In Brazilian Jiujitsu, we spend the vast majority of our time learning and playing the game of BJJ. Being a great player requires, among other things, a thorough understanding of both offense and defense, of move and counter-move. One needs to understand their personal strengths and weaknesses, and ideally, those of their opponent as well. Understanding the rules of engagement is also a must. In this manner, once again, sport provides a great corollary to life. As martial artists, it is incumbent upon us to prepare ourselves for battle, to be prepared to protect ourselves and our families. Part of this preparation is in knowing all we can about our opponents and the battlefield. Against whom, and for what should we be prepared?
The media would have us believe that there is violence around every corner, but for the vast majority of Americans, this simply isn’t the case. While 2015 and 2016 both witnessed slight upticks in violent crime, they are still part of an overall downward trend since the early 1990’s. Whether these slight increases are the beginning of a return upward, or just anomalies on a continued decline, only time will tell.
It’s important to remember that while these numbers represent the national average, there are large geographic variations. (Here’s the FBI’s breakdown for 2015 by metropolitan area.) What is striking about this recent increase, for example, is that it is not widespread throughout the country, but is occurring predominantly in particular major metropolitan areas. Not only that, but digging a bit deeper into the stats, we find it’s focused in particular areas/neighborhoods within any given city. (Here’s an interesting look at cities, broken down further into individual neighborhoods)
One’s odds of victimization also correlate with such factors as age, married status, and income levels. For example, in 2015, people between the ages of 12-24 were victims of violent crime much more frequently than older age groups. Married people experienced a relatively low level while separated people had the highest. Economics also plays a role: the lower the household income, the higher the odds of being a victim. (here is the report) It should be noted that while there is a correlation between these factors and the victims of violent crime, the causal relationship isn’t as clear.
The take-away from all of this? We live in a relatively safe society. Being aware of our surroundings, avoiding bad neighborhoods, and making wise decisions can greatly reduce our risk. The chances are, if we pay attention, most of us will never need to use our physical martial art skills to defend ourselves nor our loved ones from violence. Where we live, and who we associate with can further improve those odds.
Be smart, be safe, and train hard.
See you on the mats.