Have you ever been out walking, for errands or exercise, and felt something amiss? And you realize the same person seems to be consistently behind you? Perhaps as you’ve glanced back it seems like they’re suddenly looking away. You wonder, are they following me? And you search your brain for your safety skills.
That’s happened to a lot of my students. It’s happened to me. This video is about that incident, almost 40 years ago. Way before I began teaching self-defense, even before I realized that self-defense was a thing.
I still remember it in detail, even though this happened so long ago. I occasionally wonder how it influenced my later choices, who I consider trustworthy, or my foundations of personal safety and safety skills.
Malcolm Gladwell, in his recent book Talking To Strangers, proposes that unless it’s super obvious, we give people we just meet the benefit of the doubt and some of our trust. After a while, it gets hard to change our minds about them, even when they begin to violate our boundaries and eventually cause us grief. In fact, he infers that people who are NOT inclined to trust others are lonely and unhappy paranoids. (I reviewed this book on Facebook Live a few months ago.) Not surprisingly, many students who doubt another’s intent express concern that they are paranoid. Well, if that other person is pushing your boundaries and not listening when you correct them, you’re not paranoid.
In this story, a stranger does push boundaries. A common response is to ignore that person, which is more likely to work when there is greater distance between you and them. That tactic did not work in my case, and I moved on to others. And one of the indicators of more likely success in self-defense is having a few tricks up your sleeve, and switching them until you find which works.
You’ll learn quite a few tricks in these self-defense classes, which currently are all online.