Have you ever thought about what it will take to win the fight for your life? Some people will tell you this is a ridiculous question. However, I strongly disagree. We cannot prepare for what we do not think about. No one wants to have their life on the line, but it is a real possibility we all must face.
Now, you may be thinking, “I am not that kind of person” or perhaps “I don’t do dangerous work.” These are reassuring to those who choose not to consider the world as it really is. Think about it! How many people have died because of the church they attended or the mall they went to? Do you think any of these victims got up that fateful day thinking about the threats they would soon face?
Time to Face Reality
The world around you can be a violent place. For you to combat such violence, you must be prepared for it. Ask yourself a few questions. First, do you think about who your attacker or attackers may be? Second, where could these attacks take place? Third, what are you willing to do to protect yourself and or others? Lastly, what steps have you taken to prepare to do what you believe you are willing to do?
On the other hand, some people will tell you the police will be there to keep you safe. I know first-hand the police want to keep you safe if they are there. However, there is a lot of truth in the saying, “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” Most of the time the police officers are responding to the request for help. It is rare the officers happen to be at the right place at the right time. Don’t get me wrong. It does happen, but it’s rare.
Consequently, your personal safety is your responsibility. Therefore, winning the fight for your life requires awareness, planning, and training. That’s right! It is going to take a level of commitment and work on your part. Consider one of my favorite quotes from Tony Robbins, “It’s not what you can do, but what you will do that makes the difference.” I know you can do these things. The question is, will you?
Let’s take a brief look at some of the critical elements that empower you to win the fight for your life.
Certainly, one of the most critical components of personal safety is your level of awareness. This includes situational, environmental and interpersonal awareness. In other words, you have to learn to recognize locations, situations, and people that create a potential threat to your safety. Let me be clear, I do not want you to become paranoid. I want you to become highly aware. There is a difference.
I want you to learn how your environment and the people in that environment impact your safety. This is something I know you are capable of doing. You just have to hone your skill to a razor’s edge. Right now, you may be wondering how I can be so sure you can do this. Ask yourself this question. Have you ever experienced something related to a person or place and later thought to yourself, “I knew something was wrong with that guy, or that place.” I am confident you have.
That is an example of how your personal awareness was sending you a message of a potential threat. For example, you may describe this as being the hairs on the back of your neck standing up. Similarly, others will say it was a little voice in the back of their head talking to them. No matter how you describe it, it is a survival mechanism God has gifted each of us with.
The real question is, did you listen or did you choose to ignore that internal messaging? You need to think about things like where you park, the lighting in the area, how populated it is, etc. Learn to recognize the signals sent through body language, interpersonal communication norms, and distraction techniques used to lower your guard.
The planning process begins with you thinking about the potential threats presented by different environments, situations, and people. As a result of the planning process, you will also heighten your level of awareness, as previously discussed. Once you consider the dangers, you can create strategies, or plans, for dealing with them. These plans will include communication techniques, physical interventions, and weapon applications. These are plans you should also consider sharing with your loved ones. Should you be faced with a violent encounter, your family and friends should know what you plan to do, or more importantly what you may expect them to do.
Simply put, words matter. You have to plan for what you are going to say when faced with a threat. First, you may be able to say something that will de-escalate the situation. Second, you can warn the attacker of your ability and intent to take action to stop them. Lastly, you will alert others to the threat and your need for help.
Communications are an essential part of your planning for before, during, and after the event happens. But, every situation is different. Some threats require immediate action and efforts to communicate may delay the needed physical response. Simply put, don’t waste time talking when you should be acting.
Your strategy should incorporate physical options, as well as verbal choices. One technique considered is your ability to retreat. Can you escape the situation without further endangering yourself or others? I know what some of my “alpha” types are thinking. “I don’t run!” Don’t think about it as running. Consider it a “tactical relocation.”
Seriously, escaping is a viable option and may prevent further confrontation. Most importantly and depending on where you live, efforts to retreat may be required by law before you are justified to use force.
Physical options are not limited to escaping. You may choose to fight. Perhaps you participate in a structured fighting style or discipline. From boxing to mixed martial arts, and everything in between. You can use your physical being as a means of defense. Your physical presence may dissuade the attacker, or you may be forced to fight.
Perhaps you have decided to arm yourself with some type of weapon system. It could be pepper spray, a TASER® weapon, or a handgun. You have to plan for their use? Each person must consider how they will be carried, drawn, and used. Just possessing the weapon is not enough. You must plan for when and how it will be used.
Regardless of your choice, you must think about the attack and potential responses and plan accordingly. I highly recommend you also learn what your laws require and make them a part of your planning and training process.
Certainly, training is the key element to enhancing your level of awareness. Moreover, the mistakes you make during training will help you learn to recognize and address dangerous situations, environments, and individuals. As a result, this level of awareness will improve threat identification and assessment.
Likewise, physical performance and weapons skills are also developed and improved through quality training. From open hand control techniques to shooting, your training will help you transform actions into conditioned responses. This means your movements and weapon applications become a part of who you are and no longer require conscious thought. In other words, developing conditioned responses is or should be the ultimate goal of every quality training program.
In conclusion, through the development of awareness and physical performance, your training will shape and improve your planning process. You will learn your current observational and performance limits and push through them. In the end, your awareness, planning, and training will empower you to win the fight for your life.
About The Author:
Dennis Root is the Founder and National Director for the Force Concepts Training Council. He is a nationally recognized expert who testifies in cases regarding the use of force by police and for self-defense. Dennis’ area of expertise has him working force related cases across the United States. He has appeared on CNN, HLN, and many national and local news media programs. Dennis also served as the force expert during the well-publicized cases involving George Zimmerman (FL) and Micah LeMaster (WV).
Dennis has more than 27 years of law enforcement experience and regularly provides force related training for law enforcement, professional investigators, and private citizens. During his law enforcement career, Dennis’ duties included road patrol, traffic, canine, detective, internal affairs, training and he served as the Martin County Sheriff’s Office use of force specialist. He has served as the lead Defensive Tactics Instructor for four different law enforcement agencies and is the former lead Defensive Tactics Instructor for the Indian River Criminal Justice Training Institute, where he taught both basic and advanced level training courses.