Introduction : Who, Where and When ?
Everyone can be a target, it should be assessed by the user why he could become a target, and how to prevent it at best. Even a not very wealthy woman can still be abducted by an erotomaniac, an ex-boyfriend/husband, a rapist, a sex-trafficker, etc… A rich person might be the target of robber, home-invader, interested in taking the target’s money from a safe deposit, asking a ransom, etc… Then, there’s also some jobs that will make you a target, especially when working in poorer parts of the world. Also, it should be taken in consideration that sometimes, the appearances might make you a target as if you live in a great, beautiful house but you’re not that rich for example. Also, you can drive a beautiful car leased by your employer and still be a simple employee. You can be abducted about everywhere, depending on the hostiles targeting you. Usually, ex-lover and known people tends to target you on your routine, including your home and the usual home-job travel. Opportunity abductors will usually target you outside a secure area (home, work) but professional abductors looking for your wealth will usually provide a good plan to catch you wherever you’ll be. If it’s the job that makes you a target, consider it your most dangerous area of being a target.

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First Part : Passive Defense & Prevention
Safe for maniac/obsessional people, most predators and robbers of all kind tend to like to have an easy target and an easy job. If the difficulty is superior to the reward, the hostiles won’t probably give it a try. So, the more of a difficult target you look (including home, car, job, your person) the better it will be for you to repel potential abductors. Also, the less intelligence you give to the public, the less options you’ll give to your potential enemies. The first area to protect is your home, it’s where you spend most of your life, including the times when you’re not “combat ready” like when you’re sleeping, taking a bath, etc… Secure doors and windows is a basic. Add alarm to both of them after having invested in good quality, hard to break through locks. Basic magnetic alarms work well for me, but don’t forget to change the batteries and to test them at least once a year. Good wall for your garden, or fence with barbwire, spikes, or whatever is hard to climb. You should also add lights with movement detector to your entry and garden. Security cam’ and fake ones are also a good add to protect your properties, and to fact check when having a bad feeling about a possible surveillance. If it can be done, add noisy window glass in case a hostile break it, it shall be heard from far away. Dogs if you can afford them are also very efficient for active and passive defense. Also, if you have a garage, keep it secure like all other access. Next, you shall secure your car, it’s far harder, as you can’t probably make it look like a Sherman Tank to repel the problems… Keep it locked at all times, and if possible, keep the windows closed. If possible, don’t take the same route every day, avoid routine if possible, it will help a lot. If you feel like you’re being followed, think some times about checking that you haven’t a GPS stuck to your car. Securing your work place is far more complicated, as you’ll have to make compromise with both your boss and co-workers, and sometimes customers also. Adding secured locks and lights to your workplace if you’re the boss is easy… Otherwise, try at least to avoid too much of a routine. About your personal appearance, you’ll have to look as “neutral” as possible… Avoid too much jewelry or other flashy stuff. You might also avoid to over-expose yourself in bad neighborhood for example, and for the girls, sexy clothes might become a problem when wanting to stay out of the eyes of sexual predators or sex-trafficker. I don’t mind what do you wear, but understand that becoming a potential target, by crossing appearance with area might imply to end the threat by shooting and stabbing your aggressors… If you can avoid to add risk to your life, it might be better…

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Second Part : How to Spot Those Threats
Usually, abductors don’t catch you by pure opportunity (it can happen but still, there are small indicators), so, if you feel observed, watched, followed or whatever. Double check, change your routine, and so on. Usually, pure opportunity abductors are hunting in the area, and will often have some missed tries before you… So, if there were weird disappearance or kidnapping tries, you shall probably be more careful. When feeling observed at home, use your security cam to watch if you see anything suspect, not known neighbor also are a good indicator. For so, it’s better to have ties with the neighbor, talks to the people of your area, and know their cars ; it will help catch anyone unusual in the area. Another good indicator is if you catch someone checking your trashes, hacking your social web accounts, etc… If you see more wheel tracks than usual in your front yard, it might also mean more passage than usual and that shall be a little suspect. Also, calls to know “indirectly” who is at home (like trying to reach your husband) might be an other indicator that shit is coming… Remember, it’s far easier to abduct you when you’re alone. For the dog owner, and I sincerely wish you it will never happen to you, but a poisoned dog usually means that someone is already after you, and he took out actively your best bodyguard and alarm system by poisoning it. For the woman, all harassment types might end in an abduction if the hostile is crazy enough, and it can include family members. Mainly, trust your damn instincts, they’re there for a fucking damn reason so listen to them.

Third Part : How to Train/Prepare
A few stuff to take into account, counter-surveillance and basic security to building is a big base of work here, then, all personal protection training when SHTF will help you a lot, then you can add SERE skills (for civilian, you ain’t gonna do a black ops job in Colombia, so adapt to YOUR life). For the martial arts part, choose what fits you, but damn, include modern weaponry, ideally, improvised weaponry too. Then, add combat shooting with weapons that you can use in reality (if you’ve a concealed carry permit, train a lot in handgun and carriable blades for example). Also, even if gears don’t beat usually skills, having some tools might help a lot ; like options to carry undetectable weapons (ceramic blades), passkey for handcuffs, wire saw in cord to cut some restraints, and so on. I highly suggest to buy a bit at a time, don’t ruin yourself please. Invest between twenty and fifty bucks a month to get a great gear-up. Invest about the double of that amount in training and you’re not going to expense too much in those survival skills. If you read that article, you’re already paying some fees in a martial arts school or equivalent. You just have to add to it some SERE skills for urban or rural environment, including lock picking, urban camouflage, etc.

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Fourth Part : Tips to Escape/Survive
Firstly, if, without compromising your physical integrity (and for some operatives, moral integrity), you can pay/give what the abductor wants, do it. Try to create a human link between you and him/them to avoid more prejudice if possible. Observe everything you can, it will help you to know when doing something (like their routine taking a few guards of your watch), where you are (if you can hear some noises, or gather other intelligence about where you are like a fast food delivery system), you can also find some useful tools for the close future, like something to build a lock pick, an improvised weapon, etc… If your life is in danger, you’ve been abducted, and so on… Lethal force is a viable option, and hell, whatever happens is far less worse than staying in a cave, being tortured, raped, or something like it… Then, when in the streets, it will depends on the neighborhood mainly, are they hostile to you or not is a good example. Then, if they’re hostile, go as low profile as you can, act like a homeless citizen till into a safe area… If it’s the opposite, screaming is probably the best damn option you have to gain enough attention from civilians, and maybe LEO.

Christophe Caruso
Kali Tactical System founder/lead instructor.
Stay Bladed Martial Mafia Belgium Capo – The Belgian Wild Boars.


For the longest time I’ve been disenfranchised with the martial arts, self-defense and personal preservation communities. There’s a lot of b.s. floating around claiming itself to be “what works” as opposed to the rest, that never does when matched up with what you’re doing.

Immense martial tribalism with style, system, lineage, methodology, etc. where the followers of that one authentic way to personal counter-violence glory knows all the answers and the followers are so blessed to be part of that of which is the only one right in the business.

Lately I’ve been having some rather huge, at least to me, epiphanies about the entire industry. I’m going to tell you about 5. After seeing and hearing daily the plethora of unique and different response to various levels of escalating force, I’ve come to these conclusions, respectfully, and to those of you who follow our page, some of this will be familiar:


There is simply not one effective way of doing something. Many very experienced people have managed to get this far doing things unique to them that may not work at all for others but have proven to be highly-successful. (Or they wouldn’t be here to have discussion) Who’s really to say what always works when there are a million-and-one scenarios we can come up and that are changed on a dime or with the slightest alteration. Sure, some things are staunchly questionable, some downright garbage, but what I’ve grown to appreciate the most is the diversity of successful counter-violence approaches that we’ve seen. We often talk about success not being style/lineage/system-specific but based on the individual, but SURVIVAL really is, on many levels, just as person-specific and on the individual. If you’re not researching, seeing flaw, assessing, evaluating and constantly improving, no style in the world is going to save you when push comes to shove.

I had a friend in the industry ask  “You are on Fantasy Island. An average person with no self defense skills comes up to you and says that a big and mean 200 pound muscular man is going to beat him up in 15 minutes and there is no way he can get out of it. He must fight for his life. What advice would you give him? What would you teach him?”

My response: ” I would say there’s zero point in teaching him anything physical for fear of the exact thing we were just talking about…overriding innate survival mechanisms and countering what he may do instinctively to survive, including grovelling (empathy/pity play?), freezing (see grovelling), running/escape, hiding (size of island? ability to run/hide indefinitely?), attempting to appeal to the other man’s empathy and potential solitude, etc. Breathing would be one to help act as a trigger to better access the above-mentioned and hardwired survival skillsets…coupled with mental/psychological reinforcement/visualization (flicking/flipping the switch)”

The parameters of the question are flawed in the first place. If he had no way of getting out of it, he wouldn’t be talking to me at this very moment, alone.

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Continuing on the survival trajectory, there are internal inhibitors that can counteract the innate survival skill reactions we (not regular untrained citizens, “we” being ALL of us…every bloody one) possess, which also are never addressed or acknowledged in a standard martial arts class. They’re thought of as unimportant or a sidenote when, in fact, they are elements that can, at minimal, stunt, and maximum, cancel anything trained.  Morals/value of human life (nurture-nature), lack of experiential/3D training as close as possible to reality, self-maintenance including heartrate/breathing management/emotional containment, specific context neglect, lack of visualization/mission clarity/internal justification for use-of-force, poor self-talk…among others. And while I know I’m going to take a lot of industry shit for this, martial arts itself and religion are two huge inhibitors of evolutionary survival response. These inhibitors can override entirely any survival mechanisms we have in-place and when there’s an incongruence in the system, that causes hesitation or system shut-down. Congruence, putting all these elements together in-unison, creates clarity of mission.

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On top of that, those in traditional martial arts have often cultivated confusion on that mission clarity by instilling the need for various falliable notions like heroism, chivalry, doing the “right” thing and good samaritanism…many of which can often put one in the very situations one is innately trying his/her best to avoid and putting one’s loved ones in that situation along with him/her.  If your mission is to get home to your loved ones at the end of the day, do these nouns always coincide with the goal? I’m not talking about going through life not helping people when able, or being a decent human being or having strong values. What I am talking about is being very cautious and overtly aware of what situations you choose to participate in that could negatively affect the outcome of your underlying goal. Do you have all the necessary information? Is there something you’re missing? Will both parties turn on you? Are you clear on whom the real threat is? Are there legal consequences of involvement? If I’m with my family, these are of utmost importance and they (my family) are first, period. No situation is worth putting them in legal, physical, financial or psychological danger.

What is your mission statement? Once defined, reverse-engineer EVERYTHING based on that and with that one goal in mind. Adhere to it without deviation.

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An offshoot from this issue is the difference between skill acquisition vs. skill learning. They are often 2 utterly different methods of skillset development.  One through absorption, experiential learning and 3-dimensional training in tangible and relevant environments. One through on ongoing process of breaking down the mechanics of the act and fitting all the pieces together. Both avenues CAN work, though one often doesn’t. The myth resides in the fact that most traditionalists believe only “b” works and that is highly-debatable. Take, for example, boxing and wrestling, regardless of their sport context. The majority of time, after learning a multi-dimensional approach of basic skill delivery, acquisition in the ring and through sparring is developed…under duress. In many TMA, the reverse is true, multi-layered and often complex skillsets (with sometimes questionable explanations for their pertinence) are developed in a skill learning environment. 3D or experiential training (as close to approximated reality, asap, with minimal periphery/unimportant skillsets) leaves much for the student to figure out using those base sets (with guidance from someone experienced) under pressure. (Which also serves to stack those skillsets in their proper context and create active problem-solving within the student)

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As if far too often seen, ego rules, style/system dictate, protocol abounds and far too few accept that they are simply not good at everything, some things they teach may be deeply flawed and not everything everybody else does is shit. With the negative conditioning going on in martial arts, I often wonder if we are actually “un-conditioning” innate hardwired survival skill in people and replacing it with a very subjective, isolated and complex system of responses that overrule the actual things human physiology and evolution gave them to survive. We’re often, in actuality, and I mean even exceptional instructors (not just the fly-by-nighters or wingnuts we see on Youtube daily), de-programming them to respond in ways that are completely counter-intuitive to ways that would innately wire them for success. Anti-evolution. Complex methodologies, techniques that take years to work and little based on the already neurologically-, psychologically-, physiologically- and emotionally-proven way the mind and body work. The whole thing is utterly counter-intuitive to me at times and growing increasingly so. Yet we argue, dissect, chastise, berate and call out others who don’t have like mind of something where like mind may also be wrong. (hive mind, a social media disease) We are most often “un-conditioning” the body’s natural response mechanisms with things that are foreign and unnatural, which is exactly why so many martial artists fail when it comes to reality. There’s a disconnect that the vast majority aren’t even aware of. (I call it “gap consciousness”)

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Instead of finding purpose in putting out good accurate information, knowledge that’s backed by science and truth, countering the frauds in the world and getting “our” (if we are even a we at all) message out to the demographics that need it the most, I am starting to wonder, with all the politics, ego and false truth in the martial arts, if we aren’t better off just leaving people alone. Stop marketing fear, stop telling them what they need, stop offering what they don’t. We forget that, for every brutal attack or violent murder, many survive violent attacks daily, I would go so far as to say most (the absolute majority) didn’t survive on martial training. (If you’re going to go the learned avoidance and situational awareness route, do you think that could be taught without all the fluff? Let it fester for a while before answering..) And it certainly doesn’t look like what most martial arts do when they do survive. Some may lay claim to martial training or pay it lip service but I assure you the vast majority don’t look like they did in the dojo and, if it’s solely the self-confidence they gained from the training, what’s the real difference between this and body language/proxemics courses, self-confidence/public speaking courses, a good sales course, some NLP or psychology seminars? Why aren’t more of us studying anatomy, psychology, physiology, anthropology, sociology, communication, proxemics, body language? We pay lip service to the fact that some past popular guy said “a fight is 90% mental, 10% physical” but we go on teaching purely the physical without being called on our own bullshit. Perceived boredom or not, there should be a huge healthy does of “classroom time” to discuss these imperative issues. I refuse to even take in students any longer who only want the physical. There are martial arts academies on every corner to get de-programmed.

Yet, in spite of all this in an inevitably and predominantly misleading and cliqueish industry, somehow people survive and will continue to do so without us….and I assure you, it’s more due to evolution than a grand master. All the while martial arts and self-defense classes go on and we bicker about semantics, foot placement, style superiority, functionality, what works and what doesn’t theoretically and hypothetically (it’s person-specific, event-specific and a variety of things can work – “success is survival”), preparing for every possible scenario imaginable, normal everyday civilians go on surviving violent attacks without us and in spite of us. Even the demographics we claim need us the most yet get neglected (many women, adolescents, the infirm, disabled, handicapped, aged) go on managing quietly….surviving. (And fewer and fewer will ever find themselves inside a dojo) Rapes, assaults, murder attempts, muggings, kidnappings. (By the way, few of these actualities are addressed in any martial arts class) We have a self-importance that borders on delusional as to what the public needs vs. what we believe they need. (Don’t tell anyone but it’s most often not us or what we’re peddling) I am really starting to believe, outside of those that actively seek us out (those of us who’ve had to use real violence before), maybe it is just truly best to leave people the fuck alone.

P.S. A paradigm shift IS needed but it’s not the one you think.



I want to say this with a ton of sobriety, clarity and seriousness and zero machismo and testosterone. I’ve always been known as a high-skill/explosive-speed guy. However, as I get older, I question the validity of these alone in any kind of serious violent struggle for my life. They are traits and fallible traits at that. I am a 45-year old foreigner in Central America, 5’10”, 170 pounds that stands out so take this into consideration (objectivity) as you read this as you’ll have your own personal caveats that affect your evolving life scenarios. As I get older, the need to stay safe and protect my family stays the same. There’s another gap that inevitably widens for everybody. I have visualized and analyzed deeply when I would be able to use lethal force, when I wouldn’t, when it’s inappropriate, when I would have inner resistance over doing so and what the consequences would be of doing so. I have not taken this lightly and, as you all know, I don’t talk tough nor see this industry as a forum to act like a killer.

That all being said, speed, skill, strength, stamina…all these things fade as we age, to one degree or another. As I’ve grown older and wiser, I believe that there are 4 elements that will/can keep me upright if shtf and have tried to cater my training and those of my students around:

1. WILL. The intent, drive, intensity and full commitment to go home at the end of the day. Whether peacefully or not so. One of many intangibles that simply cannot be read from a video, a post, a commentary but an internal fire.

2. WILE. Cutting corners, dirty tactics, misdirection, subterfuge. Being creative, inventive and diverse. Gaining the edge psychologically, physically, emotionally, mentally. “The one with the most flexibility on the system, most often controls the system.”

3. WITS. A cerebral approach to self-defense. One that doesn’t dive head-first into the storm without thinking but finding a varied method approach with the holistic view of “being safe” that circumvents style, system or art. Taking into account legal, social, ethical, financial, emotional, mental factors that dictate outcome pre-, mid- and post-conflict. Smart overrules cocky/tough the vast majority of times.

4. WEAPONS. Yes, there is a huge stigma that is omni-present in this area. Online, the ego of will-to-use, aggressive commentary, zero forethought as to consequence, the psychological state that goes into using one on another human being. I have not thought lightly on this. They are, however, a force equalizer and to not acknowledge this would be as naive as the other end of the spectrum just mentioned. As I get older, having to defend my life against someone bigger, faster, stronger or with their own weapons or friends is a monumental task and will increasingly become so as the years pass.

Just some thoughts, think heavily and profoundly on this, base your personal training accordingly and do research on how difficult real violence can be if you haven’t lived it yourself. It’s not as organized and cookie-cutter as many will have you believe.