"Speed, Surprise and Violence of Action"
Unfortunately, recently in headline news, we are seeing numerous real-life encounters across North America resulting in the loss of life from violent attacks. These incidents are continuing to rise at an exponential rate previously unheard of. As someone who has spent his entire life trying to understand and defend against the threat of violence, I have been asking myself why and what can we do to better prepare ourselves to survive in today’s environment.
One of the first notions that we have to grasp with, is that people in general are unpredictable. Although we have previously looked at pre-incident behaviours, pre-contact cues and relying on your intuition to avoid certain situations, we have no idea of what is going on inside of someone else’s mind at a specific moment. Whether they are suffering from a mental disorder, somehow perceive our actions or presence as a threat or violation of their personal space, people can and will act in a manner that provide little to no time to respond. Subsequently, walking around in a state of hyper-vigilance will have detrimental effects on our overall health and wellness as have been witnessed by many of the symptoms associated to PTSD and anxiety.
So, what can we do? Stay at home and rely on technology to bring outside services into our homes? Avoid all social interactions and focus on our own individual self-preservation? We, by nature, are social creatures and isolation may indeed be compounding the effects of mental disorders that are behind some of these vicious attacks. Look at what our society has gone through since March 2020 and the psychological impact that it has had including reported increases in mental disorders and use of illicit drugs.
Before we continue, I would like to note that it’s not my intention to incite fear-mongering, nor create the sense of helplessness. I merely want to establish that there is an increase in violent crime throughout North America, identify how it is being carried out and what we must do to survive with as little damage occurring. The reality is that in the greater picture of things, the frequency in which we may be the victim of a high-risk situation is extremely low. You’re more likely to be injured in a ‘slip and fall’ then a violent encounter, however, our acknowledgement of the increase in violence will heighten our awareness and may save our lives.
What makes these attacks so successful? The same principles that Law Enforce
ment, Military and those trained in self-defence use; “Speed, Surprise and Violence of Action!” If you took the time to analyze the credible acts of violence being reported these past three months, you will see that almost all of them adhere to these principles.
Speed is defined as “the act or quality of acting or moving fast; rapidly”. If an individual hesitates, they telegraph not only their actions but their intentions as well. As such, the individual needs to penetrate what we refer to as our ‘personal zone, approximately 18” to 18’ around you, in order to use speed and surprise to their advantage. This is done in one of two ways; firstly, they lure you into a false sense of security in developing rapport or using the ‘trojan horse’ principle to get close to you. Secondly, we presume compliance and unconsciously approach the individual allowing them inside of our personal zone, for example, asking someone not to conduct a certain act as it is interfering with your lawful enjoyment of that environment.
Surprise is defined as “an unexpected or astonishing event, fact or thing”. Again, similarly to speed, the individual may be able to enter your personal zone through false pretenses. Additionally, they may be able to set up an ambush in a setting where you would least
likely expect to be attacked or when your guard is down. For example, fumbling through your purse or jacket while walking towards your vehicle in a dimly lit parking lot. If it isn’t a crime of opportunity, the individual facilitating the violent act may have taken the time to establish ‘pattern of life”. Essentially, recognizing the routine that you make every day whether it is the route that you drive to work or the time of day that you engage in your fitness regime.
Finally, and taken from the Seal Survival Guide: A Navy Seal’s Secrets to Surviving any Disaster, the term ‘Violence of action’ is defined as “the unrestricted use of speed, strength, surprise and aggression to achieve total dominance against your enemy”. This is the commitment of the perpetrator in the engagement of the violent act and combines the two principles that we have already addressed. For this reason, it is difficult to for one to counter an isolated attack that has been set up using these key principles.
So, what can we do? Re-read what has been written above and analyze the material. In order for someone to use speed to their advantage, they must first need to get close enough and penetrate the ‘Personal Zone’. Anything outside of 18’, so long as there is awareness will be observed. Even if you are not extending your focus outside of 18’, a sudden explosive movement would still most likely catch you’re your attention. A safe distance to interact with anyone who you are not intimate with, is six to eight feet. When I say intimate, I refer to those that we have an extensive relationship with. If your intuition is telling you that something is not right with the situation, then the distance should be increased.
In order to be surprised, you must be caught unaware. By breaking routine, you make it difficult for an individual to establish a ‘pattern of life’. Take an alternative route to or from work, perhaps plan to take care of some of your chores during the trip. To enhance your awareness, put away the phone and prepare yourself in advance of the activity that you are doing. For example, when walking to your vehicle, already have your keys in hand as you leave the building, survey the area around the vehicle and remotely unlock the doors as you approach. Other tools that you may use to your advantage would be to monitor crime stats in your area or the area that you are frequenting and paying attention to some of the activities of others in your social network. Does something that someone has posted seem off to you? The better prepared that you are, the lower the risk of something happening that wasn’t anticipated.
Lastly, if you are the victim of a violent encounter, you will almost always have to reciprocate with an equal or higher aggressive response. “Violence of Action!” This is something that many try to avoid and realistically have a difficult time picturing themselves doing, but if there is no other recourse, and your survivability is at risk, we must dig down and do what needs to be done to protect ourselves and the ones that we love. Those who give up, will succumb to the attack whereas those who fight back, have a greater chance of surviving and living to ‘tell the tale’!
If all else fails and you suspect that something isn’t right and anticipate that an act of violence may occur, remove yourself, if possible and report to a person in a position of authority.