Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Case For Studying Self-Defense

By Matthew Schafer

Copyright 2008, All Rights Reserved


The other day I did some grocery shopping right after teaching a self-defense class, and while I was inspecting some apples I noticed the woman standing next to me make an odd face. I looked up to see a woman in perhaps her late fifties staring at my school logo which was printed at my shirt. With a still scrunched up face she said, "What...do you teach karate or something?" I then explained to her that I taught self-defense classes for a living, and her response was to roll her eyes, sigh, and comment that she didn't know why people wasted their money on "that" kind of thing because we live in a safe town and if there is a problem the police are only a phone call away.

"We live in a county with five different police agencies so it is beyond me why someone would give you one cent", she said. I replied, "You're right, but I'd suppose that you venture out of the county from time to time. Perhaps go on vacations..." "We have cell phones now", she snapped, "If someone needed help you could call from anyplace". I just smiled and replied, "Well, it seems that I'm a practitioner of a useless profession" and I then walked away (which reminds me that I still need to buy apples).

You can't really argue with people who are committed to a fantasy, and the idea that the police will be there whenever we need them is just that. Let's clear something up right now, the police are a great and valuable service provided to us by our government, but the average response time for the police from the time you call 911 is usually around 10 to 15 minutes, but it can even be up to 30 minutes or more. If a police officer happens to be in the area he or she might be able to be there in only 10 minutes but the thing is that most violent crimes are committed in less than a minute with most taking only a few seconds.

It may surprise you to know that today 70% of bank robbers get away. That's right 70%! How? Since police response times are generally around 10-15 minutes from the time the silent alarm is sounded, bank robbers just make sure that they're in and out of the bank in anywhere from 3-6 minutes. They go in, rob the bank, run out, and by the time the police show up the robbers are just another car driving down the road possibly miles away. Getting away with robbing a bank is all about beating the police's response time.

If some low-life who's walking down the street spots you, decides that the money in your wallet is just what he needs to finance his drug habit, and then starts walking over to you, do you honestly think that the police are going to show up in time to protect you from him. Chances are that he will confront you, accost you, and run away before you even realize exactly what's going on, let alone have the time or even the chance to dial 911.

If all you have to do is pick up the phone and dial 911 and the police will show up and save the day, then how do you explain the fact that in America a woman is sexually assaulted every two and a half minutes?

Consider this unfortunate story: On March 16th, 1975, three women were living in a townhouse in Washington DC. It was late at night and they were sound asleep when they were awakened by the sound of their back door being kicked in by three men. Two of the men quickly found one of the women in bed on the second floor and began to beat and violate her. The two other women hid on the third floor, called 911, and then went out the window onto the roof to hide. After a while they saw a police car slowly drive past their house but it never stopped, so the women bravely went back into the house where they again called the police and then went back out onto the roof.

After a half hour the women didn't hear anything from inside the house so they assumed that the police had arrived without them noticing or that the intruders had left so they went back inside to find their friend believing that they were safe. However, the intruders were waiting for them and all three women were viciously beaten and rapped...for 14 horrible hours.

Luckily all three women survived and they sued the Washington DC Police Department. The case lasted for years and the last appeal was ruled on in 1981 when the DC Court of Appeals said: "The duty to provide public services is owed to the public at large and, absent a special relationship between the police and an individual, no specific legal duty exists". In plain english what this means is the police can't be everywhere at once and they have no actual legal duty to help you.

Think about that for a minute, while we have some extremely fine men and women on the police forces in our country, they actually have no legal duty to help you. Even if the police do show up when you need them there is no guarantee that they can protect you. They may show up and tell you that legally there is nothing they can do, or they may end up being victims themselves. There have been numerous cases around the country where police have responded to an emergency and ended up being shot, killed, taken hostage, or had other horrible things happen to them.

Bottom line, you and you alone are responsible for your own safety. It is your job to keep yourself safe and protect yourself and your family from criminals, and it’s the job of the police to show up usually afterwards and arrest the bad guys. Once the criminals are arrested you then hope that they go to jail and stay there because after being arrested most criminals are booked, arraigned, make bail, and are back out on the street just a few hours later.

Crimes happen fast and if you don't know how to protect yourself then there really isn't a whole lot the police can do for you. It is imperative that people learn how to defend themselves because the truth is when a criminal attacks it really is just you and him. If you know how to defend yourself then there is a good chance that you can walk out of the incident safe and unharmed, but if you don't know how to defend yourself then you really have to rely on the hope that the criminal is satisfied with only taking your money.

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