Monday, September 22, 2008

Your Mind and Body: The Most Important Self Defense Products You Own

My business at Self Defense ATL sells self defense products for the average person but as I've said in past articles, you need practice, alertness and a little common sense to protect yourself. A stun gun or pepper spray increase your chance of success, but the most important "self defense product" is you!

Let's get down to brass tacks about what that means. The qualities of someone who successfully defends themselves could be written up in dozens of pages, but to make it readable we'll boil things down into just four areas: Environmental Awareness, Motivation, Physical Fitness and Training.

Self Defense Though Environmental Awareness

Environmental Awareness is a simple concept. If you want to protect yourself from danger you better see it coming! Just as we teach children to look both ways before crossing the street, we must teach ourselves to be aware of our surroundings and alert to possible danger. This is not the same as paranoia! In fact, proper Environmental Awareness should actually increase your appreciation for the small things in life. Instead of marching down the street concentrating on your own thoughts, you should be really looking at the world around you. That way, you'll notice difficult people or suspicious situations and avoid them, defending yourself without even getting into a fight. Not only that, but who do you think the average street predator would rather go after: someone who looks alert or someone who's staring at his shoes? Awareness gives you an air of confidence.
Self Defense Through Motivation

Sift through the news and it's easy to find stories about martial arts experts and big tough guys getting assaulted and not being able to do a thing to protect themselves. What happened? It could be a bunch of things, including plain bad luck, but in many cases these people weren't motivated to protect themselves. That sounds hard to believe, but true motivation (what some people call the "self defense mindset") doesn't magically appear because you took karate classes or hit the gym. Your attitude needs two important features:
  1. You need to believe you have the right to defend yourself! This isn't just an intellectual choice. You must absolutely believe that fighting back is the right thing to do. Decades ago police used to advise rape and other violent assault victims to not resist, but this only made things worse. Nowadays, we know that violent people see a passive attitude as an invitation to attack, and often have a mental "script" that doesn't count on resistance.
  2. You need to be mentally prepared to survive an assault. Don't think about how you'd defend against an attack. Think about what would happen if you actually were punched or cut with a knife. You need to have the resolve to keep fighting, because people only block every attack in the movies. You can't survive unless you think you can.
Self Defense Through Physical Fitness

Most of us aren't big guys built like UFC fighters or anything, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't regularly exercise. Not only is it just plain good for you, it also prepares your body for the stresses of an emergency. Strength training and aerobic fitness are the two primary foci of any fitness program. Don't worry about "sculpting" or "toning," but see how well you do at everyday tasks like moving furniture or climbing stairs. My wife and I love the outdoors because it's fun and helps us stay fit enough to enjoy life - and that's fit enough for an average person to defend themselves.

Self Defense Through Training

Practice makes perfect - or good enough, at least. Remember to always practice carrying, retrieving and aiming our products. Check for local self-defense courses in your area. If you choose to own a handgun always take courses in its proper handling and use. Even if you learned all about guns growing up, taking a course shows law enforcement that you are a responsible gun owner - and that's important if (God forbid) you ever have to go to court. If you can't find instruction in your area we do have Instructional Fighting Videos for sale.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why Cops Buy Stun Guns!

Stun Guns use high voltage and low amperage to temporarily disable an attacker. They disrupt voluntary muscle movements and cause a great deal of pain, leaving enough time for you to get away from a dangerous situation. Most law enforcement organizations make stun guns available to front line officers because of their proven effectiveness.

Let's go over the above statements in detail. First of all, like most weapons a stun gun isn't a "magic wand" and it isn't "setting phasers on stun." Stun guns are trusted because they work on age-old electrical principles. A stun gun (including a TASER's twin projectiles and the prods on a stun baton) has two contact points that deliver the electricity. Many models have a test mode that lets you run a small arc of electricity between the contacts. When that shock moves through human flesh . . . that flesh's owner doesn't like it very much.

Despite the name, most stun guns are actually close range weapons. You must touch your attacker with the weapon's contacts. TASERs are the exception, since their contacts are twin darts that are shot out, trailing a wire to deliver the electrical discharge. The weapon's exact effects depend on its wattage, amperage and the length of time the contacts touch your attacker. A fraction of a second's contact will cause pain and muscle contractions. Two or three seconds is often enough contact time to make an attacker drop to the ground. Past that, the shock might incapacitate the assailant for longer.

The importance of contact time is why Taser International recommends that TASER civilian model users abandon the weapon and run after use (Taser International will replace it if they get a police report about the incident), but their stun guns use projectiles that will stay in the target unless forcibly removed, and deliver the shock even after being abandoned, for a maximum of five seconds.

Remember: Electricity is dangerous! A stun gun isn't as dangerous to the target as a firearm but it can still cause long-term health complications. You shouldn't worry about that when someone's threatening you, of course, but like all weapons, a stun gun isn't a toy and should be used carefully. Make sure you keep it safe, secure and out of reach of your children, but practice drawing it quickly in case you need to use it. Make sure it's fully charged at all times. Finally, be aware of local laws. See our Stun Gun Laws page for legal information.