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.  


  1. May I have your permission to reprint this in my blog at I will, of course, link back and credit you.