Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Hi all!

I hope you all had a great break over Easter.

I had a call last night from one of our group class students (who is also a friend) with an interesting story to share. He and some friends and family were out fishing on their boat on Saturday, over 5km from shore in decent swell, when it capsized. In short, they were in very cold water for over 5 hours before being discovered and rescued. It was a very, very serious situation. I am just so glad that he and his family got through it, as it was very close to having a more dire outcome.

What was awesome though is that he thanked us for giving him tools to get through it. He is a very emotionally strong person so in my opinion although he may have used some of what we teach to assist him I have no doubt that it was in large part his character and emotional fortitude that played a big part too.
He specifically named four different tools that assisted him, and I thought it was important to share these here because it highlights again that what we teach goes far beyond simply defending ourselves against violence.

We have a training concept known as ‘Protect’s Stress Inoculation Training’ which helps people deal with highly stressful situations and remain calm(er) and maintain the ability, at least as much as possible, to respond rather than to react under pressure and stress. Although when we train it it is specifically against intra-personal human aggression, development in one area helps to bridge the gap a lot quicker in any other area of high stress/ high pressure situations as well. We have countless examples of where our students, course attendees, or ourselves have used this concept in situations such as motor vehicle accidents, personal accidents, natural disasters, as well as dealing with aggression and/or violence. In this situation, a serious boating accident, it was again used to help him remain as calm as possible, make rational decisions, and control the actions of the group which ultimately led them to being found.

Additionally, there were also four distinct tools that he used to help get through the situation:

Autogenic breathing – We teach this highly effective method of breathing to help to lower the heart rate in situations of high stress or pressure. It has multiple benefits from reducing panic, to enabling a clearer decision making process, to reducing the degree of emotional trauma suffered after the event, as well as many others. In this case he used it immediately upon surfacing while he worked to keep the others as calm as possible, and also after several hours in cold water he was shivering uncontrollably and his breathing was labored so he again used it to help gain control over his breathing and autonomic functions.

Positive self talk – The importance of positive self talk can not be over-stated. It helps control the overall state of the mind, and since the ancestor of every action is a thought (and taking the right action in these situations can be the difference between life and death) it is important to ensure that those thoughts are controlled and condusive to a positive outcome. He made the conscious decision that he was getting through this no matter what, and so were the others. And in this case, he not only used positive self talk for himself (constantly, for 5 hours!) but also for his group. He kept them focused on the future, what they were going to tell everyone at home about this, what they were going to eat for dinner, what they were going to do later in the week etc. The discussion helped him and the others stay focused on a positive outcome, and reduce panic (panic is a killer, especially in the water).

Choice speech – We train constantly on de-escalation and defusion to enable us to talk our way out of situations or psychologically and behaviourally manipulate a situation to stop it (if possible) escalating into physical violence. And these skills are transcendable into all other areas of life too. In this case, he used our basic principles to ensure that his speech patterns helped to keep the situation as calm as possible, define a leadership role, and stop any unhelpful discussion early.

Fitness – Although fitness is not necessary to be able to protect yourself, it can certainly help. And because we train for the ‘total defence of the self’, our group classes include a fitness component to them. This undoubtedly helped him physically manage in the water for so long, even though his legs were cramping and he was shivering uncontrollably.

He told me that if this had happened a couple of years ago, before he started training, he knows it would have had a very different and far worse outcome.

In my opinion he did a brilliant job, and may have saved the lives of others in his group by his actions.

Additionally, he has known what to expect from an emotional perspective after the event because we constantly train and discuss ways to manage the effects of high stress situations. He has been prepared for it, and taken the steps to help to reduce the effects.

We receive emails and calls all of the time from people who have used our training to help keep themselves safe. When it relates to an act of aggression or violence against them, the vast majority of the time the person shares how they managed to recognise, avoid, or de-escalate the situation allowing them to avoid physically defending themselves. As this is what we train for it is always brilliant to hear. Sometimes the situations could not be avoided and they have had to physically respond in order to ensure their safety, which is unfortunate but at least they have the tools required to get out of it. Just as frequently though we get the emails or calls like the one I have been talking about here today; the ones that say that the tools they have learned have helped them survive an accident, or manage a highly stressful work situation, or helped them become a more patient person in general, or helped with the communication in their relationship etc. These emails/calls are often the highlight of my day. Self defence is about empowerment, when I hear about examples like this I know that what we are doing is making a big difference.

Ps. Thank you for the amazing support and feedback for our new book 'Every Woman's Guide to Being Safe...For Life', it has been awesome. It is available at Amazon.com or by clicking here

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