Don’t be that guy

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Don't be that guy

We all know him, the mister know it all. The one who never trains reads or improves any useful skill, yet he seems to think he can take on anyone from a heavy-weight boxer to a master shooter. The little Jack-Russel of security. Sound like you? or anyone you know?

Maybe you are, you just don't know it yet?

I'm not trying to make you feel like an idiot, but sometimes each of us just needs a little reality check. A little slap in the face to wake up and see the threat. What threat is that? The threat of complacency of course! Ask yourself this, do you train for survival or self-defense? Are you actively taking steps in improving your security? Or do you just accept the fact that crime is a thing and if it happens, it happens? All too often I see this, and perhaps its something most not dares to tread on, but, to me its a BIG threat. Have you ever just sat down in a restaurant and watched a few people pass by, and come to think that you could easily defeat them in a hand-to-hand brawl or a shootout in the mall? If you haven't, then you have an even bigger problem than you think. If you did, then you probably at some point in time realized that perhaps 50% of those relatively "easy" targets are trained in some form of martial arts or weapons handling themselves.

What's the problem with that?

The problem with that is simple. And the legendary Mr. Bruce Lee summed it up quite beautifully - "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.". You could try and say the time you spend in the gym improves your overall skill set, but you won't fool me. Practice does not make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect. Just because you drive your car every day does not mean you are a better driver than someone who only drives once a week. The same driver who only spends time once a week behind the wheel might be spending all his effort around a race track or advanced driving course for that day, and by doing such, he is actively developing his skillset, he can identify possible weaknesses and at his next driving session target those weaknesses specifically and develop them into strengths. But you, you just keep repeating the same routine over and over, thus it's safe to say, you are not improving. Experience is not always key.

Complacency - a slow creeping, yet an imminent threat.

You might be thinking that this post is a complete waste of time and why would I ever even consider spending time on this. Because it could kill you, it kills every day. Just ask around, you would be surprised at how many people lose their lives due to the fact they think they are on top of their game, they neglect simple security principles and create gaps in their defenses. I'm not the only one who thinks complacency is an issue, this is a good example of how it creeps in on any security detail or your own life for that matter. Just like hitting the shower once a day, you need to hit the training department once a day and make sure you are fresh and ready to kick-ass!

Uh - ok, what now?

Consistency equals accuracy! You simply have to consistently identify weaknesses, accurately implement strategies or training to minimize the risks, and then rinse and repeat if you want to accurately improve your security. That means hitting the gym with a plan on improving, not repeating what you know, it means studying material like this to learn more and it also means testing all of your equipment and defenses to be certain that you have it all covered! Cause if you truly know the human race, you would know that we are evil and fierce! And they will find a way, as long as the reward adds up to the effort!

Don't be that guy

So I call on all of you to get out there and improve your skills! And when the next BBQ calls on your presence, don't be that guy, accept the fact that you do not know it all and that you can and probably will be knocked the heck out! We all have something to learn from each other and something to teach each other.

Awareness Training (part 2)

Awareness

Awareness training (part 2)

Welcome back!

This post is the second in a series of posts on awareness training. In the previous post, I explained the basics of how criminals tend to choose their targets and the steps they go through. This post will cover the difference between Soft and Hard targets and how you can implement small changes to make yourself a harder target.

Let's start with soft targets:

A soft target generally means anyone easy to overpower or manipulate. Now, it's important to note that anyone can be classified under a soft target (even a really strong man), if and when the perpetrator is a more skilled or even more powerful man/woman than him. This is not a one size fits all type of deal, it is very varying from situation to situation. And often a good criminal will plan around that to overpower or manipulate a much stronger or riskier target. As I said in the previous post, criminals can be very professional.

What makes you a soft target?

Habits: Bad habits such as constantly checking your phone while out in public, or when you're pulling from the drive-way and just need to send that last message. Or what about all those times checking out those blondes from afar, things like these draw away your attention from potential threats. Now I'm not saying you should never have a look-see, I'm just saying you should learn how to do it more strategically. Position yourself in a way that you can focus more attention on specific sectors of your vision. Focus on what you should focus on, before committing necessary attention towards something that is not crucial to your survival.

Routines: As I like to say, Consistent consistency leads to exploitation. It's simple. When you do something very specific in a very specific way in a very specific timeframe, then you're creating an opportunity for someone to exploit that to their advantage. Think of it this way, you wake up every day at 4:00 AM, run your morning routine, and at about 5:00 AM your in the car, pulling out the driveway on your way to work. I can exploit this by simply planning to pounce on your home at 5:30, this will give me a window of comfort that no one will be suspecting off, or, I can also use that specific timeline to plan an attack on yourself at the gate, especially when you incorporate the habits such as opening your gate manually, etc.

No/Poor training: So this one speaks for itself. If you're not up to date with training to identify possible threats, then you're playing a risky game. Hopefully, this post at least ups your game for now. Book a class buddy! Whether it's just some light reading, some research into crime trends, or taking part in a full course on awareness or any other type of security-related training.

Low morale: Criminals feed off of negativity and your lack of confidence! That grandma that stares everyone in the face until they explain themselves, yeah, that scares them too! But big Brutis from the gym who never raises his mighty whip to hurt a fly, yip, he is going down quick and easy! Low morale can also be seen as a lack of will to survive, and that automatically qualifies you for a quick pass to the next realm of uncertainty. Brutal, I know, but that's the reality of it.

Hard targets:

So as you can see, there are a few factors that you have to keep in mind to not make yourself look like a soft target. Likewise, there are a couple of things you can do to make yourself appear as a harder target to pick on. Just keep in mind, you can and still will be a target, no matter how hard you might be to take down, an idiot with a plan beats any man with no plan!

Spice up your habits and routines: So now you know how a really specific routine, which you might think is a good one, can probably lead to exploitation. Change up your habits and routines now and then. Use a different street every other day on your way home, leave at different intervals for work, and so on.

Know your surroundings: So this is a really important thing to get used to, know your surroundings! You should ALWAYS be fully aware of what is going on around you and position yourself to be in the vantage point at all times! Place yourself behind hardcover when seating in restaurants, be closest to escape routes. Know where the fire extinguishers are or the nearest lavatories even. Where is the car parked? how many people are around you? And the list can go on and on and on!

Immediate action drills: Last but not least, you need some IAD's! You need to know beforehand what your reaction is going to be when something happens, are you pulling a knife when someone bad-mouths you during a movie? No, but someone else might, so you should be thinking of all the possibilities that can go down wherever it is you are going to be. Then, you need a plan for each situation, what do you need to have access to? How will you be able to get it? Who will you need to be able to contact? Ask yourself this type of questions while you're still at home. Use that information to assemble your Everyday Carry gear or your gear bag for emergencies. I carry certain tools on me every single day, I have first-aid kits in every bag I own, in the car, at home, and work. I have some gear in the car or close to where I will be spending a certain amount of time. You can be over-prepared, but only if you fail to put some thought into it. A post on that a bit later perhaps.

Read more about Immediate action drills over here.

Now you know the difference between soft and hard targets and how you can improve your target hardness. In the next post, I will finally be telling you how to increase your awareness, with proven skill-sets that have been developed by law-enforcement professionals.

Awareness training

Awareness

Awareness Training

Welcome to a series of posts about awareness! In a previous post, I talked about the importance of having yourself trained in the art of awareness and how it can help save your life. With the next few posts, I will take you through a whole course, to try and teach you the fundamentals of awareness. Use it, don't use it, it's up to you at the end of the day to apply the knowledge or not. Although I wish I could do it for you, unfortunately, I just can't. My only hope, for now, is that you apply it and continuously strive to learn more! Here we go...

Objectives of this series:

The objectives of this series of posts will include the following points:

  • Understanding how psychological actions can influence your survival probability
  • Improving your ability to evaluate and interact with your environment to increase your chances of survival in a life-threatening situation
  • Reading the signs

Understanding the background:

Like any other important topic, we need to look deeper into the background of awareness. To make it simple, you need to understand that criminals feed off of individuals' awareness, or the lack thereof anyway. They will generally wait for an opportunity where your awareness has been dropped or create a situation that causes your awareness level to be more relaxed or even completely sucker punch you both literally and figuratively.

There are 3 stages through which criminals would generally work through in anticipation of an attack:

  1. Selection
  2. Positioning
  3. The Attack

Let's dive into it:

Selection: So as discussed earlier, criminals would want to choose a target that is "easy" to quickly and efficiently attack. Meaning, they want to get what they want/need, get it with ease and as little resistance as possible, with the least likelihood of being caught or injured and with the highest risk to reward ratio they can get. And to achieve that, they have to carefully select their targets or create a scenario that gives them less risk and more reward.

The factors of the selection phase will vary from each situation, some criminals might not be afraid to get into a scuff, whilst others do not even want to be seen, more dangerous criminals simply might not give a damn and go all out Rambo on your ass just because they think they will easily take you down with their physical ability or even a more intellectual approach.

I cannot stretch enough the fact that criminals are not just "chancers" anymore and that they have evolved crime into a very lucrative business, and they will continue to do so for as long as crime exists! You increasingly see police officers, firemen, lawyers, security contractors, and even politicians getting involved in crime. And that just goes to show that, as always, crime pays! And more professionally trained individuals to join in. Just as we as protectors learn incredibly advanced skills to curb crime, they too can be well trained, especially with technology now bringing a ton of information right to your fingertips!

Positioning: After the target has been selected, the perpetrator will now work himself into the perfect position of opportunity. The positioning phase will feed of the selection phase in terms of what angle he might use with the least amount of risk and the highest chance of success. By positioning himself into the best angle of approach, he can be able to act swiftly and with great accuracy. Take for instance a man running down a crowded mall, clapping his shoes on the hard tiled floor, running toward a group of men that immediately notice him coming, his chances of successfully stealing something from one of the men are not too great are they? They will probably notice him from a distance. Now, take someone who is blending in with the crowd at a normal pace, right behind an old lady which has her purse loosely hanging from one arm....which provides the best opportunity? Grabbing the purse and then only to start running into a pre-planned escape route will be more challenging to block, right?.

The attack: Now he has his target set into sight, and he is positioned perfectly to his advantage, all that needs to happen now is proceeding with the attack. The attack might not necessarily be a physical pounding of a poor old lady's face, but maybe just jerking a purse hard enough to cause her to panic or jump into a state of fear. The more aggression an attacker shows, the more likely someone would be to co-operate. The attack again has many different varying factors, it might be lethal or non-lethal, it might include a weapon of some kind or it might just be a verbal assault or perhaps a persuasion that he has a lethal weapon on him which he does not. Think for instance the same guy had to walk up to the old lady, press his thumb into her thigh and demand the purse, or else he would drive the "thumb-knife" through her.

So how is all of this relevant to your awareness? Well, as you can see, there is a process that a perpetrator goes through before actually committing to a criminal act, that requires some time to go through. And, given that you know how to read these signs, you might curb his intentions by counter-acting his actions or at least buy yourself more time. You see someone observing you, you counter, you notice someone might be pulling up into a unique position, you act on it. You notice an attack is being made on you, well you have some time to re-position yourself and increase your chances of survival or escape.

This is part of a series of posts on awareness, be sure to check out the next post, where I'll explain the difference between soft and hard targets and how to make yourself less "attractive" to criminals.

“Once there is seeing, there must be acting. With mindfulness, we know what to do and what not to do to help.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

“You look, but you don’t see”

Awareness

"You look, but you don't see"

So with the recent increase in armed robberies in my little home-town (About 2km wide and 3km long), many people have been making statements like: "they never saw it coming", "It happened so fast", "there was nothing I could do" or questions like: "How are we supposed to feel safe?" or, "how will you ever see something going on inside a premise/shop unless you just walk into it and realize its too late now?"....

While these are good questions and valid statements, it just emphasis on me the importance of awareness and continuous training. What makes this subject so difficult, is the fact that it is neglected so much, especially by civilian life. Most people simply continue with their everyday routines not giving even a brief thought to observing their surroundings and relating to themselves the possible risks and threats that are constantly around them. And what is more tricky to training awareness is that while your reading this post, you probably already started thinking and looking around you to see what I was talking about. This sub-conscious thinking forces your brain to look for specific details that you mentally picture it to see. But, being in this state of mind constantly is where the trick comes in. I bet not even 30 minutes from reading this post, you will most probably neglect to see the same threats you just saw. That does not imply that something is wrong with you, that's just how our brains work.

Think about it

Years ago I met an ex SAS operator and special forces instructor who now spends time training executive protection details. What was interesting to me, is that this seemingly calm man never carries a firearm in any detail anymore. That was impressive to me until he started drilling the next phrase into our minds: "You look, but you don't see". Then I realized, he was able to do that by simply observing and mentally picturing a set of outcomes, based on what he can not only see but perceive to be, realistically of course. Then he could most probably keep an attack from happening, by simply not giving it the power to happen. Reaching such a level of awareness and knowing you don't need a weapon to be powerful, is quite humbling.

But how was he able to do that?

Think of the following scenario which is quite common in the protection industry, military, and law enforcement environments:

A well-dressed man, with no obvious signs of aggression, even a smile on his face, walks up to a police officer. This may seem normal right? Now, from a trained officer's mind, there are lots of things happening, for instance: Who is this man? Did he identify himself? Why are his eyes red? Why would he have one hand in his pocket? Are that bloodstains on his sleeves? And why would a man dressed like him be in a place like this, which seems to be out of order for a man so well dressed?.... Do you see it yet? This elaboration is still simple to see right?. Yet so many things happen all around us that are completely out of place and most of us miss it completely! I'm certainly not saying everyone and everything is a threat, but everyone and everything should be questioned! And constantly as well! With such a huge lack of emotional intelligence in society today, anyone can simply "snap" and whoever is at the wrong place at the right time, will be the one to face the full blow of it!

Coming back to a scenario that occurred in my home town, how could you possibly know that something is wrong inside a shop or premises that you wish to enter? It's simple to me, I never go around sharp corners - I make sure there is enough space for me to jump back behind cover if need be. And, as far as I can, I take a brief moment to observe the parking space of any premises I approach. Is any vehicle strangely parked? Heck maybe someone is outside the door with a shotgun in hand?. Even if the parking seems safe, another brief moment just before I enter the door helps to let me see inside, and again give me those precious seconds I need to get out of there. Is this realistic for everyone and every situation? No, of course not. But I have a lot more training than most people, I know what to look for and how to read the signs.

As I sit here and write this piece, I start to wish there was an easier way to transfer the knowledge of awareness, but it simply cannot be taken that lightly. I mean, even scriptures teach of awareness! So clearly it must be something important right?

How to start using awareness:

First of all, its something you have to go into a deep understanding of if you want to be able to use it effectively. What I mean by that, is that you have to look at everyday things into more detail and understand what they can be telling you. When you drive down the street towards your home for example:

  • how many cars can you see?
  • What are the colors?
  • Are the license plate numbers relevant to your geographical location?
  • Are there occupants sitting in any of the cars?
  • Are any of the trees leaning, indicating that it might fall over at any moment?
  • Are there any small children playing dangerously close to the street?
  • What about flying balls in the neighborhood?
  • If you walk up to a door, are there any signs of intrusion?
  • Is anyone around you acting strangely?
  • Is someone dressed incorrectly for the current weather?

This list can go on and on and on! The principle stays the same, what or who is out of place? So you need to know how to identify that, and if you cant, then you need to learn how. I certainly do not wish to instill paranoia under anyone, and I have met many clients who seem to be living in paranoia, they think gang members come running down the street when a car back-fires 2 blocks down, or they assume someone is going to be breaching their home when the electricity unexpectedly turns off! This is paranoia, simply coming to terms with what you can control, identifying what you need to give attention to, and then training your mind how to do it key to awareness. You don't need to be able to count the number of people around you or be able to identify someone by the color of their skin tone or hair-color a few days after you walked past them in a grocery store. That way of thinking will have you burnt out by halfway through the day! Instead, look for key indicators!

President John F Kennedy once said - "It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war". So go out there and prepare your mind for war. I will be posting some more awareness training advice soon.

For more reading on awareness follow this link: https://bigthink.com/artful-choice/dont-just-see-observe-what-sherlock-holmes-can-teach-us-about-mindful-decisions

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