Protecting the Family

    Protecting your home  
       By Sensei Cockell and Sensei Byrnes

When it comes to protecting ourselves and our homes we have a tendency to believe that in our modern civilised times we are safe and our homes and belongings are secure and protected from damage. We believe we live in a society that is safe and well policed. This is certainly true most of the time.


The phrase ‘a man’s home is his castle’ is well known and used frequently to describe a place where families can feel safe and secure. If we think back to medieval times we can relate our homes to the castles of lords who controlled lands and looked after locals by providing protection and a place to bring up a family. In feudal Japan a warlord was know as a Daimyo. It was his responsibility to provide protection to the peasants who provided him with food and materials. In medieval times the lord’s castle needed to be protected from the constant threat of attack or infiltration. The Daimyo would take many precautions to prevent these things from happening, we can learn from the way these lords protected their estates and apply it to how we protect our homes without appearing paranoid or turning our homes into fort Knox.


Some key points the Daimyo would take into consideration.

·          Location and accessibility

·          Design and fortifications

·          Lighting and visibility

·          Guard placement                


The site of the castle would be selected for its defensive potential and accessibility, the fewer routes in, the better. The castle would be placed in a position that had height to give views of the surrounding area so as to see the enemy from miles away and to give you time to prepare your defence. Areas with cliffs and natural protection would give the castle a formidable appearance so it was less likely to be attacked.  A moat and draw bridge could be installed to seal off the castle, in the event of an attack and most Japanese castles had a huge outer wall sloped to prevent climbing. There were also several smaller inner walls which provided protection and these where designed to force the enemy into a bottle neck if they penetrated past one or more of the defensive walls. Within each wall was a massive gate to allow or prevent movement in or out of the castle. These gates were operated by guards. Fortifications on and around the castle were built. Guard towers that allowed arrow fire or burning oil to be used against the enemy were placed in strategic positions.


Lighting in the medieval times was a real issue so many areas were lit by oil lanterns that were constantly maintained to provide suitable lighting for the guards. Lastly, guards were posted throughout the castle. They monitored and patrolled inside and outside the castle grounds working in shifts to allow for rest. This allowed them to be in optimum condition to deal with the problems that arose. The guards would patrol in static positions or in mobile units so as to best protect the castle.


The Daimyo also thought in advance.  He would have constructed within the castles grounds and more importantly within his personal living area, secret escape passages so he, his family and trusted allies could escape to safety if they needed to. These passages could also be used in case of fire or other natural events.


Lastly, supplies within the castle would be built up over time in case of a siege. The food and water supply would be carefully monitored for future use. It was not uncommon to store enough food and water to feed the inhabitants of the castle for up to three years. Wood, stone and weapons and anything else needed for survival would be placed in well hidden and well protected areas within the castle to insure easy access and optimum storage.


Another interesting note is a Daimyo would often employ Ninja when building a castle.  They would give advice on how to build in safeguards to prevent infiltration by enemy agents - who better to prevent infiltration then the masters of stealth and infiltration themselves.


So how does all this provide us with help in protecting our homes? Let’s break it down.

Accessibility: Use defensive fortifications to prevent unwanted access to your property, e.g. a good solid fence and a lockable gate can prevent easy access. If your property is difficult to get into for intruders then it is not an easy target. Good solid doors with sturdy locks can prevent an intruder because they take time to bypass. A peephole or lock chain is useful to see who is at your door without giving to much access to your home. Install secure lockable windows. A well placed rose bush under a window can prevent people looking through it. Keep clear clean spaces around your property, so you can see people approaching your house. Don’t leave garden tools and implements lying around as these can be used to gain access to your house or be used as weapons against you.


Lighting: Technology these days provides heat sensitive lights or motion activated lights that can illuminate your house and deter unwanted intruders. Illuminate your walkways to prevent people concealing themselves easily.


Deception: If you live alone put some large boots outside your front door. Don’t let junk mail build up. Keep your property well maintained, if it looks well cared for then someone must be there regularly so your home becomes a harder target. A dog’s toy in your yard (even if you don’t have a dog) can create the appearance of a guard dog. Obtain a security company sticker and place it in clear view from the road. This may be enough to create doubt in the criminals mind. When going on holiday arrange for someone to collect your mail to make it appear as though you are home.


Escape: In case of a fire or other situations always insure your family knows the best escape routes from your house and that you have an evacuation point (somewhere to meet up if you get separated). Keep a phone in your bedroom in case of intruders; this is a lot easier these days with mobile phones. Have wall socket lights down the hall way to show escape route, easily obtained from your hardware store.


Guards: A good well trained guard dog will always be an excellent deterrent for any criminal; if your property is fenced it can roam acting as your sentry.  Dog’s have great hearing and sense of smell, not to mention very effective natural weaponry. Video surveillance can be used to record the areas around your property. Recording devices can be activated by movement or can record constantly for a number of hours. The sight of a camera can be enough to deter would be criminals.

A small dog like a chiuahua inside the house is a great companion for ladies when home alone and a great internal audible alarm that everyone pays attention to. Burglars don’t like them as they make too much noise and are commonly known as ankle biters.


Siege or disaster:  Always insure you have a good supply of canned food things such as beans, spaghetti, canned fruits and vegetables will provide sustenance and nutrients to you and your family.  Bottled water is very important as the body can survive for two weeks without food but only three days without water. This together, with a survival kit and first aid kit will insure that you can provide for your family in times of disaster or siege. Keep a torch & spare batteries handy in the survival kit aswell.


Use of spies: Get to know your neighbours, they can watch your property while you are away and the more eyes that are available the more chance that someone will notice if something is awry. You can consider your neighbourhood watch group as a syndicate of spies looking out for each other. Neighbours can clear your mail, feed your pets, water gardens and air your house when you are away on holiday.


We can draw comparisons to our homes and the castles of the feudal lords of Japan and other regions off the world. This is not paranoia it is just precautions and protection for the things we have worked hard for and that make our lives just that little bit more enjoyable. A man’s home is his castle but it is his knowledge and common sense that protects the castle and its inhabitants.

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