The subject of self defense is a broad one that encompasses many areas. There is not just one way to defend yourself. People can spend a lifetime working on one area or another and still there is much more to learn. Most people spend their training time working on a "delivery system" of one type or another. For some it is the gun, for others the knife, for many it is the empty hands and others might be the stick.
When we look at delivery systems we really are looking at what we will use to end the fight. As our friend Sonny Puzikas says most people spend 95% of their time working on the last 5% of the solution. Having spent most of my life in pursuit of martial excellence I find this to not only be true, but also profound. No matter how hard you hit (which is important) and no matter how well you shoot (also important) the point where these attributes come into play is not at the beginning but rather well into the fight.
The following is the structured strategy that I use and teach for dealing with people of unknown intent who approach you on the street. I have been using this in both Suarez International classes and Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit classes for the last 5 years. I have actually had students use this material out in public at lunch on the first day of class when approached by a panhandler. In fact the student actually thought I had set the whole thing up. He did not realize that this encounter was in fact REAL. The student used the verbal and positioning skills we discussed that morning in class and the encounter ended with the panhandler walking away. When I arrived at lunch the student asked where I had found the guy who approached him. I didn't know what he was talking about.The student thought that I had set that encounter up since I had told them that it was something they could very well end up using at the gas station or at lunch that day..... He then realized that his encounter was not staged but had been real and that the material we had just discussed in that morning in class made it easier to make himself less enticing to an unknown and possibly dangerous individual .
I did not originate all of the material. In fact it is largely taken from Craig Douglas's Managing Unknown Contacts. I simply organize it a little differently in order to make it more structured and easy for the end user to remember. Without further adieu I present "Pests Eat Fast."
In the martial arts and self defense world we often want to know how to end fights. But scant attention is really paid to avoiding fights. In civilian America there are two most likely scenarios for you to employ armed violence against an aggressor.One will be in your home. The other is being approached on the street by muggers or aggressive panhandlers or maybe by individuals who are "protecting turf".
First we'll look at the home invasion. How can we limit our exposure to this? Be smart. Don't thoughtlessly brag to anyone who will listen about what you have and then tell them where you live. If you have $100,000 in gold bullion it is not a good idea to tell everyone you know. What do most home invasions have in common? The perpetrator knew in advance what the victim had that was of value and the perpetrator thought it was worth the risk he would be taking in trying to acquire it.
Home invasions are not normally fishing expeditions. It is likely a directed assault with the purpose to gain some specific resource that they believed to be there. Usually it will be either drugs or money. So if we do not advertise what we have of value we will make ourselves less likely targets in our home.
Add to this some simple measures like good locks on doors, actually LOCKING THE DOORS, motion sensing lights outside, maybe a dog that will bark and bite and you have gone a long way toward making yourself a less inviting target. We want to have a layered defense where our assailants will not have an easy time of it if they decide to try to take whatever it is that they think we have of value. Which house is easier to rob? The one with the door standing wide open or the one with a fence, motion sensing lights, solid locked deadbolt doors, a barking dog, and armed occupants?
Now aside from the home robbery scenario our most likely place to be victimized will be on the street after being approached by an unknown person. This could be an aggressive panhandler looking for a handout or it could be a potential mugger sizing us up as victims. This is often referred to as the interview phase. Here the potential assailant is assessing his potential client and determining whether they would make a good target. Some might be familiar with the phenomena of sharks "bumping" prey before they bite it to see if it is in fact edible. The same thing applies here.
In this phase the criminal will likely be feeling you out to see if you are worth the risk. There is no "benefit package" to a job as a street criminal. There is no 401K and there is no medical plan. If you get injured in the process of acquiring resources (robbing someone) then your ability to acquire more resources will be somewhat limited until you can heal. And during that time you will be a more inviting target to other criminals who now may see you as a potential victim.....no honor among thieves.
Another worry is if you show up at the hospital with a stab wound, or worse a gunshot wound, the hospital will call the police and there will be a discussion with the responding officers you'd rather avoid if you are somone making a living victimizing your fellow man. Of course it goes without saying that if there is a catastrophic failure in the victim selection process and you choose a victim that kills you then there is no recovering from that. So what is a criminal to do? Simply make sure you choose victims well.
So who makes a good victim? Someone who is not aware of their surroundings, and someone who is less likely to fight back effectively makes a much better victim than a prize fighter who is paying attention. This usually means that people who are either injured, elderly, obviously not a physical threat, and unlikely to be armed and unlikely to offer resisitance are going to be right at the top of the list for victims. Why? The likelihood of success is high and risk of injury is low.
If you were going to choose a victim who would it be? The 6'4" powerlifter with the Navy SEAL Trident tattoo on his forearm and a bulge on his waistline that is probably a large caliber pistol or the 5'7" overweight upper middle class 50 year old guy sitting in his car not paying attention to anything but his text messaging on his phone? One of these guys will probably never see you coming and the other will probably smoke you. Which is which? Who would YOU choose?
So just like with our houses we can make a layered defense. The biggest part of this total defense package is making good lifestyle decisions. We use a specific term for this. It is called the "Three Stupids Rule".I first heard this from John Farnam. Simply put it is....
1. Don't go STUPID places.
2. Don't do STUPID things.
3. Don't hang with STUPID people.
If we avoid stupid people, places and things then we are much less likely to have bad things happen to us. If you decide to go to the worst part of town at 3AM in your $90,000 sports car to buy cigarretes then that might fall under stupid things. If you are riding with a friend who needs to make a quick run to the ATM and then stop off at a shady apartment complex in the bad part of town to "run inside for just a minute" then that might be a stupid place. And any time you are with people who are likely to say "hold my beer and check this out" that is probably in the realm of stupid people. We can see where often one of the "STUPIDS" will often involve the others. Frankly, stupid people tend to be at stupid places and do stupid things quite often so avoiding them altogether makes us less vulnerable to bad things happening to us.
I usually add as a companion rule to the Three Stupids Rule the exhortation to avoid Drugs, Whores, and Booze.
Point number one is avoiding drugs. I'm not just referring here to "just say no" as I am referring to the danger of violence and death at the periphery of the drug trade. If you want to occasionally partake of marijauna in the privacy of your own home, you can maybe argue as to whether that is really hurting anyone. While I see the libertarian side of this it does not mean I think it is a good idea. If you are going to do it then please do not do it and then drive to the convenience store for doughnuts. We can maybe argue that you are hurting no one but your own brain cells. But the issue is really the stupid people, places and things that you will come in contact with when you are involved in that lifestyle.
I personally knew 2 people when I was in college who ended up dead simply due to their involvement in some capacity with the drug trade. One died of an overdose. It was more than a week before they found him. We just thought he hadn't been around for a while because he was studying for mid term exams.While God may have given us the plants and seed bearing herbs to use (a verse from Genesis I have heard used to justify marijuana use) Chrystal Meth is not something that is positive in any way for you to ingest. If they key ingredients are toxic on their own then do you really want to mix it and ingest it?
The other guy I mention was murdered in a drug deal. He was murdered after being lured to an abandoned apartment complex for what he thought would be a simple money for drug transaction. The other participants saw him as a willing victim who would deliver cash to them at a place where no one would hear him scream. He produced the money and they produced weapons and killed him. As I say, there is violence at the periphery of the drug trade. The guy you got the weed from may be a friendly acquaintance. The guy he got it from is probably not quite so nice. And the guys he got it from will leave someone cut into little pieces in a garbage bag if they feel they have been disrespected, cheated or taken advantage of. These are NOT the kind of people you want to have to come into contact with if it can be avoided.
Point two is avoiding whores. I'm not only referring to the street walking types, but also to picking up random people in bars. Not only is there the very real concern for contracting sexually transmitted diseases, but the possibility of angry boyfirends, husbands, ex boyfriends and ex husbands, girlfriends and wives, etc. You probably do not want to be sitting there flirting with his girl when the guy who has decided he's had enough of her running around on him shows up with a gun. Being involved with women (or men) who are involved in other relationships is the fast track to ending up in a violent confrontation with the other point of that love traingle. A guy who lived in my apartment building in college was stabbed in the heart with a steak knife and died after an argument with his lover over his running around on them. Best advice is to avoid problems like that it altogether if possible.
And point number three is booze. I'm not some kind of Puritan who says you should never drink. If you do then be responsible and don't drink to excess in public. Quite simply if you are drunk in public you will be far more likely to be victimized. Your ability to recognize an altercation beginning or an ambush being set will be greatly reduced. Also your physical ability to react to it will be slowed as the alcohol has a negative effect on your reaction time.
Who would you rather pick as a victim? Would you rather try to rob the stumbling drunk guy who doesn't even realize you are closing in on him or the stone cold sober guy who is already alerted to your presence and moving to get better position? Alcohol also lowers people's inhibitions and makes people do things they would not ordinarily do. Having worked as a bouncer in a bar for several years in my 20s, I can tell you for certain that some people are just not physically well adapted to drinking. The world is full of angry drunks and things you'd normally overlook when sober are reasons to fight when intoxicated. We never had to break up fights between sober people in the bar.....
So we can see here where just like the 3 stupids often overlap, drugs, whores and booze also have a great bit of overlap and often paralell and overlap the three stupids. Again, I worked in the bar and entertainment industry long enough to see that the three stupids and drugs, whores and booze led to many a confrontation that would otherwise never have happened and often led to violence that both parties would have avoided had they not come together through involvement with those other things. As I often say...."Things like that just don't happen in church". Thus endeth the sermon.
So if we make a habit of making good decisions regarding lifestyle and we do not work in an occupation that puts us in regular close contact with the criminal element, then we can pretty well limit our exposure to violence. Now with good decison making on our side our biggest area of vulnerability will be being approached while out in public by persons of unknown intent. From my own experience this will most likely be in a parking lot or at a gas station in urban areas though it could honsetly be anywhere people are milling about.
The key to either avoiding a fight or to getting a tactical advantage before the fight starts is awareness . Many schools teach "awareness". Many use Jeff Cooper's Color Code. The colors are
1. White-you are oblivious to the world around you.
2. Yellow- a condition of relaxed awareness
3. Orange- a specific person place or thing has caused you to feel uneasy or threatened
4. Red - the fight is on.
The color code is a sliding scale of awareness. You will be constantly shifting from yellow to orange out in public if you are paying attention. You will go from "people watching" to focusing on a potenetial problem, asessing the possibilities and returning to people watching. No big production, just paying attention to the information that is there for all to see. It is much like driving on the interstate. You are aware of cars around you but not keyed to a particular one until it starts to veer into your lane or drive erratticly. At that point you shift focus to it to determine whether it is someone loading their CD player, texting, or a drunk driver. You may tap your break to create space and avoid them or you might even get off at the next exit. But if you are not paying attention to begin with you might get your first clue about the other driver when he veers into your lane and hits your car.....
Some people live in condition white. Many simply move about like herd animals with their head down their whole lives and then wonder what happened when they find themselves the victim of crime. We assume that there must be a "Victim Card" issued because they almost invariably say the same thing.
1"I never saw it coming".
2."All of a sudden there they were".
3. " Why would anyone want to hurt me?"
4."These things only happen to other people".