Simple Self-Defense: How to Protect Yourself in Everyday Situations (With Video)

By Rachel Martin

February 11, 2013 Updated Feb 12, 2013 at 11:55 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) Have you ever thought about what you would do if you were attacked? Most people think it won't happen to them, but after the high number of apartment attacks last month many people are on edge. Here are some helpful tips on how to protect yourself.

Fort Wayne Police have since arrested suspects they think are connected to the armed robbery attacks that happened in January, but that hasn't stopped people from arming themselves. In fact, many stores have reported selling out of mace and pepper spray since the incidents. But, Officer Juan Barrientes, a trainer for the department, says it's important that everyone arm themselves—through self defense.

However, he's not talking about guns or weapons, he means using things you already have like a set of keys, or your elbow, knee, or the heel of your hand.

“Even a lion attacks the weakest one of the herd. It never goes after the bull,” he said. “It goes after the sickly ones, the weak ones, the small ones, the young ones, the old, not someone who's ready. People who are ready for problems, ready for trouble, people who are prepared for that eventuality or have that mindset are more of a problem for those predator types out there.”

Rachel Martin was lucky enough to get a one on one defense session with Barrientes where he breaks down the basics of self defense using items that people most commonly carry: pepper spray and a set of keys.

"So pepper spray and any other type of immediate weapon is only effective if you understand how it works and you have it ready.”

Barrientes suggests knowing how far it sprays, and holding your other hand up for protection. Spraying straight forward can easily be blocked, so he suggests spraying it like an air freshener, all over the attacker. The chemical will cause irritation, giving you a chance to get away.

Another helpful hint—holding your keys, but not just any way. Barrientes suggests holding them as you would a candle stick so you can stab the attacker.

The two most common things people have in their hands when getting out of their cars are their phone and keys. Barrientes say the most important thing to protecting yourself is awareness, paying attention to your surroundings so you know how to react. That means putting your smart phone away.

"They need to get off those smart phones. Texting while walking is unsafe. Your focus and your attention is on your phone and you fail to see those things around you. If I'm a bad guy and I'm looking at you and I see that you're looking around, or you and I make contact and you start filing away my description, I may not be so inclined to attack you because you're not an easy target."

Many of those attacked in the apartment robberies were approached while getting out of their cars, so what can you do then?

"Make a lap in your vehicle before you actually park. Change your habits, change it up. Either come home earlier or later, and don't always park in the same spot. What's the rush of getting out of your car and taking in your surroundings and look around?” said Barrientes.

Barrientes says to yell and scream if you have to and don’t be afraid to cause a scene. The last thing an attacker wants is attention being brought to the situation.

Other than awareness, Barrientes emphasizes the “Three I’s” intelligence, intuition and instinct. He says those are natural cues within a person that lets them know when they’re in a dangerous situation and how they should react. He says people should listen to their intuition more often because that's where most fail.

When it comes to fighting, Barrientes suggests taking a specialized class to properly learn how to execute a physical strike. In the class, Barrientes says he’ll teach how to take simple, natural, everyday movements and put force behind them—things like using the heel of your hand, your elbow, and your knee. He says all these movements can make a difference between walking away and being in the hospital.

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