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Personal Defence Methodology - #1. AVOIDANCE

Our methodological approach to personal defence fits into 4 simple strategic responses:

#1. Avoidance #2. Escape #3. De-escalation, Diversion and Distraction #4. Targeted and reflexive physical responses

In this article we will discuss the necessary capabilities required for the most basic and primary of our strategies, specifically that of AVOIDANCE.

In all aspects of personal defence knowledge is power. If we can, through awareness and understanding, make accurate assessments, decisions and take the appropriate action we can avoid confrontation entirely. We strongly advocate this approach. AVOID first, if you can't avoid then seek opportunity to ESCAPE from the situation as quickly as possible.

Awareness is simple. It is a ‘state’ where you are open to taking in information about your surroundings and people in them. Acquiring, assessing and acting on this information is the foundation of any successful strategy for personal defence.

To make this ‘state’ more measurable we use a colour code profile to quantify your level of awareness at any time: WHITE: 'switched off' unaware and open to attack. GREEN: 'switched on' ENVIRONMENTAL ALERTNESS. Alertness is more than just information gathering, it's a full awareness of your environment (access routes, people in it, potential threats, dangers, obstacles and issues). AMBER: 'Specific Risk Assessment'. This is where a danger has been identified. The situation is assessed and decision made on your best method of personal defence. For example, you are assessing verbal and body language, solo or multiple attackers, distance and direction of potential attackers, speed, size, presence of weapons, available escape routes, opportunity for assistance, or diversion of attackers etc. RED: Fight or Flight stage. Having identified and assessed the threat this is the action stage. You decided on the best method for personal protection, now you complete that plan to the best of you capability without hesitation. Awareness vs Alertness

Awareness as we have outlined is information gathering. It is generalistically concerned with maintaining a overall view of your surroundings and the people within it. This is generalistically a good idea in all aspects of life, for example if you are setting off to cross a busy road it’s generally a good idea to be aware of the traffic on the road.

However, ‘code GREEN’ is more than just a simple awareness, it requires alertness. To be alert is a more specific ‘state’ of being. In this we are now actively seeking information about the environment. We are looking for identifiable cues and signals which may indicate and warn about potential threats and dangers. In our simple example of crossing the road, we are now actively seeking information about the road alert e.g. volume of traffic, it’s direction, speed, proximity and signs of erratic or dangerous driving etc.

Here also we are actively seeking the opportunity to overcome this obstacle (threat) safely and in this avoid any confrontation. Again in our analogy of crossing the road, we are actively seeking information on the nearest pedestrian crossing or available breaks in traffic which may provide us safe opportunity to cross.

In respect of physical assaults and attacks, the indicative ‘signs’ and signals pre-warning of an incident may not be a readily obvious as those in our example. However instinct and ‘gut feeling’ is often a great place to start. If something looks and feels wrong or out of place, typically it is wrong or out of place. Typically referred to as pre-incident factors the type of information we need to be alert to includes (this list is by no means definitive or exhaustive):

  • unnatural obstacles, individuals or groups creating a hindrance

  • stalking behaviours (people following, repeatedly passing by)

  • sudden changes in an individuals behaviour or direction towards you

  • dialogue (many physical attackers will follow ‘rituals’ to distract prior to their assault, verbal exchanges, typically questions are often used distract the would be victim from their intentions)

  • targeting behaviours (people who are focused on you - either visually or physically approaching you)

  • unnatural walking postures or hidden hands (which may be used to conceal a weapon)

  • glances between apparent strangers as they approach, impede or interact with you

  • unnatural attention towards your presence (or that of your car etc.)

  • available exits and escape routes from the current environment

  • proximity and availability of support, other people or police (this includes being alert to the absence of such too)

  • baiting behaviours - verbal comments (aggressive or otherwise) directed towards you, physical bumps, pushes, shoves or grabs (again many physical attacks are contrived by the assailant engaging in a seemingly innocuous initial verbal/physical assault, which opens the door to a greater, more gratuitous attack)

In a perfect world all things would be predictable and avoidable. This is clearly not the reality and as such we need to ensure that we have as much information available to us, on which we can make our assessment and then act. There’s a really simple conceptual decision model to keep in mind here ADA.

Assess the situation

Decide on a plan of action

Act out that plan to the best of your capability

Being alert to the environment and its changes greatly enhances your ability to make the correct informed decisions and actions.

Understanding Attack Scenarios

A further factor to be aware here is the different scenarios a physical attack may take. There is an almost infinite variety and permutations to consider here, however if we employ a strategic view we can place physical attacks into one of 4 broad categories of threat: