Having tools and knowledge to protect yourself in self-defense situations is key, martial arts instructors say

Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 5:32 PM EST
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - Having tools to protect yourself, whether it’s pepper spray or martial arts training, can help you escape a potentially harmful situation.

Brian Rose and Jay Haynes instructors at Total Defense Martial Arts say everyone should be prepared to defend themselves. Self-defense classes, no matter the exact art, can help not only build strength and agility, but also confidence.

Rose, owner of Total Defense, said defending yourself is often more difficult than some believe.

“I’ve had really strong guys come in here and think they could dominate, and I’ll let them roll with one of my girls, and when the girl beats them and controls them, then they think, ‘man, I have to figure this out,’” Rose said.

Haynes said self-defense training is a basic and vital life skill.

“If you don’t know how to swim and you end up falling off a boat, you’re going to be in a lot of trouble. There are certain things you want to learn in life just in general,” Haynes said. “You need to be able to read and write, do math, having a hard work ethic. One of those things I also believe in is everyone should have a basic understanding of first aid care and in self-defense.”

Haynes said the first thing you need to think about with self-defense is prevention, and Sgt. Butch Shifflett, Staunton Police Public Information Officer, said that’s the most important factor.

“A lot of times, it’s better to have a proactive approach and just stay in a safe area that’s well-lit. Keep yourself focused on your environment,” Shifflett said.

Next, Haynes said you should recognize a self-defense situation may actually be occurring. Then, you need to verbally and non-verbally communicate that you don’t want the situation to escalate to physical violence.

“Communicate, ‘hey, this is not going to happen. I’m prepared to defend myself, so we are not going to allow this to go any further,’” Haynes said.

Next, try to move away from the potential offender.

“Distance is always the best self-defense. The further away I can be, the easier it is to defend myself, so moving, dodging, or backing up is always a good way to make sure it’s harder for you to be attacked,” Haynes said.

Finally, if nothing else works, you’ll need to physically respond.

“The last part is the response, and that is I’ve exhausted all of these other things, and this person is still attacking me, so I have to respond with some sort of self-defense,” Haynes said.

Shifflett said it’s also important to understand attainable technology. You can use Emergency SOS on an iPhone, and it will send a text to emergency contacts when you call 911. On Androids, you can click the power button five times to activate emergency services.

Staunton also allows you to text 911 if you aren’t able to talk. Shifflett said talking on the phone may deter a potential offender, and there are also tools you can carry with you.

A sounding device can also deter people. You can sound that off without hurting anyone else or causing anyone else harm like [pepper] spray would,” Shifflett said.

Shifflett said it’s safe to trust your gut feeling.

“Just know your personal space that you feel comfortable in and don’t let anybody get in that space,” he said.

Total Defense Martial Arts teaches boxing, Jiu-Jitsu and Filipino Martial Arts. There are classes seven days a week.

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