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How close is too close?

Part of my self defense system uses verbal drills to attempt to keep or prevent the potential attacker from deciding to launch a physical attack. There is no question that many times this does work. When it does it works like magic.

A friend of mine by the name of Peyton Quinn who is the founder and owner of RMCAT (Rocky Mountain Combat Applications Training) center located in Lake George, Colorado has done extensive research in the area of what we call the "interview."

The interview is the dialog that typically goes on between a would be attacker and his intended victim. Mr. Quinn even went so far as to film hardened criminals in his infamous video "Real Crimes, Real People." This is an interesting video which is available directly from Mr. Quinn at his website, www.rmcat.com.

Over and over in this video you can hear these reformed criminals talk about how they size up their victims. More times than not before attempting a physical assault (robbery, etc.) they will start some sort of conversation with their intended victim. Sometimes it is to intimidate but more importantly to get a reaction.

Does the person show fear or passivity? Do they go into denial? These are clear signs of an easy victim or what they like to call "Free Lunch." So what didn't they like to see?

Well for one, someone who didn't show fear. Someone who looked focused, intent and ready. Notice I didn't say that you could not be afraid, but not to look afraid.

We teach our students a color coded approach to this interview. I will write a future article to explain this in detail but for now here is a brief explanation. Yellow is a normal state of readiness and observance. Orange is when there is a feeling that there may be something potentially dangerous. Red is when there is no question that the person has bad intentions and that an attack is very possible, if not probable.

In the orange or red stage you do not want to let the person get too close to you. If possible about two arms length at minimum. Any closer and they could spring on you or sucker punch you.

So again, the question becomes what happens in orange alert if the person is getting too close? The best answer to that is to try to demonstrate strong assertive behavior but still be willing to take a step back as to not allow your would be attacker the benefit of reach. Here is where good verbal skills are also important. A good question to ask is "What do you want?" This requires a reasonable answer and someone who does not have bad intentions should be willing to answer. If you don't like the answer or don't get one, then you know that an attack is imminent. In this case it might be best to pre-empt the attack with your own if your aggressor comes into your space.

In Winning on the Street we teach defenses against a surprise attack and in Street Self Defense 101 we cover the verbal and spatial defenses.

Shihan Michael Pace

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