Suggestions for self-defense & survivial training?

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by Hi_Fi_Guy, Dec 9, 2012.

  1. Hi_Fi_Guy

    Hi_Fi_Guy Teutonic Terror

    Mar 6, 2006
    Sunny, Phoenix, AZ
    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.
  2. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

    Jan 29, 2002
    out and about
    From your post, it looks like you are already aware and have good judgement.
    If you really, really wanted to brush up on some personal defense, maybe a short, quick krav maga course would be good.
    Situational awareness is always the key.
    Best to you...
  3. Witold

    Witold Been here awhile

    Jul 21, 2004
    Try not to look like a good target. (whatever good means in that area: American, rich, weak-looking, etc)

    When you make stops, make sure you are ready to ride away quickly. (don't have to backup the bike, put on tons of gear, etc.)

    Forget about "self-defense". That's a waste of time unless you're willing to put in a few years in the gym, sparring under realistic conditions, etc. And even then, there is no "self-defense" against a gun or multiple people.

    I think pepper spray may be the only thing worthwhile... maybe...
  4. still southern

    still southern Iron Horse Nomad

    Feb 10, 2012
    Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
    +1 on the Krav Maga...I've taken a few classes and they are really useful, even if you can only take a few of them. They teach situational awareness and using your natural fight/flight instinct as part of your response.

    The only other recommendation would be to make sure you learn at least the Arabic alphabet and a few greetings phrases. I moved to a Russian speaking area with only a rudimentary knowledge of Cyrillic (admittedly a much easier alphabet than Arabic) and I found that I couldn't read it fast enough to actually help with anything. So learn the alphabet and practice it enough to read quickly and under pressure.
  5. Celtic Curmudgeon

    Celtic Curmudgeon Indiana Jones wanabe

    Feb 6, 2011
    Fort Liquordale FL
    Krav is good stuff - you can achieve proficiency in a comparatively short time. But, don't wander around the middle east in a Krav Maga t-shirt! A Rosetta Stone Arabic course might be a good investment, you don't have to be fluent but some phrases certainly help.

    IMHO, the best overall training in protecting yourself would be a good Executive Protection school. I went to ESI ( ) but EPI ( ) is excellent as well, and is a shorter course.

    The difference between a "self defense" course and an Executive Protection course is that EP trains you to avoid trouble in the first place via planning and removing/reducing the bad guy's opportunity to hurt you. A self defense course will give you confidence, but a good EP course will completely and permanently change the way you think.
  6. Pantah

    Pantah PJ Fan from Boston

    Oct 25, 2004
    India Wharf summers - Boulders winters
    Just don't ask for help if you get picked up by hostiles. Take those bozo hikers for example. Tempt fate, deal with it yourself.
  7. 4corners14

    4corners14 Been here awhile

    Oct 3, 2008
    IN :deal
  8. Mark Manley

    Mark Manley Long timer

    Apr 3, 2010
    Southwest England
    Having travelled to many parts of the world including some considered dangerous, usually by people who have never been there, I would say the two most important things you can take for your own protection are a confident handshake and a winning smile. The other advice that has been given here about not looking conspicuously well off and being aware of your surroundings are also good advice but self defence and survival training are possibly a little over the top.

    Incidently a friend of mine who has probably travelled to more countries than any other solo female motorcycle traveller has only been mugged once, outside her own front door at home.

    The greatest risk you will face in the Middle East is caffine poisoning from all of that Islamic hospitality.
  9. still southern

    still southern Iron Horse Nomad

    Feb 10, 2012
    Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

    Good advice...those of us "westerners" really need to learn about their hospitality. There is a strict code of honor regarding guests rarely seen in the west. One can get in trouble quickly through ignorance, but being willing to laugh at yourself and trying to adapt where you can is the best. Even knowing a few basic phrases goes a long way with hospitality. The other day I had a 5 minute conversation with a guy who was looking at my motorcycle (with his wife in the background laughing at him talking to me about the bike). It used all the Russian I knew, but when he realized I'm an American who's trying to learn his language and plans to stay you would have thought I was his best friend. Approach people as if they are friendly and they will probably stay that way. Act scared, suspicious, or hostile and you'll usually find that that's how people treat you.
  10. JALnSC

    JALnSC Long timer

    Jun 24, 2009
    Florence SC
    + 1 on that still southern. Many societies still consider respect important as well.
    Disrespect no one.
  11. RTLover

    RTLover Long timer

    Nov 1, 2009
    West-central France
    Spot on.

    I doubt that I thought this up all by myself, but I quote it often. 'If you look like a victim, chances are you'll become one.' Man is by nature a predator so he'll go for the easy ones that look weak and confused.

    SO and I were in East Jerusalem, more specifically in the Arab quarter, and we were having a bit of a tiff. Three or four Arab guys approached and one of them asked in an aggressive manner if there was a 'problem', that was to say, 'Can I help you with your male friend?' Such a chivalrous prick. I looked him in the eye and smiled, then told him to mind his own fucking business while still staring at him. End of story.
  12. Thanantos

    Thanantos Ride hard.

    Jul 17, 2008
    Spend 4 months learning the culture and spending time treating EVERYONE with respect, from the beggar to the business executive.

    From someone who knows, it will be time much more well spent than a few weeks of martial arts training.
  13. atravlr


    Sep 22, 2010
    Arizona Desert
    1. Be polite. It means more in other countries than ours.

    2. Be respectful. Your on your way if your are studying their culture/customs.

    3. Trust no one. No one!

    4. If you need information search out a teenager. They know where everything is at and know everyone, yet they have not aquired the subtle skills of trying to take advantage of you.

    All the training you can get will not help because if your being set up, I can F%@#*ing guarantee you, it will not be from one person it will be from mutiple persons
  14. Alphamale11

    Alphamale11 Adventurer

    Aug 27, 2010
    Tucson, AZ
    +1 on Krav Maga. I've been training for 3 years with an Israeli instructor. It is.brutal, efficient and quick.
    The best lessons I've ever learned from it have nothing with actual fighting though.
    Be aware of your surroundings. And have a plan of action if you see or notice something threatening or suspicious.
  15. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

    May 5, 2008
    Helsinki, Finland
    Absolutely. Knowing how to defend yourself may be good, if you're unable to escape. And the attacker doesn't have a gun.. or there's no gun, but there's four attackers. That's already many if's.

    Your chances to ever get in trouble will be MUCH smaller everywhere, when you just learn to keep aware of your surroundings. And there's no room to be naive, but the world really isn't as scary a place, as the news might have you believe.
  16. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer

    Jan 3, 2005
    The Badlands (of NJ)
    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? :huh

    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 and AL-Jazeera - 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.
  17. Hike&ride

    Hike&ride Exploration Born

    Feb 19, 2012
    North Carolina
    If you really want to get tactical, this is the training facility that use to be known as BlackWater. But I must agree that just common sense and being respectable and humble at all times might be the best idea. Study the Dos and Donts of that country when it comes to social behavior. Have fun though!!
  18. likestoride

    likestoride Rider

    May 27, 2009
    I've studied and taught several different martial arts over a 25 year period. You could learn enough Krav Maga in 3-4 months to potentially help you. Find a good school and work hard at it. Don't get a false sense of security with it but it could be a life saver if you needed it.
  19. Dan Man

    Dan Man ex-adventurer

    Oct 5, 2009
    Flagstaff, AZ
    I disagree with guy that said "trust no one."

    I think one needs to use their best judgement on that. Many ragged looking people that I gave a chance on my travels, turned out to be amazing people that showed me great hospitality.

    It is the people along the way that made my Americas trip so memorable.

    Be open, but smart.

    Smiles and confidence go a long way!
  20. thetourist

    thetourist Just passing thru

    Jul 31, 2005
    Moscow, Idaho

    Here, here.