Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pacing like a Caged Cat - it's a De-Escalation Tactic

Verbal de-escalation tactics are techniques that can be applied to potentially reduce the level of violence in a confrontation... and they come in both passive and aggressive forms.

An example of a 'passive' form would be to : move back and open distance ; adopt non-aggressive body-language ; and say "Now how can we can sort this out!" 

It's something that most people could do quite naturally in a confrontation.

An example of a more 'aggressive' form would be to : stand side-on to your opponent, which is a natural defensive response that protects the body's vital organs ; lower your chin ; point straight at them with your forefinger ; and in a strong commanding voice tell them to "Back-off!"

This primal body-language expresses serious intent... and not surprisingly it's often referred to as a primal threat indicator.

Now this brings us to a even more aggressive form of de-escalation... something that can be used against one or more opponents. 
In fact it can be very effective in getting a group of attackers to think that maybe they're bitten off more than they can chew.
It involves the same posturing that I've listed above, but with an added twist.  You need to pace from side-to-side, swear like a truckie, and act like you're crazy out of your mind.
Why do you need to swear and act like you're crazy?  Well it's a primal thing.  We (humans) have an innate fear of the 'unknown'... in all its forms.  And to us, a crazy person is something unknown, because we can't predict what they're going to do.  So we tend to be afraid of them.
So if you're suddenly faced with the likelihood of being attacked by several people, and you don't want to risk being hospitalised, I recommend that you try to de-escalate the situation by simply :
  • pacing from side-to-side... turning on every third step... like a cat in a cage
  • pointing (stabbing the air) with your forefinger, and changing hands as you turn
  • swearing threats and aggressive insults... which is the only language predators respect. 
In short, you pace from side-to-side like a crazed cat in a cage... growling, ready to claw and bite.
Now you might think that's fairly easy to do... but for most people it's not.  Allowing yourself to explode in a seemingly out-of-control display of anger and aggression goes against all the social norms that most people live by. 
And what's especially challenging is that it's a just an act... a de-escalation tactic that may or may not work.  And if it does fail, you have to be ready to quickly put another tactic in play... like switching to a passive de-escalation, or even just backing away in preparation to escape.
So faced with that kind of group-attack situation, maybe you can understand how acting like you're out-of-control can be a life-saving tactic that's worth knowing. 
But it will take some practice... preferably in front of a mirror, so that you can see how convincing you are.  You don't have to swear out loud... but you should still practice stringing together a series of threats and aggressive insults.  Just do it silently in your head.
Why do you need to actually practice a string of threats and aggressive insults?  Because it won't come naturally to most people... and it certainly won't come naturally under the stress of a potentially violent confrontation.  You need to have your threats ready beforehand
Also, aggressive swearing is the language of the street predator... it's all they understand.  And they know to be afraid of someone who's looks crazy enough not to be concerned for their own safety.
In short, this tactic is a series of primal triggers that warn the attacker(s) to stay away from you! 
In reality-based self defence circles it's sometimes referred to as Aggression Therapy... and it not only develops a confidence in facing a predator who uses aggressive threats and intimidation... it gives people a way to potentially avoid being assaulted.
It all sounds a bit strange I know.  But if 'The Caged Cat' tactic can save you or your friends from being attacked, then it's certainly worth some serious consideration!
It's Primal Protection.  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

We need to give Teenagers the facts about Bullies!

Would you tell a Zebra that if you don't bite the lion, the lion won't bite you?   No of course not.  We know that's unrealistic... predators do what predators do... and lions eat zebra

And yet we (as a society) often expect a teenager who is confronted by a bully (a predator) to just say "Leave me alone" and walk away. 

Unfortunately, that approach only encourages a predator to attack. Why?  Because it's an indication that you are a risk-free target ... an easy kill.  

Also, predators of every kind are hard-wired to chase their intended victim if they turn and make a run for it... or just try to walk away. 

But even zebra know that if you're going to run, you should always try to discourage the predator from following... in their case, with a quick kick to the head! 

So let's look at how your child can discourage a bully's advance....

Firstly, the most important point to keep in mind is this : As long as a bully experiences no risk of pain or injury, they will keep trying to close the distance on their intended victim

A bully generally closes the distance by using threats and intimidation... which usually frightens the victim into being passive. Or if that doesn't work, a bully might even switch from being aggressive to being friendly... move in close, put their arm around the victim, and then suddenly start punching.

I've even seen situations where a predator was pushed away, then claimed that they had been assaulted... at which stage the victim thought they had done the wrong thing, and they actually let the predator get close (again), and suffered a sudden surprise attack.

So distance is always the first-and-best defensive response.  There's no point trying to get a predator to see reason... their brain doesn't work like that... all they can see is an easy kill.

We (as parents) might not like the idea of our children having to stand-up to a bully and potentially be attacked and traumatised. But the least we can do is arm our children with the facts... to empower them with an understanding of a bully's attack ritual :
  • first they select their victim and make eye contact 
  • then they close the distance
  • and try to intimidate their victim into not resisting
  • then they launch a sudden surprise attack.    

So the best thing to do is never let a person you don't feel good about get too close to you. As soon as they try to get within two feet, atep away or move around to create a safe distance... and don't let them talk their way in close to you.  

You can tell them to "Stay back" or "Back off"... but don't expect them to really listen to what you say.  All they want is to get in close and attack... so regardless of what you say all they're going to hear is "Blah, blah, blah."

If they keep trying to get close to you, then firmly push them away with both hands... and step back away yourself to open the distance even more. 

If they don't look like giving up, then start speaking their language... the language of intimidation.  Stand side-on, drop your chin, point with your forefinger, and aggressively tell them to "Back-off... just back-off", or something to that effect. 

This is called a de-escalation tactic... and the body-language is called a primal threat indicator ... something that a bully will unconsciously recognise as serious intent

It sends a message that maybe - just maybe - you could cause them some pain and suffering.

Finally, keep in mind that if your children are given the facts about how-and-why bullies use threats and intimidation, then they've got a better chance of handling a confrontation themselves. And using these simple psychological tactics will not only develop self-confidence, it will lay the groundwork for handling bullies in later life... both on the street, and in the work-place. 

It's Primal Protection.


For a quick course in Standing Up to a Bully, click on the link below :

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Standing Up to a Bully - an Avoidance Strategy

In Nature, a predator will select the easiest target available. It might be the youngest or the oldest... the smallest or the sickest... but it will always be the easiest.

This is a simple survival strategy, because catching an easy target conserves energy, and involves less risk. And that's why predators aren't keen to lock horns with a hard target. If they get injured in the hunt, they might die. 

Well a human predator is no different... and a bully is simply a predator who uses threats and intimidation to frighten their victim into submission. And like any predator, they prefer easy targets.

What I'll explain now is a primal strategy for dealing with a bully in the lead-up to a physical assault. It's not a self-defence strategy... it's an avoidance strategy... an attempt to prevent the situation from escalating into physical violence. The goal is simply to look and sound like a hard target

If you're teaching a young child, then I recommend that you do it in the form of a game... and repeat it as often as you can until they're confident. Confidence is the key to them applying it effectively.... and having permission from you to stand up for themselves! 

You can start by teaching them to :
  1. step back away with either foot to create a narrow side-on position
  2. extend their lead hand forward as a stop sign, and in a firm voice say "No! Stay back!"
If you eventually want or need to take things to the next level, you can teach them to :
  1. place both hands on the bully's upper chest
  2. step forward to use their leg muscles to push the bully away (a strong push not a strike)
  3. and again say "No! Stay back!"

For tweens (aged 10 to 12) and teens (13 and up), the confrontation becomes more involved.... and the potential for life-long emotional scarring increases significantly. So it's important that they understand the tactics that a bully/predator will use, and why.

Firstly, it's important to remember that a bully wants to frighten their victim into submission... and to do that they will move in close and use threats and intimidation. So as best you can, you need to come across as looking and sounding like a hard target.

Note : Using the 'Stop' hand gesture is not going to be effective for a tween or a teen, simply because a seasoned bully is going to see that gesture as a sign of weakness.

So with that in mind, the following sequence would be the kind of scenario that a tween or a teen needs to practice :
  1. firstly, when the bully approaches you, immediately open the distance to 4-6 feet
  2. stand side-on and extend your hands forward as a natural defensive-barrier
  3. look them in the eyes, and in a firm voice say something like "What do you want?"
  4. they will try to close the distance again, and when they do, firmly push them back away
  5. then adopt a primal threat indicator (serious intent, chin down, point with one finger)... and in an aggressive tone of voice tell them to "Stay back!" or "Back off!"

Whatever words your child feels comfortable saying, they should practice them so that they come out automatically and confidently.  Practice in front of a mirror if possible... and keep in mind that the goal is to look and sound like a hard target.  That might take a bit of practice! 

Now let's review the 5 simple de-escalation tactics I listed above : 
  1. open the distance
  2. create a defensive barrier
  3. engage them verbally
  4. push them back away with both hands if you have to
  5. and adopt a primal threat indicator to show them that you're a hard target.
It's important to understand that it's only at this point that self-defence techniques come into play.  Up to now it's all been about applying de-escalation tactics in the hope of avoiding a physical confrontation.  And hopefully your child has made the bully think twice about attacking them.

If your child already knows some martial arts techniques, it's vital that their practice sessions include a reality-based scenario like the one above.  Over my thirty years of studying and teaching martial arts I've known many 'traditionalists' who were set-up and knocked down, simply because they didn't understand a predator's intention and tactics.

Below is a link to a post that was specifically written for parents and teenagers... so they could appreciate the realities of a violent confrontation. Whether you're a mum or a dad, please find the time to read it... because the bullies of today become the street predators of tomorrow!

 It's Primal Protection.

Click on this post link below for more insight to help teenage children :
"But mum, dad - that won't happen to me!"