Key to self-defense: Be aware of your surroundings

Key to self-defense: Be aware of your surroundings »Play Video
Louise Wynn and her son Corey demonstrate how to escape an attacker's bearhug Tuesday.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Self-defense experts say one of the best ways to protect yourself from an attacker is to be aware of your surroundings.

Police and self-defense experts say that’s what helped a woman as she was jogging in Salem fend off her attacker Monday morning. The woman says the man came up behind her on Wilson Street South, grabbed her and tried to molest her. She screamed, elbowed him and fought back. He took off.

Police say the woman got a good look at her attacker and say that’s only because she was aware of her surroundings and noticed her attacker before he grabbed her.

Jeff Wynn, with the Vancouver Institute of Self-Defense, says the woman did all the right things.

“Yell as loud as you can: ‘Get away from me! I don’t know you!’ So that anybody within hearing can hear that.”

Salem police are still looking for the man who attacked the woman.

Wynn teaches self-defense classes all over Southwest Washington along with his wife Louise and son Corey. They teach many things that may seem counterintuitive like dropping to the ground and become dead weight if someone grabs or corners you. Another technique is to get closer to your attacker to catch them off guard.

Wynn says women are often attacked from behind when someone grabs and pulls their hair or puts them in a bearhug. If they find themselves in a bearhug, Wynn says one way to fight back is to instantly drop to the ground and grab the back of the attacker’s ankles.

Another way to defend yourself if attacked is to use simple weapons like a key chain.

“If applied anywhere in the face or applied to a wrist – if someone grabs my wrist I can simply gouge until he has to let go,” Wynn says.

A pen can have the same effect.

“I simply stab in the thigh or in the groin. It’s very effective.”

The Wynns say it’s common to see women jogging while wearing ear buds or talking on a cell phone. That means they may not be paying attention to the people around them and can lead to being caught off guard.

“We call it radar – scanning – just being aware of your surroundings and who’s there,” Jeff Wynn says.

There are a number of places around the metro area to take self-defense classes. Some cost money and some are free. Here are links to a few:

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Watch this story and some self-defense moves.