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Self Defense Instructor says Distraction Best When Faced with Attacker


People in Wisconsin are suffering another tragic shooting. This week, a gunman at Purdue University killed a student from West Bend.

The shooting, which happened in a classroom on campus, might cause some people to wonder how they would have reacted. Robert Benton is a self-defense instructor at World Martial Arts Academy. He says the best thing to do when being approached by someone who might be looking to cause harm is to try and distract them.

“If someone is acting strange, perhaps at the bus stop, and they’re coming toward you, you can say ‘hey, what time is it?’ And it just gets them thinking about something else,” Benton says.

Benton says if that doesn’t work, you have to consider whether the attacker has a weapon. He says if you see a gun and the person committing the crime is far enough away, look for a place to take cover. He says if you are within close range of the weapon, your best bet might be to try and redirect the gun or knife. But Benton warns, you’re still likely to be shot or cut in that situation.

No matter the situation, Benton says the most important thing you can do is stay calm.

“That takes a lot of practice. It’s not easy. One of the first things that happens when you’re scared is decreased blood flow, and various parts of your vascular system begin to clamp down. So you’re not really getting as much air. So things like tunnel vision could very quickly become a problem,” Benton says.

Benton says purposefully putting yourself in mildly stressful situations will help you learn how to deal with the way your body reacts.

Finally, he says if you’re ever in a situation where you are alone with an attacker, the first few moments will be important.

“If it’s going to become a physical confrontation make it count right away in the beginning. Being able to rise up toward your attacker to show them that you’re not afraid, and that they’ve picked the wrong person, you’ve got a few seconds to really do that,” Benton says.

Benton says if you are aggressive enough and make enough noise, you just might be left alone. 

A warning: we are NOT recommending you follow Benton’s advice, but here are some of his ideas about responding to a person bent on violence.