We’ve said before that one of the major objectives of our martial arts class is how to avoid trouble.

Broadly speaking, it’s necessary to:

  • spot the warning signs;
  • call for professional help if feasible;
  • leave the vicinity;
  • if it’s not possible to leave or wait for professional help to arrive, try to defuse the situation via one or more techniques;
  • as a last resort, be prepared to defend yourself and others around you.

Space here doesn’t permit us to cover all these areas, so we’ve picked just one – spotting the warning signs and this in the context of public spaces and venues.

Advance warning signs

There’s no single recipe for this but look out for:

  • raucous and rowdy individuals (usually males in a group) who seem to be out of control on the street or in a bar. They might be happy now but their mood might switch in a second;
  • inebriated people. Excess of alcohol is the commonest cause of trouble in a social environment. It can make some people suddenly and inexplicably violent, whether as individuals or in groups;
  • individuals who may be quiet and seemingly sober but who seem to be obsessively or aggressively staring at others around them;
  • a person or people picking arguments with others for no obvious reason. A variation on this is the person making offensive remarks seemingly to challenge those within earshot;
  • a person or more commonly group ahead, who seem to have positioned themselves unnecessarily across a narrow choke point which means passers-by need to walk directly past or through them;
  • someone who keeps trying to engage you in conversation when you’ve clearly and politely indicated that you’re not willing.

True, sometimes there just aren’t any warning signs (e.g. with many public place muggings) and if that’s the case, your martial arts training will be invaluable.

It’s also possible to argue that people misbehaving in public shouldn’t be allowed to ruin your night out or whatever. That’s fair enough but making your point, if it results in avoidable confrontation, can’t be a measure of success.

That’s why calling on professional help from the police or an establishment’s staff, is always the best approach or if not, simply leave the vicinity if you can safely do so.