The Best Defense is a Good Offense -- Local Security Expert James Otigbah on Staying Safe
Photo: James Otigbah trains a female student in self-defense.
By Alexis Munier
Staying street-smart and street-safe is a major concern for the so-called fairer sex.
Even in Switzerland, where physical crime rates are generally low, women may face assault--especially in the larger cities. However, here as in most of the world, women are more at risk for domestic abuse and injury from their partners than from unknown criminals.
Local security expert and business owner James Otigbah strongly believes in ensuring women’s safety. His company, Excel Security Solutions, focuses mainly on security detail for the region’s banks, businesses and private chalets. However, Excel has developed training programs and workshops to meet an increased need for self-defense here in the Saanenland.
On the Spot Training
“I sincerely hope you’ll never need to use any of the techniques you learn today,” says James Otigbah, President of Excel Security Solutions, as the day-long self-defense for women course begins.
But the course doesn’t take place in a big city with high crime rates. In the relatively safe Saanenland, Otigbah has gathered a group of a dozen women ready to learn the basics of self-defense and personal safety.
Otigbah knows a thing or two about safety. The Malta native with Nigerian roots runs one of the largest private security firms in the Saanenland, Excel Security Solutions. With decades of experience in dangerous nations like Nigeria and Kenya, Otigbah believes one can never be too careful, no matter where in the world they are.
“Personal security is personal responsibility,” Otigbah preaches, “and ultimately, our own security is our own responsibility.”
And that’s precisely the reason Otigbah offers a variety of security classes here in the region. From group self-defense workshops for women and children to private lessons in awareness and best practices while travelling in the developing world, the company has a course to suit every need.
At the self-defense for women workshops, Otigbah and his team of experts teach a wide spectrum of awareness and prevention tools, including breakaway techniques.
This “Personal Safety Awareness Workshop” focuses on behavioural changes that may be adopted by women at risk. Highly active, the workshop involves intense physical participation in a variety of exercises.
“The course is designed to present and prepare preventative methods and measures that may be easily adopted to reduce risks,” says Otigbah. “And all this, in a warm, comfortable environment which allows participants, especially survivors of abuse, to feel safe.”
Better Safe than Sorry
At a recent course, women of all types could be found, from famous faces to local teenagers. Their reasons for participating, however, were all similar despite whether or not they had previously been assaulted – to be able to fight off an attack.
“I’m here because you just never know,” says local Laura Scherz, who has participated in several courses already. “I feel very safe in Switzerland, but this is not always the case on my travels abroad to cities like London and New York.”
ALL THE RIGHT MOVES – Simple strategies for self-defense
While self-defense is allowed in Switzerland, it’s worth remembering that principles of appropriate force are applicable. The moves described below are only justifiable in cases of attack, or when potential harm is a real risk.
After a timed drill of kneeing in an attacker’s face and groin, participants move on to the next step of scratching or clawing out the eyes – a painful move which does not require much force.
“Rather than trying to hit or punch an attacker, use the heel of your palm to drive upwards into the attacker’s nose,” says Otigbah.
This move makes it more difficult for an attacker to grab your arm and prevent contact, and can potentially cause more pain and damage than a traditional punch.