Houston violent crime rates on the rise— step up your self-defense game with these moves!

HOUSTON — "Not too long ago, some friends and I were out, and we were not aware of our surroundings, and three gunmen approached us at gunpoint." Cary Corral told NewsFix when we met her at Krav Maga Houston on the Southwest Freeway at Kirby recently. She was ready for some pointers on how to protect herself.

What happened to Corral isn't as uncommon as you might think. Violent crimes are on the rise in the Houston area. Early estimates from the Brennan Center indicate an 8.8% increase in violent crimes in 2017 compared to the previous year— that includes crimes like jugging, purse snatching and rape. Criminals usually prefer to prey on easy targets, which can be bad news for women and kids but it doesn't have to be!

Self-defense is in session! The first lesson from Trea Drake with Krav Maga Houston might surprise you.

"Look, if you never take classes, the No. 1 thing that you need to know is people are looking for potential victims that are distracted." Drake said. In other words, you could prevent a bad situation all together just by being aware of your surroundings.

"Anytime, you are in transitional spaces from your car to a building, from your car to your house, from your house to your car, whatever it may be [...] put your cell phone away. Keep your head on a swivel and be aware of what's going on around you." Drake stressed.

It's an active lesson and so is putting politeness to the side and trusting your instincts. It's okay to avoid small talk and requests.

"It's not about being paranoid. It's just about being aware." Drake said and he also suggests always giving yourself a safe distance.

"Second is non-violent de-escalation techniques; knowing the distance you need to keep between you and somebody that is a potential threat to you, knowing what to say and what not to say, knowing what to do with your hands and what not to do with your hands to de-escalate a situation." Drakes continued.

That's exactly what saved Corral and her friends.

"The one person who remained calm through out the entire situation was able to diffuse the situation," Corral said. "I think it's important. If he hadn't been there I think it may have been a different outcome."

Avoid a fight if you can, something Max McMichael has learned in his Krav Maga classes.

"Self-defense isn't something you should just use anytime you want." McMichael explained. "[Self-defense] is for if somebody starts to mess with you, starts touching you, and starts hitting you."

If things do get physical, it's time to protect yourself.

"Lastly, it's the self-defense skills and the combative that you need to be able to follow up and implement violence of action to get out of a situation," Drake said.

Keep fighting until you're out of harms way.

"What was awesome about what [Cary] did was the intensity that she worked." Drake said with practice students get stronger. "She's going to get in shape, and she's going to learn a useful skill at the same time. A life skill, something that is essential to life."

Prevent. De-escalate. Defend. Three little words that could make a big difference and help you defy the odds.