Effective Self Protection!

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I am constantly reminded by events that happen, that the keys to effective Self Protection have little to do with actual physical fighting skills.  Do we need the fighting skills, absolutely!  However, if you practice the following three things, you can certainly keep yourself out of a lot of trouble.

  • Practice good Situational Awareness! Look around, keep your head on swivel and look for pre-incident indicators.  There are usually warning or danger signs that precede an attack.  Do you know what they are and have you honed your abilities to see these signs.  Remember and practice Colonel Jeff Cooper’s Color Code system of Mental Readiness.
  • Maintain Distance or Space between you and a potential adversary.  If not distance, find an obstacle or barrier at get behind it.  Most trainers describe the reactionary gap as 6 feet or more.  If you can not maintain this gap, then get your hands up and prepare for a potential assault.
  • Always look for an Escape Route. Again, put you head on swivel, if you can find an opening to disengage, take it.  There is nothing wrong with running away and seeking a better tactical position.

Simple enough:  Situational Awareness, Maintain Distance or Space, and look for Escape Routes. These are all skills that can be trained daily.  Train effectively and often and remember to always pay attention!

What is your threat?

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You must know your enemy.  Sun Tzu, Chinese General and military stratagiest stated:

 It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

I define your current enemy as Criminals, Crazies and Crusaders.  Let us look at each of these in detail.

Criminals are looking for a target of opportunity and often do not have any great plan of attack.  This is not always true, but most crimes just happen, except for crimes against a person, such as sexual assault or abduction.  Making yourself a hard target, in most situations, will deter the criminal and he will move on to find an easier target.  Criminals are like a disease.  They have no place in society and we should all be prepared to deal with them.  Criminals target easy prey; do not allow yourself to become complacent.  Be like the hunter, not the hunted.  Since criminals are looking for a target of opportunity, being unpredictable will help to ensure that you do not become a target.  If you want to know more about the type of crimes that criminals are committing, please visit http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm#cius.  This is the location of the Uniform Crime Report, a great resource conceived in 1929 by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.  Decide right now to become more aware of your environment and make yourself a hard target!

Crazies are very interesting.  They are unpredictable and have some extremely violent tendencies.  Crazies are often called Emotional Disturbed People (EDP).  A good example of a potential EDP is your local homeless person.   Keep in mind that the thought process of an EDP is not that of a normal person.  This could be because of the medication they are taking or even lack of medication in their system.  Crazies are potentially or completely uncooperative.  Either way, they are dangerous and you must be prepared to deal with them.  They will often exhibit superhuman types of strength and have a pain tolerance exceedingly higher than the normal person.  They will use weapons of opportunity, so awareness of edged weapons and blunt objects is important.  You can try, but you will most likely be unable to reason with Crazies.  Whenever reasoning stops, run!  If you cannot run, hit them hard and keep hitting until they are down and out, then run and call 911.

Crusaders, or terrorists, as they are often called, are detail-oriented threats.  Bombing, assassinations, kidnapping & hijackings are all part of their normal modus operandi.  The scariest and most likely new threat presented by the terrorist is in taking control of one of our schools.  Many of you probably remember the Russian school incident in Beslan.  Terrorists went into the school, took several hundred hostages, killed many, and waited for the Russian Elite Special Forces to assault.  Once the assault was completed, 300+ hostages were dead and many more injuried.  Can you imagine the impact this would have on our society if this occurred in the United States?  Look at the aftermath of September 11, 2001!  We are still dealing with this issue.  Responding to a terrorist incident requires a precise and planned response.  Awareness is the most important aspect of your security plan to thwart the terrorist.  Once the threat is identified, notify the proper authorities so that they can apprehend the suspect as quickly as possible.  The terrorist is very concerned about being identified prior to the completion of his mission.  Obviously, you should get in the habit of keeping your eyes and ears open.  If something seems wrong, do not dismiss it–notify the local authorities.  Your viligance could be the catalyst in preventing a major offensive attack against the United States.  Security of our country is the responsibility of ALL CITIZENS.  Remember: know your enemy.  When you are dealing with any of these threats, make yourself a “hard” target.

Levels of Awareness!

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Survival begins long before you step out the door of your home, office or car.  YOU must prepare yourself in order to survive.  Failure to understand the dynamics of armed confrontations may become a matter of life or death.  We must put ourselves in touch with the reality of violence.  Being shot atExchanging gunfireHearing shotsSeeing death may cause you to under-react, over-react or not act at all during a violent encounter.  You should always be aware of the dynamics of a critical incident.  Keep in mind the following:

  • How fast are things happening?
  • What is the violence level?
  • How prepared are you…MENTALLY?

The reality of an encounter exists, but being prepared can help prevent a violent encounter.  It has been said, “Things seldom happen when you’re fully prepared for them”.  Always having a plan, possessing an attitude that stresses anticipation and the use of the following tactics are the greatest tools to utilize for mastering the fundamentals of survival techniques.  If you prepare yourself mentally for an attack, you will be prepared for an “unexpected” encounter because you will expect it.  You will be able to evaluate and mentally rehearse the event, and emerge victoriously.  Winning, never losing!

In order to deal effectively with an incident, you must be switched “on” and be alert to what’s going on around you.  Law enforcement officers, military, and trained civilians are taught different “Conditions of Readiness” in a color code system that approximates different levels of awareness that a normal human being experiences.  Your response to any situation is largely determined by the “condition” you are in at the time.  You obviously do not want to live your life oblivious to the world around you and become a walking target.  On the other hand, it is not practical or appropriate to live it with your finger on the trigger of a firearm.  The following color code system is designed to help you construct the proper readiness mindset for security in your own daily world.

Condition White:  This first “condition of readiness” really has nothing to do with “readiness” at all.  Still, it is the state of mind in which most people spend their lives.  In Condition White we do not expect any trouble, nor do we look for it.  We are largely unaware of our surroundings and the events taking place there, nor do we believe anything will happen to us.  Condition White is the state of “readiness” of most victims.  It is also the state that criminals love to see you in!

Condition Yellow:  This is the condition you want to be in when you walk out the front door of your home or any otherwise unsecured location.  It is the mental equivalent of the yellow traffic light that you will see at an intersection while driving.  It dictates that you should proceed with caution, maintaining 360-degree security at all times.  You must also be tuned in to any instinctual feelings of danger.  NOTE:  Gavin De Becker’s interesting and informative book, The Gift of Fear will help you truly appreciate the importance of Condition Yellow.   Some people may consider Condition Yellow as that of a “paranoid” state.  It is not.   It is just using good sense.  You are simply in a state of relaxed, yet heightened, awareness.  Keep your head up and keep looking around.

Condition Orange:  At this level, you realize that something is definitely wrong.  There is danger.  You are in a state of alarm.  You must either move away or prepare for action.  Your main focus should be on identifying the danger, accepting it, formulating a plan of action and implementing that plan.

Condition Red:  In condition Red, action is imminent and the threat is upon you.  As soon as the threat is apparent, you make your move.  Whatever response you have planned for should be delivered with total commitment and aggression.

Remember, we must: See the threat, Accept the threat, Formulate a plan, & Execute the plan!

Are you at Risk?

If you are reading this, then you are obviously alive and are at risk.  What do I mean by risk?  American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language defines “risk” as “The possibility of suffering harm or loss; danger.”  Mall shootings, school & church violence and murder, carjacking and home invasions are becoming so commonplace that it seems that nowhere is safe.  Here are the headlines related to churchs!

February 14, 2010 – Richmond, California – Three hooded men
walk into Gethsemane Church of God in Christ and opened
fire and then fled the scene, as the singing of the choir
was replaced by frightened screams. The two victims, a 14-
year-old boy and a 19-year-old man, were hospitalized.

March 8, 2009 – Maryville, Illinois – Suspect Terry Joe
Sedlacek, 27, of Troy, walks into the First Baptist Church,
and shoots pastor Fred Winters dead, point blank. Several
church members are injured by a knife in the struggle to
capture the suspect after the attack; the suspect also had stabbed
himself, but survived, when his gun jams.

July 27, 2008 – Knoxville, Tennessee – A gunman opens fire
in a church during a youth performance, killing two people
and injuring seven.

Dec. 9, 2007 – Colorado – Three people are killed and five
wounded in two shooting rampages, one at a missionary
school in suburban Denver and one at New Life Church in Colorado
Springs. The gunman in the second incident is killed by a Church Security
Guard.

Wake up!  We are all at risk.  This is not meant to scare anyone; this is simply a wake up call for everyone.  This world is a dangerous place and we must treat it as such.  Yes, many people are dying from incurable diseases, dying from natural disasters and automobile accidents.  That is not what I am talking about.  I am talking about violent physical aggression directed at our society.  I am talking about hate that is so deeply seated that innocent lives are being taken for fame.  This is a truly sad fact of life with no real end in sight.  This is not paranoia, this is a fact.  Wake up and start preparing yourself for survival.

Should you arm yourself with a firearm?  Only if you are going to train with it and decide that you are willing to take a life if necessary and are justified.  Should you learn the martial arts?  Only if you are going to train them with reality in mind and invest your time in learning battle-tested self-defense techniques.

 “Situations will arise which are not of your own choosing. 
 You must be fully prepared to meet them with confidence. 
 No matter what they may be…” Leonard Hector Grant-Taylor   – 1942

Prepare yourself today!  Decide today to embrace the “Way of the Warrior”!  Seek out a competent, certified, real world instructor and learn to defend yourself and your family.  Living with risk is a necessity of world.  Learning to minimize your risk, takes courage, practice and a will to win.   My thought is that winning is the only answer.

Develop a “winning” training plan.  Make sure that this plan includes physical fitness, mental conditioning, firearms or self-defense skills, tactics, and the proper use of equipment that you carry on a daily basis.  Make sure your family is well trained in your plan.  The truth is in the following quote by the great Carl Cestari.

 “Anyone out there “getting” this! IT AIN’T ABOUT what is or isn’t “BETTER” or more “EFFECTIVE”. ANYTHING THAT SAVES YOUR ASS IS GOOD!”

Carl Cestari

Pre-attack indictor(s)

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Almost all attacks are preceded by an indicator, or several.  You must identify the pre-attack indicators as part of your situational awareness.  Here are some common ones:

Verbal Threat – Yes, if they are talking, they are not attacking; however, this is certainly a pre-attack indicator.  Telling you that they are going to beat you should certainly rise to the level of a personal threat and you should prepare yourself.

Scanning – Is the individual approaching you looking directly at you, or is he looking around to see if others are watching him?  Is he looking for witnesses, the police or an escape route?  The important question is, why is he not looking at you?

The Target Glance – Is the potential attacker preoccupied with a particular area of your body?  Is he staring or repeatedly glancing at an intended target area to strike?  Possible target areas are your eyes, throat, chin or nose.  Do not forget that some additional target areas might be your hips or upper legs.  The attacker might be preparing to take you down to the ground with a tackle.

Clenching – You should look for both clenching of the hands or the teeth.  The constriction of either of these areas indicates physical stress and the possibility of an imminent attack.

Eye Blinks – The average eye contact between friends and others are about three seconds.  One of the most common things you will hear about potential attackers is “the thousand yard stare”.  When a person looks through you versus looking at you, there is certainly a potential problem.

Fighting stance – Taking a fighting stance is an obvious precursor to a fight.  If the potential attacker places one side of his body behind the other and his hands come up, the likelihood of an attack has certainly risen!

Flanking – This is normally associated with multiple opponents.  If you are facing multiple threats and they begin moving around to gain a better position, they are probably cutting off your avenues of retreat or escape.  Do not allow yourself to be flanked.

There are many more pre-attack indicators.  I highly recommend you read and conduct your own research.  Pre-attack indicators are the key to writing an effective statement for the police especially if you have used force to defend yourself.