SAFETY ALERT: ‘Don’t Be A Victim’- Ready, Set, Spray!

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The best self-defense tool money can buy won’t help you if you aren’t able to get to it in time to use it.

I learned this the hard way.

Mobile Police veteran and self-defense expert John Graham volunteered to let me spray him IF I could get the tool out in time. Keyword: "if." WKRG Photojournalist Brad Gunther wasn't taking any chances, hence the mask.
Mobile Police veteran and self-defense expert John Graham volunteered to let me spray him IF I could get the tool out in time. Keyword: “if.” WKRG Photojournalist Brad Gunther wasn’t taking any chances, hence the mask.

Mobile Police veteran and self-defense expert Master John Graham explained most struggles happen at a distance of two to three feet. He volunteered to let me spray him with pepper spray if I was able to reach it in time; keyword ‘if.’

In our first encounter, Graham managed to tackle me to the ground and swat the pepper spray out of my hands before I finished slipping the lock button off. The Key Case Pepper Spray was in my hand the entire time, but I still couldn’t unlock and spray it in the short time period it took for Graham to overpower me.

We tried it again. This time, Graham backed up to around 21 feet. There’s a police rule that states, in the time it takes the average officer to recognize a threat, draw his gun and fire two rounds, an average subject charging at an officer can cover a distance of about 21 feet.

Graham backed up at least 21 feet away, and I still had trouble.
Graham backed up at least 21 feet away, and I still had trouble.

Unlike the first go-around, I slipped the pepper spray in my purse where most women keep theirs. Seconds later, I was on the ground…again, unable to pull the spray out of my black hole of a bag in time to use it.

The third time’s a charm. When Graham quickly walked towards me from 21 feet away, I miraculously managed to pull the canister out of my bag and spray with all my might. Unfortunately, the spray didn’t reach farther than the few feet in front of me and sputtered empty in a few seconds. All Graham had to do was stand back and wait, then I was on the ground yet again. ( In case you’re worried, I promise I wasn’t hurt during any of these body slams)

Graham said your best tool against an attacker isn’t pepper spray, it’s mindset and situational awareness.  He said all too often, women will buy

I finally managed to grab the pepper spray out of my bag, but it sputtered out of formula in a few seconds.
I finally managed to grab the pepper spray out of my bag, but it sputtered out of formula in a few seconds.

pepper spray and use it as a crutch. They slip it in their purse and forget about it, with the misconception that if they “need” it, it will work. The truth is, if you’re going to use pepper spray as your protection, you need to incorporate it into your everyday actions. Otherwise, you’re not going to be able to use it in a life-threatening scenario when your adrenaline is pumping and logical thinking is thrown out the window.

Some of the easiest ways to avoid being an easy target include putting down the cell phone, avoiding dark unpopulated areas, and making eye contact with people who walk by you. If you are alert and aware of your surroundings, criminals will be less likely to target you as their next victim.

But, If you’re interested in taking self-defense classes from Master John Graham, head over to his website at http://www.grahamselitemartialarts.com/ 

Our Thoughts:

John Graham, retired police Lieutenant and owner of Graham's Elite Martial Arts.
John Graham, retired police Lieutenant and owner of Graham’s Elite Martial Arts.

The experiment was a rude awakening for me because I’ve always carried pepper spray in my purse as a defense mechanism, but I’ve never practiced or thought about how I would use it.When people would ask me what I do to defend myself, I always answered, ” I have pepper spray.”  After this story, I determined the only way pepper spray will be effective is if you already have it in your hand, unlocked, and you’re on high alert. Even then, there’s no guarantee it will work. The experiment also proved a reminder that pepper spray is intended to give you a few extra seconds to run away, so as soon as you start spraying, you should take off in the opposite direction.

From now on, I won’t be keeping my pepper spray at the bottom of my purse. I was tackled 4 too many times to make that mistake again.

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