Author Topic: How to avoid being harassed while training  (Read 3691 times)

Offline akarynn

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How to avoid being harassed while training
« on: August 23, 2011, 02:51:27 PM »
I'm new to parkour and this forum, but as a female practitioner I wanted to share some tips learned from my experiences. I know many safety posts deal with injury prevention, but I think this is a crucial part of safety that hasn't been discussed yet. I hope none of my fellow female practitioners have been bothered during training, but I hope some of this sticks in your mind in case this ever happens to you.

Though it is very important to be focused on your movement while training, it is imperative to pay attention to your surroundings. Since I'm posting this on the women section, it's gonna sound female-centric. If there are any guys at there, I imagine any of the information below could apply to you as well.

My favorite spot to practice rail balancing is located along a busy high street near the tube station. People are walking by all hours of the day and it's right next to a major road, so the attention I receive is not limited to pedestrians, but drivers and their passengers as well. Most of the attention is harmless, genuine interest in what I'm doing. Kids will try and get as close to the rail as possible until their mothers pull them back. [Non practitioner] guys will jump into the rail and try to impress me, but then fail miserably ;)

Every once in a while, someone strolls by and says a crude comment. Usually I'll either ignore them or utter very sternly, “I'm not interested.” Most of it will end at that.

However, what inspires this post is one evening when I was training by myself. I was absolutely focused on my movement, minding my own business. A person tried to gather my attention as he walked by. I simply ignored him—half from being so focused and half not wanting to be bothered. Moments later I saw a shadow approaching me from behind and just as I began to look over my shoulder, the man grabbed my arm and pulled me off the rail.

Before he could say anything I shouted at him and ripped my arm away. He ran away in the opposite direction. I left too, making my way home, furious that someone could think that he had the right to make me feel uncomfortable.

I've read a number of articles dealing with such matters and how to avoid them. Many of them said to avoid going out at night alone or go out in a group. That piece of advice is fine, but I believe that training alone in different conditions (night or day) is inevitable.

1) BE AWARE—this is definitely key. It sounds simple, but it's crucial. While training, at least for me, it's easy to focus solely on my movement that I forget to pay attention to what's happening outside my immediate surroundings. Pay attention. If your instincts say something is fishy, leave.

2) Change location regularly—The vulnerability with parkour training is that most likely you are practicing the same jump in the same area, so it's easy for someone to come and bother you. If I get harassed by someone at a particular training spot, chances are they'll return. If I feel worried, I switch to another training spot for the rest of the day.

3) Avoid being followed—If you feel you're being followed, go into a shop and tell them what's up. Go into a crowded area. Change direction. Cross the street. Take your phone out and call someone. Get your keys interlaced between your fingers in Wolverine fashion—anything!

4) Don't let the light of day give you a false sense of security—I have been followed and harassed in broad daylight in the middle of a crowded high street. Though it is recommend to stay in well-lit, busy areas, it doesn't mean that everything is 100% safe. Stay aware.

5) If you're running along the street—run facing the flow of traffic so you can see the cars as they drive by so that they're less likely to park behind you. This is disputable, along with everything else, but the point is to see what is happening around you.

6) Don't worry about being polite—some of my friends feel bad about directly telling someone to leave them alone. I used to be nice, but it never worked. Sternly telling someone to leave you alone is the most effective way.

If anyone has any ideas or tips to share, please feel free to add. Safe training everyone!

ETA as of 09/09/2011 from Bergie--thank you again!

Quote from: Bergie
Out of respect for the rules of the Women section, here's a few suggestions for the thread you may want to consider adding to your OP, as this affects men and women similarly.  All of them are based on things i've seen or done, so I can say that they typically work.

1) Location and Time scouting:  Being aware of the location, its surroundings and how it changes over the course of the day, because you're more likely to encounter Chavs, or just plain a*holes near a tube station surrounded by pubs around 5pm, versus behind a museum at Noon.

2) Be stern, but not aggressive:  Some people become more aggressive and douchey when we do the same.  Side-note: you never know if the person is legitimately interested in PK, but is so dense or socially awkward that they can't strike up a normal conversation, so their "what are you doing?" comment sounds less sincere, and more cunty than intended.  (Happened to me already this month)

3) Try not to attract attention for the sake of attention: I've seen plenty of people jumping off something, and rolling out in front of pedestrians, just to make them stop and stare.  Not only could it be dangerous to be focused on getting someone else's attention, versus maintaining your own on what you're doing, but it could bring the wrong kind of attention.

Hope they're helpful.

« Last Edit: March 25, 2013, 07:57:50 PM by akarynn »

Offline Linda Watters

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Re: How to avoid being harassed while training
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2011, 12:49:55 AM »
An additional idea is to check in with your local police station's website and twitter account , if they have them. My city's police have both. Stuff that never makes it to the newspaper is posted on those sites. This includes areas where women/people have been assaulted. If an attacker if active in a certain area and you know about, good idea not to train there!
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Offline Sarai Brock

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Re: How to avoid being harassed while training
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2011, 07:50:44 PM »
I would also say be fluent in self defense.  A lot of community centers will offer free or really cheap classes.  If you take up any martial art you will also learn self defense.  I fully believe that women should know how & be capable of defending themselves.  It's very important in todays world.
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Offline Chantelle

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Re: How to avoid being harassed while training
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2012, 11:52:50 AM »
Wow, I'm so glad you got out of that situation ok.

I went to an outdoor sports store, and bought "dog spray".  It's a smaller, very potent version of a can of bear spray, and fits in your pocket or on a key chain.  In Canada, it cost me about 22 bucks.  The theory is that you defend against large, aggressive dogs, but I'm sure a shot of that in the face would deter any jerk with bad intentions.  I don't know what the laws are where you're from, so make sure it's legal, I guess.