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    Top Self-Defense Tips: Ten Ways to Stay Safe in a Dangerous World


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      Recently, I pulled into a local Starbucks at 9:30am. It was very crowded. I parked and was sitting in my car, gathering my keys and purse when I noticed two men had pulled up their car behind me, totally blocking me in. At first, I figured they were just waiting to park, but then I realized there were plenty of spots and they were just sitting there. I was getting nervous when I saw one of them get out of the car, crouch down, and start slinking toward my car. Again, my car was blocked in by them. I knew I was in danger. I didn't know if they were going to break my window to get my purse or hold me at gunpoint to try to steal my car. I certainly wasn't going to get out of the car, so I did the only thing I could to get myself out of there: I put my car in reverse, slammed on the gas, crashed into them, and then somehow had enough room to drive over a curb and get away. I pulled right in front of the Starbucks so I'd be around as many people as possible.

      Lots of eyewitnesses ran to my car and helped me. They called 911, had a full description of the guys, and they even got a license plate number. They said that after I crashed into the other car, one of the men shouted to the other to get out of there and they drove away at full speed. Clearly they were up to no good. Cops said I definitely made the right decision.
      So yes, my car had a lot of damage, but at least I was safe. But what scares me is that the cops told me that this is VERY COMMON and happens all the time. In broad daylight. At gas stations and in very crowded areas like the mall, gyms, and places like Starbucks and grocery stores where people might leave their bags in their cars while they run in for a few minutes.
      After this scary event, I felt like I needed to learn how to protect myself further. So that was my next step. Rocket Matter's very first client and all-around tough guy, Peter Sosin, recommended that I take a class with his friend John Riddle, a retired sergeant and instructor of defensive tactics for a local police department's SWAT team. I checked out John's company, Progressive Self Defense Systems. I wanted to sign up for one of his classes right away.
      So my husband (Rocket Matter's CEO) and I brought all the female employees at Rocket Matter, along with some friends and family, to John's class for some self-defense training.  The class was Women’s Self Defense Workshop: In & Around Your Vehicle. It was intense. John and his very tough teacher assistants simulated actual attacks. They pretended to choke us. They "attacked" us while we pretended to put packages in our car trunks or backseats. They put us in vulnerable positions. And we learned to fight back. The men were wearing tactical gear, so we literally were able to kick some butt. We kicked, punched, and clawed our way to safety. Even though it wasn't real, it was still scary. And lots of us were bruised the next day. However, we are so thankful to John and him team for making us feel a lot safer and more confident we can protect ourselves.

      Here's what our employees said were the best tips they learned:

      1. "90% of the time you can avoid potentially deadly situations just by being aware of your surroundings and reacting accordingly. Stay alert!"
      2. "If you sense you're in danger, use your voice. Scream 'Fire!' Yell at the top of your lungs. Bring attention to yourself."
      3. "It’s never over…even when you are pinned to the ground! Bring out your inner fighter. We all have it. If you are down on the ground, give it your all and fight until you get away."
      4. "Someone who is committing a crime doesn't care about hurting you. Don't be afraid to hurt that person back. The idea, though, is to get away. This isn't a boxing match!"
      5. "It's possible to get an incredibly strong 250-pound man off of you, even if you're less than half his weight."
      6. "Pepper spray makes fighting back so much easier!" (Just keep in mind, it's not legal in all 50 states.)
      7. "Always have your head on a swivel in parking lots and other public places. And get off your cell phone!"
      8. "At gas stations, lock your door while you fill up and keep your back against the car so you can see in both directions and no one can sneak up behind you. And get off your phone!"
      9. "If someone is choking you, you have about ten seconds until you're unconscious. You've got to get the person's hand off your throat immediately before you make your next move." Learn how to do that by signing up for a self-defense class. If you're in South Florida, definitely check out Progressive Self Defense Systems.  Also, here's another great option that has locations throughout the country.
      10. And my favorite tip? "Listen to your inner voice. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Get yourself out of the situation."

      John said the vast majority of people don't do that. They fight their instincts. They silence that inner voice.
      I feel very lucky that when I was confronted with a very scary situation, I listened to mine.

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