Self defense and karate instructor sensei Brian Chin Leung has stressed the importance of learning some form of martial arts training particularly with the rise in violent crime and the need for self-protection.
Combat karate was designed out of the need for people who didn’t have the time to study traditional karate but wanted to learn some form of self defense.
Classes simulate real-life conditions as much as possible that people will encounter in the streets. Students train in street clothes or work clothes using empty hand techniques and every day objects such as car keys, umbrellas, pens and screwdrivers to attack vulnerable targets on the body that are illegal in sport karate or martial arts tournament competitions such as the groin, eyes, throat and shins.
Speaking to the Sunday Guardian last week at his training studio at Belle Smythe Street, Woodbrook, Chin Leung said: “Everybody is vulnerable to being a victim of crime, not only women but men also.
“These days many crimes use a decoy and distraction whether it’s a child throwing an object on the road on the Beetham Highway for you to come out of your car.
“You have to be aware of this and don’t be caught off-guard like that.
“The first rule of self defense would be awareness, always follow your instincts.
“If you’re in a particular environment and there is a group of men nearby, and you don’t feel safe or comfortable, try to exit from that environment as quickly as possible and avoid a confrontation.”
Be aware of your surroundings
He said in combat karate one of the first things that was taught was situational awareness, to be aware of your surroundings and most times the way people were caught offguard they were not aware of their environment.
Chin Leung gave an example of a woman leaving the movie theatre with her husband or boyfriend back to her car, taking it for granted not looking back, relying on her husband or boyfriend who is big and strong to protect her who might run away and leave her nevertheless.
He said everyone was responsible for their own self defense and to not rely on anybody else.
Chin Leung said in a traditional karate dojo everybody is courteous and polite, the student gets a chance to practice, refine his technique to build speed and power and observe respect for his fellow karateka or martial artist.
He said however when you go out on the street nobody owes you any respect, nobody is going to bow to you, an attack will be sudden and unexpected.
Chin Leung, an eighth-degree black belt in Shotokan karate demonstrated how fast an attack can occur. Standing just inches away in front his senior student, Joe Maynard, a retired police officer wearing protective headgear, who even after being told to try and block Chin Leung from touching him on the side of his head could not stop the strikes.
He said criminals were increasingly becoming more sophisticated in their ploys and strategies such as using low-key bicycles to case out neighbourhoods and cars.
Chin Leung said it was a good practice to have a neighbourhood watch to notify one another of strangers walking or driving slowly through their neighbourhood surveying their houses and property.
As it is the Carnival season, he advised that women travel in numbers even when leaving their band or fetes. Chin Leung said it should not be only at Carnival time but women shouldn’t accept drinks from strangers. He said when going to an ATM, the gym or running errands, carry an unopened bottle of soft drink or beer to be used as a weapon.
Chin Leung said if the criminal or bandit was armed or running behind you don’t pelt the bottle towards him, it may miss or hit a non-vital area but instead throw the bottle on the ground in front of the bandit to explode into glass shards or spray to temporary blind him or incapacitate him giving you time to strike or escape.
He said if there was no other option and you decide to hit your assailant in a confrontation or hold up, use a distraction such as asking the attacker a question first, while his brain is processing the question, hit him.
Chin Leung said there were learned responses to practice such as if an attacker was moving towards you quickly put out your hand and shout forcibly “stop!” He said even if it’s a one second freeze, the assailant will momentarily stop because people are taught from school to listen to their teachers when they tell you to stop and it is a conditioned reflex you use against your assailant.
Chin Leung advised to park in lighted areas and before entering your vehicle, to survey the surroundings for any suspicious people or activity such as cars with the engine running, check rear seat to make sure no one is hiding there, and make sure no foreign objects are attached to your vehicle.
Maynard said even police officers can fall prey to a con if they were not alert. He related an incident involving a WPC who escaped a potential car jacking scenario. The officer came to a stop in the night at the traffic lights on Morne Coco Road, Diego Martin. Two occupants pulled up to her and told her her rear lights were not on.
When she came out of her car to investigate she found her lights were alright. The officer realised her mistake in doing so, fortunately she was not attacked because the two carjackers realised that she was a police officer.
Chin Leung said while drivers are in traffic they should to keep the doors locked and windows up. He said that it was very easy for a gunman to slip into the backseat or front seat of your car and say continue driving and nobody will know what is going on in your car.
Chin Leung said don’t drop your guard even when you reach outside your home, bandits can time automatic garage gates opening to slip in and take your car at gun point, look at your environment. He said motorists must be wary of bandits who deliberately bounce their car into your vehicle with the intention of carjacking you when you get out to investigate and end up at their mercy.
Chin Leung advised to not get out of your car and drive straight to the nearest police station if this happens. He said your vehicle can be turned into a 1,000-plus-pound weapon if you have to escape from armed carjackers.
Given the recent spate of armed attacks, Chin Leung was asked what can citizens do if they were confronted with bandits carrying firearms and weapons, he said that it was an individual assessment. He said if it came down to your life versus money, if all the bandit wants is your money, you can always make more money.
“However if you feel your wife, child, or family is being threatened or going to be harmed, you must defend yourself and your loved ones,” Chin Leung said.
About Chin Leung
Brian Chin Leung is the chief instructor of Shotokan karate of T&T (Skott) and an eighth degree black belt in karate. He is also a certified personal trainer from the University of California and a physical fitness specialist certified by the world famous Cooper’s Institute in Dallas, Texas.
Chin Leung teaches seminars for businessmen on self defense and self defense courses for women apart from teaching traditional karate classes at his Belle Smythe Street studio in Woodbrook.