What are you willing to die for?
I ask every student, whether in a private lesson, a Taekwon-Do class or a large self defense seminar: “Make a list of all of the things you are willing to die for.” Five seconds later, I ask if they need more time to make their list. No one ever does.
In all of the years I’ve asked this question, I have received only three different responses:
Family, loved ones, friends (sometimes including beloved family pets)
God, Jesus, my faith, my beliefs, my church
Patriotism, freedom, and love of country
The next obvious question: Why would you risk injury or death to keep someone from taking your purse, your wallet, or even your car? Why would you put yourself at risk to avoid offending a stranger, to keep from appearing rude, or to gain the approval of someone who clearly does not have your best interest in mind?
If someone tries to take your purse or wallet, use your best judgment. Don’t risk your life to save your “stuff.” Is your assailant armed? Are there multiple threats? Is help available to you? If you’re going to give up the item, toss it away from you and quickly run the other direction. If the assailant grabs the item and leaves, call the police. If they advance on you instead, you have an entirely different problem and can respond accordingly.
If you’re in an elevator and another passenger makes you feel uncomfortable, get out! Trust your instincts and take action! You may briefly delay their progress, or appear rude…but your “radar” is going off for a reason, and you likely will never see the person again. When someone comes to your front door, you are under no obligation to open it to them. Don’t give an opportunist the chance he seeks.
In every situation, remember: take care of yourself, for no one else can. Use your wits, your voice, and your physical skills to avoid/deescalate a conflict, escape a possible assailant, or fight for your life.