The Placebo Effect – Why safety through training is better than false security
My sister sent me a text the other day with this picture she took of a magazine article about safety for runners. The article is marketing certain self-defense products to consumers based on the fact that “Fatal assaults on female joggers made heartbreaking news in 2016.” Along with the image, her text simply said, “Interesting.”
The only way to guarantee you don’t get attacked while running is to not go running.
These days everyone wants fast and simple with little effort. Unfortunately for them, when it comes to safety and protection against assault, the bad guys don’t care about your feelings. Assaults on female joggers are not new. Fatal assaults on joggers are not a new phenomenon. I remember seeing a Facebook post from my friend Ryan Hoover that essentially said “The only way to guarantee you don’t get attacked while running is to not go running.” Violence can happen anywhere at anytime, and you should certainly be prepared for it. Not paranoid, simply prepared, which involves training, not just purchasing a bunch of random technical “solutions” that do nothing but create a false sense of security.
WEAR SAFE Tag: You put it on your keychain or waistband. If things get sketchy, click the button and it sends live audio and location to pre-selected friends and family. There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to reach and activate the tag If the immediate attack is an ambush. If you are able to do so, it can certainly help to give information on where you are and what’s going on, but how quickly that happens depends on whether your pre-selected friends and family are near their phones. AND it does absolutely nothing to avert the immediate danger. The time it would take for your friends and family to receive the information, contact police, and find you is WAY more than enough time for an attacker to do damage or kill you and get away. It will certainly help the police efficiently find your body after the fact, but you’ll need to do a little more than carry this gadget to stay alive. Sabre Running Personal Alarm: Wear the band around your waist and pull the ring to sound the alarm. It travels approx 10,000ft, which is farther than your voice can travel. Is there a chance that a loud alarm will make the attacker nervous and worried that others may hear? Sure. The reality though is that these attackers aren’t going after people in populated areas. They are purposely looking for isolation. So, again, in the event that you’re able to pull the alarm, there isn’t much physically stopping the attacker from harming or killing you. Not to mention, unless it’s made of the same material as the chastity belt Maid Marian wore in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, there isn’t much stopping him from ripping the belt off you and dragging you away.
Even if bystanders hear it, odds are they won’t come running to help
There’s also the assumption that people are going to hear it, know that it is a distress signal, and automatically come running. Most people will have no idea what the noise is or what it means. And even if they did, they won’t want to get involved in things like this. I can show you countless videos of people being beaten and stabbed while people walk by or watch. Let’s also consider that most people that run listen to music, and the use of headphones will drown out their ability to pay attention to–or even hear–that noise. Again, a decent tool to help people locate you, if they know you’re in trouble, but WAY too long after the fact. TomTom Spark 3 Cardio+Music: The “breadcrumbing” feature let’s you leave a GPS trail so you don’t get lost. It literally does nothing in the way of safety for you in a self-defense situation. Unless, of course, you’re sneaking into the wrong area and don’t want to get lost on your way back out. Sabres Pepper Gel Duathlete: Gel form pepper spray for runners to avoid blowback in the wind. Fits in an armband to carry with you. The fact that there is consideration of blowback from wind is good, because it legitimately can be a huge issue for people carrying standard pepper spray.
Top three things to consider with a defensive tool
Here’s a few things to consider with any defensive tool, including pepper spray:
- You have to be able to access it. If the fight starts before it’s in your hand and pointed in the right direction, you are going to need the unarmed skill set to be able to fight long enough to eventually access it, deploy it, and aim it the right direction.
- If you buy it and don’t train with it, it’s no better than a designer fashion accessory when it comes to protecting you.
- It might not work. A back-up safety plan is a must. Again, I can show you countless videos of people fighting through pepper spray virtually unaffected.
Look, I’m all for easy. I’m all for the use of tools to help make things a bit easier. But ultimately, some things in life require hard work, serious training, and a little grit. Self-defense is one of those things. It’s not going to be pretty and it sure as hell will not be easy. Don’t fall into buying a silly tool as a placebo. Train. A lot. Train hard. Accept that violence can happen to you and learn to face it. Be good, train hard, stay safe. -aaron