Crime doesn’t always have to happen during the night time, in dark shades of hostile neighborhood. In fact, it can very much happen during a beautiful sunny day, at the crowded place full of potential witnesses and the crime can be done by the most charming person you’ve ever met. Be it a young nicely dressed man with manners or even a small helpless kid.
That is right! A criminal doesn't always have to look dangerous and unfriendly. Just the opposite - you may encounter someone who is charming, polite and who draws absolutely no sign of suspicion. We are going to dig deeper into that in just a moment.
First of all – everything relating back to effective self defense and staying out of trouble starts with situational awareness.
If you are not aware, what happens around you and how your environment changes, you may not recognize the risks and thus you won’t see the threat coming at you, get sucker punched, or worse – fall into an ambush.
See the threat before it sees you!
As Tony Blauer, one of the leading self defense experts in the world says:
Every attack is dangerous and the most dangerous of them all is an ambush!
Ambush is an assault you don’t expect, usually performed by multiple assailants. An assault, that leaves you vulnerable and defenseless. A military proven way of an assault that WORKS!
Criminals know that and they use it to their advantage. It helps them to work efficiently. To get what they want!
It is of course much easier and effective to ambush people during the night, when the visibility is poor, at places the ambusher knows well with dark spots to hide and number of potential witnesses is very low. Easy money Bro!
But during the day, their strategy needs an update. The process may wary, but the concept stays the same – to get from YOU, what THEY want.
Usually they will ask you for a small favor like – what time it is, directions ‘coz they’re lost, a smoke or some spare cash . But is that “really” always exactly what it looks like?!
They attack your sense of humanity and abuse the will to do good things for those in need.
Criminals have to act and be sneaky to get close to their victims.
They work just like magicians. They get your attention and make you look somewhere, while the mechanics of their true "magic" happen elsewhere - away from your eyes - then hit when you expect it the least.
Asking for a favor is really an effective way how to close the gap, occupy the victim’s brain and leave them vulnerable for a surprise attack.
What is worse – you never know with how many people you might be dealing with. The person approaching you can be just the distraction while the other one(s) take you from behind, approaching you from your blind side.
For this type of scenario I really LOVE how Lee Morrison has it figured out. When you are being approached by a stranger, just keep walking and pass him over. Then turn at him and make him re-orientate.
This way you would end up at the opposite position, having a good view at the person and at an environment that was previously behind you, so you might see whether there was someone approaching your back or not.
The height of strategy, is to attack your opponent’s strategy – Sun Tzu
Here, watch this video. The scenario I am talking about starts from 2:35.
To learn more from Lee Morrison, you can go to:
Although it would be ludicrous to think that every person on earth approaching you with a need for help wants to empty your wallet or break your scull, there are certain things you should not underestimate and certain easy and innocent tactics you may use, to prevent yourself from harm.
I have noted some scenarios here, which we train in my self-defense classes, to give you a little perspective on how it may look like.
If the person asking you means you no good, he may want to:
People usually do the mistake of looking down at their watch or phone. Placing the hand with the clock device near their belly, what takes their eyes from the person in front and reduces the possibility of recognizing his movement through peripheral vision.
What I recommend is:
Be very careful with your surroundings. Awareness is of the essence! Practice your peripheral vision skills!
The big idea and a BIG mistake is that when people want to show someone the way, they would turn away while pointing to a direction.
This is the opportunity for the attacker to strike from the side or from behind, take out a hidden weapon or to pull off a sleep choke to get you in a van and drive you to his happy home.
It is not hard at all to ask for a direction to something you know is behind someone you are talking to. Go to the streets and try it. You’ll be amazed how many times you’d be offered peoples’ back.
So if you are going to show somebody where to go, keep him, her or it in your field of vision. Step to the side and point the way while looking at the one asking. Not at the way you are pointing to.
If you are a smoker, handle a cigarette if you wish, but keep looking at the guy. See where his hands are – especially when he is reaching for a cigarette in the pack.
Be very much aware of the other hand. It is just like the magic tricks – you look at the hand taking the smoke out and totally ignore the second hand, which may be taking out something that YOU can get smoked with.
Also - your hands are capable of reaching the cigarettes themselves, you don't have to look at what you are doing (like searching in the purse for the pack). Trust me, multitask.
Your hands have their own memory for shapes and structure.
Try this – put some different money change in your pocket and try to find a specific one – say a quarter dollar. You can do it only by searching with your fingers and identify that quarter with your touch. NAILED IT!
If you have and want to help the poor soul, do so only if you have free cash in your pocket – change is better. You may regret taking out some really pricey paper.
Do not openly wave around with your wallet. Keep the person in sight and be aware of your surroundings.
Again – same exercise as with the smokes above.
This is a big one and needs to be regarded as such, because many people have put themselves in the risk while trying to be a Good Samaritan.
Helping someone out can get you in a big trouble nowadays. Why? Because as Jeff McKissack says in his TEDx video; all that a criminal needs, is a good story.
A good story to lure you on a place, that LEOs call the secondary crime scene, where the actual crime is to be performed. Be it a simple mugger or worse - rape, kidnap, even murder…
I invite you to watch that video now, and then I would like to add some additional points for you.
I really like how Jeff makes his point about people think that only a huge mean ugly tattooed convict (I’m exaggerating of course) can do them harm.
The gender, age or a location really shouldn’t play role for you in terms of your personal well being assessment.
Thinking that an old or a young person cannot do you harm, or that a place you live at is safe, will only create a false sense of security in you and make you blind when it comes to recognizing potential risks to your health and safety.
Here is another important thing we must touch.
Say, imagine yourself somewhere outside doing whatever and all of the sudden you are being approached by a kid, begging you to follow him quickly to his friend, also a kid, who is in danger – they played at the old quarry, and a fallen stone broke a leg of one of the kids.
What would you do?
Remember the emergency state of mind Jeff was talking about. And this IS a freaking emergency. A child is in a bad condition, may be his life is endangered.
Situations like this, where your morale overcomes your sense of personal safety, may occur and it is highly understandable, that you would decide to run like a Flash to get there and help anyway possible, taking little care about yourself.
But! Again! …it is a god damn good story to get people from point A, to point B.
If something like this ever happens to you, keep calm and first of all things, call an emergency link. Tell them who you are, what is happening, who asked you for help and where exactly you are going. Don’t forget to keep the other person in your sight while you call.
This is by any means the best you can do not only for yourself, but also for the one in need.
Notifying authorities is a crucial step, because every time someone is asking you to change a location, there is a danger of you entering the secondary crime scene.
If the situation proves itself to be false – and, God forbid, you happen to become a victim of a crime – the police and emergency you have called, may save life to you.
Saying that everyone on the streets, asking for something is a scumbag would be unjust. If you feel like helping people out, go do it. World needs it.
But never put your own health and safety out of the way. With the tips above, the decision making may be easier for you.
To make the process even easier, I invite you to read also my article about criminal behavioral patterns and learn, how to better distinguish a bad guy among all of the real people.
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