09 June 2008

Expert self defence tips

Tips from Health24’s self-defence and tai chi expert, Morné Swanepoel.

Morné Swanepoel, Health24’s self-defence and tai chi expert, has the following self defence tips:

“Most important is that one needs to become a HARD TARGET to stand a better chance of not being a victim. Now when I say a hard target I do not mean that you have to work out in a gym to build stronger and harder muscles although that would add some kind of benefit.

Becoming a hard target includes various aspects such as the way you carry yourself, learning who you are up against in your environment, exposing yourself to proper training and tactics to avoid being a victim.

For example: If you are a nurse that needs to walk to the bus stop every evening there is a whole list of things you can take into consideration such as:

  • Get someone to walk with you
  • Try to arrange a lift club instead of using public transport
  • Let family and friends know what time you are leaving your work and what time they can expect you
  • Choose well lit pathways to make your way to the bus stop
  • Walk confidently and quickly and know your route
  • Try and vary your routes not to become predictable
  • Try not to expose any valuables and be totally aware of your surroundings
  • Prepare in yourself mentally about your escape routes should you encounter any kind of bad element
  • Carry a good quality pepper spray and at night walk with your bag in your one hand and your spray in the other readily available
  • Take up reality based martial arts training and not a sport or traditional training. The list goes on.”

General tips for your protection:

  • Do not get completely inebriated and incapacitated and when you go out.
  • Unfortunately people may take advantage of your inability to think clearly.
  • Make sure someone knows where you are and when you will be home.
  • Be wary of strangers.
  • Keep your drink in eyesight so no one has an opportunity to drug you. Keep an eye on your friends too. People do stupid things.
  • If you find yourself in a threatening situation, evaluate the threat. A drunk with soaring testosterone levels is usually not worth the effort, and if he really bothers you, leave or look for a bouncer.
  • Never go out alone.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings. Most criminals look for soft targets.
  • Get fit. Not only for fighting, but also for running.
  • Go for reality based self-defence courses regularly.

  • Do not get arrogant. Even if you can protect yourself, do not put your life in jeopardy for the sake of proving something.

    Morné on pepper sprays and stun guns
    “I have been working and using pepper sprays for the past 8 years," says Morné. Pepper sprays are aerosols containing the extract of very hot chilli peppers as their ingredient. A correctly formulated, correctly produced pepper spray is the most effective non lethal weapon available – for use against single and multiple attackers.

    A good quality pepper spray will blind an attacker, create temporary breathing difficulties and extreme pain (physical and psychological), allowing time for the user to escape or make an arrest. All symptoms are temporary and are not life threatening. Just like any kind of self defense tool there are pro’s and cons using pepper sprays, but with proper training a good quality pepper spray is surely one of the best non lethal options out there. SWAT pepper sprays are the best on the market and are even used by our police and security forces.


    • No license required
    • Small compact
    • Easy to use
    • Effective against multiple attackers and vicious dogs
    • Non lethal
    • Various options of sprays available
    • Home, commercial and specialized use

    The biggest disadvantage is that users are not trained and educated as to the correct use of pepper sprays. I fully endorse a good quality pepper spray for self defense purposes.”

    "Stun guns are also very popular and have improved a lot in the last couple of years. The voltage has also increased from the normal 300 000 and 500 000 volts to where you can now get them at 1.8 million volts. They have also evolved in the sense that you can now get them in handy pouches which attach to your belt or handbag. Many of them also now have built-in flashlights which are very handy. The better models come with built-in rechargeable batteries which is cost effective and easy to re-charge.

    "The difference between the stun gun and pepper spray is that the pepper spray can affect your attacker from a distance i.e. 2-5 metres, whereas with a stun gun you have to make contact with your attacker. Although, a lot of attackers are scared off just by your 'igniting’ your stun gun and warning them."

    - Health24, June 2008


    Read Health24’s Comments Policy

    Comment on this story
    Comments have been closed for this article.

    Live healthier

    Exercise benefits for seniors »

    Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running

    Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness

    When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them.