News / Opinion / Columns

Mark Grobbelaar
3 minute read
17 Jun 2019
6:58 pm

On Guard: Layers of safety … how is your knowledge and awareness?

Mark Grobbelaar

The focus in personal protection should not be on fighting. It should always be about not getting hurt.

Photo for illustration. Picture: iStock

We live in one of the most violent societies on earth. With crime spiralling out of control, you just have to switch on a TV or read a newspaper to see that the people who are supposed to keep us safe cannot, and we have to take some personal responsibility for it ourselves.

However, once knowledge of the nature of a crime is learnt, one no longer needs to live in fear. All that is needed are reasonable precautions. It is unlikely in our lifetime that any social process will alter our society so radically that it dissuades thousands of criminals from being criminals and committing crimes. However, you can install some layers to reduce the chance that their choice of victim will be you.

Learn to view your safety in multiple layers, like an onion. The greater the number of layers a would-be criminal has to make their way through, the more difficult it will be to target you.

This leads to an increasing chance that they will abort and choose someone else who is an easier target.

We need to understand that physical techniques are an absolute last resort, even for a highly trained fighter.

The first of these layers is knowledge and awareness.

I ask groups during my INpowered programmes:

  • “How many of you think that you are aware?”
  • So who drove in behind you at work?”
  • “While you were out running, did you see that guy who you ran past you? What was he wearing?”

Most respond that they are sort of aware, and some not at all.

The reality is either you are either Aware or you are Not.

If you are one of the latter, you are one of those who walk around with your head in the clouds or in your cellphone, completely oblivious to what is going on around you. You are an easy target and you could get “klapped”.

Often I’ve  heard: “Next minute he was there…”

NO! He didn’t just appear there. He was there all along. You just didn’t see him because you were not looking. You were not aware.

Then there are those of us who are Super Aware, who are looking underneath and behind everything all day –to them  everyone is a potential mugger and they are constantly on the lookout.

But Awareness without Knowledge is PARANOIA. Let that sink in for a minute!

You cannot go through life Paranoid; you’ll end up in a mental institution.

We also cannot walk around as though we live in a utopia and imagine we will be always be safe.

By knowing what constitutes risk, you will be forewarned and forearmed, and could act in a manner that reduces unnecessary risk. This knowledge of what is really involved in a crime, what certain things mean and the forewarning that good habits will give you, can instil within you a calm confidence.

Miss SA, who went on to become Miss Universe 2017, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters , is a perfect example of this. She went through the INpowered programme and attributes getting out of an attempted hijacking to her improved knowledge and awareness.

Knowing what you can and can’t do, as covered in a previous column, is power and it could be the difference in a life-or-death situation.

Personal protection guru Mark Grobbelaar.


Mark Grobbelaar is the Founder of INpowered, incorporating WIP (woman INpowered) and GRIP (Guy Responsibly INpowered).

He holds a 6th dan in karate and has over 45 years’ experience in the personal protection field.

He does talks and hosts INpowered programmes to corporates, schools and small groups.

Reach him with your question about personal protection at and he will try to answer you in future columns.

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