of her apartment to get help, he ran, too ... not after her, but away from her.
You may be curious as to how the intruder managed to break into Caryn's apartment without her hearing any noises indicative of a breakin. The sad fact is that the man had a key from the tenant who'd previously lived in that apartment. Apparently, the landlord never changed the locks when Caryn moved in, and as a result of that negligence, Caryn experienced a life-threatening situation. It is our responsibility to ensure our own safety and that means, sometimes, making sure other people do their jobs. Caryn was one of the students in my self-defense workshops, and she experienced this ordeal in September 1997. Luckily, she was prepared. Would you have been prepared? I want to make sure that you will be.
Crime: It Exists
Violent crime is a national concern. More than half of Americans say reducing crime should be a top legislative priority, according to a report conducted by the Pew Research Center in January 2004. It wasn't long ago that parents were able to drop their kids off at school with a sigh of relief, knowing they would be safe inside. Today, with the incidence of school shootings and assaults, parents can only hope their school's security systems will serve to prevent another Columbine.
In 2003, for every one thousand people age twelve or older, there occurred:
One rape or sexual assault.
One assault with injury.
National Crime Victimization Survey (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003)
Being aware of the prevalence of crime throughout our country is the first step in building solid offenses and defenses against these monstrosities. When we put blinders over our eyes and remain apathetic toward current statistics and abundant media reports about criminal activity, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and those we love. In addition, being oblivious to crime creates a detrimental sense of inattentiveness. We are no longer aware of what is going on around us. We are dangerously boxed inside our idealistic worlds. Criminals love us; we make the best targets. Mental and physical self-defense is about being smart, not being irrational or impractical. Obviously, there aren't attackers lurking in every single dark alley or parking garage in the world. Not every guy you date will try to rape you. Being aware means understanding the possibilities and being prepared should you face them one day.
While awareness is necessary to understand the danger of crime and determine measures of prevention, being educated in mental and physical self-defense is necessary to walk away from a deadly situation alive. Proper education in this powerful duo can be effective in surprising your attacker and, ultimately, crippling his power over your life. This book is designed to equip you with the mental and physical resources to combat an assailant, regardless of size, weight, and weapon possession.
Now ... It's About You!
I'd like to give you my official congratulations! You have taken the first step necessary to learn mental and physical self-defense: You picked up this book! Just by reading these words, you have acknowledged the problem of crime and are looking to find a solution that will create a safer environment for you and the ones you love. More important, right before you started flipping through the pages of this book, you made another significant decision: You willingly created a conscious commitment to learn about self-defense. You have opted to empower yourself with knowledge rather than sitting on the sidelines and letting everyone else worry about safety. You made the wise choice to soak in this information, which has been compiled to keep you safer, make you more aware, and, ultimately, save your life.
But specifically, why? Why did you decide to read this book? Focusing on and reminding ourselves of the reason or reasons we want to learn something is a great way to strengthen our commitment and solidify our desire to learn. So why did you pick up this book? Why are you really interested in learning about self-defense?
Below are some good reasons my students have shared with me as to why they wished to equip themselves with these lifesaving tools. Which of these do you relate most to?
I'm a stay-at-home mom with two kids under the age of five and my husband works late most nights. I wouldn't know what to do if an intruder ever came in.
I travel by myself a lot for my job. I want to be able to learn how to protect myself anywhere I go.
I just don't know anything about self-defense and want to learn.
I want to know how to protect my wife and children and not rely solely on my muscle power.
I was once a victim and was unprepared. I don't want it to happen again.
The thought of being raped frightens me.
I don't want to become another statistic.
I have three children and I don't know what they would do if something bad happened to me.
I want to become more confident, wiser, more aware, and prepared should anything ever happen. I feel too afraid now.
Now what about you? On the next page, write down the top three reasons that have prompted you to learn about safety and self-defense. During the course of reading this book, refer back to these notes and remind yourself why you want to learn self-defense. It will help you to focus on your specific needs and reinforce what you will learn.
Why I Want to Learn Self-Defense
1. ___________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________
2. ___________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________
3. ___________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________
Additionally, when you have read the final page of this book, come right back to this section and see if what you have learned has satisfied what you wrote down. Do you feel more mentally empowered? Are you confident you can physically defend yourself ? Are you more aware of your surroundings?
On the other hand, I'm sure you have a plethora of thoughts as to some challenges that you either anticipate or are currently facing when it comes to self-defense. Maybe you think you're too old. Or too young. Or too weak, small, tall, fat, skinny, or tired. Perhaps you are wondering whether or not you could actually defend yourself if the need ever arose. I'm sure you want to learn how to execute self-defense, but you might feel a slight skepticism in your overall ability.
Not a problem! In working with both male and female students for twenty-plus years, I'm pretty confident I've heard it all. Most people walk into self-defense workshops with questions, concerns, and even fears! Learning anything for the first time can be challenging, and we usually carry some predetermined opinions and thoughts with us at the very beginning of the process. When I train my students for the first time, they address their concerns with me about learning self-defense. These include:
Just look at me, Dominick, I'm five feet tall and weigh a hundred pounds! How can I defend myself against someone twice my size?
I'm the most uncoordinated person alive. There is no way I can perform these techniques.
I'm too scared; I can't even hurt a fly!
Does self-defense really work?
Let's get back to you again. Take a few moments and think of the top three challenges you are facing right now as you begin the journey to learn self-defense. Another effective way to get the most out of learning something is by admitting initial concerns and apprehensions. Be honest with yourself by speaking about what seems to bother you and then take the appropriate steps to overcome those things. What's going on in your head at this very moment? Are you worried you are too weak to defend against a bigger person? Are you afraid you might freeze up at the moment you should be doing the opposite? List your challenges below.
Challenges I Might Face
1. ______________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________
2. ______________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________
3. ______________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________
Once again, when you are finished reading this book, review the challenges you mentioned above. I'm sure they will have been conquered through acquired knowledge and through developing a strong, confident attitude!
Get Ready to Learn!
This book was written for you as an empowering resource to make you feel self-assured in defending yourself. Through reading the subsequent chapters, you will specifically learn:
Tips to create the safest environment possible wherever you are.
How to be aware and present at all times.
The importance of self-confidence and self-worth.
Why you need both the mental and physical aspects of self-defense.
The motivations and behaviors of criminals and what they look for in their victims.
How to fight an attacker's weaknesses, not his strengths.
Unfortunately, it seems that everyone always wants to get to the good stuff first. They want to learn how to throw a punch or take a man or woman down, and they want to learn it now. Most of us who have taken music lessons as a child have experienced the boredom and annoyance of learning theory prior to playing the real songs. Still, we understand that training in theoretical exercises and scales will provide the right foundation for playing fun songs. Learning the basics is what is necessary in order to ultimately sound good.
It's the same with self-defense. Before we can start to play pretend victim and throw our peers on a mat in a smelly gym, we need to recognize the significant role of the mind. A certain mental attitude needs to be established well before physical techniques can be learned. The first part of this book focuses on the things we all need to understand before we learn how we can physically defend ourselves.
The second part of this book delves primarily into the physical aspect of it all. My approach is scenario-driven. The scenarios I use are taken from the various workshops I have taught and the many conversations I've had with students about their most feared situations. You must keep in mind that every scenario is unique in and of itself and variables always change.
You Can Do It!
Let's begin this journey by exposing the common myths about selfdefense that may be on some of your minds. I'll uncover the truth through statistics, facts, and common sense. You are now on your way to living a safer life!
Excerpted from Fight Back by Dominick DiVito Copyright © 2005 by Summer Haven, Inc..
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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