As I have mentioned previously, personal defense does not allow for pre-emptive maneuvers. We cannot make the first aggressive strike against an attacker. We have to wait until they make some sort of overt act that places us in fear of losing our lives or suffering serious bodily injury. Unfortunately, this puts criminals at an advantage, and hopefully, our training and skill level will allow us to overcome this. The element of surprise can give us an edge that results in our winning the encounter.
Consider the fact that, in most cases, criminals will make demands with the expectation that we will be afraid and will comply. There is a nano-second in which they wait for our defeated response. This is the moment in which our doing the unexpected can throw a criminal off balance and allow us to win the encounter.
Some years ago, I knew a narcotics agent who was playing the role of a drug dealer looking to buy product. It turned out that the sellers had no dope to sell and were only interested in robbing their prospective customer. When the crook stuck a gun in the agent’s face, the agent jumped on the crook, disarmed him, subdued him and placed him under arrest. While it is ill-advised to grab a gun pointed in your face, the key to this agent’s success was that his response was unexpected and instantaneous.
Crooks think out their criminal plan to one extent or another, depending upon what they have recently ingested. What they often overlook is that their victims might resist quickly and violently to their demand. In short, it surprises them. This shock gives you time to react aggressively.
Consider this scenario: A crook jumps you while you are leaving the grocery with an arm load of sacks. Rather than complying, throw the sacks at the crook to buy time and space and go immediately into your pistol presentation, firing as quickly as possible, should this be necessary. Since you have trained to be alert for available cover at all times, you might quickly step behind the nearest cover while completing your draw stroke. There are all sorts of surprise responses that a person can come up with if they stay alert, think and move quickly.
While I really dislike buzzwords and phrases, “think outside the box” really fits here. Criminals know and believe they are the aggressor and you are the subservient victim. Using your imagination, you can surprise the criminal and take the advantage. But, once you have the element of surprise, don’t just stand there—follow through with your draw stroke and whatever other action is appropriate to your taking complete control of the situation. Stay alert. Think fast. Surprise them.
This article was previously published in Shooting Illustrated.