Over the past few weeks we have spoken about various layers of safety and how the more layers you have the less attractive you are to would-be criminals.
Another possible layer or deterrent is being in good physical shape and fit.
Is this as important as some would have you believe?
Does it mean that if you are not fit or in shape you cannot realistically be effective in a life-threatening situation?
Where does this leave the elderly and those who don’t want to train every day? Are they helpless?
I do not believe this to be true, but first we need to understand what a fight is and why you want to do everything in your power to avoid being involved in one.
You see, a fight is to take part in a violent struggle involving the exchange of physical blows or the use of weapons. It could be within the confines of a martial art or sport or in the street where there are no rules.
Fighting is an art and not a skill you automatically have because of your gender.
Often I have asked guys in my sessions: “So you know how to fight?
I regularly get the answer: “Ya, of course. I’m a guy.”
The reality is that unless you have been taught, you do not know how to fight, and unless you know how to fight, you don’t want to be getting into one, because the consequences can be very serious.
You do not know what you don’t know and no one will tell you they are skilled or hiding a weapon until you find out, and then it will be too late.
So when it comes to actual fighting, is being fit important?
YES of course, and could be the difference between winning and losing.
Fighting is in the realm of the “Friss Chris Frikkies” mentioned in a previous column, who train every day, for the day they really need to fight against those who compete.
And yes, you need to be extremely fit to play in this space.
This is not for the average person, because the average person will never learn how to fight.
I have spent my life in this space and have done many endurance events. Being fit does help when you fight.
But … personal protection is not about fighting. It is about not getting hurt.
And to avoid getting hurt you need to know some stuff, and need to have a set of rules because you cannot make it up as you go along. We are going to start chatting about this next week.
The stuff needs to be simple and easy to remember, and you need to know what you can and can’t do.
Recently a woman called me and told me of a situation she was involved in. She is fit – an athlete who competes in marathons and climbs mountains.
She wanted to know if she had done the “right” thing in a situation where someone had snatched her phone and wallet in a busy street in Cape Town.
She had “fought him” … she’d punched him. He got away with her cellphone but she’d saved her wallet. She was a little bruised and battered but OK.
I told her it’s not about right or wrong. I said: “Imagine when you resisted that he had punched you in the face, because he wanted you to let go of the phone and wallet.”
Imagine he had knocked out three of your teeth, breaking your nose and your jaw. Imagine all that, for a phone or wallet that can be replaced.
This is what can happen when you fight, and being fit means nothing.
The truth is: avoid a fight, fit or not.
Mark Grobbelaar is the Founder of INpowered, incorporating WIP (woman INpowered) and GRIP (Guy Responsibly INpowered).
He holds a 6th dan in karate and has over 45 years’ experience in the personal protection field.
He does talks and hosts INpowered programmes to corporates, schools and small groups.
Reach him with your question about personal protection at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will try to answer you in future columns.