How to Stay Safe at Cons (And everywhere else) . . .


Hi All,

This week I’ve been seeing a post bounce around Facebook warning about a possible predator/cosplayer who is apparently scaring other cosplayers by being aggressive in his communications, to the point where he’s even threatened to kill. So with it being con season I thought I’d touch on the subject of staying safe at these public events. Many years ago, my wife was assaulted at gun point by three men and lived to tell about it. For this reason among many others, we’ve become students of the martial arts. I’m a 4th degree black belt. My daughter is a 3rd degree and my wife recently got her first. All three of us hold the title of “Sensei” and teach on a regular basis. .

So how would you stay safe at a Steampunk Con or any other con for that matter?

Here are some simple things you can do to stay safe. Some are common sense and things you may already be aware of.

Be aware of your surroundings.

The first thing you should always do when entering any kind of structure or building is find out where the nearest exit is or think of how you would get out if there was an emergency. This can even work outdoors. Always be on the lookout for a way to get away from the area you’re in BEFORE the situation arises. Train your mind to do this so that it becomes second nature. It’s not paranoia. I’ve been doing this for so long that I don’t even think about it anymore.

946957_544710805569997_1913208527_nTravel in packs.

There’s is nothing more embarrassing to a would-be aggressor than an evil-eye from a good friend. You can ward off an aggressor simply by having a buddy nearby. The bad guy is able to be identified.

Watch out for each other.

Keep a watchful eye without looking like you’re keeping a watchful eye.

It’s called peripheral vision and we all have it. We just don’t put it into good use. Practice having a friend stand to the side of you and hold up their fingers. See if you can guess the number of fingers they’re holding up and hone your peripheral skills. With enough practice you’ll be able to look straight ahead while knowing who headed towards you with ill intent, without thinking about it.

Do not engage!

If someone who is clearly unbalanced approaches you and says something inappropriate, do not engage. Don’t try to talk the unbalanced person down unless you have had prior training.. If something is obviously off about the person, walk away. If he insults you, walk away. Don’t try to get the last word in. That can easily escalate a situation.

What if I am attacked?

Got a parasol? A  cane? Use it! 

There are two spots that will always incapacitate them and those are the eyes and the groin. Jam your fingers into their eyes and that will give you enough time to get away.  If the situation has escalated to the point where you fear for your life then the throat is an option. It does not matter how big the person is. These are vulnerable areas that everyone will be susceptible to. I will stress, do not use these as a first defense. Running or walking away is your first defense. These tactics should only be used if you fear for your life. You win when you live, not when you’ve beaten them.

Carry and Make Use of an Environmental Weapon

An “environmental weapon” which is anything that happens to be laying, sitting, standing next to you. A cup, a mug, anything!

Here’s a list of would-be self-defense weapons:

  • Parasol
  • Rolled up magazine or comic
  • A hand-held fan
  • A hooked cane
  • Your shoe
  • Hand bag
  • Keys
  • Diamond ring turned upside down (ladies, even if you’re not engaged or married, buy a fake one)

Other Tactics

If he puts you in a choke hold bite into his arm as hard as you can. The police will be able to match his teeth marks with yours. If you’re afraid of catching something after breaking the skin ask yourself if you’d rather live a long life with herpes than ending your life right then and there. After this, stomp on his foot or kick the knee. Believe me, it doesn’t take much to incapacitate someone. It only takes the will to act! Know what your target is!

Identify and Tell the Authorities

This is important primarily because you don’t want something worse to happen to you later or to someone else. Memorize their features at a glance. Practice doing this as you walk down the street. Like many of the other techniques we’ve discussed, this takes practice. Practice enough so that it becomes second nature to you and doesn’t feel like paranoia. 

I hope these tips help some. 

Oh and by the way, I write Kids Steampunk as well. If you’d like to learn more, please stop by my website at 

Stay safe!


Leonardo Ramirez is an author of Kids Steampunk and YA Fantasy. He is also a husband, father and a 4th degree Black Belt in American Karate as well as a brown belt in American Bushido Kenjutsu which is the study of the Katana sword. You can visit his website at  His books are available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers.