You’re walking down the street towards your car and some dude gets gets in your face and starts talking to you. Maybe he’s asking for change, wants to know what time it is, or is actually being aggressive.
Anyway, if he’s in your personal space start trying to figure out if this guy is an actual threat or just an annoyance. And if you think that this could go south then hopefully you’re looking for avenues of escape, monitoring his hands, evaluating whether you should strike first with a pre-emptive attack, and so on.
The problem is that this dude might actually just be a decoy, and his only job is to distract you.
While he’s making sure that you’re fully focused on him his accomplice might be sneaking around to get into your blind spot, where he can club you upside the head. Then, after you go down, they’ll rob you together.
You’ve heard the phrase, “Watch your six”, right? If right in front of you is 12 o’clock then your 6 o’clock is directly behind you, and that’s where the greatest danger is.
The photo below was taken from a video of a street ambush in progress – see how the the guy with the hat is distracting the mini-van driver as his accomplice comes up behind? He’s exactly in the driver’s 6 o’clock.
This two-pronged attack of distract and blindside is essentially a ‘fire and move’ strategy. In a military context this is a tactic where one unit tries to pin you down with suppressing fire while another unit moves in for the kill. It’s very effective and is one of the best ways to attack a strongly defended position.
Now if you’ve been training in the martial arts then you’re likely a strongly defended position. But you can’t defend against an attack you don’t see, so never let anyone take up all your attention while a bad guy gets into your blind spot.
Am I advocating that every time someone comes into your personal space that you punch them in the throat? Absolutely not! It would be ethically reprehensible, and besides, it could result in you spending some quality time in the penal system.
But the fact remains that the first person to move in a fight has a huge advantage. So letting a potential bad guy into your personal space is a big mistake.
Do everything you can to keep him at a distance while at the same time scanning 360 degrees for additional threats. If you can see the ambush coming, then your odds of surviving it unscathed are so much higher.
To shut down the potential ambush you initially have to use your voice, body language, footwork and awareness rather than throat punches.
For some actual tactics on how to do this I recently came across an excellent video by Paul Sharp, a 17 year police veteran associated with Straight Blast Gym. He does a great job of taking your through how to manage a situation where someone might be trying to roll up on you.
Some of the main takeaways include…
- The goal is deterrence, avoidance and de-escalation.Initially using your voice to prevent the unknown person from closing the distance. He suggested saying “Could you stop right there for me?” as the guy is approaching. Use a tone of voice that’s assertive but not overly aggressive because you don’t want to escalate the situation.
- Avoiding escalating so quickly that you force the fight. Someone might attack you even if they think they’re going to lose because it’s better to be a ‘ghetto superstar’ (going down swinging and keep ing) status than get punked in the eyes of their friends and acquaintances. This is a similar concept to date idea of ‘woofing’ which I discussed in a previous article).
- But if the guy does continue to approach then get progressively louder and more assertive, eventually ending up at “HEY, BACK THE F**K UP!!!” This lets the bad guy know you’re ready to fight, and also draws attention to the scene which is not what most predators want.
- As someone approaches you, use footwork get to to their 3 or 9 o’clock while you’re also still talking. This keeps you from backing up into the unknown and also allows you to scan the scene for an additional attacker.
It’s a 12 minute video on a very important but often ignored aspect of self defense – check it out!
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