At StreetSense we have developed a method for teaching Personal Safety and Self Defense called “C4”. This method of teaching people to keep themselves safe and secure works because it addresses potentially dangerous situations on several levels. First however a definition; C4 is a combination of four concepts that combine to help produce a useable Personal Safety Plan.

• Confidence
• Control
• Contact
• Combat

Each of these components is essential in the creation of a Personal Safety Plan and reducing your risk of becoming a victim of violence or crime. Let’s face the facts in most major cities you have about a 5% chance in any given year of becoming a victim of a property crime, and about a 1 in 850 chance of becoming a victim of violence. These are not very promising odds. Now on the surface 1 in 850 doesn’t sound too bad until you put it into perspective. Let me put this another way; if you had a 1 in 850 chance of bursting into flames every time you used a cell phone, would there would be a lot more roll over minute’s at the end of every month?

“Confidence is the feeling you have before you understand the situation”. This is one of my favorite quotes and very appropriate for our purposes. What this means is don’t confuse confident with cocky. One will keep you safe; the other can get your killed. Confidence is an often overlooked component to every well designed Personal Safety Plan.

Self Confidence is a mindset that is developed through the acquisition of enough skills and experience to trust or act upon ones instincts/experiences during any situation. If you are not confident in yourself and your abilities to recognize, assess, and avoid or deal with any potential threats you encounter, then you should ensure that you educate yourself and receive professional training in any areas that your are deficit.

Self confidence can be developed through Mental Toughness Training. The concept of Mental Toughness is to re-program the mind to a desired set of thought/actions for specific sets of criteria. Is that about as clear as mud? What this means is that our minds are a vast organic computer and we can “program” it to a desired series of thought/actions by the input of the correct programming.

The concept of Neurolingusitic Programming is not new. In a nutshell the concept is that if you say or read something numerous times it becomes ingrained in your subconscious and we begin to think and act on this subliminal thought. Much in the same way as your body would respond to a combat situation after you have trained yourself in Self Defense. Mental Toughness Training involves changing your mindset to a more positive/productive outlook.

Like all training it also involves repetition. We always tell our students to take one thousand sticky notes and write self affirming statements all over them like “I will not quit”, “I am powerful”, “I am capable” etc. place them on every available surface and for the next 10 days read them aloud each time you see them. A big part of learning to be “Mentally Tough” is learning to let go of mistakes if things don’t go your way. Move on to plan B when plan A doesn’t work. Expect the best from yourself and use positive affirmations to overcome the “I can’t” attitude.

Control is a simple concept when it pertains to Personal Safety and Self Defense. Control yourself and your environment and you will significantly reduce your chances of being the target of crime or happenstance. As with many things in life however, simple does not necessarily mean easy. Always start with the easiest area to affect an immediate and lasting change; “you”.

One of my first martial arts instructors used the old axiom “If you want to learn to control others, then you must first learn to master yourself”. Control means many things; it means control your thoughts, words, actions, decisions and reactions. When we apply this concept to Personal Safety it refers to areas in which you can directly affect a conscious decision to reduce or eliminate risk. It is achieved through knowledge, planning, preparation and practice. Control is not just a physical concept it applies to other areas of your life as well, such as information security.

Control of your environment is the second part of the equation. It involves making tactical decisions based on your level of knowledge, training and experience for any given set of circumstances. You can’t control a criminal’s motive, but you can control opportunity and access to you as a potential victim. The only way to have control is to exercise it; and also involves a lot of repetition to achieve the desired results.

Contact is essential for any criminal act to occur. Whether it is a violent sexual assault or an online internet scam there will always be contact. There has to be in order for there to be a victim. We can reduce the opportunity for contact through proactive static and dynamic security. Simply put; static security is the fixed layers of security that surround us at all times. Locking doors and windows, security passwords for computers, biometrics, fences, security cameras and alarms, all of these are a part of static security and if used consistently will lower your risk of becoming a target.

Dynamic security on the other hand is the thoughts and actions of the individual that keep them safe; i.e. looking both ways before crossing the street, wearing less “bling”, big dog in home, not giving personal information over the Internet, learning basic Self Defense, remembering to lock the door and set the alarm system. Developing better dynamic security involves educating/training yourself in the areas where you may be vulnerable and addressing it in a Personal Safety Plan.

I’ll discuss how to develop a Personal Safety Plan in another article, but my benchmark for their use is the three “R’s” rule (Real, Relevant, Rehearsed) If it fails to meet these criteria you won’t use it and it is therefore useless. For most people a good Personal Safety Plan could fit on a couple of sheets of paper. You really only need to address four areas;

1. Security Audit: This is a systematic inventory of all of the security (both static and dynamic) that is currently in place and what areas are deficit. *This is what you know
2. Vulnerability Assessment: A list of areas of concern or gaps in your Personal Safety Plan or training. These are areas that could potentially place you or your family at risk. Areas identified would be addressed in the Action Plan. *This is what you don’t know
3. Action Plan: A list of training, education and research that has to occur in order to correct any deficits in your Personal Safety Plan. Don’t rush through this process; it takes patience and practice to gain the experience and training you need to reduce risk in your life. The sooner your start, the more quickly you’ll feel confident in your ability to protect yourself. Remember the best Self Defense is never being in a bad situation in the first place.
4. Implementation: When all is said and done your plan is only as good as its implementation. If you don’t follow it consistently, then the best plan in the world is only good for starting fires when you’re camping. You must implement the plan, adapt to any changes and react appropriately to potential threats. If you follow a well written plan you can reduce your risk of becoming the victim of certain types of crimes by up to 90%.

Combat is what occurs when all of the above no longer applies. The reality of the world is such that regardless of planning, training or experience at some point in your life you may still find yourself in a situation where you need to defend yourself. How do we prepare ourselves for something we hope to never experience? At StreetSense we’ve always believed the old military axioms “The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat”, and “You fight like you train.”

For us this means Reality Based Padded Attacker Training. We have found that this is the quickest and most effective way to teach people practical, effective Self Defense in the shortest amount of time. Our students trust us to provide them with the training that will potentially save their lives in a violent encounter. That is a pretty big responsibility and we take it seriously. What we’ve discovered through over fifty years combined experience in the combat arts is this fact; “There is a huge difference between Self Defense and Martial Arts.”

If you are searching for Self Defense training, make sure you do your research. Self Defense courses need to address several criteria in order to be effective in teaching students combat ready skills in a short period of time.

1. It should teach simple and effective Self Defense and Personal Safety techniques that only rely on “Gross Motor Skills”.
2. It should be professional, safe, and make sense.
3. It must take the “Adrenaline Response” into account and teach students how to overcome its debilitating effects.
4. Instructors must be well educated and trained in the psychological and emotional impact of training on students and that they are not damaging their students during training. They must also ensure that the techniques they are teaching are simple and proven in combat.
5. Courses must address the realities of how attacks actually occur. Instructors must be trained to “play” “bad-guy” and allow students to practice their Self Defense full force against a determined attacker. This imprints combat ready skills into the student’s Neuro-pathways and gives almost immediate access to the skills under stress.
6. Training should also address Personal Safety issues and how to reduce risk without the need for Self Defense. Remember, 90% of Personal Safety is learning how to avoid danger and reduce risk, the other 10% is learning the physical skills that can save your life in a violent encounter.
7. Training should also be realistic. We have found Reality Based Padded Attacker Training the most effective tool for quickly imparting combat ready skills to our students. Padded Attacker training has the added advantage of the student receiving immediate feedback from their technique. It will be quickly apparent if it is working or not.

Kerry Sauve
StreetSense Safety and Security Inc

Author's Bio: 

Kerry Sauve is a veteran Peace Officer with over 18 years experience in maximum security facilities. He has been involved in the combat arts for the past 25 years. Kerry is the Director of StreetSense Safety and Security Inc. StreetSense specializes in Personal Safety and Self Defense training for the public and corporate clients. At StreetSense Your Safety Is Our Business.