USA – Looking In The Balkans Mirror?

mirror

For years I have been following news from the survival “realm” all over the internet. One thing is for sure: every day in those years when I read survival “news” I could conclude, based on the headlines, that the world is going to chaos and end in the next week, next month or next year.

And still we are here discussing, we have all the comforts and commodities. Let’s say we are doing fine.

But now, for the first time, I have a feeling that world is going to chaos really soon.

Too many things are seemingly “moving” inside global calculations, and this time we could be close to a “big one”.

No matter how much food, ammo., training and skills you have when SHTF you are gonna be surprised. Most of us have been in the mode of preparing for something that is not happening for years, and when it finally happens there is going to be a period of shock for the folks, and in that period a LOT of people are going to die.

Since most of the folks who read my stuff and subscribe to my courses are from US, things that are written here are meant for them mostly, but not exclusively for them.

Every now and then I get questions about similarities between situation in US and the Balkans before SHTF. And I have read couple of good articles about the same topic lately.

Since I have lot of people that I can call good friends, and they are from States, I am going to point out some things about my Balkan SHTF and possible US SHTF. There are some serious and worrying parallels,  even we are talking about two different systems.

Feel free to prove me wrong in comments, I am open to discussion…

 

System

“The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness. . . . This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears above ground he is a protector. . . having a mob entirely at his disposal . . . .” —Plato

I have lived in the system and country where we believed that we are all equal. Different nationalities, different religions etc. Melted all together to make one “big and prosperous” nation, to be great and equal… united.

And then leverage of world  forces simply changed, and suddenly we are being taught that differences between us are more important than similarities and “one nations”, old history battles are been taught again, one group suddenly is more important then other and so on and so on.

And then came “leaders” or saviors that led us against others. After years of carnage, here we are again with almost the same leaders.

I have been through the war and met many folks on every side shooting because they have been told that other side is evil, and yet all sides are the same at the end.

Rich are richer, poor are poorer. Nothing changed. Nobody learned nothing.

 

Big Circles and Small Circles  (and your decisions)

Again and again, there is a big circle and small circle. You may have illusion that you are controlling things in bigger circle, but it is only an illusion. What kind of government you’re going to have and what kind of politics they use in the next years is not up to you, you just have been smartly led to believe that you can make the change.

It is like that…

At the end it all comes to the matter of power and possession, and you are just small piece of everything, you are small part of the tool.

Over the years I have learned that it is more important to have one more month of food stored or one more skill learned then to waste time on worrying who is going be elected.

It is a waste of time, when SHTF they all gonna do the same more or less, oppress people and take their rights and liberties very easy.

 

Your Rights

Living in society where you have certain rights and freedoms for years is a good thing.

The bad thing is, when SHTF and you lose all those rights in single day, and you find yourself so shocked that you simply do not know what next to do, because you had those rights for many years, it became totally natural for you to ‘own’ it.

Having lots of conversations with friends from the US, I concluded that the majority of common folks their simply do not understand that all your rights can be lost in one day.

And not by the evil invaders from the space, or Russians or who ever. Your government can take it. In One Day.

Majority of folks simply do not see this as a possible option, and even preppers their who understand it, may look like ‘weirdos’ because of this viewpoint.

Do not get me wrong, I would love to live in country where I can buy weapons easily, where I have rights to protect my home, where I can say freely (more or less) what I do not like.

I like that very much, actually I admire it.

What I do not like is feeling that most of the people think it is written in the stone and it can not be changed.

In short, things that I like most about US is going to be the biggest ‘loss’ in US when SHTF, and not only the US.

When SHTF there is going to be lot of surprised people, a lot of shock.

 

Your Perception of Future SHTF, Prepper Movement in the USA

 

I can not get rid of the feeling, that majority of people see SHTF as a big fun, shooting while drinking beer, with additional testing of all of their cool gear.

I see that in blogs, comments, forums, documentaries, movies…

I had more then one participants of my course who told me ”this is not fun, it is hard, and not so pleasant”.

I had people who have been preppers for 30 years and never considered the fact that when SHTF it is going to be smelly all around you.

There’s been a man who advises skateboard as a ‘good’ transport through SHTF city, a man who thinks that 30 brand new gold coins are going to get him through problems on his bug out trip and so on and so on.

Now I am not mocking with people who stated all the above. What I do not like is believing in “facts” that are not checked.

If you never been through SHTF you may not have the idea that it is not fun, but quite hard and unpleasant. Where do you think people and dead animals are going to be buried? Where will the garbage be taken, human waste and everything else? A foul smell is going to be a constant.

Don’t you think offering someone a brand new gold coin for safe passage won’t bring some “oooh maybe he has more of those interesting funny unusual gold things with him” attention?

Why don’t you try to have 10 cheap gold rings in your pocket instead, and offer on every “checkpoint”, one that you directly pull down from your finger with the words “here take my engagement ring, just let me pass”?

Is a guy going to think “oooh, maybe he has more of those his engagement rings in his pocket”?

Same things go with trade.

Examples are numerous.

Common sense is something that is missing mostly in “mainstream” prepper movements, and I understand that , it is business, it is about money.

But folks, choose carefully what advice you are taking as a real.

For the average, beginner prepper, the USA looks like paradise. A place where you can look and find correct information, also look and find correct equipment for future SHTF, but that also brings risk because there are more false and wrong information and mindset than right.

Personally I like what can be found in the US, because in most of the cases, I know what is good or bad, but for beginners it is much, much harder.

 

Conclusion

As some kind of conclusion for this very hard topic, because it is wrong to put things right with generalization:

  1. It is going to be very ugly, much more ugly than my SHTF experience here, simply because the ‘fall’ when SHTF going to be bigger. The “Distance” between modern everyday life and life in SHTF for the USA is WAY bigger than in my time. Majority of folks are “soft” and to dependent on the system.
  2. The ‘Survival Movement’ is big business, and it has become more (much more) about selling items (to make you believe that you are prepared) than about learning and gaining knowledge.
  3. Wrong perceptions about SHTF (or at least not checked and “experienced” beliefs) are rooted so hard, they have simply become the ‘accepted truths’. A LOT of these ‘truths’ are simply false and there for earning money, not for survival.
  4. A good thing is that you have much more options about  choosing and owning weapons, but this option can ‘bite you back’ if you have weapons, but with the wrong mindset, ‘truths’ and knowledge, simply because a whole bunch of bad people are going to have weapons too.
  5. The majority of folks are not ready to bend the rules and adapt. There is lot of talk about adapting, but then suddenly you get whole bunch of folks who are thinking “I’ll do that” or “ I’ll never do that” instead of “I’ll do what has to be done (adapt to situation)”
  6. Working with other folks. You need to work with other folks, to have friends, group, connections-before SHTF. Survival alone is for really tough mother…kers.
  7. People prepare for SHTF, but not really, they are preparing for the romantic, movie version of SHTF. They want to feel cool and comfortable when SHTF, which is not a problem by itself. Problem is that they want that at the expense of real knowledge and covering of real basics. So you have a man who has a fancy and really cool rifle, but does not know how easy and fast in real fight it is to use 500 rounds, so he ends up without ammo in a week. Or has a generator but does not have a clue how to light a fire, or the differences between fuels for fire in terms of heating, smoking etc. Many examples…
  8. Do not look for higher reasons for the situation. You may have political options today, fractions, candidates, government. But when SHTF all that are empty words from some other distant time. When SHTF you will have yourself and people who want to harm you. That is it.

So folks, make sure you are preparing for the realities. I would encourage you to start ‘fact checking’ your plans and preps today…

 

Guest Post – Adaptability: How to Develop the Right Mindset to Deal Faster With Changes

chameleon

Far too many people today are overwhelmed by change. No matter whether the changes happen at work, at home, or elsewhere in the community, unproductive responses tend to be out of proportion to the actual situation.  This is just one of many reasons why more preppers are starting to wonder about adaptability and what mindset will work best for dealing with a major crisis.  Without a doubt, if you or others cannot manage a relatively minor situation without making it worse, how do you expect to manage situations that are much worse?  In this article, you will learn about the fundamentals of adaptability and how to develop a healthy mindset that will enable you to deal with any situation effectively and efficiently.

 

What is Adaptability?

According to Gandhi, “Adaptability is not imitation.  It means a power of resistance and assimilation.”    Managing a crisis situation requires the ability to know which actions to pursue and which ones to avoid.  For example, if you are accustomed to taking a shower each day, adaptability during a hurricane  may require you change this activity.  Here are the options you would need to evaluate and the level of adaptability required to pursue them:

  • You may decide to take a shower using tap water despite warnings and indicators that the water is not safe to use. This choice requires simply following what you have always done – or imitating past actions. It requires no change, yet carries a very high risk of making you sick or killing you because the world around you has changed drastically.
  • You may decide not to take a shower using tap water, but choose to use some wet wipes that you happen to have on hand. Even though this choice is safer, it still requires very little in the way of making a change.  It will work, however, everything depends on what you do or don’t have on hand.
  • As someone living in an area prone to hurricanes, you purchased a camping shower unit, but have never opened the box let alone tried it out. On the surface, this may look like adaptability because you took action to prepare for a situation where you would not have adequate bathing water.  You still run a high risk of failing the adaptability test because the unit itself may not work properly, or you may not have something else on hand to ensure the device will work.
  • Finally, let’s say you purchased the camping shower unit and have tested it out. You know it works perfectly and have everything on hand to take a shower at a moment’s notice. As a seasoned prepper, you also made it your business to practice purifying water and retrieve it from moist air.  This is the level of adaptability you should always strive for.  Not only are you adjusting your actions to fit the circumstance, but you are “resisting” anything that keeps you from living as normal and as healthy a life as possible.  Because you took the time to learn how to purify water and operate new equipment, you have also assimilated – or taken in new information and devices that increase the chances of meeting your objectives.

 

What Does an Adaptable Mindset Look and Feel Like?

The adaptable mindset looks, feels, and is healthy.  Here are some of the basic elements:

  1. Situation Awareness and Response
  • you are aware of everything going on around you without becoming distracted by unimportant things or taking them out of context. For example, you may be aware that four other people may be standing in line at the checkout, however, you don’t pay more attention to them than tending your own items.
  • Unusual or important details get your attention, but you do not overreact.  Now let’s say you are standing at the checkout, and of the four people in line with you, one person has just walked up and is wearing a hoodie and his/her jacket looks like it is stuffed with something heavy.  Someone with a healthy, adaptable mindset will keep that person in their peripheral sight (or use some other discreet means to observe them) until it is certain that the person poses no threat.  An adaptable person will also be aware of the fact that the heavy jacket could mean the person is carrying some kind of explosive device.
  • You respond quickly and appropriately to threatening stimulus.  In the escalation of this scenario, let’s say you are watching the person with the hoodie and are certain that he has pulled a knife from his pocket.  At this point, any rational person would conclude that something bad is going to happen, and force is going to be required to stop it.  While it may not be appropriate to immediately use lethal force, you can do any number of things including try to disarm the person, or try to take cover and call for help.  A lot of how you handle this situation will depend on what tools you have on hand and the level of training you have to deal with these situations.  The more you train and practice both mental and physical skills, the better chance you have of making the right decision and preventing yourself and others from being injured.  There is no substitution for training your mind, body, instincts, reflexes, and emotions.
  1. Awareness of risks and dangers does not stop you from living a normal life. This includes being able to go out with friends and feeling safe in your home and outside of your home.  You also choose appropriate tools (including weapons) to fit a specific situation and project a body language of confidence without being cocky.
  1. You have realistic goals and expectations. This includes financial expectations as well as where all of your skill sets are and what the optimal levels are for surviving catastrophic situations.  When you have an honest and fair assessment of where you are, it is much easier to make plans to get where you need to go.
  1. Have full emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and social responses. Many people today think they must be without emotions or that everything must be based on logic. When you put these kinds of blinders on, then you never see answers that might work better. If you are feeling sad, then be sad, if you are angry, then be angry. It is fine to have emotions, just don’t get lost in them or stay in them for an abnormal period of time.  Make sure that you know how to quickly move from one state of feeling or thinking to another, and how to control your movement from one state to the desired one.  Controlling stress levels is a key part of this process.
  1. You are well connected to the world and community around you. One of the most important aspects of adaptability is that you can be comfortable with other people as well as when you are alone. You never know when teamwork will be required in a crisis, or when you will have to gauge whether or not you can trust the other person.  Being around other people is the only way to learn and develop good assessment skills.

 

Know What Your Strengths and Vulnerabilities Are

There is no such thing as a person that doesn’t have weaknesses and vulnerabilities.  The key to being adaptable and surviving any situation is knowing where those weak points are in yourself and others.  Next, you should know best how to use your strengths to compensate for areas that still need work.  It is also very important to assess strengths and weaknesses in other people so that you all can benefit from pursuing tasks that best match each person’s skills and capacities.   A highly adaptable person does not fear weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Rather, they see them as challenges to accept, overcome, and work around as needed.

 

Keep Learning, Developing and Exploring

You are bound to find preppers that say if “Plan A” fails, you have a whole alphabet of plans to go through before you give up.  If you are going to move from one plan to another, then you need to be open to new information at all times.  Even if you think you know everything about a particular topic, keep researching, learning, and experimenting.  This includes studying related fields where you might pick up different theories and concepts that can be adapted for use in other areas of survival skill development.

Overall, the most adaptable people never stop asking questions and looking for answers.  When you stop asking questions, it means that you have reached a point where adapting and changing are going to be limited.  It may also mean you doubt yourself or your ability to learn something new.  This can undermine confidence more than anything else.    In a crisis situation, you may need to go through the trial and error process dozens of times.  As long as you are asking questions, then there is a chance you will hit on the right answer.

One of the biggest secrets of being adaptable is knowing the difference between asking questions and being confused.  When you are asking questions, you seek to obtain information that will either fit into a pre-existing plan, or it may be used to make useful adjustments.  On the other hand, when you are confused, you may not have the experience or knowledge to know that you need to pursue another path to success.  If you are confused, asking questions can help you gain clarity, however, the usefulness of the answers you get will only be as good as the questions you ask.

 

Make Plans But Keep them Flexible

Consider a situation where you are focusing your prepper budget and skill set development on obtaining clean water.  By the time you factor in how to obtain water from multiple resources (example lakes, ponds, rivers, the ground, underground waterways, air, plant leaves, animal remains, morning dew, and salt water), and how to purify the water (bone char, sari cloths, charcoal, sand, distilling, and boiling), you can easily make one or two plans with dozens of optional branches.   There is an easy way to format your plans for maximum flexibility without losing sight of your goals.

Start out by saying IF (these factors are present in the situation)

  • THEN (do the following things)
  • ELSE (do the following things)
  • continue making ELSE clauses for each option that you can apply to the situation as listed in the IF statement.

You may need many “IF” statements to cover every single scenario that you may encounter. For obtaining potable water, you might build your IF statements around locations such as desert, city, mountains, near the ocean, or you can build them around specific situations such as during hurricanes, after a nuclear strike, or anything else that you want to develop a plan of action for.

People that adapt easily to sudden or major changes are the ones most likely to survive just about any kind of crisis.  Practice your skills, be confident in yourself, plan carefully, and always safeguard and seek to improve your mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and social health.  When you are in the best position possible, you will always find it easier to make the kinds of choices that will improve your chances of keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.

Selco Comments:

 Carmela raises some excellent points in this article. Adaptability is very often formulated in a way that you need to act (or not act) in split second based on your mindset that you achieved both through mentally processing (‘thinking’ of sorts), understanding of the world around you, and learned skills.

It is easy (and correct) to say that you need to adapt to the new world around you. If you do not have running water you will not take regular showers, and you still will functional and be alive.

If you do not have your favorite food you will adapt to that and so on and so on.

But let me give you one real life experience story:

In the chaos when SHTF and armed groups started with terrorizing people, in the days just before everybody realized that law is gone for the long time, I was trying to get something useful from the ruined grocery shop. On my way back some 20 meters from the shop, five or six guys were badly beating a man on the street. In the moment when they saw me, I saw them too. I could not go back, only choice was to go right up next to them. They were pretty drunk, the guy who they beat was down on the ground covered in blood.

When I was right next to them, two of them look at me, and on the face of one of them I almost saw question “what the fuck you are looking at?” Maybe in the split second before he asked me that I yelled at them “yeah, fuck that asshole, mess him up man, go for it”. All of them put a happy smile on their faces and yell something like“yeah dude, woohoo” and stuff like that.

In that moment I simply made a connection with them, I put myself on their side.

That lasted for a moment only, but I just needed that moment, I passed them, and I was safe. I thought later about that a lot, and I concluded that I did not ‘create’ that plan, words simply came out from my mouth, it was gut instinct. If I did not do that, guy would probably have asked me the “what a fuck you are looking at” question, and they would have simply started beating me.

It is not my bravest moment in life, but again I am talking here about real life experience not nice stories.

Point here is:

Sometimes you will be forced to adapt and act very fast, and in the way that you do not like, and will not be proud about later on. But it is about adapting to things that you do not like, but you will be force to adapt to in order to survive. In the SHTF there will be some very ugly thing that you will adapt to.

About the author:

Carmela Tyrell is an experienced prepper that enjoys spending time working in her garden and exploring new ways to generate off-grid electricity and water for her family’s home. She prides herself in working hard to cut reliance on all things “municipal” and transition to a more self-sustainable living. She is also very knowledgeable about herbal remedies, surviving a nuclear disaster and bugging in. You can read more of her work on Survivor’s Fortress. You can also follow us on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

Myth Busting – Knife Attacks

knife 1

 

I wrote this article as an addition to the (excellent) guest article we recently had on on our blog. I have to say that it is written based on my experience, seeing and dealing with knife attacks and wounds, both during the SHTF and during my work in the medical field.

It is not written scientifically, or based on hard data, it is based on what I saw, or did… what I actually experienced.

Often we find, some same topics are viewed differently by different people, and it is perfectly OK to be like that, but when it is come to knife wounds and killing, in the end a wound is wound and blood is blood.

Knife (blade)

There is something primal (can we say even mythical?) in a knife (blade) and I guess it comes from the fact that it has been used as a killing tool for many centuries, and to be honest, for me it is most scary type of possible fight – to be forced to knife fight.

Having a knife in your hand and ‘pushing’ it into someone’s body is scary thought, it is very personal, on many levels.

As always, thanks to movie industry, people imagine a knife fight is like two guys doing a whole bunch of fancy moves. In reality it is mostly about who pulled their knife first and stick it in to the other guy. (Before other guy had a chance to pull his knife hopefully)

Knife Fighting, Knives and Common Sense

I know there are knife fighting experts out there, but I have never gone through some sort of experts training so I cannot say the full impact of this. But I know that if you are forced to do knife fighting with someone when SHTF and by the chance you have pistol with you, pull the gun and shoot the man twice… forget about ‘honor’ and ‘movies’.

Knife fighting (equal terms) means that you (almost for sure) going to get hurt, get at least a couple of cuts from your opponent. Remember even a small cut when SHTF can kill you.

Accepting the possibility people on the internet will call me an idiot, I must say that choosing your knife (for SHTF) as a weapon ONLY is a HUGE resource waste.

A good knife means a working tool and a weapon.

Also accept there are more usable weapons and tools out there, like an axe for example, in terms of multi –use. A knife plays it’s part in the bigger picture.

What I am trying to say is, do not get yourself to romanticized into a certain type of knife- when it come to stabbing and cutting (in fights) most knives will do the job, with the possible exception of a really cheap one.

When it come to tools, then you should aim to choose the higher quality ones (and multi purpose if possible)

In one period of SHTF, most of the knife fights I saw were done with simple kitchen knives, and I assure you those knives did the job bloody good.

Point here is to have intention, and yes, to have guts for that. The type and style of knife is very much secondary to that…

Always you want to have common sense, and adaptability. For example if you found yourself in situation where a knife is your only weapon maybe it makes sense to make spear out of it, to have some „distance and strength“. You can’t just assume there is only ‘one way’.

Knives, Bleeding and Statistics.

There are numbers and data from years of the research about bleeding and death from knife wounds and blood loss, and it worth your time to read it, to know what is about and what you can expect.

On the other hand there are real life experiences and exceptions for everything, and you need to acknowledge that too.

You could see maybe in movies that if you silently move up on a guy from the rear, put your hand over his mouth and stab him with the knife in his back region or kidneys, he is gonna go down silently in two seconds.

Good luck with that, stabbing someone is actually a very „noisy“ job, and there are variables like; Did you hit correct place? Did you stab or slice? How long and sharp your knife is? etc etc.

On top of all this you must understand you will need do add lot of force to whatever method you use, definitely not like in the movies, people will fight for their life – literally.

Depending of the situation, you could hit the correct place (carotid artery for example) but the wounded guy could still have enough time to strangulate you. I’ve seen it happen. Yes, he will die very fast from massive bleeding from carotid artery – but the point is he could still kill you before that happens.

So you have an option of moving to the guy silently in order to kill him, great, but think, are you going to use your fancy knife in order to cut his carotid artery?

Maybe it can make more sense (and present better odds) to use a big rock and instantly crush his skull, with one strong blow, rather than take the chance of missing an artery and be faced with an alerted enemy with a knife?

If you do not have any good training about how to correctly use a knife, it is simply not very easy to achieve fast, effective kills.

More unpleasant facts about a knife fight is if you want to kill someone with a knife, it is going to be some serious requirement in terms of „working“ with your knife.

For example a simple stab, or even multiple stabs to the abdomen region will eventually kill the man, but not fast enough- it is complete different story if you stab the man and then move your knife around- or dig, gouge and cut if you like. Messy job, but it works like that.

If you need to kill someone with a knife, and you get chance to stab him, you need to be prepared that it will likely take multiple stab wounds. One stab rarely works unless you are really know what you are doing.

The final sad truth is, that during the knife fight, when you get chance to stab your opponent, he is having the same chances to stab you, so there is a very good chance you will be hurt too.

Make sure you are not ‘over simplifying’ you options and training. Many preppers I hear carrying things with them to kill folks or defend themselves. You need to understand your full range of defense options, train with your tools and train with an understanding of the realities of these things in mind.

We discuss the realities of violent encounters a lot and much, much more during our flagship course in Croatia. If you are serious about your training there are still some spaces available.

More details can be seen here: https://shtfschool.com/survival-course-croatia/

Also, I am sure our readers have many great experiences and lessons on this subject to share. Please get involved in the discussion by leaving a comment below…

 

 

Etiquette In Unknown Areas (How To Avoid Starting A Riot)

crowded street

 

This summer the team at SHTFSchool have been busy travelling and planning for a new range of courses. This is in addition to my routine and extensive travels for other work.  Today  I share a summary of some key things I’ve learnt in my travels on things to do (or not!) if you find yourself in a ‘new place’ or are unsure of what the social ‘norms’ of the area you are in may be. I hope it is of use and interest!

Remember, in these days of increasing ‘multiculturalism’ it is perfectly possible to get yourself into trouble breaking ‘cultural rules’ without travelling to a foreign country

The overarching consideration for this type of problem can easily be broken down into two categories. Deciding on a recommended course of action or displaying a behaviour can always be held up to this simple litmus test…

1) No harm can come from this… (Insert action)
2) No good can come from… (Insert action)

See how this applies in this list of top 10 things to consider below:

1. Be Observant

Breaking rules in other cultures can attract moderate to severe penalties. (Go to Deera Square in Saudi Arabia on a Friday afternoon to see a stark example). Due to the potential severity of punishment of what we may see as ‘slight’ or minor issues, the exquisite art of observation must come into play as early as possible. Scrutinize your surroundings and compare yourself to them and see in what ways you will/are ‘stand out’ and then take action to address those issues swiftly. No harm can come from being observant.

2. Keep Covered

This applies to men, but even more so to women. No harm can come from covering as much of the body as possible in an unknown area (See how the test works!?) If you feel you ever are realistically going to find yourself in such an ‘unknown’ situation we are illustrating, then make sure long sleeved trousers and tops are worn or are immediately available. Early observation should indicate if you need to cover your head. For shawls/scarves/head covers unless you KNOW the tribal identifiers (e.g. patterns and colour connotations on a shemagh) keep them as neutral and non-specific in style as possible. Your dapper blue cravat may look great at the cocktail bar in your tennis club but will probably cause you problems in South-Central LA.

3. Avoid Comments

Let’s face it, you are probably already ‘pinged’ by the locals or residents as being a stranger. Trying not to stand out will help, but an overheard comment (especially a negative or derogatory one), no matter how outstanding, strange, odd or degrading event you are commenting on is going to get you on people’s radar swiftly and not in a good way. No good can come from mentioning how ‘different’ these people are from you, or you are from these people.

4. Stick Within Your Gender

Do not attempt to engage, in any way, with members of the opposite sex. Full Stop (Period). Be as affronted at this advice as you want, but take it. No discussion is required. If you can’t follow it in this format you WILL be taught another way…

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2350503/Dwayne-Ward-First-picture-British-teen-stabbed-17-times-tortured-stripped-naked-kissing-Turkish-girl.html

Also know this isn’t just about you. If you are introduced to a woman do not offer her your hand. Wait for her to offer. If you hold out your hand in simple politeness you may be forcing her to choose between insulting a guest (you) or touching a man she is not married to—either or both of which may be harshly punished for.

5. Steer Clear of Religious Buildings/Areas

In the absence of a professional guide, or clear acceptance of tourists, the odds of you breaking up a VERY significant rule are so off the scale it is not worth the risk.

6. Remain Clear Headed

Degenerating your ability to be observant, and cognitive ability to understand why you need to stick with these rules is a plan no good can come from… On this, please note, just because you see locals doing something doesn’t mean you can too…don’t get drunk or high in dangerous places. More strongly, NEVER alter your mental state except in a confirmed safe place.

7. Don’t Engage with ANY Solicitation

Do not give to beggars, do not feed the poor. From personal experience don’t stop the child running in to the road clearly in your line of sight (it’s bait for a trap you don’t want to be in). Don’t talk with prostitutes, even if you are ‘Just asking for directions’, avoid street vendors, touts, self declared taxi drivers… You get the idea.

If You Need Help, Ask Someone in a Public Facing Role or just ‘Back Up’ – Look for assistance from service staff, waiters, store owners etc. DO NOT stop random strangers in the street, and don’t stand in the street looking lost and/or bewildered. If you have ‘inadvertently’ found yourself in the wrong place, turn around and go back the way you came (Like if you ever accidentally take an express subway that doesn’t stop at 70th Street in New York City, but takes you straight to Harlem at 11pm at night, and you are translucent white, not American, and look like you just got a beating from Muay Thai class, get back on the Subway and head back the way you came…)

8. No Pictures

You’ve realized you may not be in tinsel town, so stop wandering around like a tourist. Unless you’re taking pictures of your teeth for dental record analysis later on, no good can come from getting in peoples way with a camera.

http://rt.com/news/protests-morsi-violence-opposition-366/

9. Don’t Display Wealth

If it’s shiny and possibly expensive looking stow it away or hide it. Dress down to the best of your ability.

Most important point last!

10. Be Polite

Not witty, engaging, entertaining, fascinated, shocked, pious, or committed to ‘educating people’, or any other way you may think I mean by ‘Polite’. Out and out, genuinely polite. You are the odd one out, you are under scrutiny, anything going wrong WILL be seen as potentially your fault, so try not to do anything ‘wrong’ (even though you don’t know yet what wrong is) so be sincere and respectful in your actions until you’ve figured out what is going on…

These 10 simple measures will hopefully ‘buy you time’ to figure out how to best act and proceed in an area previously unknown to you. Getting into trouble in an unknown area is fraught with additional risks. Inciting a mob is a situation you will very likely never escape from.

Do you have any ‘rules’ you follow when you are in ‘unknown areas’…? Please comment below and share your experiences…

Guest Post – Myth Busting Knife Attacks by Darren Laur

Recently, I read an article on surviving an edged weapon attack, where the writer spoke specific to knife wounds, as they related to unconsciousness and death, which I found quite troublesome given the fact that his numbers just did not reflect the empirical experience/data that I have witnessed over my 29yrs of being a law enforcement professional.

In this article, the author first quoted a book written by Captain W E Fairburn called “Get Tough: How to Win In Hand-to-Hand Fighting” published in 1942. On page 99 of this text (fig.112) Fairburn provides the following information specific to “loss of consciousness in seconds” and “Death” specific to knife wounds:

 

FS Timetable

Brachial Artery – Unconsciousness 14 seconds, death 1.5 minutes

Radial Artery – Unconsciousness 30 seconds, death 2 minutes

Carotid Artery – Unconsciousness 5 seconds, death 12 seconds

Subclavian Artery – Unconsciousness 2 seconds, death 3.5 seconds

Heart – Unconsciousness instantaneous, death 3 seconds

Background

I attempted to locate any medical literature surrounding the time that this book was published to support the above noted data, but I was unable to do so. If anyone reading this can provide me with the medical literature that supports Fairburn’s data from that time period, please send it my way.

Based upon the above noted Fairburn data, I began my literary review of the martial art/self-protection/combatives academia, specific to unconsciousness and death specific to knife wounds, and what I found was very surprising if not troublesome. Much of the data supplied in these books, articles, and papers that I reviewed were just a rehash of Fairburn’s numbers, and others were anecdotal at best, and more often than not just plain negligent. None, and I mean none, cited any medical literature to support their claims. Some stated that they had spoken to a medical professional (doctors and paramedics) to validate their claims, but yet they did not provide the names of these medical professionals, or their credentials, or even medical research links which would have helped validate their published writings.

Research

After reading the above noted martial art, self protection, and combatives academia, and being less than impressed with their reported data specific to unconsciousness and death as it relates to knife wounds, I too decided to connect with the medical professionals. Two of the doctors that I connected with are experts in their field of medicine; both specialize in trauma care and critical care medicine, and have a plethora of firsthand experience in dealing with those who have been injured via an edged or pointed weapon:

Dr Lorne David Porayko:

• Full time Critical Care Medicine/Anaesthesiology specialist in Victoria, Vancouver Island Health Authority
• Critical Care team leader
• Works in conjunction with Dr Christine Hall
• Martial Arts background in Judo (black belt level), MMA, Krav Maga
• Honoured to say that Dr Porayko is one of my full time students

Dr Christine Hall:

• Full time emergency medicine specialist in Victoria, Vancouver Island Health Authority.
• Trauma team leader and educator.
• Previously, program director for emergency medicine at the University of Calgary.
• Master’s degree in epidemiology from the University of Calgary.
• Cross-appointed in the department of community health sciences through the faculty of medicine at the University of Calgary and also the faculty of medicine’s department of surgery at UBC.

Shock

When it comes to unconsciousness or death attributed to an edged weapon attack, we are talking about what the medical community calls “Shock”. Dr Porayko defines shock as, “the development of multi-organ failure due to insufficient oxygen being delivered to the tissue to meet their metabolic needs.”

Specific to shock as it relates to unconsciousness and death, Dr Porayko stated the following to me:

“ A 70kgs (154lbs) male’s circulating blood volume is about 70ml/kg which equals about 5 litres. Cardiac output is about 5-7 litres per minute. All the great vessels of the body act as a conduit of approximately 15-20% of CO/minute which equals about 1 litre per minute. The great vessels include the innominate artery, Subclavian arteries, carotid arteries and some include the iliac arteries. The 4 atria, 2 ventricles and aorta all conduct the full cardiac output thus are well protected in the centre of the body behind the sternum and in front of the thoracolumbar spine.”

So why is the above noted information important, because hemorrhagic shock (blood loss) is based upon how much hydraulic fluid (blood) is leaked from the body. When it comes to understanding hemorrhagic shock, I would guide you to the following links that were provided to me by Dr Porayko:

http://ccforum.com/content/8/5/373
http://ccforum.com/content/8/5/373/table/T1

Dr Porayko advised that based upon the above noted link:

• A class II shock category (750-1500ml) would leave “most” dizzy and very weak
• a Class III or Class IV shock category (1500ml-2 litres of blood loss) would leave “most” with the inability to stand up right

Specific to my questions about unconsciousness and death if specific anatomical arteries or veins were cut, and given all the medical variable associated, the Doctors had to make the following assumptions first before they could answer my questions:

1. There is no compression of a lacerated artery underway. This was irrelevant for a lacerated vein due to the fact that a vein can’t be compressed

2. The subject is previously healthy with a normal haemoglobin concentration and has a normal VO2 max prior to being wounded.

3. If an artery is the target, the artery is incompletely transacted. Completely transacted arteries go into vasospasm and retract into their perivascular sheaths which markedly reduces bleeding and even stopping bleeding all together in the case of smaller vessels. On this point Dr Porayko stated that this is the reason the Ghurkhas were trained to twist their knives in the femoral artery after puncturing it- to avoid a clean surgical transaction, thus preventing the vasospasm and retraction into the perivascular sheath, and instead to intentionally cause a hole in the vessel sidewall which is much more lethal.

4. The adventitia (a saran wrap like layer around the blood vessel) does not seal the wound ( The doctors stated that this usually does happen in survivors) and/or a clot does no form after blood pressure drops.

The doctors also noted:

“although exsanguinations (death from blood loss) from a venous injury is much slower that an arterial one (because mean arterial pressure is usually at least 10x central venous pressure), the venous injury is much more difficult to treat and generally if arterial injured patients survive to hospital with manual compression, they will do well whereas major venous injured patients often die even after getting to the operating room”

Of note, both doctors opinioned that the numbers provided by Fairburn and other combative/martial arts instructors that I provided to them for review, specific to times for unconsciousness and/or death, are way too short. Both stated that they believed that these numbers are based upon “complete cessation” of all cardiac output through the involved vessel which is not the norm. In fact Dr Pryayko brought to my attention that during the French revolution when thousands of people were beheaded by guillotine, the attending doctors documented the presence of vital signs in the body for up to two minutes.

Real Numbers

So based upon the above 4 “assumptions”, here are the numbers that the doctors I consulted provided specific to a level of hemorrhagic shock taking place which would lead to unconsciousness or death in “most” situations:

Carotid Artery – Approx 2-20 minutes

Jugular Vein – Approx 15-60 minutes

Subclavian Artery – Approx 2-20 minutes. The doctors also noted: “this is a special circumstance anatomically because this vessel is protected by the clavicle and the first rib (sandwiched between them) if the Subclavian artery bleeds, the only way to compress it and repair it is to open the chest by thoracotomy. You cannot compress it. Patients usually die on the scene or en-route to hospital.

Subclavian Vein – Approx 15-60 minutes

Brachial Artery – 5-60 minutes. The doctors also noted: “pretty unusual to see these without compression by EMS)

Femoral Artery – 5-60 minutes. The doctors also noted: “Pretty unusual to see these without compression by EMS)

Aorta or any part of the heart – Approx 1-2 minutes. The doctors stated that the heart conducts 100% of cardiac output. Assuming transaction and that the hole does not seal. Ventricular holes do usually seal while the atrial ones do not due to the orientation of the muscle fibres.

Two other areas of note made by the doctors also included:

Popliteal Artery – Located behind the knee, would be similar (but slightly less) to cutting the femoral artery

Inferior Vena Cava – Can be attacked via a deep abdominal stab, similar to cutting the Jugular vein

Exceptions

Both doctors stated that these are estimates based upon current medical literature and their first hand experience, but both also stated that there are always exceptions to these estimates. Both gave examples where patients who had received severe knife wound survived even with a heavy loss of blood, some examples:

• One of the doctors has seen several patients with traumatic cardiotomies (a big hole in the heart) survive for 20 minutes before being treated

• One of the doctors treated a patient who had been stabbed in the abdomen, where the knife hit the inferior vena cava, his belly was full of blood, he was conscious, although shocky, an hour after the injury when he arrived in the ER. He survived.

The doctors stated that they have seen patients who have bled out nearly their entire blood volume, but yet are still awake and talking (although looking bad) many many minutes following an injury and survive to tell their story. Dr Porayko stated, “So it is a mistake to underestimate a person’s capacity to compensate for acute hypovolemia and anaemia (hemorrhagic shock), even when very severe. This is especially true in the younger population.

Conclusion

So why did I write this article?

1. Much of the information being propagated in the martial arts, self protection, and combatives industry specific to unconsciousness and death as a result of a knife attack, specific to blood loss, is inaccurate. I wanted to provide those who are looking to share current and accurate medical opinion with the above noted information, hoping that it will go viral in our industry. For those who don’t and continue to teach inaccurate information, shame on you.

2. Those who teach others how to fight with a knife, and state that if you cut or stab a person here or there an attacker will die in seconds, are both willfully blind and being irresponsible to their student in most cases. Those who teach others how to fight with a knife need to absorb the information in this article, and start teaching from a medically researched knowledge base.

The most important reason for this article, SURVIVAL !!!!!! Words are powerful, and can create our own reality. If you “believe” that you will die in seconds because your radial artery has been cut in a knife attack, and your instructor told you (and you believe him) that you only have 30 seconds to live before you die from blood loss, then you likely will die. As can be seen from the numbers provided by the doctors, even if one receives a severe cut or stab to a major blood vessel or organ, you can still fight for several minutes (not seconds), and even longer, and still survive. As Dr Hall stated, “The decision to survive, it is that intangible thing that cannot be measured, and I think is part of the reason that some people survive and some don’t. You have to decide ahead of time that you are going to live.”

————————————————————–

Darren Laur, also known as “The White Hatter”,  has dedicated his life to public safety, and is a recently retired and highly respected Staff Sergeant with the Victoria City Police Department with over 29 years of law enforcement experience, and is a Certified Advanced Open Source Intelligence / Social Media Investigator with a strong interest/background in on-line and social media investigations. Darren is an internationally court recognized safety and workplace violence prevention expert/advocate, award winning published author and highly sought after international keynote speaker, who specializes in the area of personal safety and self protection both on-line and off-line.

More information can be found at: http://www.personalprotectionsystems.ca/

Lessons Learnt

Recently we held a physical Urban Skills course in Croatia. I was exceptionally happy with how well the course went.

Students were there to learn various skills. Personally I found a lot of skills very important in preparing for SHTF, but what I want to highlight most, to them, and all others is that skills that they learned before and on this course need to be set ‘inside’ SHTF circumstances.

What do I mean by that?

One of the big mythbusting about SHTF is that your skills will work and solve problems in SHTF in the way that you imagined.

In reality it is clearly not like that.

As some of the students learned, when SHTF (and we tried on the course to bring conditions as close as possible to the real SHTF) every ‘learned skill’ worked different.

Just a few examples (from many):

Water Collection

Skills ‘says’ that you need to collect water in several ways, for example rain from the roofs using tarps and similar.

IMG_5364

Then you need container to ‘transport’ that water, like bottles, flasks and similar.

IMG_5353

Then you need to purify it with gauze, pills, boiling or whatever mean suit you…

IMG_5367

Traps

You set up some dangerous trap in front of your home with this you can kill any approaching ‘enemy’…

Trade

You have items that someone else needs and vice versa, you go find the guy, exchange goods and all is fine…

Weapon

You have most modern weapon and bunch of ammo and you feel safe…

But…

This list can go on and on for every item stored or every skill learned, but in reality things can and often do work like this:

You cannot collect water because simply there is no rain for weeks. You cannot set up tarps because you are hiding inside an abandoned apartment for days while there are not so friendly folks outside on the street.

The amazing trap that set up for your scenario is simply trap that will ‘injure’ the enemy in a way that he thought was there by ‘chance’ or ‘mistake’. Let’s say he tripped on some shit that looks like it was there because building was destroyed weeks ago, not something that, on reflection, he realizes was smartly set up by you, therefore he has no idea you are actually there and are actively defending.

For trade, you end up waiting waiting for correct information for days, and then after you get there, finally to the right place, you get ‘played’ by someone who trades you packs of cigarettes with nothing inside, or in worst case who shot you in the back because you assume that he is honorable.

cigs

For weapons, you find out that on 15th day of SHTF you end up with club (bat) as your primary weapon because you assume that 1000 rounds can last for months, or simply when someone attacked your home you forget to take your rifle with you when you ran. (For all those saying ‘this can never happen, events from the course prove otherwise)

One student asked me if it was true that I drank water simply from the puddle of water.

I said yes, with my shirt as a filter only.

Now that does not look like some skill for sure, not some survivalist purifying water, but it is the truth. Even if you have the means to treat water, are you confident in it? Have you thought about the water you realistically will be sourcing…?

IMG_5349

You need to understand that each and every skill you have will be ‘disrupted’ someway in real SHTF, so you will be forced simply to ‘shorten’ procedures.

Is it good?

No of course not, but it is much better than to be shot in head while you are setting up a tarp outside your home…

Skills yes, but mindset for knowing what skills to use and when, that is all what is about here.

If you do not get a sense when and how to implement each skill, there is no sense in knowing any of it.

I am promising you, that every one of your skills will be performed in a different way in real settings, when you do not eat well, do not sleep good, with a lot of fear from the known and unknown.

Our physical Urban Skills course is a truly unique training opportunity, and we are very happy to announce next years dates. For all the details click here.

In the meantime, stay safe, and make sure you are training for the realities, not the fantasies…

 

Orlando Nightclub Attack – Some Thoughts

Pain

 

I hate to write articles following terrorist attack, but here I am again. With how everything looks, I’m anticipating writing more articles increasingly based on the „newest terrorist attack“…

I wrote about terrorism and terrorist attack in some other terms, what I’d like to discuss with you here and now is more about the core of these events, What is happening inside them, and what to do, or how to survive it.

Let’s just cover some of the basics here, in terms of survival, if you find yourself in the middle of similar attack.

Where Are You?

One of the my favorite means of survival in any SHTF situation is not to be there. That goes for war and also for some terrorist attack inside some club.

Terrorism have as a goal to change our way of living, to install fear in us, so we could be in constant expecting of attack. For me,  they are succeeding in that.

Placing myself unarmed in confined space with whole bunch of unarmed people sounds like very bad idea to me. The probability that terrorist will attack whole bunch of folks in a gun convention, or at shooting range in Texas is very low, simply because their success there is very limited.

It is bad time to be unarmed together with whole bunch of another unarmed people, simply avoid that.

So that brings us to the next point:

Guns or No Guns?

All terrorist attacks ends when good guys with guns come and kill bad guys with guns. So one thing here is very clear: it is not about guns only, it is who has the guns.

Rory Quote
Clearly if other good guys (victims) had guns chances for them to finish that terrorist attack (to kill the terrorist) earlier would be much higher. Have a gun, be armed!

Terrorist by the nature do not expect to meet active resistance (firearms) from the victims, they are there to shoot as many people as possible, and even one good man with a pistol could make significant tactical change in everything.

Good people with guns brings us to the next point here:

Reality

I experienced and participated in shootings in closed (inside buildings) environment with more persons inside, and it is nothing like practicing on a shooting range, so it is something that you need to be prepared for.

Several gunshots from rifle in an indoor environment is something that could (and did) make people literally shit themselves, or to be paralyzed in shock for some time.

Add to that complete chaos, screams, panic and everything else and it is not sunset movie scene where there is attacker and you only.

You will act how you are trained, so train for that.

A few thoughts here to consider:

Building:

Know the buildings that you entering and where you are going to spend some time, especially if there is going to be a crowd. Entrances, exits, escape routes, obstacles, think where most of the folks will run, think where a possible attacker could come from and what is best position for him, for you…

Cover and Concealment:

Understand what is ‘cover’ and what is ‘concealment’.  You could read in some manual that concealment could be for example thick bush, you stand behind that and you are not visible, and for cover there is thick brick wall and behind it no bullet can kill you.

With that knowledge you find yourself in the middle of terrorist attack inside club and find out there is no bushes or thick walls and you suddenly have a flash of revelation that tells you did not learn enough about important things. There is a difference between knowledge and understanding.

Here I find movie industry very guilty for misinformation and lot of possible deaths. You know the movie scenes where people who were shot with a pistol, fly 10 meters through the air when they get hit, or, or guys who use wooden tables for cover in gunfights?

It is all wrong you know…?

Bullet from AK 47 (or any other similar characteristic rifle) can go through many things like doors, walls, shelves, cabinets, tables and kill you or even one more person. Even bullets from a pistol can go through a lot of stuff and kill you.

A good idea is to bring some stuff next time on your shooting range and test it, shoot through it so you have idea.

After that exercise on shooting range, whenever you go to your favorite places (malls, clubs, etc) together with entrances, exits, route considerations etc think, look for and identify real cover (can that big wooden bar take a rifle shot, or that big refrigerator?)

Who Survives?

Mostly guys who survived to tell story about similar events were those who use the opportunity to flee right on time, so I would not have any real deep thoughts about that, if you have chance to run, then run and survive.

If you are there, at the place, armed and have a chance to make the change (to eliminate attacker) to save yourself, then no deep thoughts again, eliminate the threat!

But again here is catch, it is not shooting range, with empty beer bottles. Attacker is shooting too, and most probably with deadlier weapon than yours…

Slight advantage here is that attacker is not expecting resistance in the form of a firearm. Again, a few suggestions. Forget any thoughts of ‘honorable fighting'(scream while everybody else is screaming in horror and then when he points in other direction shoot the asshole in back), and also do some tactical thinking about his position and your position, angles of movement, corners, types of his weapon (time to reload) and use every opportunity to win.

Conclusion

It is pretty dark conclusion, since I strongly believe that even when you entering mall you need to think about possible exits, how thick is that glass in front, covers and tactical movements in case of attack, but it is what it is, we are talking about survival anyway not about agriculture here.

Remember attacks are happening where people are not expecting it too much, that is also why are so many victims.

Be prepared!

Do events such as these change your preparedness plans or affect your training? Comment below, let us know how you would deal with a situation like this…?

Plans Without Preps

maze

 

I got asked a great question recently, and thought I would answer it with an article. A reader asks:

„I read your posts for years, I did not find myself survivalist all that time, I have read it because what you wrote about war times and similar… My question is simple, can you give couple of simple advice’s what to do in case of SHTF, without going into „prep for years“ or „build your group for years and store pile of ammo“ advices,  what if SHTF tommorrow and I do not have anything like that“?

At the first it looks like simple question, something that any of us who are into prepping should answer easily, but again we are talking about man who is not into prepping at all.

So what to do?

Whole books are written about this answer, but let’s try to be short and just stick to the basics here.

What Is Going On?

You see that something is happening outside, something big, let’s say you notice that there is an emergency broadcasting on TV, and you see a huge number of law enforcement outside, and other that that you know nothing more.

Now, at this moment, you need to make some important decisions, and you’ll have to make it based on what you know, so clearly the more information you can get, the better you can make decisions.

Two important points here you need to understand are:

1.No matter what is the real reason for your particular SHTF event, there is some common  elements of every SHTF event no matter if it’s terrorist dirty bomb attack, solar EMP or Romulans attacking with spaceships.

Panic, disorder, rumors, looting, chaos. So just do not expect to collect all the info. you want in that moment.

Do not wait to find out what is really happening, or let’s say do not wait to find out why things (shit) are happening. At this moment forget the ‘why’ and act.

2. Collect info. based on your small circle of options. That means (continuing from point A) that you do not need (most probably) to find out why there is looting in street next to you, why there is police force in big number, why there is no TV signal, and why there is big black smoke visible from your office few kilometers away in the city.

What you need to know is how to avoid (and what way to take) looting mob, what kind of force police is using there and what way to travel to avoid that big black smoke.

Do not get me wrong, to know why things are happening is great, but to wait too long to find out is usually bad and it is often way better to solve things in small steps.

What Actually To Do?

Go back to the basics again.  Simply try to stay away from the trouble.

We said that you are not prepper, and you are in the city.

Assess your situation and act.

Your „luck“ probably in that moment is that people will probably look more how to take (steal) LCD TVs or laptops than things for shelter or defense.

Get yourself organized into simple categories, we typically have SEVEN Survival Priorities:

  1. Fire
  2. Shelter
  3. Water
  4. Food
  5. Communication
  6. Medical
  7. Defense

Try to cover each priority as much as you can.

Again, do not spend too much time in covering each one at the expense of finding yourself in a worse situation.

As you are not prepper, and you might find yourself in the middle of working day in the office when SHTF, look around yourself and see what you can use to cover each of the priorities.

For fire you can have only a lighter maybe, and, for now, you have that priority covered, for water you going to put several bottles of water in your bag.

For shelter you gonna steal a few more jackets, or emergency blanket or trash bags.

For food you’re going to take energy bars from the vending machine, for communications you’re going to take cellphone with you (and hope there is still a signal/network), for medical you are going to „borrow“ the first aid kit from the hallway in your office building, and for defense you will take a couple of knives from the kitchen or simply smash some chair and take a chair leg as an improvised baton.

So all priorities are covered.

Yes it looks poor, but you covered sections with what you got. Improvising and adapting is key here…

Where To Go?

Bug Out or Bug In?

Simply go away from the trouble, that’s it.

We are talking here about city, so huge possibility is that you are going to go outside of the city. More people means more problems.

But first thing to keep in mind is not to run from the city, it is to escape the trouble (think in small circles-steps). Rory Miller says it nicely ‘Don’t run away from danger, run towards safety’.

If that means that you need to hunker down in office building, or in rolled over school bus or wherever in the middle of the city for two days in order to safely leave the city then you are going to do that.

First and immediate task is to stay out of (and avoid) trouble in your goal to leave the city.

Maybe you going to have to spend week hiding somewhere in city, waiting for right moment to leave it. You do not know.

Point is to avoid trouble and adapt your plans accordingly to that.

Rules

Best advice for you is anticipate that there are simply no rules, but some common things for every situations are there, so:

-Stick to your plan up until to the moment when it is more dangerous to follow the plan, then improvise, adapt and modify your plan. Be ready that your plan can fall apart right at the beginning (example: if you plan to leave the city through several pre planned points and streets, and there is danger on the way, you might choose to ‘bend’ your plan and use a longer way instead)

-Violence. Avoid violence, simply like that. Violence means chance to get yourself killed, or injured. Killed means your survival story is ended, and injured means much more trouble than in normal times, remember small cut can kill you in SHTF world.

-Violence, again. When there is no other way then to use violence you have to use it in a quick and effective way, without hesitation, without rules. You’ll think about what you did later, if you have to.

-Things are (probably, or might not be) not what they look like. Police might not be police, law is not law anymore, stealing is not stealing, honor is not honor. Survival changes things.

-Prioritize things. Systemic collapse, especially first period of it, means lot of chaos, that means lot of distractions in your planned action. Always have in your mind what is your priority in the given moment. Getting from point A to point B might look easy today, but when SHTF you may find events problems and obstacles on that way that can fill one lifetime of average peaceful citizen.

Do not find yourself pulled in situations, like say going to the destroyed pharmacy seemed like a good chance to refill your medical kit, but also its a good chance to meet couple of high junkies inside who will stab you. Choose wisely what „distraction“ you will take as a good ‘chance’.

Conclusion

As you can conclude, for non prepper advice would be develop some plan and act. Also that does not mean that plan is to run like an idiot and get yourself killed.

Sometimes what you need is just will to survive, and based on that you will adapt and build your plan.

Have you ever had to deal with a serious situation with no time to prepare for it? Please share your stories and ‘lessons learnt’ in the comments below.

Guest Article – Seven Elements of Self-Defense by Rory Miller

lucky-seven-1187052

 

Toby’s Note: While this article is written primarily as advice to Self Defense instructors, it should be noted serious students of Self Defense need to be studying and addressing all the points raised AND we highly recommend choosing their instructors in accordance with the advice given in this article.

 

There are seven things you must cover if you intend to teach self-defense. Failure in any of these areas will leave your student vulnerable.

 

1) Ethical and Legal Aspects of Force.

Self defense is a legal term, not a selection of physical skills. To teach physical self-defense without respect to self-defense law is as irresponsible as teaching someone to drive without teaching the rules of the road. Many of the systems we teach are either older than the legal concept of self-defense, derived from a military art without legal niceties, or invented by criminals.  As a rule, nice, peaceful, law-abiding people are crappy at designing functional combat systems. It is not hard to teach with respect to the law, most people’s instincts are fully in line with legal expectations. When one hears, “I’d rather be tried by twelve than carried by six” it is a sure sign of an instructor too lazy or too arrogant to do the research necessary to help the students avoid both of those options.

 

The law is the standard society will hold you to, but your internal ethics are the standards you will hold yourself to. There is always a moral dimension to any use of force and you will always be either the good guy or the bad guy in your own mind when the smoke has cleared.

 

That seems clear-cut, but it is not. Even the most necessary force often runs counter to the student’s social conditioning. Realistically, everything involved in self defense is breaking a law or, at minimum, a taboo. When you strike someone to defend yourself, even if the person is attacking you with a knife, you are committing the crime of assault (or battery, depending on how your local jurisdiction defines things.) Self-defense does not make the crime disappear, it makes it justified. Hitting someone is committing assault. Killing someone is intentional manslaughter. But even something as simple as setting boundaries is being rude to a stranger. Every last act that comprises self-defense are things most students have been taught never to do, or taught that bad people do them.

 

This social conditioning creates hesitation. It can get your students killed. One of your primary responsibilities as an instructor is to find your students glitches and work them out. It doesn’t matter how skilled a fighter you are if the small voice in the back of your head won’t let you act.

 

2) Violence Dynamics.

You must understand how crime and violence actually happen. Without this knowledge it is impossible to have a realistic and efficient defense. You will never meet a doctor who studied medicine and surgery but refused to study disease and injury. You will never meet a mechanic who practices with tools but has never looked at an engine. But it is endemic in martial arts and self-defense for instructors to have fifteen or more years of practice in “what to do if attacked by a bad guy” who have never spent a single day studying how bad guys attack. In any other field this would be considered literally insane and unforgivably negligent.

 

3) Avoidance, Escape and Evasion, De-escalation.

Your students must know it is okay NOT to fight and they must know how to NOT fight. It’s not enough to pay lip-service: “Always walk away if you can, but today we’re working on hitting people in the face…”  They must know it is the better (safer, more effective) thing to do. They must have the tools to avoid, escape or de-escalate violence, and they must practice those tools.

 

4) Counter assault.

Under the assumption that the students are smart enough to walk away from anything they see coming, it is axiomatic that they will be hit by something they didn’t expect. Or something they expected and were too arrogant to acknowledge. They need skills— simple, effective skills— trained to reflex speed to get past the sucker punch or ambush in one piece.

 

There are no perfect answers for counter-assault training, but there are some damn good ones. The technique itself must be efficient, have no decision tree (e.g. the technique is the same for right or left attacks, high or low, straight or circular, hand strikes or kicks, weapon or empty hand attacks), robust (meaning the technique still works even if done mostly wrong), and, ideally a “golden move” (prevents harm to you, injures the threat, betters your position, worsens the threat’s position or structure).

 

Proper operant conditioning can get the technique up to reflex speed.

 

5) Breaking the Freeze.

Well-trained and experienced operators still freeze, even if only to switch gears from patrol to combat mode. People freeze. It is natural. Some freeze in their minds, denying the attack is happening or trying to make a plan when there is no time for that. Some freeze chemically, getting such a dump of stress hormones that they are helpless. Many, especially in their first violent encounter, freeze because they do not know what will make things worse.

 

Your students need to understand that freezing exists, learn how to recognize when they are frozen and learn a method to break the freeze. It doesn’t matter how good they are at fighting if they stay frozen.

 

6) The Fight Itself.

Most training concentrates here and too many instructors believe that this is enough. But, obviously, you need to survive the sucker punch and break the freeze to even access this training. The good news, most things that are taught do work here.

 

The bad news, the circumstances under which those effective skills have to work will be completely different than what the student expects.

 

The student in the fight will not be the student that trained. In training, students are alert, sober, warmed up and stretched out, attentive and engaged, and not under the influence of adrenaline. Threats (bad guys) are not training partners. The threat is not trying to help you be a better person, does not care if you go to work tomorrow, and will be attacking you— fast, hard, up close and by surprise— not giving you predictable feeds to work on. And the fight happens in places with bad footing and lighting and improvised weapons and environmental hazards.

 

7) The Aftermath.

When the physical part of a self-defense situation is over, things are not over. There are potential legal, medical and psychological consequences as well as the possibility of retaliation. There is no consequence-free way to get involved in an intensely violent event, and the student unprepared to deal with the aftermath might bleed out, or say something that sends them to prison, or turn to drugs, alcohol or suicide. And that’s not a win.

 

Conclusion. All seven aspects are important, and they also affect each other. Working out your students’ ethics prevents freezes and also helps with the psychological aftermath. An event avoided has no injury, no paperwork and few internal issues. Students who have never heard “Everyone freezes” often interpret their own freezes as symptoms of cowardice and psychologically hammer themselves. Appropriate de-escalation or efficient hand-to-hand is impossible if one doesn’t recognize the dynamics of a particular act of violence. And a good counter-assault kicks in at the speed of nerve, giving you an edge before the stress hormones and freeze can even happen. All of these are important, and all work together.

To read more on these critical seven aspects you can read my book, Facing Violence

 

Post Disaster Violence

 

disaster

Today I travel back in my mind. I write a lot about my preparations and assessments since the time I got trapped in my city and views on the future, but I will just now, write some about ‘How It Was’ back in that time. Remember we were all thrown into that situation with no preparation, and found often our allies were our enemies from one day to the next…

Violence is something that people like to talk about, give theories and opinions, but at the same time few of us experience the real ‘deep’ face of violence, being trapped in a prolonged a deteriorating situation.

You may have experienced bar fights, or home invasions maybe, shooting somewhere and similar, and those events can be life changing situations for sure (or life taking) but I am talking here about violence so large scale and long lasting that it brings something like a ‘new way of living’, overwhelming violence that demands a complete change of mindset.

I often hear, and I often agree, that violence cannot solve anything, and that violence only brings more violence, but when you are faced with a man who wants to kill you, you are going to have to probably kill him in order to survive.

I hope that, in this moment, you will not care for philosophy, humanity or ethics, and that you just going do what you have to do, and survive. Later you will cope with other things, it is how things work.

As I get older I realize more and more that violence is wrong thing, but in the same time I also realize that I have to be more and more ready and capable to do violence when the time comes.

It is paradox maybe, but again it is how things works, I do not like that, but it is what it is.

 

 Violence and You

 

It is way too big topic even to try to explain it in one article, but some things I must try to show you here.

There is a man, let’s say we are talking about you here. An average citizen, a law abiding person, and suddenly you are going to be thrown into a (prolonged) situation where you are going be forced to watch and use exceptional levels of violence.

Do you think that you are going to be able to „operate“ in those conditions with the mindset you had from the time where you were average law abiding citizen?

No of course not, you will have to jump into the another mindset in order to survive.

Let’s call it survival mode.

In survival mode you’ll have to not to forget what it was like for you in ‘normal’ times, but you will have to push those memories aside, in order to operate in different mode – survival mode.

In real life situation that means for example that you ll maybe have to ignore panic, fear, smell, noises in the middle of an attack and do your steps in order to survive.

Maybe you’ll have to ignore the screaming dying kid next to you, maybe you’ll have to ignore your pride and run, or simply maybe you’ll have to ignore your „normal“ mindset and you going to have to kill the attacker from behind.

There is list of priorities in normal life, and there is list of priorities in survival mode.

Let just say that you using your different faces and „small“ mindset during your normal life and everyday business with different people around you.

Just like that, when faced with violence you’ll have to use different mindset, different face. Or another you.

 

Violence and Experience

 

There is a strange way of thinking here for me, but since I have live through the time when huge number of people did not die from old age, rather from violence, I have experience in this subject. So here are few thoughts.

Experiencing violence over a prolonged period of time does not make you superman, actually in some way make you crippled man, man with many problems, psychological and physical.

But if I put myself in way of thinking that I am in better position now then people who died next to me, or in front of me. You may call me a winner or survivor but many days that ‘title’ sounds very hollow.

Am I lucky man-yes, am I happy man – no.

But we are not talking in terms of quality of life, we are talking in terms of surviving or not.

Ethics, psychology and everything else here are matter for couple of books to be written, and even then you are not going say anything new, it is like that from beginning of the mankind.

What is more important about having experience in violence is that you simply KNOW how things are working there.

In lot of things you simply know what you can expect.

You know what chaos is, best way of dealing with it, you know what it takes to do things.

 

Preparing for Violence

 

Again nothing like real life experience, when you experience something like real violence you keep that in yourself for the rest of your life. What is best next to that? – other people’s real life experience.

So is it make sense to read about other folks real life experience? Of course, read a lot about that.

Training (physical) yourself is great thing. You’ll train to get yourself into the state that you are (physically) ready for hard tasks. So of course it makes sense to do that.

But training yourself mentally can be a hard thing.

You actually can only guess how it is going to be, how it is going to affect you.

I can tell you that it is hard, chaotic, I can describe you a situation, but can I bring you the feeling of terror in your gut when you feel that you are going to shit yourself? Can I give you smell of fear, smell of decaying body? Can I give you feeling when you realize that „they“ are coming for you?

No of course I cannot. You can read stories and real life experiences and based on that you are going to „build“ your possible mindset for violence situation.

You are going to build your „survival mindset“.

But there is a catch there. If you build it too firm, too strong, and then there is SHTF and everything that you imagined doesn’t fit the given situation or scenario and you are still pursuing and acting in the way that you imagine dealing with it you are going to have serious problems.

The situation will not adapt to your mindset; the situation will kill you if you are sticking too firm to your plan when it is not working.

You simply have to adapt.

It goes for many situation, if your plan and mindset says you are defending your home until you die, you are going to die probably.

Whenever I heard people saying „I’ll do that when SHTF „ or „I’ll do this when SHTF“ I feel sorry for them.

When SHTF you will adapt, and change your given plan accordingly to situation.

It is same with violence.

Violence is a tool that you going to use according to the situation. It is a tool, not a toy.

Now to finish with a final thought. It can sound, from what I have written, that a SHTF situation is like a Mad Max movie. Everyone running around killing, hurting, doing things with no consequences. In fact, this fantasy of a world ‘Without Rule of Law’ (WROL) is a big discussion in some circles.

For sure regular ‘law’ has gone. There are no ‘authorities’ or courts as we know them to deter or punish, BUT, during a SHTF situation you will find:

It is (especially in the beginning) like everything is possible, law is gone, you could go outside and see people looting stores, groups organizing (by street, or other facts like same job in company for example) trying to either defend part of the town, or bring more chaos just for fun, sometimes you could not say what, both could bring violence and death to you. Over time the ‘violence’ becomes more organized and ‘structured’ to start to achieve certain specific goals (although there is always ‘chaos’ as well).

After some time you look at violence you encounter in two ways. Violence happening outside your group, or inside your group (It is quite certain you will need to be in some sort of ‘group’ to stand any chance of surviving).

Outside your Group, you just wish to be very ‘small’, invisible after some time, not pay attention to anyone doing violence to others, because, quite simply you are still alive, and want to stay that way. In terms of “I am still alive, I do not care what they doing to that person, and how bad it is (your will and judging of good and bad is broken, you just care for your own life) it is like you care only for yourself while you are watching how others get killed, no matter that you feel that it is going to come to you in the end (violence) you just care for yourself.

Leaders of the “bad” group (gang) have best chances to stay leader if members fear him, so in fact he is most dangerous, vicious, sick bastard, nothing like a “reasonable” man. (Competition is huge in SHTF) Instilling discipline (through fear) and enforcing ‘your’ rules are paramount to holding your position as leader.

Various groups were interacting with the outside world and each other through fighting, exchange information, trading goods etc, but every group were more or less closed world, with trust only for those inside the group.

Forming of a group was quick mostly, because nobody expected this situation was going to happen, and so were not prepared, but very quickly were literally ‘fighting for survival’. Any problems were solved “on the way” (bad members, not skilled, not obeying etc.) Sometimes through discussion and agreement, but always with the threat of violence as an option.

To finish, and to educate, as opposed to shock you. Many folks cannot think to clear about the level of violence I am describing being involved in. Maybe you think SHTF is just like ‘Black Friday Shopping’ but every day. So let me just give examples of the how far the world I lived in descended from ‘normal’. Remember this was a regular city, in a nice country, in Europe, less than 25 years ago…

-People who never used violence before, doing some ‘hard’ violence: normal people, dads and mums, killing folks in order to save their families.

-Certain groups of people who looks like they are just waited for the SHTF so they can go out (“crawl out from beneath some rock”) so they can fulfill their own fantasies about being kings of the town, imprisoning people, raping women, torturing folks in the weirdest ways…

-Strange groups organizing in whatever the cause they choose name it, again only to gain power in order to have more resources (sometimes simply “gangs” of 50 people, sometimes whole militias of thousands people) through terror over other people or group of people.

-Irrational hate towards “other” (whoever “other” could (or might) be (other religion, group, street, town, nation) because it is very easy to manipulate groups of people through hate and fear (from and towards “others”), if someone manipulate you that your kid is hungry because “others”, he can do a lot with you.

Real life examples I saw:

-People being burned alive inside their homes (And people ‘enjoying’ watching this)

-Private prisons were made where you could go and torture other folks for fun, or simple rape women as a “reward”

-Kids over 13 or 14 years of age were simply “counted” as grown up people, and killed as enemy

-Humiliation of people on all different ways in order to break their will, for example forcing prisoners to have sex between same family (like father and daughter and similar)

-Violence was everyday thing, you could go outside and get shot not because you were ‘enemy’, but only because sniper on other side want to test his rifle.

It is a needed, but depressing realisation, that people, even regular folks can become so cruel, so fast, BUT it is an very important thing to be aware of for anyone truly involved in ‘preparedness’.

As always, its great to hear your comments and experiences on situations where you have had to deal with violence and what lessons you learned from this…