This guest post is by SurvivorDan and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .
For most of my brother and sister preppers this will merely be preaching to the choir. But there are some new aspiring survivors or even veteran survivalist who may dismiss the need to learn or equip yourselves for self-defense out of pacifism or other philosophies.
Your interest is natural/man-made disaster survival techniques or lost-in-the-wilderness skills only. Absolutely no self-defense. Fine. I certainly would not malign you for being a peaceful and loving person. But the purpose of this article is to examine various aspects and ethics of self-defense during a crisis and reading it will cause you no psychic scarring but may offer some new insights.
Even as you simply go about the ordinary pursuits of your daily life others may choose to harm you and yours or you may become collateral damage during violence not directed purposefully at you.
Asa reserve deputy sheriff I have heard the same sad refrain many times,
“Ihad nothing to do with those people and yet I got beaten/shot! It’s not fair!”.Or the denier. “Nothing has ever happened to me because I don’t look for trouble.” A roommate, who was a brilliant research scientist at Scripp’s Oceanagraphic, said that to me many years ago as his reason for being bemused at my active interest in training in and teaching the martial arts. Ironically, he was attacked and badly beaten while out on the town that very night!
Bad things can and do happen to good people no matter how low a profile you keep or how safe you think your workplace or neighborhood is. Additionally,these days we have a small but increasing possibility of being direct victims of an act of terrorism.
The widespread violence in our society is bad enough during ‘normal’ times but imagine how the sh*t-hits-the-fan (SHTF) when our society is rocked by a major natural disaster or widespread economic collapse.
I was at New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as part of a relief column of deputy sheriffs and saw the mayhem first hand. Social constraints break down as ordinarily law-abiding and non-violent people succumb to their baser instincts of fear, survival and self-centered motivation especially when there is an obvious absence of sufficient local law enforcement to keep order.This may involve forcibly taking your supplies and/or shelter, vehicle or even your life and the lives of those you need to protect. Something as seemingly insignificant as a single tarp, hammer or case of tuna fish may mean the difference between survival and death.
If you have the capability, it is your duty to retain such items for your own needs and the needs of your loved ones. If you lack the ability to defend yourself and what property is yours then you need to acquire that capability through training in self-defense, both armed and unarmed.
You do not have to become a kung fu fighting Jet Li or an M60 machine gun wielding Rambo. But you do need to acquire the mindset and the basic skills and equipment that are necessary to defend yourself successfully. In fact it has been my experience in law enforcement and as a self-defense instructor, that awareness, attitude, and quick action had more to do with a successful outcome for the defender than pure fighting skills. The accomplished martial artist oblivious to changing conditions was doomed. The expert gunfighter who hesitated….lost.
The awareness of an impending hostile event followed quickly by a plan of action put in motion as the dynamics of the situation warranted tended to carry the day. Especially when the defender was willing to use any and all force necessary to overcome his/her attackers.
Not long ago, one of my self-defense students told me that under no circumstances could she shoot someone even if they were threatening her with death. The use of lethal force was anathema to her gentle nature. I then asked her what she would do if she were armed with a gun and an axe wielding murderer broke in her home and told her that after he killed her he was going to murder her little grandchildren? Without hesitation she replied, ”I would empty the gun into him.But I would be very sad.” I was glad she immediately saw the right course of action regardless of any potential lingering guilt. You do what you have to do.So get your mindset ready to enable you to counter great violence with great violence. It is absolutely justifiable when unavoidable.
Ina ‘normal’ societal status I recommend you read an article about the Use of Force Continuum and follow its guidelines and consult your attorney. But when the SHTF or if TEOTWAWKI (the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it) scenario hasarrived…all bets are off. There are few restrictions on you, the defender, in such crises other than using your best judgment and your personal sense of morality and mercy.
Normally,you counter violence directed at you with a similar level of violence. They shove and push and you may shove and push back. They strike at you with close-fisted and feet and you can counter with a measure of the same. If they raise the level of violence to include weapons then you need to respond with weapons.
The question is, can you count on that 3 hour how-to-disarm self-defense class you took back in college or do you want to be in a gunfight armed only with a vase or a 6 iron or a firearm you really haven’t trained with? Take some ongoing self-defense classes. Acquire a firearm and get some training. Be willing to use it if unavoidable. Sometimes the mere presentation of a firearm defuses the situation. Remember the old adage: It is better to have a firearm and not need it than to need it and not have it.
The fastest way to gain an advantage in defending oneself from a violent attack is not the best in terms of civil and legal liability exposure. But it works and it is a simple concept which in the scarcity or absence of local law enforcement during prolonged periods of social unrest and/or a wide-spread services collapse should be utilized without hesitation. Lawyers will cringe at my suggestion. But experienced combat soldiers and LEOs (law enforcement officers) who have been in exigent circumstances like large-scale riots will agree:
“If a defender raises their level of force faster than their attacker and applies that greater level of force with speed and gusto, the odds are in their favor that they will likely prevail and suffer less injury.”
Use more force than your attacker. Use weapons to multiply your defensive capabilities.A weapon can be a key chain, flashlight, bat (not the furry kind), full bottle of water, clipboard, belt, pen, rock (the hard kind), a cane, an umbrella, ad infinitum and including design specific weapons such as a knife, pepper spray and gun.
I personally train students to fight with a weapon of some kind in both hands simultaneously* whenever possible. Empty handed self-defense has its place but one of the things that elevate us above the animals is our ability to create and use tools. What elevates you above your violent attacker may be the fact that you use all available weapons (in both hands) and keep adjusting to a higher level of force before they do.
“….fight with a weapon of some kind in both hands simultaneously*…”
Anticipate. If violence is unavoidable, strike first. Have plans for different defensive situations. Arrange a visible phalanx of your determined and armed companions. Pre-planning, a visible state of vigilance and defensive readiness and pre-emptive superior ground positioning may be enough to intimidate your attackers into seeking out easier prey.
Reduce your attacker(s) resolve and confidence by displaying
your obvious determination to resist and prevail.
And if necessary……with a capable vigorous defense.
The willingness to use great force without hesitation when warranted is not a normal instinct for the average Joe Schmoe. You must remember that those who would deprive you of your possessions and even lives will not be so encumbered by the basic social tenets of decency, non-violence and fair play. Frightened and desperate people often revert to the mentality of repeat, violent, strong arm robbers. They will strike suddenly and without warning. They will use any and all force to take what you have……even your life.
Striking preemptively or using much greater force than your assailant’s initial attack may seem rather unsportsmanlike, even immoral, but remember when the SHTF or TEOTWAWKI has arrived, you and your companions cannot afford to be injured as medical services may be scarce or even non-existent and your life saving supplies may be irreplaceable.
You can be a decent human being but don’t be a pacifist.
Do what you have to do to prevail…………be a survivor.
It is your right and your duty.
*Note: Because of the dangers posed by a sympathetic muscle contraction, I do not teach students to have a weapon in each hand when one or more of those weapons is a firearm. S.D.”
This contest will end on October 10 2012 – prizes include:
- First Place : $100 Cash.
- Second Place : $50 Cash.
- Third Place : $25 Cash.
Contest ends on October 10 2012.
- The Prepper's Guide to Surviving the End of the World, as We Know It: Gear, Skills, and Related Know-How
- The Prepared Prepper's Cookbook: Over 170 Pages of Food Storage Tips, and Recipes From Preppers All Over America!
- Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man's Solution
- 31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness