Self-defense knowledge, and being able to protect yourself and your family, are often the difference between life and death. In today’s modern and evolving world, attackers are also becoming more innovative in how they stalk and prey on their targets. Recently an internationally renowned self- defense and security expert, Gary Prindiville, Sr., facilitated a powerful seminar for the local members of the St. Louis chapter of A Girl & A Gun. The focus of this program was to empower and build confidence in women to defend themselves physically and psychologically, whether armed or unarmed. Because of his experience and knowledge, we asked Gary some key questions that we believed readers would want answers to.
Q: Why do women who carry still need to know physical self-defense techniques?
GARY: Carrying a firearm is a valuable strategy if you’re trained and have the weapon at the ready when needed. But, not all self-defense situations require a weapon to be drawn, and most do not.
Sometimes when non-law enforcement personnel carry firearms, complacency or simple unexpected circumstances can prevent a firearm from being handy. Proper self-defense training can endure if properly taught and practiced.
Q: There are multiple options available out there for self-defense programs. What separates your services from that of your competition?
GARY: Most importantly I would say that my techniques are designed for a broad audience of women of all ages and physical strength. I’m often asked about MMA fighting techniques, which I like to watch, but they are more suited for younger athletic types than a broader audience. I try to deliver techniques that can be executed by a teenage girl or a woman over 50 who may be recovering from breast cancer and doesn’t have a lot of physical strength. Basic police tactics are also useful, but because of legal restrictions on their use of force, they’re also not always inclusive. My background includes training for Fortune 40 Companies, executives and their spouses, which was consistently requested for over 20 years. During my time as a VIP protection lead and Global Director of Security for a Fortune 40 Company, I had occasion to engage my training and techniques, and prevailed every time. Additionally, my programs encompass over 40 years of experience reviewing forensic psychological research and conducting exclusive, in-person interviews with predators. I conducted several personal interviews in prison with Dennis Rabbitt of St. Louis, Missouri, who is considered one of the most prolific rapists of our time. I incorporate this information in my program material to help women identify potentially threatening behaviors, pre-attack clues and the who/when/why related to sexual predators selecting their targets.
Last, I would say that having 50 plus years in martial arts and 781 competitive matches has allowed me to select techniques that are specific to close-quarter defensive strategies for women of all ages. Certainly, my program also assists in selecting current self-defense products suitable for each individual. Protection for your home, car, traveling, and out-and-about safety precautions are also discussed.
Q: What safety precautions do you recommend for women in today’s world of social media and online dating?
GARY: Any time you give out personal information electronically you’re exposing your plans to the world. No good military or police officer will ever tell you his or her tactical plans without destroying their usefulness. When you give out personal information in any form, you may be opening doors that should remain shut. Surveillance is one of the common traits of sexual predators, which can come in all sorts and forms – electronic, physical, word of mouth, etc. It’s also important to bear in mind that drug- induced rapes are far more common now, so whom we trust and the level of personal information we share bears personal risk. On the flip side, violent offenders have taught me through my years of experience that they’ve told someone, or recorded someplace or on social media what they’re going to do. We often tell on ourselves throughout our lives. It’s incumbent upon all of us to speak up when we see or hear something that does not sound right. Stalking and threats are unacceptable, and if we don’t take control and look out for one another, predators will certainly prevail.
After our interview with Gary, I shared some of my thoughts with my co-author, Shannon Prindiville.
DEE ANN: As the Facilitator for the St. Louis chapter of A Girl & A Gun, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor, I strive to provide quality shooting and self-defense-related instruction to my chapter members and students. I was thrilled when I was able to do just that with the help of one of my chapter members, Shannon Prindiville. The result was Gary’s “Empowerment for Women Through Self- Defense”, which we both attended recently. After the event we discussed some creative solutions that we each engaged as professional women who work(ed) for companies/organizations that had policies against the possession of firearms while conducting company business. Additionally, we both travel(ed) and found that many self-defense products (such as pepper gel or spray) are prohibited by TSA regulations. I asked Shannon how she currently handles travel under these conditions. She said, “I carry a large and very loud, attention-getting whistle. I want to draw attention to the situation should someone approach me. I also try to practice exactly what our self-defense instructor said . . . l limit information that I make public about myself, whether in person or online. I also avoid sharing with others who don’t have an immediate need-to-know when I am traveling, where I am traveling to, and whether I am traveling alone, etc.”
While a rapist can be well-known to, or merely acquainted with the victim, other attackers operate on the element of surprise. I was really mesmerized when Gary talked about his personal interviews with Dennis Rabbitt, the prolific serial rapist. Gary had stated that in today’s modern society, surprisingly even violent offenders are now sharing their own personal information on social media. This information can and has worked against them, and can work in favor of law enforcement and victims. Conversely, it can also lure in victims.
As an instructor of “Refuse to Be A Victim” and “Personal Protection in the Home”, I always emphasize being situationally aware, especially when leaving work and approaching your car. We know that distance buys time, so key to any defensive strategy is avoidance. When traveling, it’s a good idea to first map out your routes and use GPS so that you don’t wander off track or become lost. Sharing mobile apps on your cell phone with family members that will track where that phone is located is extremely useful. Keeping your cell phone physically on your person (in your pocket rather than in your purse) ensures you’ll have it when you need it should your purse be stolen. I also shop for and wear clothing which has at least one dependable pocket in it for this reason. Cross-body bags/purses, fanny packs, elastic belly bands, etc. can often accommodate your phone and other items.
As a firearms instructor, I have shared with women a variety of methods to carry a firearm. On-body carry is the best choice for assuring that you will have what you need when you need it. Once an attacker enters your “safe space” of six feet, and you perceive it as a threat, you must increase the distance between yourself and that attacker to buy time. The key here is that this works only if you are aware of the threat and can be proactive. If caught unaware, studies have shown that you would need a minimum of 3.5 seconds to recognize and react to the threat.
Simply put, you first move, and your initial tactic is to “get off the X”. A moving target is much harder to attack than a stationery one. This allows time to either pull out a pistol and fire while backing away, or begin some preemptive hand-to-hand techniques. You may have to depend on physically using your body to buy time to continue firing if the attacker refuses to retreat, or you are unable to “get off the X”. At this point you must use what is available, which is where the techniques we learned from our instructor (Gary Prindiville, Sr.) would be very valuable.
While I provide firearm instruction to adults and youth, my passion is empowering women. I am pleased that I was able to bring Gary’s training and techniques to the members of the St. Louis chapter of a Girl & A Gun. I received nothing but amazing reviews after the event, and I would highly recommend Gary and his team to any group who wants to be pro-active regarding self-defense.
Gary Prindiville, Sr. and his firm are available for self-defense training and seminars at (314) 954-2800. Gary is the former director of Global Security for the former Anheuser-Busch, Inc. Companies (now AB-InBev). He is the founder of Prindiville & Associates, and current owner of GP Associates, LLC. Throughout his professional career spanning 32 years in corporate security and law enforcement, with more than 11 years in consulting services, he continues to be recognized as a leading expert and a pioneer of Security and Risk Management by renowned experts such as General Norman Schwarzkopf, Dr. Henry Kissinger, and John Walsh of “America’s Most Wanted”. In addition to his professional career, Gary is recognized as one of the most accomplished martial artists in the U.S. He currently holds a 7th degree black belt in the U.S. and Korean Judo Federations; he also holds a 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Although he competed successfully in martial arts, his primary focus is to empower women and assist youth in need through martial arts, self-defense, safety, and self- esteem training.
About the Authors:
Dee Ann DuCote is the Facilitator for the St. Louis chapter of A Girl & A Gun. She holds certifications as an NRA pistol instructor, rifle instructor, “Refuse to Be A Victim” instructor, “Personal Protection in the Home” instructor, and range safety officer. She has completed approximately 400 hours of defensive firearms training in pistol, rifle, and shotgun, as well as combat and wilderness medicine, competes in International Defensive Pistol Association and 3-Gun matches, and has training and experience in wilderness survival. Through her business Firearms and Fillies, she has conducted basic pistol and CCW classes, with an affinity for females and new shooters. Dee Ann has a BS in Education, and an MBA in direct marketing, and is currently enjoying retirement after many years of public service.
Shannon Prindiville is a member of the St. Louis chapter of A Girl & A Gun, and is currently an executive manager for a national corporation. She is the very proud daughter of our self-defense instructor, Gary Prindiville, Sr., and is his mentee.