Backpacker Self Defence 101: Would You Be Prepared?

Updated November 18th, 2017.

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare and something that every traveller tries not to think about too much. You’re setting off on the adventure of a lifetime, yet the butterflies in your stomach won’t let you forget that you’re a little bit scared of the unknown. I mean – is it really safe out there in the big wide world?

While it’s true that muggings and other crimes can occur anywhere in the world – even in your own hometown – when you’re in unfamiliar places and situations it’s wise to be extra savvy and know how to handle yourself in a worst case scenario – in order to stay as safe as possible!

Self-defence classes are a fantastic way to build that confidence in knowing that if somebody did attack you (even somebody much bigger than you) you would know what to do. Now we’re not saying here that you should train for months in the art of Kung Fu, learning Ninja high-kicks that will leave your assailant in a crumpled heap on the floor…

Did you know that remembering even just a few technical moves could outwit your opponent and leave you free to run away unharmed?

Self defence Blog 4It’s all in the technique with self defense classes

South East Asia is one of the safest places in the world to travel – backpackers get used to hitchhiking at nighttime, walking the streets and leaving their laptops on show in cafes to (usually) no bad consequences. You can end up rather lackadaisical when it comes to safety! This then becomes dangerous when you move from place to place and need to re-assess your environment.

As a few members of the S.E.A. Backpacker Team leave Asia’s shores for a short while and move continents to set up South America Backpacker Magazine, we decided it was time to equip ourselves with some self-defence techniques that may just save our lives one day! Surprisingly, despite how well travelled we are, none of us had even thought about taking a self-defence class before! (Sounds silly when you say it doesn’t it?)

Last weekend, we paid a visit to the Thai-run ‘Hand2Hand Combat’ centre in Chiang Mai, which we’d heard about from a travel-writing friend, William, who had been training there for the past few months. He’d called us to say that we just had to check this place out. He hadn’t seen a farang (foreigner) there since he discovered it, yet believed that the experienced and friendly trainers were teaching some really important lessons that backpackers should know about!

Hand2Hand Combat Blog2Arriving at Hand2Hand Combat Centre. Don’t mess with me… convincing? Mmhh…

The school is run by Jet, who was chief combat instructor for Thai Army, Northern Region and is one of the country’s top bodyguards with clients including the Prime Minister. Another of the instructors was a member of the Thai national wrestling team, taking part in the SEA Games. It was clear we would be in good hands!

So, over the course of two hours on a sunny Saturday morning, our trainers, armed with replicas of guns and knives, began to recreate situations that would require you to know self-defence techniques. We learnt how to break free from someone’s strong grasp, what to do if someone puts a knife to your throat or heaven forbid gun to your head and how to fall properly so that you don’t hurt yourself.

Hand2Hand Combat Blog3Girls at the class showing how to escape from someone during a knife attack

In such a short time we learnt (and will hopefully remember!) things that we never thought possible. For example, if someone is holding you by the throat, even if it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, did you know that it is possible with just a few skilful, technical, steps to break free from their hold without endangering yourself further? Students regardless of age, sex, build and strength can learn these techniques.

Hand2Hand Combat BlogWith the right techniques you can outwit a much bigger opponent

Methods that have been tried and tested in real life situations that could save your life are easy to learn and something we now believe every traveller should know. The school’s motto is ‘safety first’ – meaning that classes are taught in a safe way and their main focus is to protect your safety in a real life situation, encouraging you to escape from the situation as soon as you are free of the assailant (rather than try to inflict harm on them). Perhaps, even having the knowledge that it is possible to escape from such a situation safely – could give you the confidence to remain calm and composed in such a traumatic event.

Everybody knows that money, credit cards, jewelry, even passports can be replaced – the most important thing to keep safe is YOU!

So, don’t hesitate – when you get to Chiang Mai check out the Hand2Hand Combat Centre and tell the lovely folks ‘Jet’ and ‘Tommy’ that we sent you! It’s just five minutes from the Railway Station, and there are ‘taster’ sessions for anyone looking to take a longer course. Learn skills that will last you a lifetime…

It also goes without saying that you should invest in some good travel insurance before you travel. We always choose World Nomads, which is well suited to gap year and backpacker travel.

This is a sponsored article.

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3 thoughts on “Backpacker Self Defence 101: Would You Be Prepared?

  1. Evan Creighton says:

    good article. I too felt safe in Thailand most of the time, although our first night in bangkok a friend got mugged. definitely worth learning this stuff!

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