Tri Tier: Women's Personal Safety Series

Women's Personal Safety...Moving Through the Mist


There are many misconceptions about women’s personal safety.   False ideas about  ability, capabilities and potential have often deterred many women from even considering the concept that they can train themselves to avoid danger and better handle hostile scenarios. Which is a shame because throughout history, there are many examples of women showing exceptional, formidable prowess and enduring survival skills, even amidst the extreme canvas of war and harsh violent eras.
In Feudal Japan, within the much mystified ninja clans, women were trained in guile, resourcefulness, movement, weapons and quick thinking, in order to gather information from shogun’s fortresses. In Europe, throughout history, there have been women demonstrating strategy, tactics and martial knowledge. Here in England, there was Boadicea- the warrior queen of the Iceni tribe who waged war, with the Romans. Now, when we talk about personal safety, it's about forging that strong spirit, developing effective tactics and understanding the threats.
The strength game
Physical attributes are valid when it comes to handling physical aggression but it certainly doesn't mean that to prevail or disengage from hostility that you have to be stronger than the opponent. Any woman who feels they could not defend themselves against a stronger male aggressor, should note the career of Nancy Wake. During the second world war, Nancy worked as an agent of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). Known by the Gestapo as The White Mouse, this petite, unassuming individual made the top of their wanted list. There was even a high price on her head. She once eliminated an enemy officer, using an open hand strike she learnt during her concise SOE close quarter training. That was one  very courageous human being. In my work as an instructor, I’ve heard of various incidents, where women targeted by predatory aggression have found a way to protect themselves or escape. Of course, prevailing as Nancy knew is  rarely about the direct fight.
Don’t fight; flow
In Tri Tier, we look at personal safety across the whole gamut of scenarios, phases of confrontation, and practical options . There are many principles of awareness that can be used to avoid, detect or deter most aggressors. Like the female ninja (kunoichi),  who would study the terrain they were to operate in, looking at everything from moon phases, to weather to social events or habits to determine their movements in and out of risk zones, with awareness, one can organise their route and movements through the modern day urban environment, whether man or woman,  in a way that dramatically reduces risk. Even in situations where an aggressor confronts one, there are many options, at your disposal. They can be used to diffuse, confuse, disengage and inflict damage.
In Tri Tier, we will look at everything from dialogue, negotiation, body  language, intuition, movement skills and cunning. We explore work from different positions, such as in a confined space or when the confrontation drops to the ground. We practise different scenarios, such as dealing with someone following us or if they try to pin one against a wall or drag one to a vehicle. We address edged weapon situations and we look at direct striking methods and way to escape various grabs or sudden ambushes. There are breathing practises and mind body training to keep calm under pressure. We also explore unconventional tactics.

If things escalate to the physical conflict level
A common notion in the martial arts is: use of the opponent's force against them. We certainly have this concept embedded into the movements within Tri Tier. There are also direct and decisive tactics, subtle skills and ways to simply escape with minimal confrontation. This isn’t a tournament- we are not trying to score points, pin the opponent to the floor or demonstrate those pronounced, high kicking movements, best left for Hong Kong cinema. One key part of preparation  is to be able to develop a greater understanding of the way these hostile situations escalate and unfold. Know how the different opponents operate and most importantly- know how fear operates.
What do you believe?
If you believe you will panic under pressure and freeze, then you may well do that. We work on changing that belief from a fear restricting one that probably hinders many other aspects of the person’s life, to one  where the person is armed with practical optimism, faith and a mind that can see options and out of the box, creative solutions. This requires us to sensitively and intimately understand the role of fear. With familiarisation and training, comes that sense of being able to be comfortable amidst the uncomfortable and being able to flow in the moment. Training becomes a road to knowing oneself and the world around us.
Know the enemy; know what works in real-time, know what works for you
Many times, I have seen training footage where the simulated attack looks unconvincing and the countering moves look either overly complex or too long winded. One has to know how different aggressors move and how they set up their attacks. One also has to understand what works in street scenarios.
Sometimes, moving through London, I see in the parks,  both women and men, working out with personal trainers- hitting pads with gloved hands or delivering  extended kicks. I understand that sometimes this is for a ‘workout’ or for burning calories and that’s fine. Still,  there are moments where individuals have told me that they are doing this type of training in a class, so that they know how to kick or hit  an attacker. In my opinion, this type of approach is going to be limited and in many cases- it won’t be effective. Tactics need to be much more direct and movement based. Static stances, punches without padded, gloved  fists and extended kicks will be limited when under pressure, from a rushing, heavier opponent. Our priority is fluid, natural body movement- not dependent on superior strength or build.
Why train on the physical?
Now that I mention that there is much we can do to even avoid the physical realm of aggression, why do we still train on the physical level? Why do we explore tactics and worst case scenarios. The physical aspects of our training are an incredible personal education on how the body works, moves and can be honed and developed. This work with physical defence helps develop a fluid, graceful body that is supple, durable and energised. By building confidence in the realm of body movement – this can carry into other areas. It leads to greater mental agility, heightened awareness, resilience and perception. Then there’s that  exploration of fear, which with patience, leads to greater peace of mind; even when you can't completely avoid stress.
This is something you all have running deep within, alongside incredible intuitive capabilities. As training helps one to understand their energy and psychology- this inner resilience and the deeper capabilities can start to appear and become more accessible. Then, when under pressure, whether at work or in a sudden scenario or emergency, it becomes easier to see what the moment presents you with- what gifts, what paths, opportunities and allies are there for you- and so the mist clears…

About the author:
Aran is the founder of the Tri Tier tactical training system. He specialises in personal safety, urban disengagement, travel awareness and resilience. With diverse experience in various areas of the security sector, Aran also works with global security companies involved in investigations, due diligence and reputation safeguarding. Deployed on the ground in numerous cases, he provides unique intelligence and profiling capabilities.
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