Experts give tips for repelling a random slasher

TOKYO —

Around 11:20 p.m. on the evening of Dec 4, a 36-year-old woman suffered serious knife wounds when she was slashed on the street in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward.

When police arrived at the scene, the woman was in a nearby residence where she had fled after the assault. She had been stabbed in the side of the abdomen and the arm.

“While walking home from Minami Shinjuku station on the Odakyu Line, the woman was attacked from the rear. She received six wounds in the arms and back,” a police source told Nikkan Gendai (Dec 7). “Her assailant wore dark clothes and the woman said she did not recognize him.”

The victim was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital and is in stable condition. Police are treating it as an assault by a so-called “tori-ma,” or passing demon, as random slashers are called in Japanese.

This case, warns the tabloid, is the sort of thing that people can afford to disregard only at their peril. But is there anything the average person can do to keep random slashers at bay?

“It’s important not to let violent thugs get close,” says Kozo Kaku, an author of historical novels which work in aspects of the martial art of Aikido. He adds, “They tend to target women who stroll at a slow pace. Or conversely, it’s more difficult for them to go after women who walk with a vigorous stride. So women should lean slightly forward and walk at a light, rhythmical pace—similar to the way samurai walked in olden times—and project a barrier of ‘ki’ (a state of alertness translated variously as ‘focus’ or ‘body and mind coordination’) that discourages assaults before they take place.

“The jaw line should be lifted so that the eyes are directed straight ahead. Women who look down at the ground while they walk are more vulnerable,” Kaku advises.

Another important factor in discouraging attacks is clothing. Takashi Nakayama, the chief director of the Japan Security Consultants Association (Nihon Bohan Shindanshi Kyokai) based in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, provides further advice to worried citizens.

“There’s a trend for depraved people to feel pleasure in seeing blood flow from their victims, so they will go after people who wear more conspicuous colors, such as white or beige,” says Nakayama. “So for people who tend to put in overtime and return home late, wearing a dark-colored coat is advisable.

“Women who wear shoes with spike heels are also easier targets, so on the way home they should change to shoes with low heels or flat soles.”

But despite these precautions, should a woman find herself under attack, what should she do?

“She should shout at the top of her lungs, ‘Tasukete! Keisatsu!’ (Help! Police!) and swing her handbag or anything else at the attacker’s eyes. If the assailant’s vision becomes impaired, the chances of him fleeing will increase.

“For further peace of mind, I recommend that women outside at night walk with a can of pepper spray at the ready in their right hand,” Kaku said.

  • 18

    Farmboy

    The potential victim should, in a loud voice, in English, say, "How old is your mother's sister's son?" While the slasher is thinking, walk away slowly. The slasher will not follow you.

  • 12

    Frungy

    My advice? Don't run, turn at kick your attacker in the knee... this is IDEAL if you're wearing heels, because while you may break your favourite pair of heels you'll almost certainly shatter his kneecap. Screaming is also good, but is an incidental thing.

    Why this advice?

    • It breaks the "script" the attacker has in his head. In his head he's powerful and the target is a fleeing helpless victim. By attackin you reverse the roles. Best case he's confused and assumed the victim roll and runs, worst case he's just confused for a second at the disrupted script, which is all you need.

    • Why the knees? The bigger the opponent the more weight their knees are carrying. A huge guy's knees are more vulnerable than a lighter guy's knees. The knee only bends in one direction, forward, so pressure straight back or even a glancing blow to the side can tear muscles and ligaments with relatively little force. It's also a disabling strike. Even if you don't do it perfectly he's not going to be able to run. If you do it right he's going to need major surgery. Finally, his focus is up, towards his knife hand. By striking low you're striking at an unexpected plane, and where his defences are weakest.

    • Why a kick? Simply put, legs are longer than arms. It keeps your attacker at a distance, and gives a shorter woman an at least equal reach against a taller male opponent.

    I don't know why they don't teach all girls a simple knee-kick at school. It's a devestating attack that's fast, normally unexpected, and can cause crippling injuries. When he's down just walk away, he won't be coming after you, and report it to the police so they can pick him up when he's in the hospital for his patella replacement surgery.

    No need for mace, ki or any other nonsense.

  • 9

    bicultural

    project a barrier of ‘ki’

    Thus the expression, "ki o tsukete." We've become so used to this phrase but I think we need to remember what it really means sometimes.

  • 7

    tkoind2

    This advise is silly. Walk like a samura? Really?

    Ok. I grew up in American cities and what you really need is a sense of awareness. So here is some advice from a practical stand point.

    1. It is true that you should not be looking at the ground or wandering too slowly. You do paint a target on your head for doing so.

    2. Walk confidently, but no need to pretend to be a samurai. If you look aware of your surroundings and that you are awake and alert, you are less desirable as a target. So pay attention to what is going on around you. It also serves to give you better capacity to notice strange people before they notice you.

    3. If you do notice someone creepy make sure you stay away from them, make sure to keep an eye on them. And if you are isolated from others get closer to the crowd. Ever watch a nature show? It is always the lone animal that gets eaten. Same in human reality.

    4. Walking alone at night. Don't if you can avoid it. If you live far from the station, buy a bicycle and don't walk. But if you do need to walk at night, turn off the iPod and pay attention to your surroundings.

    A lot of the trick to avoiding attack is both being aware and making sure that anyone observing you also understands that you are alert and aware. Then your chances of being a target drop off considerably. Especially for the cowardly attackers in Japan who prey upon the weak and lack the evil courage to attack stronger victims.

  • 5

    WilliB

    " My advice? Don't run, turn at kick your attacker in the knee... t "

    and so on.... to all the JT armchair warriors: Did it ever cross your mind that none of these stabbing victims noticed the stabber before they were stabbed already?

  • 4

    smithinjapan

    Aside from walking with pepper spray and shouting at the top of one's lungs, some of the advice here is ridiculous.

    "“It’s important not to let violent thugs get close,”

    Well, how do you know who the hell is a 'thug' when the stabber's random? Don't tell me they are advocating that we live in a state of fear of getting to close to others on very crowded streets, especially when everyone's definition of what makes up a 'thug' will differ.

    The bottom line is, the attacks are random and in most cases occur with the attackers coming in front behind or passing by, often running off immediately after, so there's not a whole lot you can do to prepare save the pepper spray (which you might want in case of mugging or some pervert anyway), some self-defense classes, and shouting if attacked. Oh, yeah, and don't walk while using your cell phone to text -- that just seems common sense anyway.

  • 4

    borscht

    for people who tend to put in overtime and return home late, wearing a dark-colored coat is advisable

    Thereby assuring you'll be hit by a texting driver who doesn't see you. Plus, rather than walk like a samurai, people should Walk Like an Egyptian. That'll scare weirdos off. Or attract them.

  • 3

    NeverSubmit

    You're more likely to be killed by a hornet than a random slasher

  • 3

    wanderlust

    Crowded streets forcing people into very close proximity + blissful unawareness of surroundings with shiromimi (earpiece of mp3 player) at high volume + eyes focusing on small screen of mobile phone as they are texting a message to a friend while walking along = recipe for disaster.

    Walking with friends or known people is about the only practical advice here...and then only if you know that they are not mentally disturbed or had a bad day at their office. Kireru!

  • 3

    Frungy

    YubaruDec. 09, 2012 - 12:04AM JST easier said than done. Keeping one's head about themselves is number one, panic usually sets in and it takes practice, practice, practice, to learn to defend oneself.

    Like I said, it should be taught at school.

    Yes kicking a person in the knee is one thing, but a quick shot to the family jewels is more effective as it is rather difficult in the spur of the moment to THINK to kick in the knee area.

    I beg to disagree. Firstly, evolution has mostly weeded out men who can't rapidly and reflexively defend their family jewels, so as a result it is an incredibly difficult target to hit. Secondly, even if you do hit your target some men react with psychotic rage... sure they fall down crying later, but only once they've ripped your head off and given you a guided tour of your own intestines The point is that mechanically the strike does nothing, so it is very much a matter of the strength of the strike and the individual's pain tolerance, and in situations like this I'd rather not gamble.

    Plus, if you were to kick me in the knee you would have to raise your foot rather high to place an effective shot.

    ... okay, now you're just boasting! For most of us mere mortals our family jewels are considerably higher than our knees.

    The best bet is to NOT walk alone, stick with people around you, groups are less prone to being attacked than individuals.

    Several of these sort of attacks have happened on crowded streets in the full view of bystanders.

  • 2

    combinibento

    “Women who wear shoes with spike heels are also easier targets...”

    I've read that this is why men find high heels sexy on a woman. (Judge Posner's Sex and Reason.)

  • 2

    Kapuna

    Frungy, excellent, logical advice.

  • 2

    Yubaru

    Why the knees? The bigger the opponent the more weight their knees are carrying. A huge guy's knees are more vulnerable than a lighter guy's knees. The knee only bends in one direction, forward, so pressure straight back or even a glancing blow to the side can tear muscles and ligaments with relatively little force. It's also a disabling strike. Even if you don't do it perfectly he's not going to be able to run. If you do it right he's going to need major surgery. Finally, his focus is up, towards his knife hand. By striking low you're striking at an unexpected plane, and where his defences are weakest.

    easier said than done. Keeping one's head about themselves is number one, panic usually sets in and it takes practice, practice, practice, to learn to defend oneself.

    Yes kicking a person in the knee is one thing, but a quick shot to the family jewels is more effective as it is rather difficult in the spur of the moment to THINK to kick in the knee area.

    Plus, if you were to kick me in the knee you would have to raise your foot rather high to place an effective shot.

    The best bet is to NOT walk alone, stick with people around you, groups are less prone to being attacked than individuals.

  • 2

    zichi

    Always try to be aware of what is happening around you and learn to sense danger which will enable you to move away from one. take some basic self defense classes for your confidence. Where I come from, a head butt between the eyes will put an end to most attacks.

  • 2

    Farmboy

    why are we sending the message to women, "DONT GET STABBED/RAPED/MURDERED"? why aren't we telling men to stop doing the stabbing/raping/murdering instead?

    The advice is about how to deal with slashers. Not all slashers are men, and not all victims are women. In any case, these are weirdos, not people who are going to have their behavior changed easily by informative jingles or well presented TV announcements. How will we reach them?

  • 1

    lucabrasi

    Nobody in the world can do anything against a truly "random" slasher. They'll come at you from behind in a crowd. Slash, slash... you're bleeding. End of story. I write from experience. (not in Japan) k

  • 1

    lachatamber

    why are we sending the message to women, "DONT GET STABBED/RAPED/MURDERED"? why aren't we telling men to stop doing the stabbing/raping/murdering instead?

  • 1

    Noliving

    Thereby assuring you'll be hit by a texting driver who doesn't see you.

    Well gee Borscht I wonder if that is why they also said you are suppose to aware of your surroundings. I can't believe that was a serious comment by you, I mean they even said not to look at the ground.

  • 1

    Noliving

    Oh, yeah, and don't walk while using your cell phone to text -- that just seems common sense anyway.

    And yet the average person doesn't follow common sense and then claim they didn't know what to do. The truth of the matter is that common sense is only common sense because when someone is told something that just seems so obvious it is called common sense but if you asked that same person before they were told they probably couldn't even tell you if you asked them.

    If you can`t avoid that scenario and are still concerned, take a taxi or ride a bicycle.

    Wait wait wait, isn't taking a taxi avoiding that scenario? In fact who is to say that taxi driver won't take you down a dark alley

    Trying to avoid walking down darkened streets, alone, late at night, would be a good idea.

    But that is blaming the victim! ;)

  • 1

    Nessie

    GREAT Advise !, NOW, EVERY guy that tries to "Nampa' ", and ask a girl to go for a DRINK, will get SPRAYED !

    Ocha ipai nomi ni ikimasen-kAAAAAAAAAA!

  • 1

    kominka

    I asked my local policeman his thoughts on carrying pepper spray, and he advised against it. According to him, some women have been made to pay money for causing permanent eye impairment to their alleged attackers. Of course, if attacked, most of us would not hesitate to break out the spray.... He also said only women may legally carry pepper spray. He did recommend carrying a loud alarm device and my daughter and I both do so, in addition to the spray! The spray is kept handy in a jacket pocket, and the alarm dangles at the end of a small chain attached to the handbag. My dad, a former Marine, taught my sisters and I some basic methods of self defense, but seriously, I am not confident I could follow through with them in a real situation. He said the knee is easy to damage, kick hard, sideways...the heel of your hand is strong, punch up hard at the attacker's nose....use the thumb to stab an eye...The goal is to quickly disable the attacker and run to safety. Okay, now I've freaked myself out, I need a cup of tea.

  • 1

    fds

    kicking the knee or the family jewels, carry pepper spray etc. are all well and good but the best and most basic would be to avoid the situation in the first place by paying attention. if you think some one following you. make sure they know you notice. so many people walk around oblivious to their surroundings especially on the routes they use everyday. predators look for this as these people are easy to surprise and take advantage of.

  • 1

    David43515

    The "Expert" is "an author of historical novels which work in aspects of the martial art Aikido"? Seriously? Why not Johnny Depp, an actor in historical films which work in aspects of fencing? I'd be about as helpful.

  • 0

    Meguroman

    Considering just how rare this type of incident actually is here in Tokyo, walking around with pepper spray in your hand all the time is overdoing it. Trying to avoid walking down darkened streets, alone, late at night, would be a good idea. If you can`t avoid that scenario and are still concerned, take a taxi or ride a bicycle.

  • 0

    Ewan Huzarmy

    I always thought that if wearing heels, dig them into the attacker's shin, that's supposed to be effective. Shin, Knees, or a goold old fashioned kick in the baws !

  • 0

    badsey3

    in Wintertime a coat is very effective against attack and foot movement is critical. If someone is attacking you -you should fight back -knowing full well if you don't this criminal will be attacking someone else. Many of these "attackers" only attack with one hand = use one of your hands to block and knock his chin up (upward thrust using palm of hand under attackers chin) with your other.

    I think having your phone out is a strength and not a sign of weakness to these coward attackers.

    Hair Kanzashi were historically used to ward off these type of "Demons." (hair sticks)

  • 0

    WilliB

    lachatamber:

    " why aren't we telling men to stop doing the stabbing/raping/murdering instead? "

    We aren´t? Who is telling men that this is OK? And by the way, some of the recent stabbers have been women.

  • 0

    Frungy

    WilliBDec. 09, 2012 - 11:27AM JST

    " My advice? Don't run, turn at kick your attacker in the knee... t " and so on.... to all the JT armchair warriors: Did it ever cross your mind that none of these stabbing victims noticed the stabber before they were stabbed already?

    To all the JT armchair critics with nothing useful to offer.

    Okay, so you've been stabbed. What's your next goal? Inflict maximum injury with the minimum effort in order to avoid being stabbed again and so you can get help.

    If you just turn and try and run/stagger away your attacker will follow and continue to stab. We know this because if you go through the JT articles this is the usual pattern, multiple stab wounds.

    However a knee kick is fast, practical and easy to execute. If the first stab has knocked you off balance and to the ground it is still a viable strategy (and might be easier than most kicks depending on how you've fallen).

    Of course you're welcome to just curl up on the floor and hope the attacker suddenly has an urgent desire to go and buy a bowl of ramen instead of kill you, but I'd strongly recommend trying the kick.

  • 0

    nandakandamanda

    Quote: “It’s important not to let violent thugs get close,” says Kozo Kaku.

    What about baseball cap and face-mask wearing, slightly-built pathetic losers with a grudge against society?

    And as WillB says, a surprisingly high proportion of these slashers are women, some elderly; and not just recently either.

  • 0

    cramp

    the only real experts who can give advice are the slashers themselves...the rest is drivel

  • 0

    JapanGal

    “So for people who tend to put in overtime and return home late, wearing a dark-colored coat is advisable."

    And get hit by a car. Nice idea.

  • 0

    2020hindsights

    The potential victim should, in a loud voice, in English, say, "How old is your mother's sister's son?" While the slasher is thinking, walk away slowly. The slasher will not follow you.

    This is surprisingly good advice. Except that it should probably be in Japanese. Saying something confusing can put an attacker into a trance-like state or at least confuse them long enough to get away.

  • 0

    Dennis Bauer

    The best advise i could give is, don't have your face stuck to your smartphone 24/7, be aware of your surroundings and be alert of suspicious characters.

  • -1

    SimondB

    The most useless advice you could wish for. Why not add wear body armour at all times or never, ever, leave your home. Ridiculuos beyond belief.

  • -1

    y123?!

    Almost as good as the 3 stooges defense....

  • -1

    hereforever

    I have an idea, how about employers stop forcing their staff to working ridiculously long hours! Life is short Japan. Enjoy it while you can!

  • -1

    WilliB

    " So women should lean slightly forward and walk at a light, rhythmical pace—similar to the way samurai walked in olden times—and project a barrier of ‘ki’ (a state of alertness translated variously as ‘focus’ or ‘body and mind coordination’) that discourages assaults before they take place. "

    LOL, did he demonstrate this sage advice, especially when wearing high heels? I want to see it.

  • -1

    WA4TKG

    For further peace of mind, I recommend that women outside at night walk with a can of pepper spray at the ready in their right hand,” Kaku said.

    GREAT Advise !, NOW, EVERY guy that tries to "Nampa' ", and ask a girl to go for a DRINK, will get SPRAYED !

  • -1

    lachatamber

    We aren´t? Who is telling men that this is OK? And by the way, some of the recent stabbers have been women.

    no, society sends a message to men to be manly, and being manly includes being violent.

  • -1

    nandakandamanda

    lachatamber, quote : no, society sends a message to men to be manly, and being manly includes being violent.

    Society used to send a message to men to be gentlemanly, and being gentlemanly includes being gentle.

    (Nowadays it is considered old-fashioned of course...)

  • -1

    flipper2

    Police are treating it as an assault by a so-called “tori-ma,” or passing demon, as random slashers are called in Japanese. Instead of treating it as an assault Shouldn't that say ' Treating it as attempted murder with intent to kill and possession of a lethal weapon or concealable white arm weapon??' Assault is a little light, no?

  • -1

    Dave Louthan

    The best defense in any situation is to not be there.

  • -1

    dctokyo2002

    to all the JT armchair warriors: Did it ever cross your mind that none of these stabbing victims noticed the stabber before they were stabbed already? > That`s because these days 99.9 of people walk with there face buried in their cell phone

  • -1

    Lowly

    Lots of weird advice coming out in this thread from ppl who may not have real experience doing anything. Anyone looking for real advice should be suspicious of that.

    If you want my advice (but why should you trust me...), the ppl writing "awareness" have it. Be looking around, aware of your surroundings including loiterers, and escape routes. Just doing that will keep "torima" away because you will look like a difficult to handle target. I think the guy in the article talking about "ki" really meant that, though, as ki is often used in senses that include awareness. So ppl complaining about him are really misunderstanding him. The posture thing, walking "forward" or what ever like a samurai is also legit, altho any "good" posture could have a similar effect, w/o having to always be purposefully striding somewhere. This just comes under awareness of your surroundings. Standing up straight and looking and being confident, are going to help. Torima aren't going to want to bother with you. Looking downward, or looking bummed out, is dangerous, as are iPods.

    Frungy et al,

    If you are grabbed, or about to be, ALWAYS run away, if you have a chance. It will always depend on specific circumstances, of course. But I really couldn't DISagree with Frungy and others talking about small women fighting heavy men hand to hand. You will lose. Be very careful. I am a large man and I have 15 years of MA experience having my knees kicked by very determined small women and also other large men, and while it sometimes hurts a little, I have not fallen down once, never mind broken a knee. True, shoes changes things, true you may get in a lucky shot. But NEVER stick around to try it unless you really have to. The groin is also problematic. It is recessed and protected by big thighs, and guys have different sized units that are slightly further back or forward- everybody has a different body, and you may not get a clear shot. I have been sure I nailed someone in the groin many times, only to be told they were ok, likewise was sure my kick hadn't hit anywhere near there, only to see them double over on the ground. I have also been kicked so hard I was bleeding from my unit, and I did not double over or feel very much pain and kept practicing. It's just not as automatic as it seems in movies, even with practice not a sure thing.

    If it ever does get physical, your best weapons are your jaw/ teeth and your fingernails and your knees and elbows. In that order. Explode, do what ever you have to and don't be afraid of being a "good" person or "nice". Scratch their eyes, break their eyes, bite something with the intent of ripping it off. Unlike knee kicks and groin shots, even a child has the power to rip flesh off of bone in their jaw. And most ppl cannot stand having chunks of them ripped off. They might run away from you then. Spitting in their eyes, throwing your hat or sunglasses at their eyes, etc, can be good too.

    But if your goal is to get away safely, just don't even try fighting. You never know if they have weapons you can't see, or a friend waiting in a car nearby.

    Finally, if your really in trouble, your voice is a good tool, but calling help and police may not help, many will get afraid and run away. "Fire" is a community danger, and ppl may come. ppl coming may be enough for the guy to run away.

  • -1

    Lowly

    The end bit-

    Don't be afraid of NOT being a "good" or "nice" person.

    Of course.

  • -1

    Spanki

    Walk like a samurai??? Jeez I see enough people around who have been to the school of silly walks already!

  • -2

    Impersonator

    Excellent advice from tknoid2.

    Anyway, who are these experts saying to walk like a samurai or putting a barrier of ki? Might as well try to use the Force to mind-trick the assaulter.

  • -3

    jumpultimatestars

    ‘Tasukete! Keisatsu!’ (Help! Police!)

    Honestly if you needed the English translation for that you have no business being in Japan anyway...

  • -6

    Probie

    Another load of ridiculous "advice'.

    project a barrier of 'ki'

    Typical stupidity.

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