Some call it a sign of the times or simply a negative trend fueled by the economic crisis.

Others see it as a harbinger of the general increase in societal violence and still others connect it to social networking and its offshoots. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that there is more aggression and anger directed at the wealthy than ever before-aggression that can take the form of vicious and potentially brutal encounters that target the wealth creators themselves, as well as their children.

As is often typical with high-net-worth individuals, many are choosing to take matters into their own hands and seeking specialized self-defense training that will allow them (and their loved ones) to identify potential dangers, deal with threats and fend off attackers. A leader in such training is George Chaber, director of Karate America, a private dojo in Bethel, Conn., that works with family offices and private banks to train their affluent clients, as well as with hedge fund managers and their families. In Chaber's experience, "the wealthy have always been targets, but we've seen a significant uptick in the number of families taking more proactive and defensive measures to protect themselves."

Chaber's philosophy is that the best fight is one that never happens. His studio emphasizes "sensitivity/responsiveness training."

"This kind of training enables people to be more attuned to the potential dangers in their environment. Our objective is to help our clients develop an almost reflexive understanding of harmful situations so they can take the appropriate action," he says.

Chaber's two-step approach-being perceptive and highly aware, followed by constructive action to avoid conflict-helps his students to control threatening situations rather than become victims of them. "Aside from being sucker punched," Chaber confirms, "no one can lay a hand on one of our students unless it's OK with that individual."

Perhaps most alarming is the growing risk to children. "Most parents believe there's an increased possibility of their children being assaulted," says Chaber, "so they're looking for self-defense programs that are designed specifically for children, preteens and teenagers." He believes that the key to working successfully with children is to teach them effective fighting skills that can be learned quickly, so they don't get discouraged. The massive popularity of mixed martial arts-a combination of boxing, wrestling, Brazilian Jujitsu, Muay Thai and tae kwon do-has reinforced the approach that Chaber has long used in his programs. "For maximum effect, we've taken techniques from a variety of martial arts and integrated them into a seamless approach," says Chaber.

The Karate America programs draw from less mainstream areas such as Silat, Pagamut, Jeet Kune Do and Dim Mak, and the techniques are carefully chosen, then modified for quick mastery. "The moves we teach in these programs are easy to learn and can be highly debilitating, when necessary," says Chaber, adding that this type of training "empowers kids with the critical skills and confidence they need to deal with an adult attacker."

More information about Karate America is available at