Originally Posted by Hi_Fi_Guy
Will be traveling in the Middle East for 60+ days in 2013. Any suggestions for survival training and self defense from those who have attended classes and training? Looking to travel smart and not be naive but at the same time enjoy the culture and landscapes I will be traveling through.
I have 4 months to prepare and am absolutely willing to put in the time learning as much as I can about the language and culture beforehand. I consider myself to be situationally aware when traveling and would like to also learn how to handle myself smartly if any dangerous or threatening situation should present itself.
forgive that I am repeating the thoughts in previous posts, but let me reinforce those ideas. Having traveled a bit all over the world, I concur that diplomatic skills and polite and respectful interaction with locals is all you need. Even language skills - while useful - are not that important: gesturing and smiling a lot will get you anywhere.
Otherwise, should anything really bad happen, your newly-acquired self-defense skills are for naught. If you read up on recent happenings in the most dangerous areas (southern tiers of North Africa), you will see that the danger is in being kidnapped for ransom by armed gangs (which is what has happened recently to Austrian and French adventurers).
No disrespect to your martial arts training, but do you really think that you will be able to stand your ground against half-a-dozen of Mali bandits, armed to their teeth with AK47's, while waving your arms in exaggerated ju-jitsu or Krav moves? Really?
So, relax, don't sweat it. Study the culture, enjoy the trip. Most if not all people you will encounter will be friendly and helpful. I actually found that being on a moto increases the friendliness/helpfulness level a lot. If you stray into Mali or Somalia anyway, count on your fate. If it bites you, no amount of martial training will help, you'll just get yourself into deeper doo-doo if you try. Stop listening to Fox News, trying to scare you of the big world. Get your news from world-wide sources that offer a global perspective, like BBC News
- so you know what and how other people think.
I still remember the unbelievable panic-stricken advice I got from family and friends when I traveled into Morocco. You'd think I was going into gates of hell, based on what they thought - while in reality I was just roaming in vacation-holiday territory of the Europeans, their version of Disneyworld.
And just like Mark Manley and atravlr, I can attest to this little peculiarity: the most dangerous event of my travels on 5 continents was in Hancock, New York.