Stairways and Elevators have advantages and disadvantages. Basically, an elevator is a box. In fact, it’s a box with a restricted entrance and exit that will only open under certain circumstances.

If you are in the elevator with someone else, you need to realise that any avenue of escape doesn’t exist. So, if you are in an elevator with another person you need to keep all of your senses on alert.

Worse still is most elevators have solid doors so as you approach a new floor the door will open, and you have no idea and no warning who is on the other side of that door. As it’s the only way in or out you are literally trapped by someone you haven’t had the opportunity to evaluate.

Imagine two worse case scenarios

In the first scenario you are in the elevator of a large hotel on the way down before you leave for the office. Your new Rolex you brought after that last sales bonus is making you feel great, you have your passport and wallet in your breast pocket as you are flying out after the meeting. Life’s good, things are going great and you feel like you have finally made it after years of grind and hustle. As the metal door opens on the third floor two men in suits get into the elevator, and you move aside to make sure they can get in easily. Strangely one of the men presses the button for the second floor, oh well they are probably just meeting a colleague you have plenty of time so it’s no problem. You turn away quickly as a fist hits your nose and you feel immense pain as the bones break and your front teeth are smashed. You barely notice as one of the men stamps on your head having fallen to the floor. You don’t even comprehend what’s happening as he takes your watch, wallet and passport. As they get out on the second floor one of the men puts a pen in the doorjamb, so it can’t shut delaying any help you might have got if the lift were to arrive at reception.

In the second scenario you are a very successful lady having worked your way up to running a large department with over two hundred staff. You have had a great day visiting this office and just need to get back to your hotel room and crash with some room service. As you get in the elevator a young man enters and stands by the door paying you no attention. As the doors open at his floor instead of stepping out he blocks the doorway and three other men enter pushing you against the back wall. With the door held open you are at the mercy of the men in the lift. With the knife at your throat you can’t scream for help and are completely trapped.

Both scenarios show how difficult it would be to protect yourself. Anyone who believes they can fight off four attackers is either deluded or an expert.

There are methods of doing so but to say it’s easy is immensely misleading but we will share the basic principle just, so you can picture it in your mind. The principle is to fight only one person at a time, you do this by where you position yourself and if you don’t act decisively and quickly they will move to negate this action. Sounds fairly easy doesn’t it. Well if you think so go to an elevator with a couple of friends and do it in a light-hearted manner. Maybe give them all a marker pen and see if they can mark your shirt. Yes, you guessed right the marker is just a substitute for a knife and the marks are your blood.

If you tried that you will realise how difficult that particular situation is.

Defence in an elevator is difficult to say the least but sometimes life happens, and you are in an elevator and just want to minimise your risk. You have two basic options on where to stand to help you at least stand a chance and I was debating these with another self-defence instructor. Neither is right or wrong and it is very dependent on each situation.

The first option is to stand well away from the door in the corner of the back of the elevator. This gives you time to react to anyone entering the elevator and by being in the corner you limit the space they have to approach you. Normally corners are considered as places which limit you as you are trapped by the two walls but in this scenario, you are trapped anyway. The downside to this approach is it guarantees that you accept the inevitability of the confrontation, so you best be able to look after yourself.

The second option is to stand by the side of the door. The partial corner by the side of the door often has the door controls so you have the option of pressing the alarm as well as possibly being able to push your way out and escape before any attackers get the opportunity to size you up and decide whether you are their next victim or not.

Neither approach is fool proof and success depends as much on how your possible attacker plans and initiates any robbery or attack however these are the two possible options. Any other position really puts you at significant disadvantage.