Strength in Knowledge: Avoid Becoming a Victim with Situational Awareness

    Being able to know your surroundings is key to avoid being a victim of a crime. (Courtesy of Luengchopan/Envato Elements)

    With the crime rate up, it’s crucial to have an awareness of your surroundings in order to avoid becoming a victim.

    Jeff Sterling, owner of California Bujinkan Dojo has over 30 years of experience in training and teaching martial arts/ self-defense courses.

    Sterling mentioned his biggest piece of advice when it comes to safety is all about trusting yourself. He said by putting on these classes, he hopes that people will ultimately gain knowledge.

    “A friend of mine said that the biggest enemy of fear and being afraid is knowledge,” Sterling said. “So the best thing you can do to keep yourself from being scared, being afraid in any type of a situation where you feel that you’re threatened or you need to defend yourself is to have knowledge, and to know how to approach or be familiar.”

    The last Tuesday of every month Sterling teaches a self-defense class, which is from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and is free of charge.

    With in-person schooling going back in session, it’s important for students to have situational awareness.

    Jose Flores, Chief of Police of State Center Community College District Police Department, said a course has been taught pertaining to “situational awareness.”

    Students, faculty, and staff are given tools so that they can survive any kind of challenge that might present them anywhere in their life whether that’s at home or in public.

    “We don’t want people to be afraid of our environment — we want them to understand their environment, be aware of their environment and because they have this awareness, they know what to do at any given situation,” said Flores. “Instead of being afraid/paranoid, they have strategies to overcome whatever challenges might come before them — from very small issues to very large issues.”

    Flores said when it comes to safety tips, always be prepared and always have multiple plans when dealing with any situation.

    “For crime, criminals choose their victims. What strategies can you have that doesn’t make you the victim?” said Flores. “You should walk with confidence, avoid dark places, go with friends. Avoidance works a lot further than if you go into a place not paying attention, being oblivious to your surroundings, burying your eyes into your smartphone and all of a sudden you find yourself in danger. So remove your iPhone when you’re walking to a parking lot, and concentrate on what you’re doing — be aware of your surroundings. Make sure that it’s safe before exiting the vehicle. Circle a parking lot before you get out of your car.”

    Flores went on to say that he believes most of the skills that you need to avoid danger and to avoid problems require little physical strength — it’s mostly knowledge, it’s mostly awareness that anyone can do.

    Alexis Govea is proud to be from the Central Valley. She graduated from Fresno State with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication & journalism and a minor in Spanish. She has that Bulldog spirit deep in her heart. Go 'Dogs! Alexis is happy to be a part of the Clovis Roundup and is excited to tell the stories of many people here in the valley along with other story pieces pertaining to the community. Alexis also works for the Fresno State Athletics Department and is a local on-air personality for Q97.1 radio.