Many years ago, I was teaching a self-defense seminar to about 225 professional women. It was during the week and was simply a slide presentation much like the current NRA Refuse to be a Victim class. During the early part of the lecture, there was a question about what types of strikes were effective enough to dissuade an attacker. This was during the time that porcelain nails were becoming popular, so I stated pushing one of those into an attacker’s eye may make him rethink his choices. When I said that, there were about twenty attendees who voiced their disagreement with comments like, “Ewwww!” and “I couldn’t do that!” and “Not me!” It seemed a bit surreal that these women were in a self-defense class but were opposed to physically harming someone who was attacking them? Hmmm …..
Fast forward to a few days ago. I stumbled across an audio recording of a 911 call. The caller was explaining to the dispatcher – very calmly – that there was a man (ex-boyfriend) pounding on the door trying to get in her house. She had a protective order, but she lived way out in the country and the dispatcher said the Sheriff’s Department did not cover that area. The dispatcher seemed a bit detached from the situation and offered all the requisite options (can you leave, etc.). The caller remained extremely calm and told the dispatcher she would do what she needed to do and hung up. You can Google the outcome. Audio recordings are out there.
A day or so later, another video popped up showing three women who were asked, “Would you kill for your kids?” All three women said they “Did not know” if they could/would kill to protect their children. There was a fourth women who outlined an incident she was involved in and why she now carried a firearm to protect her and her children.
Lastly, in our local Sunday paper, there was an article entitled, “Mother Ready to Carry a Gun”. The article focuses on a young mother who made the decision that carrying a firearm to protect herself and her two young daughters was necessary. She states, “You have to be OK with the idea of shooting somebody. Until recently, I was not OK with that. But now, I just have to put my family’s safety above everybody else’s.” Further she says, “At least for me, protecting myself and my family is at the forefront of my mind on an almost 24/7 basis right now.”
What a huge difference in mind-set between these individuals.
You have an inherent, God given right to protect yourself and your family. Many depend on law enforcement, and others, to make sure they stay safe. While a fine thought, it is unrealistic. Response times to a 911 call in the US can vary from 5-6 minutes to 45+ minutes, if at all. I know many individuals who have had a less than ideal response to their 911 calls. One personal friend called 911 for a man prowling outside her home. The first time she called there was no answer after ten rings. On the second call, it took several minutes before there was an answer. From the time of the first call until an officer showed up was 45 minutes. As a former student of mine, she knew what to do and all turned out well. Bottom line, we are often on our own. We are our own first responders.
I understand the mind-set of some folks who just don’t feel the need to carry a gun. I have no problem with that as it is their personal choice. I’d rather focus on those who would rather be a sheep (i.e., victim) as opposed to a wolf (i.e., protector). How could a mother choose not to protect her child, regardless of how she did it? I cannot wrap my head around the thought process of an individual who is tasked with protecting someone who is vulnerable, and then either abdicating that responsibility to others or just refusing to act.
There are those who believe they will be able to ‘negotiate’ with an attacker and deescalate the situation. In my experience, it would be not only be imprudent but impossible to stop an attack once it is in motion without some type of physical action. There may be a need to move, fight, or even use some level of lethal force. Circumstances can change rapidly and may require using less force or more force as the situation evolves. The ability to move effectively and efficiently along the ‘force continuum’ requires both physical and mental skills.
Many of us remember the ‘fire triangle’ from elementary school (fuel, heat, air). If you remove any of the three main parts, the fire will go out. So too with crime. The ‘crime triangle’ consists of the victim, criminal, and opportunity. Remove any one of the sides and you have no crime. Jeff Cooper is well known for his ‘Combat Triad’ which is made up of mindset, marksmanship, and gun handling. We can also use it to illustrate other personal protection needs.
The main point here is to note that Mindset is the base of the pyramid – this is what supports all other skills. Without the proper mindset, physical skills become almost useless. With the Crime Triangle, if the Target (victim) uses a well thought out plan to be harder, removing the opportunity from the criminal, there will be no crime. This is where the Combat Triad and the Crime Triangle are coordinated and pushing in the same direction.
Attackers fear the following:
- Pain and injury
- Being identified
- Getting caught
Keeping this in mind, your plan should focus on those skills that will enable you to fully act on these fears. Keeping your head up (out of your phone), and making casual eye contact with those around you allows you to see what’s going on and identify potential attackers. It allows you to see things that may be out of place (What is normal for where you are?) giving you extra time to react if needed. This signals to an attacker that you are paying attention and makes you a harder target. This is especially important for women as they are generally considered easier targets. The physical size/strength difference alone should make women study their options.
As for the pain and injury … bad guys are not strangers to pain or injury - they just don’t like it. Many have been shot and are not easily intimidated by the presence of a firearm. Now, having said that, your ability to cause physical harm to an attacker is critical. You don’t have to a be a “5th degree monkey, ninja black belt” to be effective. You do need to know some basic, effective techniques that will allow you to escape or at least create some distance so you can employ other tools like pepper spray or a firearm.
Learning and performing physical techniques is simple – wash, rinse, repeat. Engaging in good training then practicing often and correctly will go a long way towards making your techniques effective. The same is true with handguns – shooting a handgun is simple, it’s just easy to make mistakes. There are many individuals who purchase a handgun and neglect to seek out competent training or consistently practice and maintain some level of competency. Cooper said, "Owning a handgun doesn't make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician.” He also defined the marksman as having “the ability to make the shot on demand”. When you find yourself in a self defense situation, that is not the time to begin reflecting on your need to get training or go to the range to practice.
The missing link in most of the currently available training is the mental piece. Developing a ‘combat/warrior mind-set’ is not believing that “Kill ‘Em All and Let God Sort Them Out” is the proper conduct. Rather it is a state of mind that allows you to face challenges and adversity with courage, strength, and determination. It also sets the stage for you to make the changes necessary to your everyday lifestyle to ensure you are protected. With the current world situation, I feel there must be
a paradigm shift toward a more robust personal protection lifestyle – the armed lifestyle.
BE SAFE. BE EFFECTIVE. BE READY.
Courage, Strength, Determination