There are many conflicting opinions surrounding self-defense courses. I highly recommend self-defense classes for any traveler, but not for the reasons that you might think. Self-defense classes do more than the obvious - it creates a mental toughness, self-awareness, and ability to assess your surroundings in an entirely new way. There is often a misconception surrounding self-defense courses; taking a course does not necessarily mean that you anticipate using the techniques you learned in the hour-long class. It also does not mean that you walk out the door thinking that you are a pro cage fighter - the instructor does not believe that you are going to go out looking for a fight. No, instead it’s a way to improve your mental toughness which is a key asset for any traveler.
Granted, not everyone is an MMA fighter; but if you have never tested yourself how would you know what you are capable of? Part of self-defense is assessing the situation in which you find yourself, and that includes knowing what you can or cannot do to get out of a dangerous scenario. Additionally, self-confidence itself creates a mindset, which transfers into your general demeanor and makes you less likely to be a target. Thieves are looking for the easiest mark; walking with confidence makes you a harder target.
Mentally rehearsing for emergency situations is a great way to minimize the possibility of inaction. The unfamiliar requires processing: When things go sideways, your brain will have to take it all in to understand what is going on. In an emergency, those extra seconds can be the difference between sidestepping danger with a crazy story to tell and ending up in line at the embassy to have your passport replaced, or worse. Repetition becomes second nature. If you have practiced a situation, even in a sterile classroom environment, it simulates the scenario in your mind. Psychologically you have gone through it and where many individuals may freeze, you can take action.
Going through a self-defense course will also highlight some of the common techniques and tactics used by an assailant, something that not all of us spend a lot of time thinking about on a daily basis. However, once you are aware of these tactics, it raises your Spidey Sense to look for people trying to take advantage of blind corners or other positioning to get the jump on you.
Where to find a course:
Self-defense courses are common nowadays; check your local rec center, YMCA, or martial arts center. Most all of them have some offerings; if they are serious, self-defense is one of their priorities. It is worth the peace of mind knowing that if you get into a tight spot, you will be more prepared than the average traveler will.
Ideally, the goal while traveling is to have an awareness that keeps you from wandering into a dangerous situation; however, there are times where, despite your best efforts, the unfortunate will find you. Self-defense should be considered insurance against the possibility of the unfortunate. As you protect yourself physically, you should also protect your vacation and your wallet against the possibility of misfortune with travel insurance from RoamRight. When things go sideways while abroad, having someone there to help you get your vacation back on track is invaluable.
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Former travel disaster, now a serial traveler, travel safety advisor, and author of The Travel Safety Handbook. Poster boy for learning from others mistakes. Now I provide travelers with the tools to focus on their travel goals; I advise business travelers,prepare study-abroad students and equip families with the knowledge to return home successful with memories that will last a lifetime, not horror stories. Follow JC on his blog at Travel-Safer.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
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