Defending yourself

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
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Defending yourself

Postby AlanD » 10 Sep 2011, 7:29am

There is a most unsavoury matter that has been on my mind recently, please excuse me if it comes out half-baked, as I want to get it out while I am still pondering it. It concernes the matter of defending yourself when accosted in a road rage incident.

Firstly, I would like to refer back to some other incidents that have been in the news.
(1)Can you remember the sad incident of Gary Newlove? Went out to remonstrate with three youths causing a disturbance outside his home a few years back. They killed him!
(2) There have been numerous incidents reported on this site and posted on Youtube, showing enraged motorists who have punched cyclists without any provocation.
(3) On the news this week, I heard reported that someone died from his injuries, when he was assaulted in Tottenham after remonstrating with the youths because they were throwing conkers at him.

This last week, there was a TV programme on, think it was Horizon, the subject was concerning evil. In the context of teaching soldiers to kill, it said that it is very difficult to bring a person to the point where they will take a life. Yet from what I have seen, this seems to come very easy for some.
So my question concerns how do you respond when an aggressive driver approaches you, everything about his body language saying that he is not there for a chat and you believe he is out to do you harm?

We are at a disadvantage because we are holding our valuable bikes. I also gather that most of us are law-abiding people who are not inclined towards violence; wheras this enraged thug approaching probably has no respect for the law, is inclined towards violence and is comfortable with beating someone up occasionally, you are next!
If excape is not possible, should we wait to see what this person will do? Remember, the first punch can do serious harm, and could kill you. Should we be prepared to defend ourselves, even to the point of hitting first if we believe this person intends harm? I am not of an imposing build and not especially strong or abept with my fists, If I had to defend myself, I had wondered if I could bring myself to poke my attacker in the eye.

Some of us have seen the recent Youtube posting from BSRU, it is fortunate that everyone remained in control, but I did notice that the driver was flexing his fist. He was prepared for a fight, was BSRU prepared if this driver's opening gambit was a punch in the face?

At work this week, there was a show on leisure activities. I was talking with a colleague at the Bicycle Users Group stand about bike issues. Opposite us was a group from a local Martial Arts group, it was most impressive to see this man kicking sweat out of this punchbag. I think that is what I could use.

Many years ago, I did do Ki Akido, cannot rember much about it now. Does anyone here practise a Martial Art? Have you ever used it to defend yourself in a road rage incident? Any other thoughts on this unpleasant subject?

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Re: Defending yourself

Postby Edwards » 10 Sep 2011, 7:36am

Make sure you lay your bike down preferably between them and you. That way you get time and have your hands free.
Then you can use the bike to keep a distance between you, if it does come to violence you need maximum pain with the least possible force. The ideal is a broken leg (for them).
Keith Edwards
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Re: Defending yourself

Postby AlanD » 10 Sep 2011, 7:47am

Not sure I would want to put the bike down between us Edward, I would want maximum space to move if attempting to bring the person down into a hold. I suppose the worst possible scenario would be if I managed to get my assailant into an armlock (from which I could probably keep control without anyone getting hurt) then his frends get out of the car to lay into me. That would leave me in the position of having to dislocate my attackers arm before letting go of him, so that he could not continue. Hope I never have to find out :?

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Re: Defending yourself

Postby Edwards » 10 Sep 2011, 7:56am

He has to either go around or over the bike thus making him move. It is easier to bring a moving person down that a stationary one.
The arm should have been dislocated in the fall :wink: . Remember maximum pain minimum force.
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Re: Defending yourself

Postby Richard » 10 Sep 2011, 8:23am

There's close on 40 years of policing experience in our family. We've experienced a lot of difficult situations where violence has been offered or the situation could easily have turned nasty. CS spray, batons and self defence training are effective weapons but without doubt the best defence is your mouth. A smile and a firm but friendly tone to your voice will keep you safer than any martial art.
The police officers I've known that were regularly assaulted were the big tough ones where any confrontation was taken as personal. (I'd choose to work with a female officer any day of the week).

If you're going to use force, particularly preemptively, you have to be damn sure he's going down and staying down because you're in deep trouble if he doesn't. No matter how hard you are, there's someone tougher than you out there.

Smiling won't guarantee you won't get punched, but I reckon it's the best option you've got.


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Re: Defending yourself

Postby TonyR » 10 Sep 2011, 9:14am

I would say the first choice is flight - you have the advantage on a bike of being able to move faster than them on foot and go places a car can't. If not on the rare occasions where it has happened to me I found putting my bike between them and me and holding my phone to my ear and saying loud enough to be heard "Police please" has caused them to pause.


Re: Defending yourself

Postby LANDSURFER74 » 10 Sep 2011, 9:28am

USE GOOD MANNERS, CALL THEM SIR, only speak when you have to, do not smile as this can be mis-interprated.
Stand tall and hold your 2 foot long frame fitting pump like a cudgel !!!
Thats what i call a "force multiplyer".

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Re: Defending yourself

Postby Slidingpillar » 10 Sep 2011, 9:29am

As a student, I once had a dog set on me. I got off, raised the bike to the dog, and made it clear that tangling with me would hurt.

If you don't show fear it generally works with animals, but humans often don't read, or ignore, body language.
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Re: Defending yourself

Postby reohn2 » 10 Sep 2011, 9:34am

I'm assuming we've gone past all reasoning with the assailent like trying to talk sense to them so:-
a) flight
If you aren't able to get away,get off the bike immediately as you're a sitting duck on it and if you take a punch whilst astride the bike theres every chance you'll go down,at which point you're very vunerable so:-
b) use the bike as a shield held out in front of you like a gate,you can push the attacker away with it.
c) Last resort,using the bike to defend yourself hit the attacker with it,remember this is defence! so defend yourself,if you have to.
I cycle therefore I am.

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Re: Defending yourself

Postby gilesjuk » 10 Sep 2011, 1:10pm

The best self defence is to run off as fast as you can. You might feel a coward but you'll save yourself a lot of injuries.

Even if you're a hard nut you run the risk of being prosecuted if you severely injure someone. Reasonable force is hard to judge and in the heat of the moment you can easily go too far.

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Re: Defending yourself

Postby patpalloon » 10 Sep 2011, 1:29pm

To add to Alan's list, let us not forget road rage killer Kenny Noyes who was a criminal.

First and most important rule is avoid any confrontation in the first place. BSRU's altercation with the man in the van
was caused by him remonstrating with the driver who then went after him. I'm not justfiying it, but if he'd ignored him
the van man would have gone straight on. Concentrate on staying safe. If there is an idiotic or dangerous driver - keep out of their way.
If necessary pull over and let them pass.

On a bike you are very vulnerable. MOst times you won't be able to get away. You don't know what the driver will do - or how many there are in the
vehicle or if he is armed.

If you are unlucky and someone is out to do you harm then frst of all get off your bike. Stand still and keep a neutral expression. Keep eye contact but don't say anything and defintely do NOT smile. If you can't talk your way out of it, and he looks like he is going to attack then get your attack in first. Be quick and go in hard. Go for vulnerable areas like eyes, throat is a good one or lower legs - knees, shins, ankles. A kick to this area will always hurt. If you are wearing cleats then this could be a good option. Remember only resort to violence as a last resort.

I have done martial arts for over 10 years, I'm no hard man by any means, but I think martial arts do
teach you several things. Firstly body language - how to be assertive but not aggressive and not show fear.
Also how to block an attack and make a counter attack.
I feel sure that the genius that did this, didn't even feel a thud as he drove by.

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Re: Defending yourself

Postby Nettled Shin » 10 Sep 2011, 7:13pm

patpalloon wrote:I have done martial arts for over 10 years, I'm no hard man by any means, but I think martial arts do
teach you several things. Firstly body language - how to be assertive but not aggressive and not show fear.
Also how to block an attack and make a counter attack.

I imagine you become accustomed to having people in your face, so you retain your presence of mind in a confrontation. You'll also be familiar with the weight and strength of a man, so you'll know what to expect from him and what is achievable. I never thought much of martial arts as a kid because I saw the kids who did it, but I'm warming to the idea in adulthood. Actually, I'd quite like to box, but that seems to still be frowned upon.

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Re: Defending yourself

Postby De Sisti » 10 Sep 2011, 9:18pm

On an occasion where I adopted a boxing stance, you know the one, hands up, protecting your chin, slight
movement of the head from side to side, resulted in hesitation from the other party, followed by lots of verbal
abuse, instead of an unprovoked attacked (it might not work all the time).

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Re: Defending yourself

Postby delport » 10 Sep 2011, 10:00pm

To the original poster, you have raised a good subject.Cycling can be dangerous for some of us purely on a social level, meeting troublemakers And people up to no good on the road,
I've been through gun and knife threats already, but i wasn't cycling at that time, so i've survived that so far in my life.
I know the consequences of speaking up or replying to an attacker, and it's not somewhere i really want to go, there are varied reasons why people begin this troublemaking in the first place, a percentage of them will be ready to attack you given the chance.Others i suppose will back down, even apologise i suppose.
If you are a solo cyclist you are nearly always going to be outnumbered by people hassling you from a car, they show off to friends, do these things to amuse their passengers, if they were still at secondary or primary school it may make more sense, but they are supposed to be old enough to drive a car.

Defending myself i have had extreme thoughts at times, like carrying cs gas, or something serious to repeal an attacker, or someone giving me abuse for cycling, but how far do you go? it's not hard to kill people in reaction to an unprovoked attack on yourself, in the same way it's not hard to be killed in a single incident.
So, i guess i live on with my disgruntlement at the way these things are dealt with , and how they happen.
I don't react.