Here is a question most people never think about. If I find myself in a bad situation such as a robbery, carjacking, potential fight, need to protect myself or another person. What can I do to increase the likelihood that I will come out the winner? Most folks have never considered this aspect of personal protection, thus since they never consider it, they also never trained for it. When in fact, knowing these elements and training to use them should be a top consideration in preparing for a bad event.
Well there is no doubt that personal protection training plays a vital role in many of these scenarios. But there are other factors that play a tremendous role in giving you the edge to win. The five most important elements you can use to your advantage in a bad personal protection situation are: Situational Awareness, Stealth, Distance, Darkness and Speed.
Though Situational Awareness is always the first component, the others may be used at various times while during a bad event. The understanding and use of these skills and elements can significantly improve your ability to survive a personal protection encounter and come out the winner. To use each of these elements to your advantage you must totally understand them and that will help you take advantage of them. So let’s discuss each of them in some detail.
Situational Awareness is the key element in all situations. If you are not aware of your surroundings and you do not have a tentative plan to deal with a bad event, then you are already behind the eight ball, thus, you are at a major disadvantage.
Situational Awareness is essential to survival. Without it you are just another sheep in the herd. To take full advantage of Situational Awareness you must first study the components of it. To make the most of on your learning, you must practice the skill and finally, to capitalize on it, you must employ it every day. There are several articles on SurvivalCache.com and SHTFBlog.com on this topic, which are very good, but I suggest you read and study it in greater depth to grasp the full understanding.
In general there are two main tools that you will need to use as part of your Situational Awareness skill. The first is the OODA Loop. Developed by John Boyd, this tool enables you to develop an algorithmic means to decision making and enables you to quickly ascertain many factors that will contribute to your success and survival in a bad situation. In summary, the OODA Loop algorithm looks complex, but is simply teaches you how to take your Observations and use them to Orient yourself, so you can quickly and correctly make the right Decision to take the necessary ACTION. I highly encourage you to learn this methodology and practice this skill.
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Secondly, is understanding the different mental states. Jeff Copper developed a color coded description of the various mental states you can be in and role each plays in decision making. Using the colors White, Yellow, Orange and Red, Cooper defined the various states a mental awareness that you experience managing a bad event. Understanding these mental states and taking advantage of each one will enable you too quickly decipher a situation and act accordingly.
Both of the tools mentioned above have one equally and very difficult component. In the OODA Loop it is the “ACT” stage. In the mental status descriptions it is the “RED” stage. Both of these components require action. If you are not correctly trained, scared to take action or unsure of what action to take. Then you will not be able to make the most of your advantages. Integrating these two skills into one tool you are proficient at using will significantly increase of chances of surviving a bad event.
Stealth is most commonly thought of when you of think jets, drones and submarines. It is the ability to be undetected. However, Stealth also can mean inconspicuous, unremarkable, not easily seen, unremarkable, ordinary, typical, and every day in appearance. In some communities this is considered being “Gray”. I feel it is one of the foremost attributes that gives you the advantage in a personal protection situation. The element of surprise is one of the best tools to use to your advantage when trying to subdue or exploit a person or situation. Thus, to capitalize on that element you must be incognito until the right moment to take action.
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The best method to maintain stealth is to be and dress normal. So do not wear overt clothing that advertises you may be carrying a weapon or draws attention to you as a threat. Thus, do not wear clothing that advertises your stand on guns or personal protection. Do not dress like you are para-military. I lived in a state where if you have a Weapons License, you can carry a handgun openly or concealed. I know many folks that open carry and I have even seen it work as an excellent deterrent. However, I am a firm believer that being Stealth is far more to your advantage. The last thing you wish to do in a bad situation is draw attention to yourself before you have an opportunity to respond to the event.
I carry every day everywhere I am legally allowed too. However, I do my personal best to act nondescript, maintain a low profile and not try to attract undue attention. Yes, do I wear tee shirts with advertisements on them and some reflect my support of certain companies and products, but I do not wear overt ones. Stealth is the key to taking action when you chose too, and that gives you a significant advantage in a bad situation. Using Stealth to your advantage will greatly enhance your ability to act when you are ready and it is the correct time.
Distance is the next tool to use to your advantage. Always, and I say Always, keep as much distance between you and any potentially bad person or event, if you can at all help it. Do your personal best to NEVER let a threat get close to you. If I feel you are a potential threat, I am very comfortable telling you not to come any closer. I do not care what you think of me or about me. Because it is all about ME and protecting me, my family, my friends, and my client are far important than what you think of me.
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Keep in mind that being “directive” does not mean being “rude” potentially escalating the situation. You goal is to keep a potential threat at a distance and to deescalate the situation. Distance allows you lots of advantages. First, you are out of range of personal contact. Secondly you have a wider view of your surroundings. Thirdly, it allows you room to move and finally, it gives you more time to act. One very IMPORTANT fact to remember in all cases: Reaction is slower than ACTION. Thus, you need as much time as you can possible gain to react when someone initiates an action against you.
One of the main things you DO NOT wish to happen in a bad situation is to get into a physical confrontation. As you can imagine many bad outcomes can come from this. Any attempt to deescalate the situation is always the first step and hopefully this will work and resolve the matter.
In the worst case scenario, you are well trained in some form of hand to hand personal protection such as Krav Maga or other self defense techniques that enable you to defend yourself. But in most cases, people do not have that training and getting into a physical altercation is not good. So keeping your distance from a potential threat is imperative. And as mentioned above, do not worry about their feelings when you ask someone not to come closer. Naturally, I am not saying be mean or rude to anyone, but when you tell them to not come any closer make sure they know you mean business.
Darkness is similar to stealth. It can be used to your advantage. Let me explain this in greater detail. In most cases, you wish to stay in well lit areas. You want to be able to see things around you. But in selected cases, darkness is your friend. Let me give you a couple examples. If at night you should think there is someone around your house, the last thing you want to do is turn on the inside lights. This has several negative consequences. First, you lost your night vision and will not be able to see outside as well. Secondly, if you open your drapes or inside window coverings to look outside, the people outside will actually able to see you better than you see them. All the same applies if you think there is someone in your house.
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Anytime you turn on a light you give yourself away and make it easier for the bad guy to see you. It is far more advantageous to slightly open your window coverings and look outside. This may not even be noticeable from the outside and you will have better night vision. So during a bad event, anytime you can stay out of the light or be discreet, you have the advantage. Darkness is your friend. You can use it to hide, you can use it to move, you can use it to prepare for action, you can use it concealment. All of these attributes can be used to your advantage.
Speed is listed as the last skill to have, but is a tool you need throughout a bad event. Speed is advantageous, when realizing something bad is happening as part of your Situational Awareness, Speed is needed during your initial response to the bad event, Speed is an integral part of moving through the “Decide” and “ACT” phases of the OODA Loop.
If you need to get physical with someone, then you need to be well trained, so that you can quickly use your personal protection skills to subdue or stop the threat. Should you need to draw your firearm, then you need to be well trained, so that you can perform that skill with speed. One important aspect to learn about speed and quickness is: It is not easy to do well, without lots of practice.
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To be fast does not mean you are good. Lots of folks can be fast, but never hit the target with their shot or never perform the self defense maneuver they were taught. In fact, sometimes trying to do something faster than you can handle results in you performing the task dangerously. There is an old saying that comes from the Special Operations Community: Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast. So when learning to draw from your holster or learning that self defense maneuver, do not be afraid to learn the skill by practicing it in slow motion until you have perfected it. Then without even noticing it, you will realize you are pretty fast at it. And continue to practice, practice, and practice.
My good friend Kurt, who coauthored a weapons related book with me and edits much of my work, sent me this great statement made by John Wayne in one of his movies. “I found out early that most men, regardless of cause or need, blink an eye, or draw a breath, before they pull the trigger. I won’t!”
In this particular case and statement, I am taking the statement of “pull the trigger” as a synonym for “Act”. So basically, when you have decided to Act then Act and do so with confidence. To win in a survival situation or during a bad event both require one initiative: Preparation. And to be prepared to deal with these untoward situations you must be skilled, thus focusing on learning and using the tools and skills above will most likely increase you ability to win or survive. So take a few minutes now, study these methodologies and begin implementing them tomorrow. Keep your head up, eyes open, OODA loop activated, and be safe.