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My Thoughts On "What To Do If Attacked On A Run"

In this blog I would like to offer my thoughts on an article that was in a recent issue of Men's Health titled,

"How to Stay Safe On a Run—Especially When a Killer Clown Is Chasing You

They offer some tips on what to do if attacked while on a run and a number of their recommendations cause me to pause and question. Feel free to agree, disagree, or think I am nuts, but my years of teaching have taught me there are much better ways of responding to an attack while on a jog.  Now, the whole article is in the link above, but here is the section where they offer their advice.  I will offer my thoughts after. 

According to Runner’s World—a brand owned by Men’s Health’s parent company, Rodale—here’s how you can stay safe on your next run

  • If an attacker grabs your arm, pull against the weakest point of his grip. This is typically where his fingers meet his thumb.
  • If you don’t have the chance to pull away and force the attacker to let go, use your other arm and hit him on the side of his face into his ear, punch him directly in the nose, or drive your palm up into his nose to inflict pain.
  • If an attacker grabs you from behind, use your legs to kick against his knee or lower leg to try and break his grip.
  • If the attacker approaches you from the front, reach out your arms before he gets too close. Shove him away or punch him in the chest to create enough space for you to escape.

It suggests that if your arm is grabbed that you pull against the weakest point of the grip.  Okay, what if the person grabbing is just simply stronger than you?  Your simple spin or twist may not work and now they are aware of your resistance putting them more on guard.  Over the years I have seen most instructors teaching this same technique, but let's look at the situation.  If you are on a jog and grabbed, odds are you are about to be dragged somewhere even more isolated than where you are, if not already isolated which is where most sexual assaults take place if that is their goal.  Do not look simply at the act of the wrist grab, but what is the intention of the wrist grab? It is often used to control and drag the person to a secondary location which is where the police find the bodies or one becomes the victim of the attack.  I have never heard of attackers using the wrist grab to stand still and do nothing else.  As we always teach, in a moment of stress such as an attack, one does not have the ability to perform fine motor skills.  One's best chance of survival is to rely on gross motor primal reactions such as ripping, tearing, clawing at the vulnerable targets like the eyes, throat, plus other secondary targets.  These are not techniques or moves that you need to memorize.  They are not expecting this reaction otherwise they would not likely have chosen you to begin with.  You must react immediately with goal of doing damage with every move you make.  Here is a brief video on how we address wirst grabs: 

Then they suggest if you are grabbed from behind to use your legs to kick the attacker.  Again, grabs from behind are not static with the attacker standing still while you do your move.  They are used to move you to another location or to slam you to the ground. And the moment you take your leg off the ground, your balance is compromised.  You may be able to slip a kick in, but I would rather keep my balance and use my free hands, and even if they are pinned, you can move your hips to one side and attack the groin with grabs, strikes, with hopes of getting a bit of distance allowing you to turn and face your attacker where you can once again attack the most vulnerable targets.  Yes, you may be able to throw your head back to their face or use an elbow, but just suggesting to use your legs to kick when you have other tools you can use is not the best advice in my opinion.  Another effect of reacting immediately is to get them to become defensive or another way of putting it is to switch yourself from being their prey to becoming their predator.  Here is another short clip on how we address grabs from behind:

 

 Then lastly it says if the attacker approaches you from the front to reach out your arms and push them away or punch them in the chest?  That will do little, but escalate their level of aggression because you will do nothing by just pushing back except challenge their ego.  If you are going to defend yourself, DEFEND YOURSELF by attacking vulnerable targets until you can escape at the earliest point.  Again, if you are jogging somewhere isolated, you need to use a much higher level of force if attacked.  Your chances of having someone hear you yell and scream are minimal if isolated on a jogging path.  Never rely on anyone to protect you.  You must rely on you and only you. Can punching them in the chest knock the wind out of them? Sure, but it is not generally a high success defense.  Punching effectively requires some skill and strength to be effective where ripping, tearing and clawing at someone's face can be effecitve for anyone. 

One must look at the context of the attack.  An attack like this in my opinion is going to most often require a higher level of force to defend against since an attack while jogging is very possibly and ambush attack in an isolated location.  

Keep SAFE!

Chris Roberts

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