1. Criminals use aggressive ploys to intimidate you
In practical self-defense we spend considerable time training to deal with “interview scenarios”. These are confrontations that begin with a criminal attempting to distract you in some manner before attacking you. This distraction can be relaxed or exceedingly aggressive. Today, I want to discuss how to deal with an assailant that begins an interview by being aggressive.
This type of situation is different than a “relaxed” interview because you have less time to asses the situation and decide on the best option. Criminals use different interview “styles” based on their personality, mental state, background etc. This technique is often used by criminals that’re mentally ill, high on drugs or just have experience freezing people with this sort of anti-social behavior.
In an aggressive interview things escalate quickly and the wrong decision can leave you severely injured, kidnapped, your property stolen or even killed. As self-defenders we have to utilize practical skills so that we can keep our wits about us here and be prepared to take action. So, to deal with an aggressive interview we’re going to work on tactics to deescalate the situation, create manageable distance while bringing our hands up and if necessary attack the attacker.
Deescalating the situation and escaping should be your first priority. Whether this is a determined seasoned criminal or hostile civilian who’s angry about something you did. Apologize for your “wrongdoing”, tell them you don’t want any trouble, tell them to leave you alone while you walk away. DO NOT STAY THERE AND ARGUE WITH THEM. A common ploy is for criminals to approach quickly yelling at about how you “scratched their car” “cut them in line at the gas station” “looked at them like you wanted to fight” as a prelude to attacking you. This reasoning they’re giving you is a distraction used to hide that there about to move on you physically.
During this interview phase keep your responding dialogue simple. Naturally, when you have a yelling aggressor in your face you will experience a sudden surge of adrenaline. Your heartbeat will increase and specifically you can experience a lack of saliva or “dry cotton mouth”. So forget about any long poetic sonnets when you’re talking. Short sentences with three or four words are the way to go while you leave the area.
3. Create Distance
Immediately seek to create at least an arms length distance from your aggressor. As they attempt to get into your face screaming at or with their hands pointing don’t cooperate. NEVER get chest to chest and argue with someone. For starters, you’re not behaving like someone who doesn’t want trouble in the eyes of the law and when you’re locked in a tense stare- down you don’t have the ability to react quickly to a surprise quick attack at this range. Also, by creating distance you’re able to watch their hands, scan for accomplices and assess the situation. This is where making hard decisions beforehand comes in handy. Decide before an attack that you’ll put your ego aside in any confrontation and prioritize your safety.
Also, immediately bring your hands up with your palms facing your aggressor or in the “Jack Benny position” that I’ve explained previously. With your hands in this position you’re in an ideal position to hit your assailant preemptively, or bring your hands up defensively if you need to protect yourself from your aggressors initial attack. Also, if you need to protect your neck or back of the head from a rear attack you’ll be in an optimal position. Also, with your hands in these positions you’re making it clear to all parties involved and watching you’re not the aggressor.
4. Attack the Attacker
Be prepared to strike if you can’t escape and you’re not able to deescalate the confrontation. If someone is continually crossing your “personal zone” you need to hit quickly. Keep in mind you’ll have to make this decision very quickly. Experienced criminals are very good at distracting you with frightening language intended to make you hesitate. They might tell you that if you don’t come with them “they’ll blow your brains out”. They may make a graphic description of what they’ll do to your family if you resist. Stay focused and keep your wits about you to the best of your ability. Focus on maintaining your space and going off like a jackhammer if they close the distance.
Keep your physical attack simple and ferocious. Attack going straight for the eyes, throat and groin. If you have keys in your hand use them to stab into the eyes depending on the seriousness of the situation. Or use your phone as a blunt object to slam into your attacker. Use subterfuge and deception to make your opponent think you’re submissive before you attack like a wild animal. Scream, growl and grimace while you attack. You get the idea hopefully, you gotta be in it to win it. Practice ruthless follow-up after your initial preemptive assault. Attack only to the point to escape. But if your assailant is much larger than you, on drugs and has accomplices you’ll have to fight with everything you got.
5. Get comfortable being uncomfortable
All of these skills need to be practiced endlessly in a practical self-defense class. You need to have a trusted partner approach you aggressively and practice encroaching on you. Seriously, don’t be nice with this and have your partner use foul language to distract you and really attempt to incite your fight or flight response albeit on a limited scale. You need to get used the shock you’ll experience when someone scary approaches you and threatens you. I’ve literally heard of tough black belts in martial arts freezing when a violent thug with a criminal history throws away respect and etiquette. Don’t ignore this vital part of training.
What you’ll find with practice is that you’ll be startled but over time you’ll get more comfortable with this type of scenario. Instill the basics into your fiber of being. Scan for accomplices, bring your hands up and create distance. Lastly attack the attacker in your drilling. Practice yelling and screaming when you do so. Good luck and stay safe.