This is a great article on awareness from Randy Harris of Suarez International.
Originally posted at http://www.warriortalk.com/showthread.php?90849-Dealing-with-PESTS
Dealing with PESTS
In fact the student actually thought I had set the whole thing up. He did not realize that this encounter was in fact REAL. The student used the verbal and positioning skills we discussed that morning in class and the encounter ended with the panhandler walking away. When I arrived at lunch the student asked where I had found the guy who approached him. I didn’t know what he was talking about.The student thought that I had set that encounter up since I had told them that it was something they could very well end up using at the gas station or at lunch that day….. He then realized that his encounter was not staged but had been real and that the material we had just discussed in that morning in class made it easier to make himself less enticing to an unknown and possibly dangerous individual .
I did not originate all of the material. In fact it is largely taken from Craig Douglas’s Managing Unknown Contacts. I simply organize it a little differently in order to make it more structured and easy for the end user to remember. Without further adieu I present “Pests Eat Fast.”
In the martial arts and self defense world we often want to know how to end fights. But scant attention is really paid to avoiding fights. In civilian America there are two most likely scenarios for you to employ armed violence against an aggressor.One will be in your home. The other is being approached on the street by muggers or aggressive panhandlers or maybe by individuals who are “protecting turf”.
First we’ll look at the home invasion. How can we limit our exposure to this? Be smart. Don’t thoughtlessly brag to anyone who will listen about what you have and then tell them where you live. If you have $100,000 in gold bullion it is not a good idea to tell everyone you know. What do most home invasions have in common? The perpetrator knew in advance what the victim had that was of value and the perpetrator thought it was worth the risk he would be taking in trying to acquire it.
Home invasions are not normally fishing expeditions. It is likely a directed assault with the purpose to gain some specific resource that they believed to be there. Usually it will be either drugs or money. So if we do not advertise what we have of value we will make ourselves less likely targets in our home.
Add to this some simple measures like good locks on doors, actually LOCKING THE DOORS, motion sensing lights outside, maybe a dog that will bark and bite and you have gone a long way toward making yourself a less inviting target. We want to have a layered defense where our assailants will not have an easy time of it if they decide to try to take whatever it is that they think we have of value. Which house is easier to rob? The one with the door standing wide open or the one with a fence, motion sensing lights, solid locked deadbolt doors, a barking dog, and armed occupants?
Now aside from the home robbery scenario our most likely place to be victimized will be on the street after being approached by an unknown person. This could be an aggressive panhandler looking for a handout or it could be a potential mugger sizing us up as victims. This is often referred to as the interview phase. Here the potential assailant is assessing his potential client and determining whether they would make a good target. Some might be familiar with the phenomena of sharks “bumping” prey before they bite it to see if it is in fact edible. The same thing applies here.
In this phase the criminal will likely be feeling you out to see if you are worth the risk. There is no “benefit package” to a job as a street criminal. There is no 401K and there is no medical plan. If you get injured in the process of acquiring resources (robbing someone) then your ability to acquire more resources will be somewhat limited until you can heal. And during that time you will be a more inviting target to other criminals who now may see you as a potential victim…..no honor among thieves.
Another worry is if you show up at the hospital with a stab wound, or worse a gunshot wound, the hospital will call the police and there will be a discussion with the responding officers you’d rather avoid if you are somone making a living victimizing your fellow man. Of course it goes without saying that if there is a catastrophic failure in the victim selection process and you choose a victim that kills you then there is no recovering from that. So what is a criminal to do? Simply make sure you choose victims well.
So who makes a good victim? Someone who is not aware of their surroundings, and someone who is less likely to fight back effectively makes a much better victim than a prize fighter who is paying attention. This usually means that people who are either injured, elderly, obviously not a physical threat, and unlikely to be armed and unlikely to offer resisitance are going to be right at the top of the list for victims. Why? The likelihood of success is high and risk of injury is low.
If you were going to choose a victim who would it be? The 6’4″ powerlifter with the Navy SEAL Trident tattoo on his forearm and a bulge on his waistline that is probably a large caliber pistol or the 5’7″ overweight upper middle class 50 year old guy sitting in his car not paying attention to anything but his text messaging on his phone? One of these guys will probably never see you coming and the other will probably smoke you. Which is which? Who would YOU choose?
So just like with our houses we can make a layered defense. The biggest part of this total defense package is making good lifestyle decisions. We use a specific term for this. It is called the “Three Stupids Rule”.I first heard this from John Farnam. Simply put it is….
1. Don’t go STUPID places.
2. Don’t do STUPID things.
3. Don’t hang with STUPID people.
If we avoid stupid people, places and things then we are much less likely to have bad things happen to us. If you decide to go to the worst part of town at 3AM in your $90,000 sports car to buy cigarettes then that might fall under stupid things. If you are riding with a friend who needs to make a quick run to the ATM and then stop off at a shady apartment complex in the bad part of town to “run inside for just a minute” then that might be a stupid place. And any time you are with people who are likely to say “hold my beer and check this out” that is probably in the realm of stupid people. We can see where often one of the “STUPIDS” will often involve the others. Frankly, stupid people tend to be at stupid places and do stupid things quite often so avoiding them altogether makes us less vulnerable to bad things happening to us.
I usually add as a companion rule to the Three Stupids Rule the exhortation to avoid Drugs, Whores, and Booze.
Point number one is avoiding drugs. I’m not just referring here to “just say no” as I am referring to the danger of violence and death at the periphery of the drug trade. If you want to occasionally partake of marijuana in the privacy of your own home, you can maybe argue as to whether that is really hurting anyone. While I see the libertarian side of this it does not mean I think it is a good idea. If you are going to do it then please do not do it and then drive to the convenience store for doughnuts. We can maybe argue that you are hurting no one but your own brain cells. But the issue is really the stupid people, places and things that you will come in contact with when you are involved in that lifestyle.
I personally knew 2 people when I was in college who ended up dead simply due to their involvement in some capacity with the drug trade. One died of an overdose. It was more than a week before they found him. We just thought he hadn’t been around for a while because he was studying for mid term exams.While God may have given us the plants and seed bearing herbs to use (a verse from Genesis I have heard used to justify marijuana use) Chrystal Meth is not something that is positive in any way for you to ingest. If they key ingredients are toxic on their own then do you really want to mix it and ingest it?
The other guy I mention was murdered in a drug deal. He was murdered after being lured to an abandoned apartment complex for what he thought would be a simple money for drug transaction. The other participants saw him as a willing victim who would deliver cash to them at a place where no one would hear him scream. He produced the money and they produced weapons and killed him. As I say, there is violence at the periphery of the drug trade. The guy you got the weed from may be a friendly acquaintance. The guy he got it from is probably not quite so nice. And the guys he got it from will leave someone cut into little pieces in a garbage bag if they feel they have been disrespected, cheated or taken advantage of. These are NOT the kind of people you want to have to come into contact with if it can be avoided.
Point two is avoiding whores. I’m not only referring to the street walking types, but also to picking up random people in bars. Not only is there the very real concern for contracting sexually transmitted diseases, but the possibility of angry boyfriends, husbands, ex boyfriends and ex husbands, girlfriends and wives, etc. You probably do not want to be sitting there flirting with his girl when the guy who has decided he’s had enough of her running around on him shows up with a gun. Being involved with women (or men) who are involved in other relationships is the fast track to ending up in a violent confrontation with the other point of that love traingle. A guy who lived in my apartment building in college was stabbed in the heart with a steak knife and died after an argument with his lover over his running around on them. Best advice is to avoid problems like that it altogether if possible.
And point number three is booze. I’m not some kind of Puritan who says you should never drink. If you do then be responsible and don’t drink to excess in public. Quite simply if you are drunk in public you will be far more likely to be victimized. Your ability to recognize an altercation beginning or an ambush being set will be greatly reduced. Also your physical ability to react to it will be slowed as the alcohol has a negative effect on your reaction time.
Who would you rather pick as a victim? Would you rather try to rob the stumbling drunk guy who doesn’t even realize you are closing in on him or the stone cold sober guy who is already alerted to your presence and moving to get better position? Alcohol also lowers people’s inhibitions and makes people do things they would not ordinarily do. Having worked as a bouncer in a bar for several years in my 20s, I can tell you for certain that some people are just not physically well adapted to drinking. The world is full of angry drunks and things you’d normally overlook when sober are reasons to fight when intoxicated. We never had to break up fights between sober people in the bar…..
So we can see here where just like the 3 stupids often overlap, drugs, whores and booze also have a great bit of overlap and often paralell and overlap the three stupids. Again, I worked in the bar and entertainment industry long enough to see that the three stupids and drugs, whores and booze led to many a confrontation that would otherwise never have happened and often led to violence that both parties would have avoided had they not come together through involvement with those other things. As I often say….”Things like that just don’t happen in church”. Thus endeth the sermon.
So if we make a habit of making good decisions regarding lifestyle and we do not work in an occupation that puts us in regular close contact with the criminal element, then we can pretty well limit our exposure to violence. Now with good decison making on our side our biggest area of vulnerability will be being approached while out in public by persons of unknown intent. From my own experience this will most likely be in a parking lot or at a gas station in urban areas though it could honsetly be anywhere people are milling about.
The key to either avoiding a fight or to getting a tactical advantage before the fight starts is awareness . Many schools teach “awareness”. Many use Jeff Cooper’s Color Code. The colors are
1. White-you are oblivious to the world around you.
2. Yellow– a condition of relaxed awareness
3. Orange– a specific person place or thing has caused you to feel uneasy or threatened
4. Red – the fight is on.
The color code is a sliding scale of awareness. You will be constantly shifting from yellow to orange out in public if you are paying attention. You will go from “people watching” to focusing on a potential problem, assessing the possibilities and returning to people watching. No big production, just paying attention to the information that is there for all to see. It is much like driving on the interstate. You are aware of cars around you but not keyed to a particular one until it starts to veer into your lane or drive erratticly. At that point you shift focus to it to determine whether it is someone loading their CD player, texting, or a drunk driver. You may tap your break to create space and avoid them or you might even get off at the next exit. But if you are not paying attention to begin with you might get your first clue about the other driver when he veers into your lane and hits your car…..
Some people live in condition white. Many simply move about like herd animals with their head down their whole lives and then wonder what happened when they find themselves the victim of crime. We assume that there must be a “Victim Card” issued because they almost invariably say the same thing.
1“I never saw it coming”.
2.”All of a sudden there they were”.
3. ” Why would anyone want to hurt me?”
4.“These things only happen to other people”.
Who here likes to watch boxing? When does a boxing match start? When the first punch lands? How about when the first punch is thrown? No? When does it start?
When the bell rings. “Well that is obvious, but the bad guys are not going to tell me when they are about to assault me” you say. I say if you know what to look for they will tell you by their actions. Let’s say we are deaf boxing fans that cannot hear the bell ring. Even though we cannot hear the bell ring can we still determine when the match starts? Of course. How? We see the two fighters approach and begin MANEUVERING on each other.
The fight does not start at the first blow. It starts when the maneuvering begins. Often out in the real world the victim never sees the maneuvering or when they do see it they do not recognize it for what it really is and do not realize the fight has started until the first blow lands.
At this juncture I will unveil our structure for dealing with people who approach you on the street. We would largely consider those people to be…..PESTS.
People have a hard time remembering long lists of things. Often though if you can use a mnemonic device like an acronym then people can remember lists easier. The term “chunking” refers to this. If we look at a list of 16 number we may not be able to easily remember them . Look at 1776186119171941 and try to remember it. Difficult? Now look at it like this 1776 1861 1917 1941. Now instaed of 16 unconnected numbers it is simply four years with significance in American history. Or look at 12 unrelated letters. ATFFBICIADEA . But by chunking it together we have ATF FBI CIA DEA. Much easier to remember?
So I take the core concepts of making it more difficult for someone to approach you and gain an advantage and apply an acronym to it and we get PESTS. I then combine that with 2 other words -EAT and FAST and it gives us an A to Z (or P to T) checklist from pre-fight to post fight. It plays out like this….
Stop their encroachment
Tape Loop (Tell them you can’t help them or tell them to back off)
Step to 3 or 9 o’clock / step off the X and orbit them
If this does not dissuade them and the fight is on the we will
Explode off the X
Acquire better position
Take the fight to them
and then we
Talk to whoever needs to be talked to
This is or should be obvious. As we said earlier. If you are engrossed in texting or listening to your iPod or whatever else that keeps you in Condition White in public then you are going to make a much more desirable victim than someone who is alert. If you never see it coming (remember the victim card…”I never saw it coming”) then you have done a lot of the perpetrators work for him.
EVADE / ESCAPE
If you are paying attention and see the guy who looks a little nervous and out of place who is paying too much attention to you and then looks around as if looking for witnesses and then begins to approach you then that might be a clue that something is up. At this point you might want to evade him by either putting something between you and him or escape by simply leaving the area.
When someone not in your peer group or socioeconomic/cultural group approaches you in public you really need to ask “Why me”? Usually when you approach people in public people will want to approach someone they are comfortable with and who are in roughly the same groups. If I have the choice between asking directions from someone who looks pretty much like me or from someone who does not then people will usually go to what they know and are comfortable with.
So we really need to ask ourselves “why?” when someone approaches who seems to have nothing in common with us. This is NOT racial. That can be a COMPONENT, but not the entire picture.If we are at the NAACP businessmen of the year awards and suddenly a big bald white dude with white wife-beater t shirt, black BDU pants and combat boots, spiderweb tattoos on both elbows and an SS tattoo on his neck and a Glock stuck in his belt comes in the door we need to be looking for an exit due to the TOTALITY OF CIRCUMSTANCE.
The fact that the guy is white is not the issue. It is all the other info combined with that fact that makes him not only out of place, but also a likely threat. So if we can evade or escape then that will prevent us from having to risk fighting this guy.
The way they approach will also give us information. Most polite people will stop a few yards away and show their hands before approaching to ask directions. Even then they will still maintain some distance. The criminal on the other hand will want to get as close as he can.
If we recognize the threat but cannot evade or escape then we will want to…
STOP THEIR ENCROACHMENT
Distance can be your friend or your enemy. The closer someone gets to you the easier it is for them to injure you. Most muggers will not haul out a bullhorn and hail you from across the parking lot telling you to stop so they can come rob you. If they did you’d just run away. Instead they want to get as close as they can so that they can not only close the distance and show a weapon and physically control you, but they have to get close to take your stuff (or you).
Here is where we see the use of a weapon or violence as INSTRUMENTAL. The mere use of the weapon is not the objective. The weapon is an instrument to get something else. If they had better verbal skills they’d be talking you out of your money like Bernie Madoff. But since they don’t they will close the distance and show a weapon to get you to comply. As such they need to get close so you cannot escape and so that no one else that may be a witness sees exactly what is going on.
The closer they get the more difficult it is to counter any kind of physical attack. In class I have a couple of time and distance exercises that the students perform to see for themselves how big a deal maintaining at least two arms length distance is (and more is better). Inside that distance someone can stab you before you even realize the attack is coming. So how exactly do we maintain distance and stop encroachment? Draw our gun on anyone who looks suspicious? Not if you plan to stay out of jail.
Geoff Thompson was a bouncer in the UK who coined the term “The Fence”. The Fence looks like a two handed “stop sign” that appears to witnesses like we are putting our hands up in a submissive manner. But it also allows us to get our hands up between us and the threat and monitor and intercept physical attacks. The FENCE is what keeps the bad guy from reaching the house (our body). It allows us to either cover up our head if they launch an attack and it allows us a chambering to throw preemptive blows from if that becomes necessary.
Would you find it easier to punch someone who has both hands in their pockets or someone who has both hands up between you and him? Probably the guy with hands in pockets because he cannot get them out and up before you hit him . The other guy will be much harder to land a blow on because you will have to fight through the hands to hit him. It forms both a physical AND psychological barrier. It also makes a great launching point for preemptive strikes. Your hands are already up and all you have to do is launch from there if things start to spiral out of control to a point where all the info he is feeding you cause you to determine you need to strike first.
TAPE LOOP/ (Tell them you can’t help them or tell them to back off)
The term tape loop refers to having a pre planned response for when people approach you trying to engage you in conversation. The “Tape Loop” plays on auto pilot without the need for you to have to think of things to say in response to the individual that is approaching. A simple “I’m sorry Sir, I can’t help you” goes a long way toward heading off further conversation.
Often a criminal will try to engage us in conversation to get closer and gain a positional advantage. During this a key to look for is facial grooming. If they are touching their face, chin, mouth, forehead as they are talking then there is a good chance that they are practicing deception. Watch videos of interrogations. The guys who are lying will often touch their faces in a “nervous tick” like way. This is usually a sign they are lying or trying to somehow deceive you. If you see this then you need to recognize it for what it is and break contact if possible. “I’m sorry Sir I can’t help you” and be on your way if possible.
A key element to this is not having to stop and think about a response to what he is saying. If they can lure you into a conversation with them then they can hold your attention while posssible accomplices manuever up behind you. Even if they are alone you do not want to get bogged down in a discussion with them. While your conscious mind is occupied thinking of answers to questions you have essentially turned off your ability to quickly respond to an attack. Your accessing areas of your brain to answer the questions slows your ability to access other areas that control the motor movements to react. When do we shoot the hostage taker? While he is answering a question.
This is the point where we are deescalating the situation if possible. If confronted with an agitated contact then maintaining a calm demeanor and making sure you do not instigate a fight may well be your best strategy. Be polite and try to break contact. We obviously want to avoid a street fight with no rules if we can. But many victims get sucked into talking far longer than is productive or practical. There is a time to talk. There is a time to act. And there is not a whole lot of overlap between the two. If you need to fight you need to fight. If your attempt at verbal deescalation is going nowhere and he is still maneuvering and now reaching for a weapon it is time to stop talking and
If “I’m sorry Sir I can’t help you” does not get the desired result then we may follow it up with something a little less polite like BACK OFF! If that does not send them looking for easier pickings then that is an awful lot of info they are feeding you. If at this point they have not broken off the encounter we need to ask ourselves “why are they still here?”. And we need to move our feet…NOW.
STEP TO 3 OR 9 O’CLOCK/Step off the X and orbit them
As mentioned before, if we stand still talking to the individual who approaches us it is easy for his cohorts to approach us from behind. A simple solution to this is to step laterally to either 3 or 9 o’clock and continue moving around them in an elliptical motion. This will expose to you what was previously behind you. I prefer to think of it as orbiting the known threat. If we stand still and turn our head we will be opening ourselves up to a sucker punch or a tackle attempt.
On the other hand if we maintain a squared up posture to the known threat and step off the line of force to 3 o’clock and then step again to 3 o’clock we will not only see what was previously behind us but we will essentially be moving to flank the known threat. Bad guys will recognize this. It is not the behavior of a good victim. It will often completely change their perception of the situation and kick them back to Observe in the OODA cycle. It is also a good way to keep your feet moving in preparation to get off the X in case the “interview” goes badly.
EXPLODE OFF THE X.
I use the term “explode” because it plants the seed in your mind that this is a rapid dynamic movement . It is not a shuffle. It is not a waddle. It is not a plodding movement. It is an EXPLOSION off the spot you were previously standing on. If the fight is on, then the blade, bullets or blows that the bad guy will try to deliver are going to be addressed to your last known address. You do not want to be there when they arrive. We certainly do not want to stand rooted in place and play “Rock’em Sock’em Robots” when bullets and blades are involved!
Also if done quickly without warning this will have them reacting to you instead of them just following their “script” of how they assumed this would play out. That buys us time. It buys us the time to take the initiative and counterattack. It helps us to turn the predator into the prey. By exploding off the X we get out of the way of the initial attack and begin our immediate counter attack as we…
ACQUIRE BETTER POSITION.
I used to say “Acquire dominant position”. And while that is a laudable goal I have to be realistic and admit that when caught in a reactive situation acquiring dominant position may not always be possible. But I can almost always get BETTER position than I previously had.
Even if it is just getting out of the way of the initial attack that is BETTER position than we previously had. Ideally though we will use our head start we got from stepping to 3 or 9 o’clock to allow us to not only get off the X but to move to flank them. A rapid forward oblique movement not only works to make us harder to hit initially but also gives us better position for a physical counter attack. This movement makes a firearm based counter attack simpler too since the marksmanship problem just got easier due to us getting farther from his weapon and getting the muzzle of our weapon closer to him at the same time. It also tends to rock them back on their heels and have them reacting to your attack, not carrying out their own attack.
TAKE THE FIGHT TO THEM.
This is really a mindset issue. We can not win a fight by playing defense only. Muhammad Ali may have beaten George Foreman by laying on the ropes and letting Foreman throw punch after punch until he was gassed but that does not work in a street fight with weapons involved.That was a boxing match with rules not a street fight and Foreman was not shanking Ali with a butcher knife for the first 8 rounds…..
If we are to stop them NOW then we need to STOP them now.That requires us to do as much damage in a short amount of time as possible. The only way to do that is ruthless counterattack.
Do not hit them once and look for the result. Hit them until they are out of the fight. Shoot them to the ground. Stab them to the ground. Knee and elbow them to the ground. Whatever you have, use it until they are no longer a threat and make your escape. This is fast and dirty and if you are timid or worried about hurting them they WILL hurt you. You are trying to destroy them as quickly as you can.
At this point we employ what is widely taught and is known in some circles as the “Wyatt Protocol” as coined by Lyle Wyatt of Andy Stanford’s old company Options for Personal Security. I have used a modified version as the original stopped at TAC LOAD which I replace with the term TOP OFF.
I personally do not like the term TAC LOAD as it plants the seed of having two mags in the same hand at the same time which I really do not think is a good idea under extreme stress. And how do you TAC LOAD a tube fed gun like a lever action rifle or a pump action shotgun? You don’t. You top it off. So I use that verbage. It is very specific and paints a very specific picture in your mind.
We essentially teach a “reload with retention” instead of the “old school” circa 1980 Tac Load. We simply take the partially depleted mag out, stow it , grab new mag and insert. DONE. This is far simpler and less fumble prone under stress than “Get new mag. Bring it to gun. Take out old mag. Insert new mag. Stow old mag. Put support hand back on gun”. So that is why I do not use the “TAC LOAD” term.
I also add a few more “T”s to cover a few more bases. We will…..
Pretty self explanatory. Take it to them HARD and don’t stop until they are down and no longer a threat.
Did it work? Are they down?
Do they have friends? Are they behind me? Is he still down? then we
TOP OFF your weapon (How’s my ammo?)
TREAT INJURIES (How am I? How are my friends/family?)
TAKE COVER (what here can I get behind that will stop bullets?)
TAKE OFF (Can I safely escape now?)
TALK TO WHO NEEDS TO BE TALKED TO (You, Go call 911!, You, get down! , “Ma’am , you appear to be injured, Officer, that man tried to kill me! I was in fear for my life, etc)
I view these last four not as a list but as a wheel. Depending on the situation any one of those may be more important than the others and roll to the top.
Did you beat them down with hands and elbows and knees? Then TOPPING OFF is not relevant so TAKE OFF might rotate to the top.
Maybe there is a dumpster or a vehicle close by that would make good cover. It then might be best to TAKE COVER first and then TOP OFF.
Or it might be that the lone bad guy is down but you were wounded and bleeding profusely. TREAT INJURIES might take precedence over TALKING or TAKING OFF in this situation.
We simply employ the appropriate “T” for the particular situation we find ourselves in.
And there we have it from A to Z (or from P to T) from pre fight through talking to responding officers.
As we see there is quite a bit more to winning a fight than shooting small groups. And a great many fights can be avoided by simply recognizing a criminal assault in the early stages and either avoiding, escaping or getting to better position.
If your training is all about shooting tiny groups on paper then you really are spending 95% of your time working on the last 5% of the problem. So get out and work on your awareness. Practice your pre fight skills.Interact with other live adversaries in Force on Force training . Make the after action assessment (Is he down ? Does he have friends? Are they behind me? How’s my ammo? and How am I? ) a regular checklist in your training regimen. Remember there is a lot more to self defense than just shooting.
And remember be careful out there because PESTS EAT FAST.
From here if they continue to show threat signs I will bust off the X to my 10 o’clock in order to stack them and limit the # 2 man’s abilty to engage me. Hopefully he won’t shoot through his buddy to hit me……
Acquire Better Position
Take the Fight to them
and we FIGHT!
Getting off the X and the ruthless counter attack completely disrupts the bad guy’s OODA loop…… a burst to the chest from the TSD Glock completely disrupts the bad guy’s internal organs…..
Assess (is he down? Did it work? )
Scan (Does he have friends? Are they behind me?)
Top Off (How’s my Ammo?)
Instead of turning my back on him I orbit around him to check my 6 so I can Scan, Topoff and Treat injuries or Talk to who needs to be talked to without ever losing sight of the bad guy.
Last edited by Randy Harris; 09-23-2011 at 10:24 PM.
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