A friend & former student wrote to me and my friend Jennie, another Krav Maga instructor, asking about a scary situation she'd encountered. She also wanted to know what, if anything, she can do to help herself stay sharp since she can't really train outside of the occasional seminar. Here's what I think: if you don't have time to train regularly, you can still help yourself learn to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Is it better to train? Of course! But life sometimes has other plans for us, so until then you can tread water by:
*One of the most important things you can do to stay safe is to be aware of your surroundings. Don't walk around endlessly texting and gabbing on your phone for extended periods. Know who's around you and who is moving your way. Be aware of the body language of those you're moving toward. Do you have a creepy feeling in your stomach? Get out of there. This doesn't make you paranoid. I watched some movie about criminals with Robert DeNiro (I think - this was years ago) and one of the things his character says is, "The only people paying attention are the criminals and the cops". It's so true.
A way to make this interesting is to mentally play the part of a predator. STOP RIGHT NOW...think about this...if you were someone else and you were going to attack the real you right now, how would you do it? Okay, what's another way besides that? Play that game when you're out somewhere...now switch it up, how would you attack that guy over there - and get away with it? Who's vulnerable and why? You don't necessarily have to kill them, just take their stuff and split. It's shocking how vulnerable we are simply because we're not paying attention.
*This is sort of part 2 of what's above - stay away from the 3 Stupids: Stupid people, stupid places, stupid activities. You don't need to stay sitting on your couch wearing a helmet murmuring, "no one can get me here", just understand that some places are more ripe for an unpleasant encounter than others. You know that friend you have, the one who always seems to set people off? Maybe do a cost-benefit analysis of hanging out with that person on weeknights. Then if you choose to do it, at least you're going in with your eyes open.
*Stay fit. You don't have time to train? Fine. Go to the gym, take a class, lift weights. No time or money for that? Run in your neighborhood, do some pushups in your living room. We have t-shirts at our studio that say "Strong people are harder to kill and more useful in general". I like this. Reaching the goals that inherently come with fitness training breeds confidence. I like this too.
*Learn to tell people no without making excuses. I was going to say without feeling guilty, but I don't really care how you feel about it. However, making excuses can be used against you because it seems like you're not comfortable just drawing the line, and it's human nature to want to retreat into what's comfortable. Learn to draw the line in small matters, the big ones will come more easily. Make no mistake, it is often easier to strike back physically than it is to stand your ground socially. Practice.
*And the opposite: Learn to apologize when you didn't do anything wrong. "Oh, I'm sorry if it seemed I was staring you, I was just lost in space for a minute there. Sorry." And leave alive. Rory Miller writes about the whens-and-wheres of these tactics quite a bit.
*Take advantage of the folks who think about this stuff a lot. You can get a lot for a little by reading blogs like this one. I've already linked to Jennie Trower's site, here's a few more:
Those are the ones I follow, just for kicks I googled "self defense blog" and of course 93,700,000 came up. There's bound to be one that strikes a chord with you. Ok, rosstraining is mostly a workout blog, but the guy is a former boxer, and it's one of my favorite sites in the world. And naturally, you can silly nonsense by keyboard warriors online as well. Reader beware, and trust your gut.
*If you have kids, educate yourself about crimes against children (by adults and by other kids) then talk about this stuff with them. It can be difficult, but you'll find some ideas here on how to go about it. Thinking about how you can help your kids stay alive will make you creative quickly.
*If the worst happens, and you're prey, and they've laid hands on you, FIGHT. However you can, as dirty and hard as you can, for as long as it takes to end the threat. Don't give them half and see if it's good enough. Go nuclear until the threat is over. Then RUN. When you're safe THEN immediately call the cops. And your lawyer, because it's probably going to get legal. You don't necessarily need any fancy techniques. This is the reason in level 1 Krav we keep trying to scare the crap out of you, then yell, GOOOOO! (That's "go", not "goo".)
Doing these things will make you more prepared than you'd be if you didn't do them. And ultimately, that's the best we can do, even when we are training. The question is how far you're willing and able to pursue that end.