Learn Self Defense. Pepper Spray is Not Enough.

It has been statistically proven that in a moment of danger, the only person you will be able to count on is yourself. The majority of people who hear cries of help will run away and find safety for themselves. No normal person wants to risk their life for a stranger.

The reality is that if you find yourself being attacked, you need to be prepared.

As a 19 year old female university student, I sometimes have meetings or reunions that require me to walk alone at night in a parking lot, for example, leaving a predator with the perfect window to approach me. After thinking about how unsafe this could be for me, I realized that I wanted to be prepared and not wait for something to happen in order for me to take action and learn to defend myself. Self defense training saves lives.

I have grown up around people who have come from countries where violence is common. Some of my friends have been assaulted in their own homes and the severity of their situations all vary from robberies to kidnappings. I have lived in Miami for 19 years and that kind of violence has always seemed far away from home. Thoughts like, "It will never happen to me," have crossed my mind. I am fortunate enough to have never lived through a traumatic experience, but should my life ever be in danger, I do not want to be frozen in fear. For these reasons, I enrolled in a 10 week self-defense program and it was an experience that has changed my state of awareness.

Going into my first class, the main feeling I had was nervousness. I thought about all the horrible situations people can go through when they are in danger and I felt fear of not knowing what action to take.

When there is a problem in my everyday life, I am the kind of person that likes to face it head-on. I set up the meeting, ask the questions, and tackle the situation step by step. When my instructors asked me what I would do if someone were to put a gun to my head, I came up blank. Not having a game plan was terrifying to me. Would I be a helpless victim in a time of crisis? No. I planned to be the opposite and fight back.       

Some of the exercises that my self-defense academy members and I went through included groundwork, getting out of bearhugs and headlocks, blocking punches and knife attacks, and knowing how to act when being held at gunpoint. Some scenarios we covered were kidnappings, robberies, assaults, and home invasions.

The ways to respond are not as simple as you may think. You need to learn techniques and practice them. My instructors often told me that what saves lives is training and that in a moment of violence, you can only count on yourself. You cannot wait for the police to arrive or for someone to hear your cries of help. An attack can happen in under 30 seconds. The way to act is to be smart and defend yourself in the right way. It is important to know how to react in any situation and to always be alert. Know where your exits are, make eye contact, and be aware of your surroundings. The training I received taught me techniques and why aspects like speed and verbals are important. I also received training on how to act when faced with an active shooter.     

Photo Credit: Guillermo Leyva 

The Active Shooter Response class was one of the most essential classes I took. People may think that the first thing they should do is to run, but that is not necessarily correct. There is a plan to follow and a way to act to survive.

When I see on the news that an active shooter committed atrocious acts, it does not shock me anymore. It is "another" attack and "another" shooting. This is not something people have not faced before, and while each attack is heartbreaking, it is horrifyingly becoming more common. There are people in the world that feel compelled to walk into a mall, school, or festival and end innocent people's lives. I cannot imagine the fear I would feel if I were to be in a shooting, but thanks to my training, I feel I am ready to respond efficiently and intelligently. 

The overall experience that I had in my classes was incredible. I hope to never have to use the skills that I have learned. The benefit I have is that this training has given me peace of mind (and my parents too). I am not a soft target anymore because my attitude and the way I carry myself has changed.

An attacker does not want to waste his energy on someone who will fight every step of the way. My goal in any situation is to stop the attack and get out. I have the skills to defend myself if necessary and you should too. 

It does not matter whether you are a student, a parent, a kid or an adult, self-defense is a lifetime investment you need to look into. Give yourself the assurance that you will be confident and strong by taking self-defense classes.

If you have never been attacked or if you have never gone through a violent scenario, it may be difficult to know what your response and reaction time will be. Training saves lives. Find a local and proper self-defense center near you and do not leave it for later, because later never comes. Push yourself to do this and you will feel incredibly rewarded!