Self-Defense – What went wrong?

Warning – This video shows a violent attack where a toddler/baby gets dropped on its head during the ensuing violence. While it’s very tough to watch, the video should be used to analyze tactical mistakes made and apply better situational awareness and assertive response when mom and pop are out and about. (On a side note, I cannot make out all of the audio so some critical information is missing – for the purpose of THIS analysis it matters not to me the cause of the altercation, the race or the cultural difference between the parties involved.)

What tactical self-defense mistakes were made? Here’s a hint, the mistakes made happened before the camera turned on. If you’re new to the idea of concept of self-defense beyond just physical techniques, you may consider the following:

Distance: Distance was not maintained from the attacker(s). Whether space was able to be maintained any longer than a split second before the attack started is irrelevant. The victim let the attacker(s) into her personal space without being ready to end the threat. In doing so, she gave herself less time to react to an attack. She allowed herself to get into arms reach. Bad thing. Now this may have happened for one or both reasons below:

Lack of Situational Awareness: We can’t see if the victim was approached from the front or the rear. It may or may not have been a surprise encounter. The camera started rolling after that had happened. Two things – 1. If she didn’t see the approaching attacker, she failed to be aware of her surroundings, the results of which are quite evident. That’s a lesson in and of itself. 2. If she did see the attackers approaching, she didn’t pass the child along to the other girl and they didn’t reposition themselves. Situational awareness is no good if the information gained doesn’t send a message to your body saying “Do something now!”.

Lack of Assertive Response: Given the body language by the attackers and the nervous behavior of the victim(s), situational awareness may have been violated, but lack of assertive response was surely present. It seems likely that because the victim was holding a child she figured that the attacker held the same moral code and therefore wouldn’t attack her. Not so. The victim thought she’d be passive and nervously laugh the confrontation away . . . predators see that as weakness . . . well . . . because it is.

Lack of Understanding on Moral Code: Those who have no moral code come in all genders, races, and cultural backgrounds. Don’t think for one second that someone you don’t know as well as your spouse isn’t capable of something like what was depicted in the video. Do you know this person? Do you know their mental health history? Do you know their anger issues? Do you know their substance abuse history?  The victim was betting the child’s safety on an assumed fallacy that the attacker wouldn’t cross that moral line. I can’t guarantee that she won’t ever take that bet again, but I’m betting she won’t. My hope is that the readers NEVER think for one moment that someone who is willing to attack you cares about the fact that you are holding a child, or the hand of an elderly person, or that your with your spouse. In the mind of a predator, they so no moral line, only your tactical disadvantage. They have nothing to lose, and you have EVERYTHING to lose.

“So what would you have suggested she had done differently, Irish?” I’m glad you asked. My wife should just write this out as she’s knows it and has heard me say it enough to our loved ones.

  1. Get your head up! I doesn’t matter if you’re 90 lbs and can’t throw a punch to save your life, your eyes, ears and ability to read the aggressive or evasive behavior of someone approaching you is the number one skill to have when it comes to self-defense. My wife is particularly good at reading non-verbals (not that I’m not, she’s just pretty good). Does she have to be the person to end a threat? No, but if she sees something that I don’t, it’d be nice to pull from her skill set. I then have time to position myself and my family so that I’m not at such a tactical disadvantage.
  1. Be assertive! There’s a line between having guts and being antagonistic. Don’t be antagonistic. However, prey doesn’t dictate the terms of an encounter to a predator, so don’t be prey. If someone gets too close, tell them to back up. At this point, if they proceed there’s a good chance it will be evident that they want to hurt you. As your creating space, if they don’t abide . . . yell for them to “back the *&$% up NOW” at the top of your lungs! I don’t care if you don’t swear. To credit Craig Douglas . . . You need to be able to speak the language. Your telling them to back up isn’t going to make them attack you anymore than they were if they don’t listen, but there is a chance that the assertive behavior you display lets them know that you are not going to be an easy target. If you have someone that’s with you, that you’ve transferred children to, they should be using the time that you are asserting right to personal space (and better tactical positioning) to get the precious cargo into a safer location, (if that means putting a picnic table between you and the potential bad guys – DO IT.

As the attackers approached, she should have stood up, handed the child away and said “get behind the table, and start walking away if possible”. She then tells the attackers, “hey, hold up a second”. They wouldn’t have obviously, but if I’m going to get beat up, I’m not going to make my child suffer through it with me. And in the case of multiple attackers there is such a thing as disparity of force – if you’re not familiar with it, true imminent attacks that show a disparity of force give justification for the fear of great bodily harm or death, which can justify the use of lethal force to defend your life or the lives of others. Either way, putting yourself in a better tactical position starts with asserting your right not to be attacked. It requires having some balls and proper training.

  1. Don’t be naive! Don’t think that someone won’t do “x” if they have one inkling that they’ll get away with it. For those that keep the Judeo / Christian ethic you might remember that Jeremiah 17:9 says “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Bottom line: A very high percentage of the population is morally bankrupt. Don’t go around finding out which ones are or aren’t unless it’s on your terms.

Where should you start?  Start studying these concepts. Don’t just pay lip service to the understanding, but truly digest these concepts.

When you’re out and about, pay attention to the people around you. Have you been approached by people today? What does their body language say? Has someone yelled at you at work today? If so when they were approaching you, what did their body language tell you about the conversation you were about to have?

No one, not at work, not at home, not out and about has right to your personal space. Start asserting your right to not have someone “get in your face”, but be ready to back it up. At work it might be through an HR rep. On the street you better be ready to “drop the gloves”, but at that point, unless you were antagonizing, you were going to have to anyway. I’ve been in “aw crap, here we go” situations, where assertive response has stopped really potentially deadly situations. I’ve been in situations where it was assertive response was not used properly and guns were drawn as a result.

And, please don’t think for one second that because you are a nice person that you’ll be left alone. Don’t think for one second that because your tough or an old grouchy guy, that no one will bother you. All of those attitudes are weakness and predators can smell that like a shark smells blood in the water. Fear ain’t the only thing they can smell.  Your active behavior might not determine the difference between catching a good old fashioned butt whoop’n, but it could give you time to save your child from face planting into concrete at the hands of a psychopath.

And mothers – listen to me – please. If you are going to have to defend yourself and your children – accept what is happening – hand off your children if possible – and make sure you take the fight to the attacker, hard, fast and without reservation. Biting, tearing, striking at the eyes, throat, groin and temples. Any witnesses should be quite convinced that the woman that defended herself was possessed by a demon. Bring everything you’ve got and some that you didn’t know you had – that’s what you need to bring to the situation if and when that day comes.

The best way to do that is to get trained in actual self-defense concepts AND effective techniques. I recommend a live self-defense instructor. If you want you can sign up for DTG’s Online classroom and look at the Finish It Now – Self-Defense System. It will be up in the Online Classroom within the next two months from what DTG has said.

Stay Safe


6 thoughts on “Self-Defense – What went wrong?

  1. This is a good lessons learned. I really liked how you emphasized that we should not assume others will abide by the same moral code as we do.

    Although you talked about situational awareness, I would’ve liked to see more details, for the casual reader, on body language and pre-attack indicators (attacker moving to rear left for better attack position, arms swinging to counter adrenaline, slightly bladed stance, etc…). It’s very important to see potentially bad situations prior to an encounter, but it’s also important to recognize that the dynamics of the encounter are changing and it’s about to get physical.

    I really enjoyed your post, thanks for sharing!


    1. Chris,

      Thanks for stopping by and taking time to comment. Your comment regarding behavioral indicators is spot on. There’s enough important information within that topic that it should become it’s own blog post. So I’ve jumped onto your site and reblogged the topic as you’ve wrote about it already.

      – Irish

      Liked by 1 person

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