Friday 10 January 2014

Surviving an armed attack

Some of you will have read my book ‘Avoiding and Surviving a Knife Attack with R.E.A.C.T. Where I take a realistic look at the options a normal untrained citizen has when faced with the horrific reality of an attack with an edged weapon.
In this R.E.A.C.T Survival File I am looking at the fundamentals of surviving any form of armed attack, gun, knife, stick, hammer, it matters not.
When dealing with weapons, awareness is always the most effective form of defence followed immediately by evasion and obviously running away as soon as you can as fast as you can.
Read my ‘10 Commandments’ in issue 19 of PCW Review!
The large percentage of violent encounters where a weapon is deployed tend to begin with a victim who is unaware of the fact that the aggressor is even armed until of course it’s to late and they are injured or killed.
It makes no difference whatsoever how fast you are, how strong you are, how tough you think you might be, how many prizes you have won in the ring or black belts you hold. If you do not detect the presence of a weapon before it is used against you there is a 99.9% probability that you will come seriously unstuck and that could be fatal. Defensive tactics against weapons and especially knives are probably one of the most controversial self-defence subjects. To successfully defend your self against any weapon requires an extremely high level of skill. No matter how well trained you think you are it’s not going to be slick and choreographed like it is the training hall or the movies. Having said that, I maintain that everyone has the ability to defend themselves, regardless of gender, age, strength or level of physical fitness. You don’t need to be built like Mr. Universe, and you definitely don’t need a black belt. Defending yourself isn’t a matter of whether or not you can do a 1000 push ups, or smash concrete blocks with your bare hands. True, being fit and healthy gives you an edge - you are able to think, move and run faster. Nevertheless, not being capable of running a marathon doesn’t render you incapable of successfully  fending off an attack. Self-defence is all about principles and an understanding of what is happening to you. Self-defence is about giving your self permission to take control of a situation and the acceptance of a simple fact. You are going to have to do more than the person that’s attacking you. 
When dealing with weapons, awareness is the first and best defence followed immediately by avoidance. Panic is your biggest enemy so don’t focus on the weapon, doing so will reduce your ability to detect the offender’s body movements, and also fixation on the weapon will increase your stress level. 

All striking weapons have what is commonly referred to as the “head” or the part of the weapon that causes the injury. It is imperative that you quickly ascertain which part of the weapon your assailant intends to use as the head. Fast footwork, should enable you to move inside the swing of a long weapon and avoid the head. Moving in and attacking the assailant at the source after they have missed is often a much more effective strategy than moving away from the head of a weapon. If you can, you should try and avoid ducking as an evasive action. Even though it is very common to see action movie stars ducking and diving out of the way of a club or sword attack. This type of manoeuvre rarely works in a real life situation. Apart from the fact that ducking places you in a position where it’s more difficult to counter-attack or run away, it is slower than other evasive movements and the position the act of ducking leaves you in is extremely vulnerable and wide open to additional attacks are easy for your attacker. Even though shorter weapons give an assailant a faster rate of attack, they still leave openings to move in on. Defending against jabs and pokes from a club or stick are sometimes more difficult to evade, but you should be able to knock the weapon out of the way and then move in past its head. You must maintain a continuous forward motion grab the weapon and try and control it, attack with strikes and kicks. Do whatever it takes to disarm the assailant and escape.

The sad fact is that most knife attacks will more than likely succeed in cutting their victims. There is a commonly held view that a person armed with a knife is less dangerous than a person armed with a firearm. The truth is that within their practical ranges both weapons are equally capable of fatal life stopping wounds.
In the event of any physical attack, but especially when a knife is brought in to play, to assume a static defensive posture is to be cut and defeated.
If you square off, adopt some sort of fighting stance and wait for the attack, you will lose! The second you start posturing you have immediately made your attacker even more dangerous than they already were. You have now mentally prepared them and, more importantly, you have created a situation where you have to beat their action with your reaction and outside the training hall that’s just not going to happen.
You could sustain an injury by intent or by accident, and you bleed just as much from either. A penetration of only a few millimetres into the throat can be fatal, and a blade of less than two inches long can penetrate vital organs, including the heart. The sudden realisation of even a small cut can have massive psychological and debilitating effect on some people. Shock, trauma, paralysis, hysterics, nausea and vomiting...and you don’t know how you will react until it actually happens to you, and remember the chances are that you will be cut whatever you do!
So what can I do?
Answer: KEEP MOVING!!! But, never lose sight of the weapon, and do not underestimate small blades, they can be more deadly than the large ones, reason being, you can see a large knife thus making it easier to avoid, but you could be cut a dozen times with a small knife before you realised a person was even armed. Keep moving and if you can’t get away the best direction to move is forward. It’s impossible to fight and move backward at the same time, moving forward will always be faster. I’m not suggesting retreat shouldn’t be an option, but if you’re only able to move back a couple of feet or so, all you succeed in doing is giving the attacker another opportunity to try and cut or stab you.
In a real situation it is imperative that you are not static you must keep moving!
I believe there are two safe places to be if you are faced with a knife attack.
1. A hundred miles away
2. Right on top of the attacker, so close in fact you almost
become the same person.
If you suspect for a millisecond a knife attack and you can’t run away, move in and deliver an endless bombardment of blows. You must strike hard, fast and preferably first. Give yourself permission to ‘hit-first-and-ask-questions-later’. The pre-emptive strike is perfectly acceptable in law. After all, every war for the last two thousand years has been fought using the basic strategy of ‘attack them before they attack you’.
Try to strike with open hands. Deliver heavy palm strikes and edge of the hand strikes, use eye rakes and elbows. Beware! Punches with closed fists break fingers, and don’t fool yourself that one punch will do the job, it probably won’t. You must always think in terms of multiple strikes (no less than three) and a continuous attack.  However, it is essential that you try to make your first strike the most effective. You must have 200 percent commitment; you must explode into action and be totally focused. The first strike must, at the very least, line your assailant up for the second strike, which by the nature of the situation and the stress you are under, will probably not be as accurate or as powerful as the first. The placement of your second strike will be determined by where your opponent ends up after the first. This, of course, means you might miss altogether. In fact, your third strike could be the one that causes the most damage. If not, start again. It is crucial that you follow through and continue your attack. Do whatever it takes.
If you fear for your life, there are no rules, survival is all that matters. Keeping as close as you can, turn to the outside of the attacker. Better still, try and get behind him. Push away the danger and jam the knife hand as close to the attacker’s body as you can. If possible, grab and grip the wrist as hard as you can (do not fixate on gripping). If you do manage to take hold, DON’T attempt to execute some fancy wristlock, and DO NOT attempt to disarm anyone with a knife. You probably won’t be fast or accurate enough to pull it off.
One positive thing in your favour is that in the vast majority of cases the person with the weapon is totally fixated on what they are going to try and do with it. This means their mind is locked, and that gives you a slight advantage, but only if you can remain calm, relaxed and composed.
Focus on keeping the knife away from you. Keep moving in. Keep turning to the rear. Think of the knife man as the centre of a wheel that you are moving around. Attack the head with your free hand - slaps, eye rakes and gouges, and remember, where the head goes the body will follow.
If you can grip the face, throat, eyes, or forehead, jerk the attacker’s head backwards and down. If you succeed in getting behind him, pull him to the ground by his head. Keep moving, keep jamming and controlling that knife arm. Stick like glue, control the knife, inflict pain, get behind the attacker and take them down. Attack the attacker and don’t stop until you are able to escape.

Avoid being attacked by a handgun in the first place. Like the club and the knife, you really only have two options when facing a firearm: retreating or desperately attempting to disarm the gunman. Still, you can significantly improve his chances of surviving an encounter with a gunman by following a few tips.
Get low and run. The worst situation for any victim is to be under fire. If you are being shot at a distance and it is clear that you are the deliberate target, the best option is to crouch low and run. Depending on the distance, there is a good chance that the gunman will miss you.
Run even if you are shot. Even if the gunman hits you with a bullet, there is a good chance that you will be able to keep running and escape. There have been many reports of gunshot victims who were oblivious to the fact that they were shot until the adrenaline ran out. Find a phone and get medical attention immediately.
Attempt to disarm only if you are certain that you will be shot. If the gunman is at close range and you feel certain that you are going to be shot, you can attempt to knock the handgun out of the way and attempt to gain control of the weapon. This is an extremely dangerous situation and the handgun will very likely discharge, so try to direct the handgun in a direction where it will not shoot anything.
React immediately after knocking the handgun away from your attacker. Once the handgun is no longer pointed at you, attack the enemy aggressively. While controlling the handgun with one hand, elbow the enemy in the face, stomp on his instep, deliver a palm heel into the back of the enemy’s hand in the same way that you would a knife. Anything you can do to get the enemy to drop the handgun.
Make an effort to calm your would-be assailant by keeping your hands in the air and using the power of persuasion in order to make you look less threatening while also putting you in the ideal position to quickly defend against a sudden attack.

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