De-escalation and deterrence in personal defense.
The art of fighting without a fight.
Communication techniques to avoid physical confrontation.
There is a saying that “every fight avoided is a won fight”.
As I have already told you and repeated in other posts, most of the attacks occur as a result of a path of verbal and physical escalation that involves two or more contenders.
We have seen that escalation, when not caused by you, is fueled by particular attitudes, behaviors, verbal and non-verbal messages that are connoted in two types of behavior:
in response to aggressive behavior
(passive resistance) in response to aggressive behavior.
In the first case, in the face of someone’s hostile behavior, we choose the mode of active resistance (force versus force).
In the second case, however, we try to “not anger” the other trying to please him or to do nothing, in the hope that he will desist of his own free will.
Unfortunately, neither of these two modes of behavior is a solution:
- In the first case, reacting actively to the aggressiveness of others, the level of confrontation is automatically raised, from words, shoves, from slaps to the knife, to a conclusion that is determined only by the ability and willingness to offend the contenders.
- In the second case, however, the remissive behavior favors the aggressive intentions of the other, fueling violence rather than buffering it.
However, there is a third useful way to stop violence, the assertiveway that is the one you have to learn, but you have to use it only if this is possible because there are cases in which you have to defend yourself physically and that’s it, you have to attack with violence to survive.
So it is obvious that a de-escalation attempt can only be made in those situations where the fight has not started or is clearly not imminent.
It is useless to make certain attempts when the interpersonal distance is nothing and the threat is there, head to head and with its breath on your face, or slammed into a wall.
In such a context it is too late for everything, and you have to act.
It is essential to “train” to know how to recognize the ritual aspects that precede an aggression in order to act in time, from the very first stages, only so you can avoid the most serious troubles of a physical confrontation and put yourself in a position to be ready.
But what happens and what you need to do if you’re in the run-up to an attack.
Let’s look at some possible situations:
- You’re at the train station,waiting for your train. Suddenly a visibly “weird” subject, perhaps drugged, approaches you and asks you for money in order to buy a ticket.
- You’re driving your car. Suddenly another car cuts you off the road and forces you to stop. The driver comes down invegating against you, for an alleged “snuff” in traffic. You come down to try to calm the energy.
- You’re in a crowdedplace, a rugged and menacing young man stares at you fixedly and approaches, asking “well, what do you have to look at?…”
- You had the ill-fated idea of taking a shortcut to the city park at night. As you walk through that isolated, dimly lit place, you notice two guys coming out of the shadows heading towards you. One of them tries to get your attention: “sorry…”, “hey, sorry!… Information!” you turn around, trying to figure out what he wants.
In all these scenarios and you can imagine many of them you are in a preliminary phase from which anything could happen: from a simple verbal exchange to a real aggression.
You must be psychologically ready for the worst case scenario,never underestimate, rather exaggerate but never underestimate.
It is important that you gain an understanding of the various types of attacker,to try to understand if you are in the presence of one who is chatting or one really willing to attack you but even if you do not have this type of knowledge, or not “frame” it, Your first goal must be to safeguard at all costs the physical distance that allows you to interact safely otherwise or escape or attack as a fury first.
Always try to maintain a physical safe distance of at least one and a half meters from the other but if you can even more.
As in car traffic,
distance is safety,
this is the first clue that must really make you worry if there is an attempt by the other to still close the safe distance, despite your attempts to maintain it.
Ps. The safe distance I have indicated to you varies if the other has a blunt object, a stick, etc. in your hand, although it is obvious I prefer to repeat it.
Generally, a harmless approach, for example a request for information, or the angry motorist who just wants to tell us four, they all take place at a safe distance, because even he does not want to risk, he wants to be only a bully so there is no attempt by the other to get close, to the point of being able to touch.
There are several situations of real danger, all of which see a progressive shortening of distances, most often accompanied by a kind of verbal “interview”, in the form of threats, intimidation, but also a deception pretending to apologize or, more sneakily, in the form of a pretext, such as asking for the time, information or other.
The purpose of this kind of “interview” is to distract by engaging the mind of the future victim, force her to process the verbal content, look for answers, while the attacker approaches trying to position himself in a favorable position in order to strike suddenly.
It is clear that, in such a situation, attempts at de-escalation must be ed with actual deterrence techniques.
It is useless to try to be reasonable with the angry motorist, when that is screaming at you in the palm of your face, and his spitting glasses spray your glasses, it may not serve you.
Just as it is counterproductive to remain inoperable in front of the two strangers in the park, perhaps with one who stands in front of you and one behind.
But how do you stop the escalation and dissuade the other from physically attacking us?
You have the greatest chances of success to the extent that you know how to use assertive communication techniques at the moment of greatest emotional stress.
Assertive communication, or if we want assertive behaviors, are those that are not aggressive but at the same time denote firmness and the ability to gain the respect of others.
It’s the art of negotiation and constructivism but you’ll say ok, beautiful theory but how to deal with this that screams at me like an angry lunatic?.
This guy doesn’t seem to want to engage in negotiations or a quiet chat:
risk is imminent, there is no time but to act.
However, the secret of any de-escalation and deterrence in successful personal defense is always the same:
- make the other one understand that he does not want to attack,offend (not be aggressive)
- make others understand that they are ready to react (not to be passive or surrendering)
In other words, you have to avoid falling into the aggressive actions that are typical in these cases because people usually react like this, aggressively maybe because they are stimulated by their EGO not thinking about the consequences, you have to do differently whether you’re strong and even if you’re in a state of physical, emotional or environmental inferiority, However, NEVER take a passive attitude,with paralysis or surrender, hoping in this way to limit the damage.
Both aggression and passivity as I have already told you are misbehavior and inappropriate to the situation.
The typical example is the case of the angry motorist, it is useless that you retort on issues related to the code of the road, maybe unknown to both, would only serve to fuel the tension.
Better to try to invite calm, trying to play down and tone down.
Another example is the case of the boy bully who for a look too much, asks you what the fuck you have to look at, you can safely answer ” I mistook you for a teammate of mine from some timeago on vacation or something“.
The importance of body posture in De-escalation and Deterrence in Personal Defense
Whether the situation shows all its criticality, or if you are still in an interlocutory stage, it may be useful to take a quiet but decisive attitude.
Your body says ” Idon’t want to fight, I fear you, but I’m readyto react ” and this must be expressed clearly and convincingly.
This message obviously you don’t have to say it with your voice but with your body, it has to be your bodily communication, it has to read between the lines of what is said by voice.
Whatever conversation or question you’re answering, your body’s message should be clear non-verbally:
Your body posture must make the other people understand that you are ready and that it is not possible to surprise you.
At this point, depending on the situation, you need to make different arguments:
- You are in an interim phase with your attacker who remains at a safe distance,
- Is the situation precipitating, with the other approaching pushing you?
In the first, relatively quieter case, it is advisable to avoid increasing tension by adopting a position that does not encourage the other to approach further and reasonably protects us from a sudden attack.
Attention!! Never trust the apparent calm of someone who EVER approaches!!
Examples in this regard can be found in many videos where apparently it seems that the attacker wants to talk quietly or make peace but in fact is looking for the distance to hit you.
Dissimulate gesticulating by holding your hands high!!
I’ll explain in more detail the guards hidden in a specific post, there are different types, but important:
- Don’t make the mistake of being awkward with your arms down, or behind your back.
- Don’t make the mistake of posing in Mike Tyson or Bruce Lee style. Don’t do it especially if you’re not really capable.
The mistake is that these modes of position correspond to a passive (in the first case) or aggressive mode (in the second case), with everything that entails in terms of reaction on the part of the other.
It’s easy for you to attack.
Take a position that allows you to react if you need to and at the same time speak naturally.
You have to conceal, so your posture must and can become a hidden guardposition, hands must be high and open as if gesticulated.
If you can try to always have something in between you and your potential attacker.
- In the case of a traffic dispute, it might be a good idea to always have your own or others’ cars between you and the other, as long as the discussion proceeds. If you get out of the car, keep partially untied in the shelter of the door open with the hand holding it: it serves to protect the body from any attacks or, to beat quickly retreating inside the car.
- In case you are outdoors, as in the case of the meeting in the park, the same rules apply: as long as the intentions of the other do not clarify, try to keep the safe distance (at least one and a half meters). If you stand there and listen to what it has to say, take a position where your own legs and arms protect you without giving too much in the eye, as much as possible, stay relaxed but attentive and loaded like a spring ready to snap to escape or defend yourself. If there’s a bench, move it and “put it” between you two. If you’re talking, gesticulate calmly, moving your hands in front of you beautiful high: if your attacker is measuring the distance to hit you, he will have great difficulty finding a target. If you are listening to what the other has to say, the position of the “hand holding the chin” is excellent: it adequately protects the face, neck and chest and allows the forward hand to react immediately and instinctively to a possible attack but when you speak you always gesticulate to keep your hands high. I recommend the distance!! Attention to the detail of legs and knees: if you really are going to attack using as your first attack a “kick in the balls” since it is one of the most popular do not stand apart by offering a target. Instead, transfer the weight of the body to the “behind” leg that must be with the tip of the shoe facing him and keep the foot of the advanced leg rotated 45 degrees then with the knee inwards because it closes the trajectory of a direct kick to the balls (if you are a man). The greater weight is on the back leg so the front leg is lightened and faster to move to parry a kick and the back one charged to push in case of assault. Even if you don’t have as much reflex readiness, this posture complicates the life of your attacker will look for the target but finding no space will have more difficulty to kick you in the lower belly if you take such a position.
- If he’s asking you for information, use a posture that allows you to give directions, but without having to turn around for any reason, but also be careful that no one is behind you, it may not be alone.
- If this guy has to go the same way as you do, make him walk in front of you, never behind, I’ll NEVER do it!!. Invite him to precede you, “I pray to her first,” and as you say so, emphasize the invitation with the gesture, this is important, you have to ALWAYS have your arm forward, facing him, and the other arm (the strong one) back. The reason for these details is technical in nature: the forward arm must create an obstacle to a possible, sudden, closing of the distance by the other, the advanced arm represents the “first gate” in the face of a sudden attack.
Your arm must “feel” the assault (in fact it is the first part of your body that comes into contact) in the form of a tactile reflex, it must implement the first lightning-fast forward reaction (avoid turning, eye fingers, throat, fist, etc.) while the back arm must immediately start a broadside followed by a rush of blows until it renders the aggressor harmless.
Ps. The reason why the strong arm MUST be kept in a more backward position, stems from the fact that the shot to arrive strongly needs space and more starts from a distance and more acquires strength. That’s why your attacker always tries to have a slightly angled position with respect to you to hit you hard.
In fact, a very IMPORTANT thing!!
If an attacker instead of standing in front of you insulting you, threatening you, or asking you the way to the station, moves a little to the right, or a little to the left, forcing you to change position to stay frontal with respect to him attack you immediately or run away!!
It is a bad signal, an indication of an almost certain intention to attack, these small displacements serve to look for a favorable angle for a fast and powerful attack.
Ps. All these things need to be tried and tested, if you have this need contact me!!
So far we have talked about a relatively easy situation to manage: the potential attacker who has risky, threatening behavior, but has not yet come too close.
Your posture and words serve to keep him at bay, make him boil from the nervous and at the same time make him understand that, if he had bad intentions, he would find a ready and fearsome opponent.
But what happens in front of an opponent who is clearly
to cause us problems?
- It’s not just the case of the angry motorist who got out of the car and drove a big step towards you to slap you.
- It’s not just the case of the loving husband who walks through the kitchen to grab his wife by the hair and slam her to the ground.
In many of these cases, the approach of the attacker is not exhausting, but disguised under any pretext, perhaps a request for information, the aforementioned “interview”, which is intended to distract and, at the same time, to close the distance.
Once the distance is closed is it over?.
The aggression is ongoing, it’s already gone and the only option is to defend but if you’re able to do it, otherwise it’s over.
The warning signs of an attack are always there, but it takes training and experience to know how to grasp them.
If you notice a suspicious or clearly dangerous approach in time, try to dissuade you immediately by using an assertive communication style.
Force the other to talk to questions like:
- “what do you want?”,
- “What is there?”,
- “Can I help you?”,
- “Can’t we talk about it calmly?”
While you do this, also help with those postural “tricks” we talked about earlier.
These work in most cases, but when they don’t work you’re in trouble but not all is lost but it’s imperative that you realize in time that something is going wrong and anticipate the attack.
The Main Signal of a Attack Imminent Is Essentially The Attempt by of the other of Close The Distance Despite The Our Attempts For safeguard it.
Other than that, another possibility is to try to move to the side of your attacker in search of a possible angle of attack, this must definitely put you on alert.
Other worrying clues are changes in the rhythm and tone of voice:
- lowering of the tone,
- a sudden use of monosyllables,
- or a sudden silence,
must immediately put you on red alert, it is attacking not “to attack”.
Other signs that could portes an attack come from body language, for example:
- you can catch the rapid movement of the eyes left and right, caused by the adrenaline that causes the loss of peripheral vision,
- from the attacker’s attempt to see if the scene is free of witnesses or policemen.
- notice a stiffness of the upper body (neck and shoulders) that determines the typical posture of the one who carries two heavy buckets of water (slightly arched shoulders, knuckles of the hands facing forward and elbows protruding out).
If the situation gets to this point, and you’re lucid enough to notice in time, the strategy needs to change, and now.
Run Run!!!! or ATTACK ATTACK!!!!
If your attacker gets too close, you have very few moments to do something, I’m talking about fractions of a second.
Once again, what you say at that moment with your voice is irrelevant, while the non-verbal message that must emphasize with greater strength and intensity the same assertive message takes on the utmost importance: “I don’t want to fight, I’m afraid, but I’m ready to fight,”except that you now have to be more ready and convincing than before.
Now in such a situation the first feeling you will experience is fear.
The fear you will feel will make reasoning more difficult, with the result that you find it very difficult to process sensible responses to the pressing and threatening eloquent of the other.
attention!! The whole thing can be much more complicated by the presence of friends or accomplices of the energetic.
The presence of possible witnesses who are there but not at all willing to help you, are still a concern and an impediment to a decisive reaction on your part. You will say, but how??
Instead it is so because the law (which at that moment is unable to protect you since there are no law enforcement agencies present), is always ready to let you pass endless troubles if you only dare to defend yourself because in the trial the witnesses not knowing the previous maybe they see you beating this guy, in the end you turn out the aggressor, so be careful!!
If you can always leave, both to avoid risk, or to avoid a trial anyway, your ego you have to forget for a few minutes.
Ps. It is clear that if you are attacked you have to defend yourself as a fury then at best you do a healthy process that is better than invalid or dead.
But in this situation and taking into account what we said, what do you have to do?.
The primary objectives are:
- Calm the spirits (if the other is altered) to try to peacefully resolve the thing (de-escalation)
- Dissuade the other from wanting to attack (body language).
- Prepare for violent action if the other attacks. (Psychologically and keeping the distance and the guard hidden)
- Protect yourself legally if you are forced to defend yourself, so report the incident always even if you have had the upper hand (in reference to what has been said before).
Ps. If you have pepper spray, hold it in your hand and if you need to use it. This is why this attitude is not much to de-escalate but more a physical deterrent.
Imagine this situation and you are willing to use the weapon you have, what level of gender deterrence from one to 10:
- You bare-hand vs. naked hand attacker (unreinforced) — a tie but can go up if he > sees that you’re a tough man and hadn’t assessed the situation well.
- You with Pepper Spray Vs attacker barehand — > can get to 3.
- You with a stick Vs aggressor bare-hand — > Level 5.
- You with a knife Vs attacker bare-hand — > Level 8.
- You with a gun Vs attacker bare-hand — > Level 10 maximum deterrence.
But be careful, that you must perceive that you are willing to use the weapon you have in your hand otherwise it can be even more dangerous for you.
Having a weapon without motivation and intention is sometimes dangerous.
Now by returning to the goals you can try to achieve all these goals with an appropriate guard position, which is a position that technically puts you in a position to defend yourself and in the meantime also allows us to continue our de-escalation work.
Of course, to achieve these goals, the guard positions typical of martial arts and combat sports, are not good because if you warn yourself with your clenched fists it is obvious that you do not communicate any attempt to negotiate: you want to fight but just but it is clear that if the other approaches and you stay with arms down or behind in relaxation as if you were talking to a friend you find yourself in great danger if the other attacks.
The most interesting solutions are that of the hidden guards.
Training for this method involves the position of some guards and positions, which although technically does not meet the 100 needs that require the guard position, is still a valid compromise for the purpose:
- Your arms and legs in these positions provide a sufficient position to protect your body’s sensitive targets especially frontally.
- As you speak,gesticules, hands up one way further back, with the body out, the greater weight on the back foot with the tip towards the aggressor and the foot advanced at 45 degrees inwards to protect the center line towards the groin and beyond.
- While you’re listening, the strongest hand near your chin pretend to scratch your beard, cheek and other hand over scratching your head above the nape of the neck, the greater weight on your back foot with your tip towards the attacker and your foot advanced 45 degrees inwards to protect the center line towards the groin and beyond.
- Hands and feet are in a position to attack or counterattack lightning-fast with multiple solutions, from fists to fingers in the eyes, to simultaneous combinations of punches and kicks.
Attention!! As long as you respect the distance!! Remember. 1.5 meters.
The most important thing is the aspect of dissimulation inherent in the hidden guard positions that, while not verbally communicating an attitude of readiness for dialogue and invitation to calm, actually hides the possibility of defending yourself or hitting with effective and devastating blows.
The position of arms and legs even if hidden, create as a kind of “barriers” around the sensitive points of your body, and protect you.
The aggressor knows that if he wants to strike he must first overcome the barriers, and for this he must waste time and expose himself to the reaction of those on the other side or cannot take advantage of the surprise.
Now as I told you before imagine being the witness of an assault and look at the image above, you just arrived you don’t know what’s going on, if someone asks you which one is assaulting, can you have any doubts to answer?
Of course you don’t know how it started, but if one of the two while the other quarrels and shouts tries to calm the other but you are forced to react if before you say words to lower the tone you can hope that when this/a/witnesses are questioned by the policeman on duty will report: “well, he or she tried in every way to calm him down, but then that other one attacked him and he/she laid him down.”
Hoping this testimony will help you get something because you’re about to get a good fight report.
One thing you always have to do if you’re facing such a situation (and you don’t have to
forgotten to do so)
is to pronounce aloud, so that everyone can hear you,phrases like this:
- “don’t come any closer, “
- “stay calm”
- “We reason”,
- “I don’t want trouble, “
- and so on, etc.
You can also use help request phrases such as:
- this guy wants to rape me,
- wants to beat up my baby,
it can serve because shifting the focus to a different and more serious problem in some cases, attracts even more attention.
The aim is not only to attract the attention of any witnesses, useful then to assist us in the possible and posthumous legal ordeal, but also to further discourage the aggressor, creating a further environmental disturbance.
The sum of these measures, combined with the ability to maintain assertive behaviour, makes it possible in a good number of cases to have an incrutive outcome of the situation.
Often, the aggressor sees the opportunity to attack and desist.
Remember that there are no magic recipes and these are functional indications but in the face of an attacker determined to strike, or under the influence of alcohol and drugs, there will be no other solution than defending or taking them.
This is the most complicated phase and your goal is to have the upper hand and you have to do everything to survive.
If you want to be more “lucky” trained, but with professionals.
Stay Tuned! De-escalation and deterrence in self-defense
Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport