Preventing conflict is the best form of self defence

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If you want to stay safe it really is simple, do not put yourself in danger in the first place. Obvious I know, but many martial arts instructors fail to emphasize this point.

Taken to the extreme, people assume that I am advising them to stay indoors for eternity. To wrap themselves in cotton wool and remain hidden under the protection of their beds. Far from it.

People want to live a fulfilling life. As such, being stuck at home, fearful of the outside world is no way to live. What’s the point?

But what constitutes danger?

Danger is a relative term. After all, an active warzone is a greater health risk then a back alley at 2am in the ‘bad part of town’.  So I prefer to look at the factors that increase or decrease personal risk in a given situation.

For example, imagine a young lady walking to a taxi bay from a nightclub at 1:30 am. Given the following limited information, who is in more danger?

Jane – is slightly tipsy. She is wearing flat shoes. Whilst walking her hands are free with her phone in her pocket and bag on her back. She is walking with three other female friends whose eyes are up, scanning and alert.


Chloe – is fairly drunk. She is wearing high heels. She has earphones in with music playing loud enough for others to hear. She is walking alone, with her phone out and texting.

As awareness and mobility decrease, danger increases.

Clearly Chloe is in more danger. Why? Primarily because she is unaware of her surroundings and has limited perception and movement capabilities. Her two main senses – vision and hearing are almost useless (with headphones blocking out sound and the phone limiting her night vision and focus).

The levels of alcohol in her system, combined with the high heels make movement (read escape) severely more challenging.

Now I must be perfectly clear. Nobody deserves to be sexually assaulted, stolen from, beaten up or victimised in any way.

Nevertheless, how people hold themselves, the places they frequent, the drugs they take, the clothes they wear, the people they associate with and the activities they partake in all impact the level of danger they face at any particular time.

Every choice you make alters your level of safety, so choose wisely.

Personally I find that some of the most common and dangerous places are where large groups of young men congregate to drink.

Alcohol is a major disinhibitor, causing peaceful people to become violent and aggressive over the slightest provocations. We have all seen this happen.

Before you label me a prude, know that I still go out and drink. I just make sure to do so with people I trust and in the locations that I am comfortable in. Thus mitigating potential danger.

Don’t be paranoid, just vigilant.

If you are unsure of what factors will raise or lower the level of potential danger you face, there are many resources available to you. News reports, online CCTV footage and interviews with police or victims of crime are all useful places to start.

Look for commonalities between events, for example: key times, locations or activities that seem to have larger than average amounts of violence.

Ask yourself, what would I have done differently in that situation? What were the warning signs that the individuals should have seen and acted upon?

Your safety is your responsibility and yours alone.

Zachary Phillips

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Zachary Phillips is an Australian born writer, podcaster, vlogger, school teacher, mental health advocate, motivational speaker and martial artist. He uses these platforms to promote mental health awareness, personal development and self-discovery.
Coming from a troubled past, he began writing as a form of therapy. After finding that sharing his story helped others to move on and heal, he decided to release his first book 'Under The Influence - Reclaiming My Childhood' to the public.
It provides a personal and brutally honest account of the destructive dynamic that a drug affected and mentally ill father can have on his child.
 Zachary gives us a sacred peek into his once shattered mind, teaching us that, even against all the odds, a broken mind can not only be healed, but can go on to flourish, inspiring others along the way.  - About Under The Influence 

"I hope that my work will help to reduce the stigma around mental illness and provide some guidance to those facing similar circumstances."

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