Detect, Defuse, Defend – do we need more emphasis on the first two?

Tony Blauer asks the question: “What would it cost you if you didn’t fight back?

I’m referring to the emotional/psychological taxes. Most people never consider violence’s deeper impact. The noxious effects that create PTSD, the memories that stain our mind’s-eye and silently agitate our nervous system.

When bad shit happens close-up, everything can change.

So what would you pay to avoid some of this? What would you pay to feel safer?

His answer?

Pay attention.

Some days ago, a man on a San Francisco Muni train pulled out a gun and flashed it around. A lot. There was nothing covert, hidden, or non-obvious about what he was doing – he was quite obvious and blatant. However, everyone around him was oblivious, noses buried in their phones and tablets. No one saw what was going on until the guy shot someone.  Apparently it was a random encounter, thus anyone on that train could have been the victim, and they never would have known… they never would have had a chance to do anything.

Now, everyone is quick to blame mobile devices. We have to remember that books and newspapers and Walkman’s existed long ago, and people found themselves just as engrossed and oblivious with those. However, I cannot deny that we’ve changed and find ourselves with our noses buried on the glass screen a lot more these days. In fact, people tend to consider that device of primary importance, more so than driving or walking. I admit, I’ve watched people walking around with their eyes on their phone and not on where they were going, and I’ve been tempted to step in front of them or simply insert my hand between their eyes and their phone. It’d be to make a point that perhaps they should pay more attention to the world around them, alas, I’d just be seen as an asshole and no lesson would be learned. *sigh*

Mr. Blauer talks about the 3 D’s:

1) DETECT (to avoid)

2) DEFUSE (to de-escalate)

3) DEFEND (to protect).

Two-thirds of your personal safety takes place before you even step on the “X” (The “X” being symbolic for the time & place of an ambush).

The Three D’s is the basis of your ‘ Personal Defense OS’.

Two-thirds of confrontation management relies on awareness, mental toughness and fear management strategies before any contact is made. Avoiding danger should be the primary directive.

Col. Jeff Cooper has his color codes of awareness. Insights Training has their street & vehicle tactics courseSouthNarc teaches about Managing Unknown Contacts (MUC). Karl Rehn has done much to further the utility and use of force-on-force training. Any good trainer in this area is going to stress the importance of such things. Granted, it’s #3 that sells the most because we all like to shoot guns, or practice kata and joint locks, or whatever. There’s not a lot of sexy appeal in #1 and #2, but it’s precisely those that will do the most to keep us alive and out of trouble.

Yes, this is where “force-on-force” training pays off. The thought of “FoF” scares a lot of people because it makes it sound like it’s going to be a UFC battle. Yes, there’s FoF classes (like SouthNarc’s ECQC) that are about going to some physical extremes. But a lot of FoF training is just scenarios, role playing, with little physicality (and a lot of people finding their inner thespian). What it does give you is a lot of understanding of how Detect and Defuse play a big role in your own personal safety. If the only training you’ve had is to “draw your gun” or “palm strike to the nose”, you only know how to do #3, and that’s not always going to be the right answer.

This sort of training helps you make a mental shift. It sinks in a lot of reality, and should enable you to give yourself permission to listen to yourself more. Blauer continues:

This strategically brings us into the next step in enhancing your personal safety: decide right now to respect and embrace your body’s survival signals. If an alarm goes off, respond to it. Got a bad feeling? Address it. Something nagging at you? Stop and look into it. Don’t ignore these signals. Don’t rationalize and mentally correct them. Don’t dismiss them without assessing them. Your body is built for survival and one of its hard-wired systems is designed to alert you to danger.

I know what some of you are thinking, “What if I mistake a feeling, body language, a gesture or movement and react to it.” And? What’s the downside? No one [important in your life] is going to be upset with you for facing fear. Don’t be shy or embarrassed about this. Accept that the human body will generally err on the side of survival. And so should you. There is no downside to being safe or safer. But there is a massive down side to ignoring these survival signals.

And don’t let peer pressure; socialization, fear of fear or other distractions mess with your survival instincts. We are physiological survival organisms, designed to adapt & survive. (FYI, in my courses I’ve re-named us #humanweapons, because that’s the mindset you need when the shit hits the fan, right? I’d rather remind myself “I’m a human-weapon”, and charge forward than scream, “I’m a Survival organism!” self-talk is key. Also, I can use the # on Twitter).

So make a contract with yourself right now that the moment your instincts & intuition raise an alarm that you will take steps to move to safety as soon as possible. Got a bad feeling? Address it now. Get off the “X” ASAP. Start moving when time and space are allies and options.

What’s the cost of learning the most the most important and practical part of self-defense? Zip. Just pay attention. Getting off the “X” is FREE.

6 thoughts on “Detect, Defuse, Defend – do we need more emphasis on the first two?

  1. Agreed, but I think you’ve skipped a step between Condition Oblivious and force-on-force training. I think we need to spend a LOT more time on the first D and avoidance behaviors, so as to reduce the chances of ever being on the X in the first place. Notice I say “reduce”; there’s never “no risk”, but if you pay attention, as Blauer says, there are going to be plenty of easier victims than you.

    • You make a good point.

      I may have glossed over things without filling in the blanks. In my brain, I’m thinking about how there’s the KR Training AT-2 class, which is “force on force” but I think with a greater emphasis on that first D than say the AT-5 or AT-7 classes are (which tend to get a little more physical). I think about those scenarios we do inside, which tend to be a lot more oriented towards “paying attention”.

      I think you also touch on an important point: making easier targets.

      I recall Karl touching on this in the AT-2A “home defense tactics” class one time. That in a lot of respects, your personal (or home/office) safety is about just making yourself a less appealing target than the other guy.

      So this house… exterior lights, alarm system, dog, closed and locked doors and windows. House next door, none of those things. Both have X-boxes, TV’s, jewelry, etc…. why pick the harder target when there are easier targets that score me the same thing? It’s a simple equation. So yes, in a lot of regard, making yourself a less easy target is a big part of things.

  2. I think we are so accustomed to being polite that we forget it is okay to be rude. I had a brief encounter the other day that typified exactly what Blauer was talking about — a woman in a car at the gas station had given me a ‘bad vibe’ — one that started me paying even more attention.

    A few minutes later, an older guy steps around from the pumps pan-handling for bus fare to the homeless shelter. In all probability, it was likely a harmless coincidence but I was okay stepping away from the guy (being discourteous), waving him to a stop and turning down his request for money.

    Had I not been willing to be rude, it could have turned out differently if his intentions were criminal.

    People are socialized not to be rude but that is sometimes what it takes to defuse a situation. People need to know it is acceptable to be curt with someone so they don’t get in your personal space.

    It is these actions that will often keep people from having to resort to violence for protection.

    • Very true!

      I do hate being rude, I do hate how “personal protection” often ends up requiring you to behave in a selfish manner. But, that’s how it goes.

      In fact, a lot of the times those with the intent know all of this and play directly to it. They want to get you to engage in conversation so they can approach you… they’ll draw you in with conversation. They’ll get you to roll down your car window. Whatever they can do to play on social norms and politeness to get in close, to make you vulnerable.

      We have to condition ourselves not to be rude all the time nor polite all the time. But to be mindful and aware. To assess the situation, be as polite or as rude as the situation dictates, and be willing to suddenly change course should the continual reassessment of the situation necessitate.

  3. Hubby’s way of dealing with panhandlers and the like is to put out one hand, palm out (stop signal) and say, “No, thank you.” They get the stop signal and the “no”, but the “thank you” part really messes with their OODA loop… they usually stop and stand for a minute, and it’s almost funny to watch someone trying to work out how to respond to the combination of rude and polite… which gives us time to move away.

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