June 26, 2012 - Toronto, Canada - In this Self Defense in Canada blog, I am posting a recent article that was done on SAFE International by Greg Kielec of The Journal in Cornwall, ON. I recently sat down with Greg for a discussion on the philosophies of SAFE International along with how I got into the business of self defense/personal protection. Thanks to Greg for making me sound intelligent, lol!
Taking a beating in the name of safety
The harder women hit Chris Roberts, the better he feels
When Chris Roberts was in sixth grade, something happened that would affect him for the rest of his life. As scared children cowered underneath their desk, Roberts saw an older student from his school
attempt to sexually assault a girl from his class. The incident from the Ottawa school remained buried
deep in his subconscious until one day, as he struggled to come to terms with his obsession with women’s self defense, it resurfaced. It took 10 years of soul searching for Roberts to uncover cathartic incident. When he finally made the realization, it all made perfect sense. It is something he reflects upon “every time a woman hits me in the face pretty hard … that’s why I am doing this,” he said.
“I guess you can say I was a victim of that too,” said the 47-year-old self defense guru from Lunenburg, about 30 km northwest of Cornwall.
Roberts is not your prototypical self defense instructor. He doesn’t look to impress
his clients with brute force nor is he interested in flaunting his fighting skills. His biggest skill is his ability to put clients at ease so they can get down to the serious business of self defense without being scared or intimidated. He does that using humour. It is a skill you won’t find listed in the bio of any self-respecting self defense teacher. But to Roberts, it is his secret weapon. “Humour makes people comfortable,” Roberts explained. He finds if his clients are comfortable, they are more willing to hit him. And allowing people to hit him is a key part of Roberts’ training. Roberts doesn’t give clients a standard cookie cutter response to being attacked. “Techniques look good in marketing,” he said. He describes his technique instead as“sloppy, messy, chaotic.” But that is generally the way things unfold in a real attack. It is never as neat, clean or dramatic as it is portrayed in Hollywood movies, Roberts said. He prefers to give clients simple techniques they can use to overwhelm an attacker instead of complex actions which, Roberts said, most people are unable to replicate when gripped with the stark terror of an attack. And once the clients are schooled in some of the counter attacks at their disposal, they are coaxed by Roberts to unleash them upon him once he is suited up in his protective Spartan gear.
SAFE has given training to more than 150,000 people
The whole aim is to make a potential attack, and the response of the potential victim, as realistic as possible so the victim is programmed to automatically respond in a real-world situation. And to do that, he forces clients to rethink their reluctance to meet a potentially violent attacker with violence. It is a concept his clients often struggle most with, reducing themselves to the level of violence exhibited by their attacker. But if they are unable to overcome mental barrier, chances are they will become a victim
instead of a victor. “If you are not more violent than the attacker, you are not going to live, possibly,” Roberts said. Another under-utilized tool that can prevent people from becoming ensnared by an attacker isn’t something you can train for, nor will you will it in a self-defense manual. It is good, old-fashioned intuition. In most of the discussions Roberts has had with people who have been attacked, they mention an intuitive feeling that something wasn’t quite right just before the attack took place. “Your intuition overrules everything,” Roberts stressed. “If you feel uncomfortable, get out of the situation … when people get that gut feeling, it’s almost always right.” “Wouldn’t you rather get out of the situation and be okay than stay in it, going ‘Oh, it’s probably my imagination, I’m being paranoid’, and then have something happen.” Roberts also aims to dispel myths about who is a typical victim and who is most capable of fending off an attacker. He points to convicted killers Paul Bernardo and Ted Bundy as people who do not match the protypical stereotype of an attacker. At the same time, who stresses to women they don’t have to play the role of the victim and can be more intimidating to an attacker than they often realize. “You know who scares me the most? An angry, pregnant mother,” he says matter-of-factly. Robert’s estimate his organization has provided self defense skills to 150,000 girls and women since its launch in 1994 and has grown to the point which it trains as many as 16,000 people annually. He is now in the process of taking his business to the international level. He has created a website will be selling SAFE franchises in the United States. His company offers private and group lessons, women’s and men’s seminars, corporate personal protection instruction and high school self defense awareness and instruction programs.
SAFE has also taken a new twist on personal defense with Women’s Self Defense Parties which have proven to be quite popular. For more information, go to www.safeinternational.biz or call 613-363-3286 or 1-800-465-5972.