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Using Intuition as a Defensive Tactic

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  • Using Intuition as a Defensive Tactic

    Over the years I have preached and prodded my students to be aware of their surroundings. I have covered, in articles here and elsewhere, the importance of identifying a threat before a incident begins, and responding in a deliberate way rather than a reactive and defensive manner. From the feedback I usually get, this seems logical and most agree that being pre-emptive is more likely to protect us than starting from a position of disadvantage.

    The next question that usually comes up is, “how do you know if you’re right?” Fair enough question. Imagine that you are in a dark parking lot at a mall and a scary looking guy suddenly begins to walk in your direction. He hasn’t said anything but he seems to be heading your way. Your car is the only one in the lot and you are too far from the building to head back that way without looking frightened or breaking into a dead run. You mentally start preparing yourself for the inevitable confrontation. You evaulate your options, his size, weight, any signs of weapons or confederates. You have, by this time, worked yourself into a nervous bundle and all of your self defense training starts bombarding your brain with blocks and parries and counterstrikes and makeshift weapons and angles of defense and pressure points and … he walks right by continuing on his way. As you get in your car and try to will your heart to slow down, you wonder how you could have ever defended yourself in such a rattled state. The sad truth is that you probably wouldn’t have been very successful.

    Predators generally work on instinct. That is, they quickly size up their victims when an opportunity presents itself. When they get the impression that they may not be able to prevail, they will move on to an easier target. You will be quickly forgotten as a new target is located. As a defender, on the other hand, you probably will have put your brain into information overload and instead of being psychologically prepared for battle, you have become a computer in need of being defragmented. What does the predator have that you don’t? I believe it is the faith in their ability to size up their victims and trust their intuition. Therein lies the skill that can often tip the scales in their favor.

    In his bestselling book “Blink”, Malcolm Gladwell writes about rapid cognition. He shares many examples of how in the first few seconds of a new experience or meeting someone, our brain forms a series of conclusions. We may not be able to put those thoughts into words, but the feelings generated are very profound and remarkably accurate. Whether based on prior experience or that mysterious “intuition” that we hear about, we just ‘know’ some things. If we had to put those feelings and justifications into words however, we would be hard pressed to explain them. In fact, we would more than likely begin to doubt our original assessments. We have always been taught that knowledge is power. Therefore, the more information we possess the better we should be able to make the correct decisions. Obviously that is not always the case. When we practice a new skill, we may find it awkward and clumsy in the beginning. After many repititions it becomes easier and eventually we can automatically perform the skills with hardly any conscious thought at all. There is a brain/muscle connection that has been formed which tends to override the thought process. You just react or respond a certain way.

    Another strong believer in trusting our intuition is the author of “The Gift of Fear” and it’s follow up, “Fear Less”, Gavin De Becker. It is often the first thought that gets immediately suppressed by us because we haven’t given it the appropriate amount of study and mental debate. We may experience fear of the unknown, but since we can’t figure out it’s origin, we quickly suppress the feelings as being foolish. If it turns out that there actually is a threat, we are often caught in the middle of our mental deliberations and no longer prepared to respond. Sometimes, the thought of appearing foolish or paranoid will put us in more peril than just going with out “gut instinct” and taking the necessary precautions. The worst that can happen is that we actually do appear foolish, which is preferable to the alternatives.

    So, back to my original scenario. You make a quick visual assessment. You scan the immediate area and decide that you will not be caught off guard, but continue on your way. Sometimes just looking aware and alert is enough of a deterrent to the instincts of a predator that no confrontation is initiated. If it turns into something more serious, you are in a much better defensive position. Train, learn to read body language and increase your chances of survival. Intuition is not that mysterious, but it is a survival tool we are born with. Get to know and trust yours.
    Jerry
    http://personalprotectionconcepts.info

  • #2
    My own view is that intuition is most useful as a precautionary tool, while a different sort of "automatic thinking" - instinctual performance of highly-practiced skills - is the appropriate defensive tool, rather than intuition.

    Intuition advises you of the likelihood of danger, and its best purpose is to provide at least a tiny window of time to avoid the danger, identify cover, etc. However, intuition cannot help you once the threat becomes reality. When that happens, you need skills that are second nature to you, coupled with the capacity for very rapid conscious situational assessment and decision-making.

    Neither second-nature defensive tactics nor the ability to consciously and rapidly engage in the repetitive assessment/decision/action cycle (this must be fast enough to get inside your opponent's decision cycle - see Boyd on this) fall under the category of mental activity that is thought of as intuition.

    Don't misunderstand - I am a great proponent of intuition, but only in the sense that it serves as the radar alerting you to the approach of bogies at 12 o'clock high...the dogfight itself requires its own set of skills and a conscious mental process that at times will be anything but intuitive.

    I've watched probably hundreds of hours of video from car-cams dealing with assaults on police officers. Very often, the "instinctive" things they do in response to sudden assaults are precisely the wrong things. Yes, very often they first failed to listen to their intuition. However, once the assault began they often did "intuitive" things like trying to increase the space between themselves and the attacker, placing themselves directly into his power zone for kicks and punches, when the correct response would have been to *close* instantly on the attacker, which greatly limits his options and the effectiveness of his attack. When you're being attacked, it is very COUNTERintuitive to close distance.

    Also, they were often very slow to launch the counterattack (or never did so), and remained on the defensive for a very long time (as assaults go, 5 to 10 seconds of "nonresponse" is a long time). This means that they were NOT getting inside their opponent's decision cycle - or, putting it another way, they were not seizing the initiative to determine the outcome, leaving it up to the assailant to decide "what would happen next". So, the guy continues to wail away on the officer long after the officer should have been punching and/or kicking him backwards, and putting the ASSAILANT on the defensive.

    You'll read a lot from different writers about the "fighting mindset". They make it all sound so very mystical and spiritual, but it isn't any such thing. The "fighting mindset" is simply the mental determination that if you should ever find yourself involved in an altercation, YOU will be the one who decides "what happens next", not the assailant. You'd be amazed how much this mindset matters - it's MUCH more important than any particular DT "skills". I don't give a sh1t if a guy has a dozen 7th-degree black belts; if he makes decisions slower than I do, he's mine. On the other hand, I'd much rather not fight a guy without any special skills at all, if he can think fast enough to get inside my decision cycle and determine "what happens next".

    Intuition is great for keeping you out of fights and even to help with initial situational awareness, but once the brown goes down you need to get inside your opponent's decision cycle and take over the fight - immediately - and that has nothing to do with intuition.

    How do I make sure I have the fastest cycle time? It's pretty easy, really:

    1. I never have to debate with myself whether or not I will deliver violence to you. Attack me, or present the threat of attacking me, and the question of what I will do has already been answered long ago. I'm could care less about "the Marquis of Queensbury rules of fisticuffs", or silly questions like "who gets to throw the first punch". I'm not giving you ANY freebies if I can help it and will punch you silly while you're still raising your fist. You can see almost any attack coming if you're paying attention, and I pay attention.

    2. Cover or close is always my first decision, and you can make that decision in the blink of an eye. Weapon = cover. Just about any other situation and I will close with you, especially if you are bigger than I am. And, when I close with you, you won't like it.

    3. I don't worry about aborting my attack on you at precisely the "point of submission". It might happen that I have a punch on the way when you say "uncle". Oh well, too bad. You can't call back a missile once it's launched. I'm not going to throw punches and pause between each one to check to see if you've had enough. If you've had enough, you'd better fall down or try to run away, because otherwise the attack will continue.

    4. If it's necessary, I have no scruples whatsoever about kicking your testicles up into your hat, and if I think that will end the fight immediately, I'll even do that pretty early. Since I can do that with about six different kicks, it will probably happen at some point if you're not smart enough to submit. Dirty fighting? Uh, well, I didn't ask to have my knackers turned into jello - you did, and I merely obliged. The injury is rarely permanent, and so I like to think of snappy ball-kicking as the poor man's version of the Taser. It has about the same effect.

    5. I don't worry about opponent size in the least. DIG IT: Kneecaps are kneecaps, big or small, and a guy can't be big enough that they're not usually in range. Ditto, feet and ankles. I don't usually launch head shots until I've done some lower-level work anyway. If you're the least bit nippy on your feet, you can not only defeat a large opponent just as easily as a smaller one, you can even make the people watching laugh at him while you do it. Remember closing? A bigger opponent loses all of his reach advantage when you close. I closed once with a guy who I am pretty sure was 6'4". He tried to respond with a bear hug, and this didn't seem like a very friendly thing for him to do when all I was trying to do was take him to jail.

    So, I IMMEDIATELY jumped directly and violently onto his goddamn right foot and when he bent over in pain I simply cold-cocked him. It was funny, but it seemed like I had an eternity to load up that haymaker and let it go - he was so preoccupied with the broken bones in his foot that he forgot to pay attention. I could see him in my mind, lying on the ground, before the punch ever landed. Well....that was the fight, basically: ba-da-bing on your foot...ba-da-BOOM on your jaw...enjoy the view from ground level and I hope the handcuffs aren't too tight (click-click-click-click-click).

    6. When I'm fighting, I'm not a lawyer, envisioning myself sitting in the dock accused of various and sundry crimes. All I know at that particular moment is that you're going down, one way or another. If you plan to do grievous harm to me and I have to cave your head in with my flashlight, I'm quite prepared to do that too. It's really hard to fight and read law books at the same time.

    Well, get ready mentally by deciding in advance who is going to win. That's the best advice I can give you. A fight isn't a game of "Simon Says". If you don't fight like you intend to be the one who goes home, you just might never go home.
    Last edited by SecTrainer; 01-03-2008, 09:33 AM.
    "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

    "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

    "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

    "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

    Comment


    • #3
      Good post, I would add to the above by saying - "What's important now?" right at that very moment when the crap is hittin' the ventalator. What really matters at that moment?
      I would say its not what your buddy thinks of you, or your boss, or yout co-worker, or even your family. What matters now for me is getting out of that situation in as few pieces as possible.
      Hopefully a disengagement technique has worked, avoidance all together is great but that is not always possible. If things are getting hot and heavy, as mentioned above, you need to know that you are going to be the winner.
      Picture it in your mind, you come out on top, you go home for another day, you collect the lottery winnings that day. What is really important now is that you are always the winner!
      Wisdom - Having a lot to say, but knowing when to keep it to yourself.

      Comment


      • #4
        Outstanding follow up to my post! I'm glad you immediately picked up on the concept as a warning and not defense in and of itself. Col. Boyds OODA loop did the same thing. It would have been pointless for a fighter pilot to Observe, Orient, Decide and have no options for Acting on this information. As a police officer for 28 years, I have interviewed hundreds of victims who either had no clue that they were about to become someone's lunch, or sensed it and pushed the thought out of their minds.

        Remember, intuition is not the only tool at our disposal, but it plays a huge part in the rest of our strategy.
        Jerry
        http://personalprotectionconcepts.info

        Comment


        • #5
          It's tough

          sizing up potential problems. I work in a bar part time and have gotten this down, I think. I can generally look at someone walking in my door and judge whether or not they will be an issue. It is not a matter of profiling, but rather evaluating their mannerisms and state of mind upon entry. I can then point out those I view as potential threats to the rest of our security team so they may be covered throughout the night.

          I got myself in the practice of evaluating everyone as a threat after being stabbed in the back while leaving work. I never walk out with a crowd behind me if I can help it and provide myself options to protect myself if necessary. For example, I leave a piece of steel pipe (I freelance elctrical work, so it has its place) in the bed of my truck in case I need a quick defensive tool since I rarely carry my CCW.

          It is not to the point of paranoia, but I keep a closer eye on people than most of those I am around. I mention things to my friends when we are out about those in the general area that they never would have noticed otherwise.

          Comment


          • #6
            All good examples of intuition and awareness as a first-line defense. Experience only sharpens those first impressions.

            For some additional tips and fodder for discussion, go to personalprotectionconcepts.info
            All comments are welcomed.
            Jerry
            http://personalprotectionconcepts.info

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by dougo83 View Post
              It is not to the point of paranoia, but I keep a closer eye on people than most of those I am around. I mention things to my friends when we are out about those in the general area that they never would have noticed otherwise.
              Yup - there's lots of weapons you can keep handy if you think about everyday common objects in a different way. When not CCW, I carry a two-C-cell mag-type light, aircraft aluminum and crenelated bezel, with a looped nylon parachute cord lanyard attached to the end. The combination of lanyard-plus-light extends my reach by about 16". It fits easily into my front pants pocket, and it looks very "ordinary" (and legal almost anywhere) when you look at it, but it has great heft and action.

              I *practice* swinging this regularly, using a man-sized target, to hit the spots I want to hit. It's great exercise. The lanyard loops around my hand, so it can't be taken away from me, and it gives the weapon a "whipping action" with acceleration that is positively vicious to anyone who gets their melon, elbows, wrists or knees caught within its arc (I am quite confident it will break a forearm bone, an elbow or a kneecap). Also, you can keep multiple attackers at bay with it by establishing a "zone" around you for at least the few moments that might make the difference for you to escape or for help to arrive.

              Oh, and there's nothing "paranoid" about being observant. We hate to have to think about this, but the world we live in can present violence to us suddenly, but this will rarely be utterly without warning IF we're paying attention to our intuition, our physical surroundings, and even the small behaviors of others in our vicinity. Being savvy and making yourself as surprise-proof as possible isn't paranoid, it's smart.
              Last edited by SecTrainer; 01-03-2008, 09:54 AM.
              "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

              "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

              "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

              "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

              Comment


              • #8
                Road rage is common here when someone cuts you off - the finger is raised and then 2 seconds later your car is being smashed by 4 enraged mongrels intent on making you pay for insulting their honour and bad driving. I have carried a 3D silver maglite for years and it came in handy 1 time when a young bloke went through a red light at the intersection, changed lanes mid way and almost collided with me and and another car (an elderly couple). I blasted the horn only to meet up with the next lights with mongrel who got out his steering lock and waved it around like a baseball bat 10 yards from his car. I got out with my silver maglite and was ready to fight back which made this mongrel think twice before leaving in burnt rubber.

                As the lights changed I got caught again and quickly checked on the other car's occupants who were very much shaken from the ordeal and it was only a week or so later than some mongrel in a truck attacked an elderly man pulling him outside his car and assaulting him, leaving him to die.

                Dougo, if you have access to O/head power cable, 2 feet of that not taped at the ends or anything is very effective is a way of dealing with aggressive people and can be disposed of, on the road as you "FOUND IT THERE". It is an old taxi driver trick which is going to be like being hit with the base of a cb radio aerial and flexes when it cracks too.

                Best method is to lose the battle with being called a name or such and winning the battle when you get to go home in 1 piece to collect your wages.
                "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

                Comment


                • #9
                  Careful we don't cross from awareness into the premeditation arena. I'm not shy about personal protection, but I'm cautious about advertising the "tricks of the trade" secrets. Especially the throw down impact weapons. The flashlights are usually even allowed on aircrafts though, so I'm a big fan.

                  I get what you're saying NRM though. Make do with what you got.
                  Jerry
                  http://personalprotectionconcepts.info

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by dougo83 View Post
                    sizing up potential problems. I work in a bar part time and have gotten this down, I think. I can generally look at someone walking in my door and judge whether or not they will be an issue. It is not a matter of profiling, but rather evaluating their mannerisms and state of mind upon entry. I can then point out those I view as potential threats to the rest of our security team so they may be covered throughout the night.

                    I got myself in the practice of evaluating everyone as a threat after being stabbed in the back while leaving work. I never walk out with a crowd behind me if I can help it and provide myself options to protect myself if necessary. For example, I leave a piece of steel pipe (I freelance elctrical work, so it has its place) in the bed of my truck in case I need a quick defensive tool since I rarely carry my CCW.

                    It is not to the point of paranoia, but I keep a closer eye on people than most of those I am around. I mention things to my friends when we are out about those in the general area that they never would have noticed otherwise.
                    I really like your idea of never walking out with a crowd behind you if you can help it. Great tip!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Best intuition is to not put yourself in a situation where you know it is not safe to be where you are. The number of young girls who would come to me when I used to work the buses and ask me how they are going to get home 1 hour after the buses stopped for the night was a joke. A $10.00 cab ride would have set them straight back then but they claimed no money and would risk that last drink rather than get the last bus home.
                      "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        a few more things

                        I have started training my fellow bouncers at work in a number of techniques I learned using intuition.

                        DISCLAIMER:\

                        None, and I will repeat NONE
                        of these statements are absolutes. There are always exceptions. Nothing I have posted is the gospel truth and I do not advise anyone without proper formal training to relay simply on my advice. I am not a professional trainer, these are simply tips I use for myself and the benefit of close friends. Do with them as you will. Do not include my name on the lawsuit if they fail you. I plainly told you so, right here.

                        1. Visualizing a weapon. Looking closely at one's clothing to see if they are carrying a weapon, mainly a handgun. Do their pants sit off crooked? Is the belt unusually tight? Do you notice them walking with a strange gait? (ankle holster) Do they hold their arms in an awkward position? (shoulder rig)

                        2. Develop someone's intent. Do they make a "target glance?" Do they look at your face, then the floor, then back at you, or make quick eye movements towards your groin, stomach, etc? These are "target glances." A quick look, sizing up one's target. Do they carry themselves like one who can handle themselves or just spout off with false bravado? The guy who silently tightens his fists and shifts to a dominant hand stance is usually 100 times more dangerous than the loud-mouthed punk just shouting threats.

                        3. Does the potential assailant have help? Did you notice them with friends? Is anyone paying particularly close attention to the scenario at hand? These could be buddies waiting to jump in.

                        4. Is the person under the influence? Look at the eyes, are they glazed, red or bloodshot? Watch yourself. It is best to remove yourself from that situation. People on drugs such as PCP are nearly invulnerable to pain.

                        5. If a fight should erupt, do you have a surefire way out? Doors, objects to toss in the way, something to increase the distance between you and the assailant.

                        6. This is probably the most important to me. Gauge the person's intent. If you are walking through a mall parking lot and this person "approaches" do they have their keys out? Are they looking at you or through you? These things can help keep the "paranoid" edge off of your judgement. The person storming towards could just be running late and trying to get to their vehicle. Likewise, the drunk heading at you in the bar may not be looking fo a fight, but rather a place to vomit.

                        These are just a few tips that I have used in conjunction with my informal self-defense training for friends and co-workers. Hope some of it is useful to someone.

                        DISCLAIMER:\DISCLAIMER:\DISCLAIMER:\

                        None, and I will repeat NONE
                        of these statements are absolutes. There are always exceptions. Nothing I have posted is the gospel truth and I do not advise anyone without proper formal training to relay simply on my advice. I am not a professional trainer, these are simply tips I use for myself and the benefit of close friends. Do with them as you will. Do not include my name on the lawsuit if they fail you. I plainly told you so, right here.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I could say "gee I am glad I don't live there" - but it happens here more than the public realises. Even on the weekend a security guard was riding a motor bike and was stopped by the police and inside his bum bag (waist bag not a derelict's suitcase) was a loaded .22 which was "shock / horror" unregistered.

                          When the police do a night club raid here, the amount of drugs tossed onto the dance floor, together with any illegal weapons is always more than the police expect as you don't want to be caught with an illegal firearm during a raid. Dougo, are their any signs posted around some of the bars / clubs informing patrons of no firearms or weapons on the premises ?
                          "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Oz...

                            Yes, we do have signage saying you cannot carry in a bar, etc. It is the "51% law". If the establishment derives 51% or more of its profits from the sale of alcohol, weapons, whether licensed or not, are not allowed. The only two exceptions are law enforcement and bar staff. But, when has a sign stopped anyone from doing something they were trult intent on doing?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Intuition can and sometimes does give warning of something about to happen. This cannot be something that will happen because many times things are not what they appear to be. Even the most experianced of us have mistakenly thought someone was about to do an act that they did not do.
                              Murphy was an optomist.

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