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The Daily



06-23-03: Keep calm, take defensive action
Area people receive self-defense training

The Daily Standard

    ROCKFORD - The mind can be a powerful weapon particularly when it comes to self-defense. 
    Jeff Selby, a seventh-degree martial arts specialist, presented a Saturday afternoon program on senior awareness and self-defense at Maplewood of Shanes Village. However, his message applies to everyone regardless of age.
    "You have to stay aware and calm as you go about your everyday life," he said. "A calm mind helps you respond the way you need to when confronted at home, on the street or in your car."
    Selby, who has studied martial arts and presented programs on self-defense for nearly 30 years, says the first step in ensuring safety on the homefront is establishing a safe room.
    Home invasions do happen these days and everyone should have a designated safe room,  he said. This is a place, preferably with a cell phone, where family members come in the event of an emergency.
     "You've seen the scenario on television where a perpetrator enters a home and the wife nudges her husband and tells him to go check on suspicious sounds," Selby said. "Don't go through the house looking for an intruder. Go to the safe room and call 911."
    In most instances, someone who breaks into a home is after valuables like television sets, VCRs and DVD players. They may carry a knife or gun for intimidation.
    "Your life is not worth risking for anything in the house," Selby added. "In all likelihood, the perpetrator is going to grab what he wants and run."
    He also warned that hiding a weapon somewhere in the house is not a good idea because the home invader is likely to locate it first. The weapon should be with you or located in the safe room.
    Selby recommends everyone practice walking through their home in complete darkness. Being able to maneuver in familiar surroundings puts you one step ahead of any perpetrator.
    Not all confrontations take place in the home. They can occur anywhere including area roadways. In the event someone appears to be following your car, Selby recommends the four turn rule.
    "If the car is still there after two or three right turns, make your next turn into the police station or a business where there are a lot of people," he said.
    He maintains the best deterrent to car-jacking is having the windows up, your seatbelt on and the doors locked.
    Car doors make good weapons because of their slightly curved design. Opening them with force can inflict considerable pain in the area of the knee and shin, putting a perpetrator out of commission for a minute or two.
    Selby frequently slides his left arm out of the seatbelt when driving in unfamiliar areas. The metal buckle can be popped quickly and used as a weapon in the event an attacker approaches his car.
    "You can quickly wrap up, detain and take him for a ride," he added with a smile.
    Another deterrent is carrying a bag of sand laced with cayenne pepper inside the car. The stinging pepper is most effective in the face and the eyes. Dye Witness, another safety device on the market, does more than deliver an immediate stinging sensation. It douses the perpetrator with telltale red and green dye. He also advocates placing a newspaper tightly wound around a heavy wood dowel on the front seat as a potential weapon.
    When visiting shopping malls, select a parking place where you can pull straight out instead of having to back up first. Also choose a well-lighted area. Have keys in hand when leaving or approaching your vehicle. Keys protruding from between the fingers can serve as a  weapon.
    "Walk with a purpose, make eye contact if approached and tell the person to stop," Selby said. "This is not about being paranoid, it's about being prepared. If something doesn't feel right, heed that little voice inside your head."
    Women are not the only potential victims. He warned men not to use urinals at rest areas or other public places. Going into a stall equipped with a door puts a barrier between the assailant and his would-be victim. Men should carry their wallet in a front pocket as opposed to the rear pocket, which can be sliced quickly with a razor. On the other hand, a woman's shoulder purse is easy prey to a thug with a knife or quick hands.
    "Men get hit and women get grabbed," he said. "Never, never get in an assailant's vehicle. You may never be seen again or some nasty things will happen to you."
    Selby prescribes the AAA theory of self-defense - accept what is taking place, adapt to it and then act on it. He believes everyone has "a killer instinct" when confronted. Fear and the pumping adrenaline can be empowering when channeled into dealing with thugs.
    He added the thumb is the weakest part of the hand. If the event you are grabbed, direct your attention toward the assailant's thumb. Breaking the hold and causing pain should yield precious time for escape. Do the damage and then get away, he added.
    "We live in a sheltered area in terms of crime, but it's still here," Selby said. "People do what they have to do - some comply, others choose to fight. This is not about winning championships, it is all about surviving."


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