Speaker shares tips to protect




                  Debbie Gardner, co-founder of the Survive Institute, was full of energy and excitement when speaking to Detroit Mercy students earlier this month.

                  Different from many self-defense showcases, this seminar focused on improving confidence and controlling fear in necessary situations.

                  “We are not in the safety business,” Gardner said. “We are in the healthcare business. We teach fast, legal, moral, explicit self-defense rooted in courage, love and laughter.”

                  She was straightforward from the beginning, saying kids have been taught not to do things, or avoid certain places out of fear of confrontational situations.

Gardner explained that this can create a state of guilt and self-sabotage.

“People these days have ‘Fear Boots’ programmed to work against them,” she said. “People tell you ‘don’t walk alone at night’ and ‘don’t talk to strangers,’ among other ‘absolute safety tips.’”

By continuously hearing the “absolute safety tips” fear festers in your mind and does nothing but grow.

Gardner’s methods promote confidence and preparation so you can walk alone at night.

                  She spoke of her childhood and how she came to be a police officer.

                  Her detailed recollection of one of her first nights on the job after graduating from the police academy helped those in attendance to grasp and visualize the concepts being talked about.

                  Walking at night with two undercover officers behind her, she was attack by a man with a gun and yelled at to go in the alley and “take off her clothes.”

                  Frozen with fear, she lost her breath and found herself on the ground gasping for air, not knowing what to do.

                  She had graduated top of her class, she had all the certification to be a police officer, but she was unprepared to face fear.

                  After attempting to resign and then being denied, she decided that it was time own her fear and control it.

                  Gardner uses the letters BST (Breathe, Space and Throat) to help guide her audience through a situation where self-defense is necessary.

                  The first step is to breathe.

                  When in any stressful situation, the first breath is always the hardest to let out.                 

                  You must fight to get that first breath, especially in a situation when you are under, or have the possibility of being, attacked.

Roar from your stomach, she said, and force it out so that after your next breath comes easier.

                  Gardner referenced Serena Williams, showing a clip of her in a tennis match, letting out full roars with each hit.

                  “She accesses her full power,” she said.

                  After releasing that first breath, Gardner said to focus on your space and get a grip. Gardner then related to baseball and how batters must grip the bat, move around and breathe heavily to stay focused in game.

                  The same applies for a situation in which you are being attacked or feel you may be attacked.

                  “Kubotans,” or hand-sized night sticks, where invented back in 1977 by Grand Master Tak Kubota to help police officers “get a grip.”

                  The key is to simply grasp the small stick and squeeze, running blood through your hands and body, relieving stress and giving the user more control over themselves.

                  By the end of the seminar, each student in attendance received a Kubotan.

                  After you are in control of yourself, put your hand up to intimidate the attacker to stay out of your space.   

Gardner went out to speak of more intimidation strategies that don’t involve physicality.

                  Mentally, you smirk slightly and keep constant eye contact, as if to say, “I dare you.”

                  Verbally, choicely use swear words, but don’t overdo it.  

                  “If it comes to it, you must prepare to be physical. You have the right to fight physically for your body and your life,” said Gardner.

                  Another bold strategy is to hit first.

If you feel you will be attacked and the shady character is in your personal space, strike the throat, Gardner instructed.

                  Aim for the center of his/her throat so that you knock the wind out of them.

                  If the attacker has a weapon (gun or knife), you must be willing to injure yourself to save your life. Seek to grab the barrel of the gun or blade of the knife and remove it from your path as you aim again for the throat to knock the wind out of the culprit, she said.

                  “Get the A.N.T.s (Automatic Negative Thoughts) out of your head and focus on your loved ones in any crisis,” said Gardner.

If you use the love you have for you family and think, “an attack on me is an attack on my family and I will NOT let anyone attack my family,” you will fight for them and you will survive, she said.

Throughout the slide show, “self-talk” phrases where shown such as, “I AM in control, I CAN do what needs to be done,” and, “I am OK.”

To close the event, volunteers were chosen from the crowd to act as criminals in different situations so that the audience could experience the techniques and strategies visually.

It is important that people feel safe, she said, but it is more important that they are confident in themselves to be okay with the possibility of not being so.