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Safe in the home, safe in the streets: January is National Self Defense Month, according to New jersey-based The Self Defense Company.
[January 04, 2009]

Safe in the home, safe in the streets: January is National Self Defense Month, according to New jersey-based The Self Defense Company.

(York Daily Record (PA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 4--When he talks about personal safety, Chris Hertig likes to say that "A little bit of paranoia is healthy."

For at least 15 years, Hertig has taught a self-defense class at York College, where he is also a criminal justice professor. He also has instructed law enforcement officers in self-defense tactics, he said.

The paranoia Hertig refers to starts with being aware of one's surroundings, being smart and alert, and knowing how to fight back or get away safely in a potentially violent situation, he said.

Whether in York's downtown, the streets near York College or in surrounding municipalities, police logs often tell of assaults and robberies.

Damian Ross, president of Pompton Lakes, N.J.-based The Self Defense Company, referred to medium-sized cities such as York in a Friday news release.

"Most of us believe that crime is limited to large cities, or in certain areas and neighborhoods, but that is simply not the case," Ross said in the news release, which announced that January is National Self Defense Awareness Month.

"Home invasions and muggings are on the rise, and regular citizens need to practice simple strategies to avoid becoming easy targets," Ross said.

Although crime rates during the past decade and a half have decreased, current trends in medium-sized cities show an uptick, the news release states.

Hertig said that, many times, people become victims of those they know, rather than from a random attacker.

"We take that family member, or

friend, for granted," Hertig said. "All of those things are a part of our daily lives, therefore our exposure is greater."

Hertig's one-credit course is a combination of theory and practical training. He stresses what he calls "conflict management" -- using verbal skills to diffuse a situation before it gets out of control, or even when things do go awry, such as in a hostage situation or a robbery.

During the physical phase of the course, Hertig said, he has found that "What's simple is best. . . . If you can't teach it in five seconds, you probably shouldn't be teaching it."

One of the techniques he advocates is a "verbal stun." Similar to a "kiai" or battle cry in Japanese martial arts -- where the breath is shot out from the depths of the body during a kick or punch -- a loud yell can have a confounding effect, he said.

The verbal stun can be done along with a punch or kick, to make it stronger, Hertig said.

Hertig stresses that another way not to get into confrontations is to be respectful of others; for example, in traffic situations, not making a vulgar gesture with a particular finger or honking when it's not absolutely necessary.; 771-2033.


Damian Ross, president of New Jersey-based The Self Defense Company, provided these tips to increase safety:

--- Always trust your instinct. If your gut is telling you something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.

--- When returning to your car, have your keys in your hand. Remember where the car was parked and try not to be overloaded with packages. Be aware of your surroundings.

--- Have 911 on speed dial. When you're stressed, even simple tasks are difficult. Pressing one button instead of four can make all the difference.

--- Avoid being set up. Seemingly harmless questions such as, "Do you have the time?" "Do you have a cigarette?" and "Can you give me directions?" are designed to distract and can lead to potential threats. Be polite, but keep moving.

--- Carry pepper spray or a personal alarm. These can help cause a distraction, allowing you to escape to safety.

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Copyright (c) 2009, York Daily Record, Pa.
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