Growing up on the prairies in central Canada (13 in Winnipeg, 21 in rural Manitoba), one’s body (and mind) became accustomed to extremely harsh winters. It was, and will remain, a threat unlike any other I’ve faced. In fact, Winnipeg is regarded as the coldest city on earth with 500,000 inhabitants or more. Winter lasts 5-6 months of the year – from mid-November through early-to-mid-April. Temperatures regularly reached -30-degrees Celsius, with some every winter hitting -40. That wasn’t yet factoring in something on the wide-open spaces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and eastern Alberta called “wind-chill.” It was a regular occurrence for the meteorologist on the evening news to mention “It’s -33, -48 with the wind-chill.” The strong winds went unimpeded across the province due to the landscape. It was, as my Costa Rican wife says, simply brutal. Exposed skin could freeze in a minute or less. Frostbite was a thing. A furnace dying became an imperative, same-day panic. Your car breaking down on the side of an isolated roadway in a blizzard could be life-threatening.
Yet, people adapt. Bodies adapt. Manitobans are known for being tough, resourceful, resilient..and hard…but warm people. You learn to bond together. In a survival context, you learn a ton of methods that become simply daily-living. What to wear. How to drive or re-calibrate your summer driving. How long to be out or outdoors. What to pack or bring. How to prepare. Hell, I remember warming myself up when chilled or stranded at times using my mind. Willing myself warm. Regulating my breathing and warming extremities with thought on days where it was almost unbearable. Imagine, too, the added desperation and survival-need this climate brings (or changes) for street criminals, the homeless, lower-class subcultures, and the changes in violence-dynamics that it could bring.
Here, Costa Ricans are always shocked by my ability to adapt to the hot climate here as there perception is often that Canada is a winter-wonderland 365/24/7. At the beach, it gets to 40-degrees Celsius here and it doesn’t affect me particularly much. Back home, we had 35 in summer as well, a dry Prairie heat with a hot wind. That’s a 75-degree shift in the weather that the body has to adjust and become acclimatized to. No small feat when you think about it and an amazing capability of the human anatomic wonder. The body has an amazing built-in climate-adaptor on top of everything else. Having been in CR for 9 years now, reflection gives insight and has made me look back in amazement at how profound that really is for people that live there for a lifetime. People in this culture simply cannot imagine or fathom what it’s like to live in that climate. In that terrain. With those particular dangers. Really, innate survival-skillsets are limitless….and unlike what many will tell you, most often enough. Human physiology, adaptation, and evolution is a marvel. They’ve gotten us this far long before systemized combat systems became a thing.
In hindsight, 2 things to be gleaned from this:
Growing up in that environment shaped who I am today. It gave a certain resilience, toughness, and adaptability that is reflective in my outlook, my training methodology, and my perception over the holistic sphere of self-preservation
When we talk about “environment” being such a factor in counter-violence and personal safety, that “environment” is most often reflected in class of upbringing, level of violence exposure, nature/nurture, quality of life, risk-assessment…..and justifiably. However, that “environment” that shapes us into who we are can also refer greatly to climate, Mother Nature, greater environmental dangers, and the survival tools and skillsets we cultivate from the above, specific to that environment.
I am not unique or rare because of this. Quite the contrary, everyone has their adaptive environments that cultivate specialized and niche areas of survival-culture. Exactly the point. How do yours transfer to your personal mind-body personal-safety arsenal? Think on it for a time, bet you’ll come up with some things you weren’t consciously aware you possessed…
This is a sticky one, be cautious and take some time to evaluate. Here are some facts to help you make your assessment: 1. Zicarelli had already turned himself in and admitted to the crime.
2. He was already handcuffed and under-arrest when the beating started.
3. The beating did not happen immediately upon child-recovery – it happened back at the station. (meaning there was a gap between initial response and engagement with the suspect, important)
4. While Zicarelli was handcuffed, Hallgrimson sat on his chest while beating him.
5. It was apparently all caught on the body-cam of another officer.
6. The FBI is also investigating this case due to an agreement signed by the KCPD (Kansas City Police Department), based on 4 previous cases under investigation involving officer-involved shootings and excessive-force complaints by the community.
7. As a professional, he did not act with self-control, restraint, and discipline, especially with current media and FBI attention, while on the job, in front of the public/co-workers and with a restrained civilian.
Now, some further points to add:
1. Hallgrimson, regardless of your assessment and feelings, was a hero for helping save this 6-month-old child.
2. Trying to drown your child is a heinous, reprehensible act regardless of legal bureaucracy and I am hardly stating that I might not do the same thing upon handling this case, but I’ll keep my personal feelings as to what should happen to the father out of this, though I’m sure you can guess exactly what they are, knowing that I’m a father as well.
3. It is not easy being a law-enforcement officer and having to see the worst side of humanity daily, well-acknowledged and hardly blamable when/if it gets the better of them sometimes….they are staunchly human, like the rest of us.
I often find myself wondering, if nothing more than out of curiosity: If we were in times of serious survival-duress and not the generally-safe times we live in, would our perspective on functional violence-training change, and change rapidly? Would there be a sudden and drastic paradigm-shift in focus? An upkeep/maintenance mentality is much different than a daily-usage one….energy-conversation could very well be a thing. I often mock many hardcore, ultra-serious combatives instructors for their training for a post-apocalyptic world. The “Mad Max” approach to modern personal protection. Overkill. Excessive. Paranoid. Hyper-vigilant. Not my style in any way.
However, we do live in a world with some long-term (hopefully?) species threats. Growing artificial-intelligence (AI). Cloning. An ever-growing over-reliance on the Internet for communication, business, finance, knowledge…..which begs the question of what a downing of the grid would do. A world gradually decreasing in natural resources/water shortages/climate-destruction. Nuclear war among super-powers with growing technological arsenals. Political upheaval/unrest and population division/segregation. (The term “civil war” gets tossed around regularly across the globe these days and the widening gap between classes is a wonderful divider)
I’m sometimes curious as to how my violence/counter-violence prep might be altered (more streamlined/ultra-efficient/tailored-to-fit?) based on survival-need…especially if your approach is more holistic and not one-dimensionally physical. What parts of my training would I immediately take-away? Which ones would become more paramount? Which that I don’t put any focus at all on now, would become integral then? Would I need an entire paradigm-shift or is my current-training relatively on-par in at least a number of pertinent areas with which to build a foundation and add as needed? What abilities am I void of that would pay to invest some immediate study and formulate ideas? It’s not paranoia to at least gloss-over where your skillsets, knowledge, training, and experience lie and would or might need alteration should macro-context suddenly and irrevocably be altered…and how those would change depending on that particular macro-context. As usual, something worth a little thought, self-assessment is always valuable.
Lately the online chatter and rush to self-promote and corner the market has gotten pretty loud, maybe if nothing but in my own head as it becomes ever so tedious. It seems every SD/MA/combatives instructor and his/her dog are coming out with their superior and elite version of combat and conflict reality. Podcasts. How-to articles. Youtube videos. Marketing gimmicks. Unbeatable techniques. Exorbitant self-promotional claims. 5-step cookie-cutter approaches for all who come their way. Evvvveryone is trying to set the market and have their voice heard above the chatter. Allll to set themselves apart from everyone else in the industry and be unique….usually with amazingly unique experience that no one else could possibly have. (As an aside, from personal experience, case studies, videos…..most violence seems to have a lot of similar and overlapping traits so I’m not sure how everyone’s experience and approach can be such a unique snowflake in the life-blizzard but, hey, digressing…)
I’m planning on being relatively short here, considering the potential vastness and complexity of the topic. All of the above are ironically confirmed by a quick look at how people process information in their world. Everybody’s experience is staunchly unique, to be sure. First, let’s quickly define what “perceptual filters” are. Perceptual filters are the lens one looks at, assesses, and perceives the world around them and the events within it. It’s the criteria that they use to make decisions and deductions about important input. Decipher the information present(ed). Analyze situations. Form opinions. Develop “databases” and the framework for future like scenarios or situations. But where do they come from? How are these elements cultivated? From what sources?
1. Experience/experiences (events and decisions in life that shape our way of looking at things and making future decisions)
2. Nature (personal values/beliefs/morals/internal wiring/personality/mindset) *nature/nurture can tend to overlap and have influence on each other, so as to be clear
3. Nurture (parental grooming-influence/learning from example/upbringing/familial structure/familial dynamic/imparted lessons)
That’s quite a few (likely among a few others) that make the information-processing part of the human equation pretty intricate and unique to the individual, don’t they. To sum it up, everybody’s life-experience is uniquely individual. However, that also means that, if everybody’s perceptual-filtering mechanisms create amazingly unique perspectives and experiences….it also means that nobody’s a special snowflake in the snowstorm. All of our experiences help construct a “best-possible scenario” each time a decision need be made….including during a violent or conflictive or confrontational one.
Of course, as mentioned in a previous article ( https://blog.mandirigmafma.com/index.php/2019/07/22/crime-data-manipulation-and-fear-propaganda/ ), the things we do with this information aren’t always accurate either as we all distort, delete, and generalize it to fit our current narrative or the one that’s needed at the time…both of which can change over time as perspective is gleaned, time passes, and memories become distorted. And, if this applies to most potential students…it most certainly also applies to your neighborhood self-defense guru, as well.
So, regarding the “seller”. How did your experience develop? What was your environment? What was your contribution to those experiences? Was most of it necessary or were you an active escalator…are you aggressive and confrontational? Context….was it in a war-zone or violent inner-city…safe surburban-living in middle-America…or in a war-torn country or undeveloped nation? From being a professional with a greater willing/obligated exposure to aggression…a doorman or LE officer or security guard, perhaps? Lots of questions should be asked on how your potential instructor’s perceptual-filters have developed his/her view of the world….and, more importantly, how they can correlate with yours. If your coach claims expert status because he’s been in 6,000 fights and can’t for the life of him avoid violence in any way with that lightning-quick trigger….maybe teaching you soft skills isn’t his lane. The reverse is also true. If you’re an infantry-person on the way to Afghanistan at the start of declared-war and your coach is a de-escalation, classroom-instructor solely with minimal pertinent experience, maybe he/she isn’t the right information source for you.
So, what then is my point? Well, the fact that so many are trying to claim that they have the market cornered on human experience, deeply-subjective topics, and each person’s universal needs….is pretty pretentious, in the least. Downright dangerously arrogant and blind at worst, considering we’re talking about “personal” safety. While this is, as stated, a deep topic for expansion, noting the above, my will is just for anyone reading this to exhibit a “buyer beware” approach to self-defense/martial arts hyperbole. Nobody has all the answers. No one source is so much better and more qualified than all others that they’re the top resource or final authority in the industry or on all things fighting. Nobody tells more than a partial truth from their seated position….readily including myself here as well. Really assess what it is that you feel you’ll be needing with your lifestyle, environment, culture, and dynamic. An honest self-assessment is usually the first stage in developing an idea towards that need. Your experience by-proxy is but one element in a matrix of others needed to learn functional personal-safety…
Ever pick a topic of study that’s simply not your specialty, just to see what random thoughts come in your head if you had to utilize the skillset on-the-spot? While surveillance is simply not my lane, I have formulated some ideas on things I’ve seen. I also like the challenge of exploring avenues outside that lane to glean greater perspective on parallel areas of study. I absolutely do not claim to be any sort of expert on this topic. That being said, where do my ideas delve from? A little background. I’ve been exposed here to a top security-company that subcontracted me for 3 years, been around top political reps in the country (they were friends of my late father-in-law with prior political-affiliation), and talked to various expat-PIs in the country. I’ve also been a foreigner living abroad for almost a decade, one that pays attention out of necessity. So I’ve seen a sliding-scale of various levels of surveillance. That being said, just some random thoughts from my (very) civilian (and novice) perspective and internal thought-process:
-the “secret service” here takes the standard Hollywood template – black suits, open earpieces, concealed-but-seen carry (visible printing), active contact, and somewhat invasive body language at a civilian event. To me, watching it, it was outdated and attention-drawing when there are subtle and protected (cellphone/outside tech) means of agent-to-agent contact available, garb that fits in more subtly with the surrounding public, and without drawing public scrutiny and anxiety.
-P.I.s are far more brazen and uncouth but stand-out for other reasons as it’s a staunchly a North American thing, they’re not uber-present here and I have yet to see one from a local apart from LE stings. Here any white gringo that doesn’t speak Spanish, and doesn’t dress like the nationals is going to have a hard time doing surveillance himself without contracting locals (and that’s a trust issue where they can turn due to low-wages in that field), regardless of how efficient he thinks he is, especially with only civilian-background.
-I think with GPS-trackers, geo-tagging, easily-accessible low-cost bugs, and free cellphone apps, it’s more easy than ever to at minimum keep tabs on someone of-interest. I think I proved that with the profiling article from the license-plate I posted a short time ago. ( https://blog.mandirigmafma.com/index.php/2019/06/19/1421/ ) Information-gathering can be damn-near free and self-achieved.
-people here/lower-to-middle class Latinos in-general are far more innovative than NAs when cutting-corners…out of necessity. They find efficient, cost-effective/free, easy, highest-percentage ways to accomplish a goal so a tail here can be far more serious when it’s present – most sicarios (contract-killers) make a hit from a motorcycle with 1 or 2 people and they (until the last second) look like any working-class guy on a bike. Sicarios here can cost as low as $50-100. Point being? Surveillance is rare here. P.I.s or surveillance teams are usually only hired by rich Ticos or North American expats with money. And most aren’t directing that money to low-class or majority-poor locals or foreigners. They’re not going to put out that kind of money unless the threat or danger is of the high-order variety.
-If being honest, “surveillance” in its most primal and base term is done by criminals staking-out a potential mark for robbery, home-invasion, assault, etc. In fact, we just had one here a couple of weeks ago checking us out. Feigning being a long-time neighborhood resident, asking for some money as he’s fallen on hard times (though wearing a pressed white dress-shirt, carrying a clean black backpack, and wearing non-ripped jeans), asking questions about the property, asking to be let out the gate again (thought he was trapped inside, either faking or a tactical error). They check-out the area for escape routes, ask very specific questions, check the security, see how homes are set-up and with how many people, what kind of value could be obtained, etc. And they can be quite effective in spite of the brazenness. I followed him for a time and he didn’t go to one other single house in the area. Again, point being? “Surveillance” does not need to be done with tech, from a car, over a certain time-period. It can be surprisingly simple and basic…again, if one has intent and motivation. These are a far-greater concern than the surveillance-guy in his car outside the house. I busted an employee next door by planting an ipod in a pillow and caught him stealing $1000 over lunch-hour from my sister-in-law. They had never thought of it and weren’t proactive at all in options for stopping the theft. I solved it in 12-hours.
-Doing a self-check on how you’d do surveillance on your own living area gives great perspective on how you’d do it on someone else. How would I access me if I were the target. Are you in a compound or gated community with access code or security? Are there high-ground vantage points to assess the area? Can you enter the area as a guest or professional in any way? Can you gain accessibility doing what the above gentleman did? It’s what I’d do. Then, if able to not draw attention, be authentic, subtle, outgoing, and get information from comments and subtle casual questions. Take photos/video as needed of accessibility, entry/exit points, best vantage-points from distance, number of people/staff on-premises at any given point, visual access/acuity-points, dogs…maybe stumble into a couple of restricted-areas by accident trying to find your way-around.
-Staying at a target’s location, takes advantage of people’s Hollywood belief/perception that all surveillance is from a distance, from someone whose last wish is to interact with you, and that it’s high-tech. The minute you put money into their business, compliment them, show an interest in their perspective on things…their paranoia and distrust most often goes elsewhere.
-I’m not a millionaire, CEO of a large company, heir to a small fortune, inventor of a life-changing tech product, or spy with insider trading secrets so the odds of me having high-level surveillance put on me are slim-to-none, if I’m being honest. So, in the words of a close friend and topic-pro, the vast majority of occurrences that make me paranoid that I’m being followed by a multiple-person surveillance team…are likely mere coincidences 9 times out of 10. On the chance they’re not, as high-order surveillance isn’t my lane, I’ll likely be reaching out to law-enforcement (if nothing but to establish precedence and open up a case-file) or tech/surveillance-professionals, whose lane it is. Then probably delve deeply into the reasons why I’d be a target considering my societal position. (erroneous target, a satellite to a known acquaintance with questionable ties, a financial-lender/creditor, high-order crime ring that perceives you having something of value, etc.)
So, who manipulates data? Government, business (individual or entire industry as we constantly see in martial arts/self-defense), media, social organizations with agenda. They utilize a grouping of information to create a narrative on a topic for specific reason, most often of benefit to them. The data itself could be entirely legitimate and authentic (though it may not be)….it’s how it’s spun that’s important, and most people rarely dig deeper and go “Hey, wait a minute, that doesn’t sound right….” Remember, there are multiple benefits to data manipulation and if it fits a person’s narrative, they will often support their angle of it even if it’s different from the original source that was manipulating the data in the first place.
With regards to crime, the entities information-alter for any number of reasons: to create or change a market or push value of product (security/arms/training/surveillance), to alter public-opinion (shift-of-perspective/vote-swaying/neighborhood growth), to reinforce personal/individual message, to play on public emotion (fear/anxiety/paranoia as propaganda), to create perceived need where there isn’t one. It’s often done very subtly yet suddenly. Remember “Inception”, that Christopher Nolan movie from a few years ago? “An idea is like a virus. Resilient. Highly contagious. And even the smallest seed of an idea can grow.”
How is it done? Data can come in any number of ways and it always pays to research who the data was provided by and any satellite bodies backing or financing that data and why, what the sample-size is, and who stands to benefit by putting out said data. From the data-source, spinning a positive or negative message by selecting a skewed/cherry-picked portion of the data is often done. So is subtly changing the narrative of what that data actually means. This is accomplished by using a small sample-size to represent an entire geographic area, or to “chunk-up”/generalize and try to distract from a full-analysis of data as it pertains to a specific location/time/demographic. So what are some examples of this in the area of crime and violence?
*Telling people that an increase in in a certain kind of crime (murder, for instance) reflects a widespread elevation of violence, that crime is universally on the rise. Questions that need be asked: In what area? All parts of the city/province-state/country? Who’s getting murdered – is it a specific demographic? What were some choices made by the victim that could’ve altered the What were the victims doing, where, why, and when? Shouldn’t each case be assessed independently from others – with context and circumstance?
*Issuing public-warnings or alerts to alleviate responsibility. When there were 3 separate female tourists killed here, I received almost immediate notice from the Canadian government, issuing security warning on higher-risks of violence in CR to Canadian residents and ex-patriots. Not even close, though I get why they’re obligated to do this for their citizens abroad. All 3 incidents were unique unto themselves, isolated, contributed to by at least some victim-naivete, and crimes of opportunity. That was late last year, 2018. There have been no further tourist-murders since. Calm has been restored. No epidemic occurred. CR tourism has not generally suffered..as could be expected. And the panic has gone quiet. But I bet the security, arms, and surveillance industries flourished for a time….and future votes were gained for the political-party righting the ship so quickly. (I’m not sure what they actually did but they promised lots originally and sometimes that’s enough, akin to a placebo) Questions that need be asked: Does it affect me directly? Are isolated incidents a reflection of the overall national safety? Who have been the targets and what could they have done differently? Do statistics reflect this warning?
*Creating false data from scratch. A few years ago when we had a medical tourism facilitation business, the statistics for foreign medical-procedure investment grew every year, according to the national medical-tourism promotional body. Often in double-digits. But whenever you’d contact the very same hospitals administration department where the statistics were supposedly compiled from, they were entirely perplexed, noting openly that they certainly weren’t the ones benefiting from this claimed increase. Note the promotional body projects these statistics globally (important for market-confidence), they’ve tried to get funding from the government-run international tourism board for years but to no avail (someone doesn’t seem to be buying the stats sheet), and they were in danger of becoming redundant (which they now are as they’ve been replaced by a broader-perspective body not at all limited to a small market-specialization) Questions that need asking: Data taken from? Source? Compiled by? Based on what sample size and from whom? Done by outside impartial entity?
*Media fear-mongering. Sensationalizing one story to build anxiety, stress, and fear in a market for viewership, popularity, and ratings. This is often the most transparent and easy-to-catch if one is coherent and questioning. Here we have a newspaper that posts dead bodies on the front page, shows open murdered corpses, half-naked women on the front, and glorifies violence. While one would think it wouldn’t have legs in a staunchly Catholic, conservative, passive-aggressive society….it’s quite the opposite. Remember, “all press is good press” for many and they’ve found a comfortable niche regardless of the comments on classlessness and inappropriateness abounding. Questions that need asking: How are their ratings? Do they have a history of hyperbole? What’s their personal agenda and what are their general political leanings? Who owns the station? How could they benefit from my knee-jerk reaction to their sensationalism?
*Propaganda is byproduct of the avenues above and it can intentionally increase crime and violence as well. As we saw here in CR a short time ago, one video on Youtube from a supposed paramilitary group, coupled with (intentional?) rumors of natural resource/supply-and-demand shortages, government corruption, and a nervous population…and violence can be the product, not the cause. When you have political de-stabilization, lack of faith in the status quo and videos/pamphlets/fake news omnipresent, certain societal factions can be mobilized to rebel and unify. Governments, groups, and businesses know this. Violence can be created as well, rest assured.
Martial artists and self-defense authorities are noted for making vast, general claims about the state of current society to peddle fear and stress in potential clients….without the data. Crime is always rising. Murders are way up. Rapes are on the increase and women are in-danger. We’ve never lived in a more dangerous time. If you’re not learning (their) self-defense you’re naive and ignorant and nonchalant and should be shamed for not wanting to protect your family and lazy and a host of other ad-hominems they throw your way to guilt you into investing. There’s generally no data to back this up as, on the human timeline, we generally live in the safest time in recorded human history. They heard it on a promotional-snippet, heard a friend say it, have personal trouble avoiding conflict in their own life, relate their experiences and needs to every potential student’s, and a host of other context-delusional assessments that pertain specifically to them. Questions to ask: what style are they peddling? What program (women’s self-defense, seniors, kids, adult males) What’s their market? Do statistics and data back their claims? Does the current community level of violence jive with their promo-material?
The reality is that we “manipulate data” all the time. We generalize, distort, and delete parts of stories and anecdotes regularly to fit our narrative, manipulate (I mean, convince or influence….semantics, right) others, or convince ourselves of something we’re indecisive or unsure about. Communication is filled with these methods of filtering information….sometimes it helps us positively, sometimes not. Sometimes these perceptual filters are generally accurate, sometimes entirely off whether intentional or unintentional. So we do them as well….ad nauseum…to create our reality. We’re all experts at data-manipulation and propaganda, especially to ourselves. That being said, it should give proper perspective to take closer looks at information you’re fed…with an unbiased eye, or at least as unbiased as that eye can be.
Asking these questions and identifying the type of message and data being pushed go a long way towards understanding intricately the dynamic of how people can manipulate data and utilized propaganda to promote message….even on crime and violence. From what I see daily, current technological distractions and information-bombardment, coupled with personal factors like confirmation bias(es), decreasing attention-spans, micro-relatability – are huge factors in others’ ability to pull this off successfully. Relating to our personal safety and (especially) our stable mental health relating to it, be extremely cautious with the (often subliminal-)messaging you’re bombarded with. And ask the right questions….
(Thanks to Oleg Fadeev for the topic-inspiration.)
Being followed. I guess we should start by noting there are 3 areas worth exploring here, being followed while on-foot and moving, while in-car and moving, and being under surveillance while static. (I doubt many of us are worthy of ongoing covert surveillance so maybe I’ll leave that one to the PIs out there) We’ll Take note that I’m just a regular civilian with common-sense (which I like to think I’m blessed to have a fair amount of), not a highly-trained surveillance-operative. Maybe that’ll help you relate better to my particular experiences. I try and address safety concerns from my personal first-hand experience and perspective.
First, we should establish who (of the 5ws) would or might be following you as a private (generally) law-abiding citizen. Creditors/money-lenders/financial institutions, ex-girlfriends/wives wanting to catch you in some act, lawyers who may be planning case against you for false accusations or for employers/ex-employers, jealous spouses, someone with a grudge wanting to implicate you in something, envious family members….most often someone in our sphere of current/past interaction and very unlikely to be the FBI/CIA, government agencies, or hit-men. We’re usually not that important or glamorous, and hiring a private-investigator or surveillance team costs money that most lower-to-middle-class families or individuals simply cannot afford…at least not daily or weekly. As well, I’m not going to delve into male-on-female infatuation stalking as that entails an entirely different personal profile and safety-defenses. (these have powerful elements of emotional, personal, psychological natures)
For me over the years it has been ex-wife’s boyfriends/lovers, police (when younger for questionable activity or traffic infractions), a few road-raging drivers who feel I or the car I’m riding in has wronged him/her in some way or committed a traffic transgression, personal enemies. To think back, I’ve probably been tailed more than I should have due to poor lifestyle and friend choices earlier in life.
How to know for sure you’re being followed? With some of the above, it’s relatively easy. You spot them or their vehicle, maybe known close-affiliates. (friends/co-workers/family) Or you know you’ve committed a driving transgression or perceived one to somebody else minutes earlier. Other times it’s not quite so easy. Multiple consecutive turns can certainly help reveal. The 1st follow is normal, generally. A 2nd could be coincidence or similar route. A 3rd should definitely pique your curiosity and get your spidey-sense tingling, and a 4th should leave no doubt…has been my experience. Often either reveal intent or blow cover and nullify the pursuit. Sometimes they may be on to you and fall back in traffic, or pull over and wait a short time while watching where you go, or take a parallel street if they know the area. But if you’ve gathered some intel (which we’ll address a little later on), you should be able to pick back up on them when they re-integrate the pursuit.
So what can we do. Well, first of all, don’t panic, “being followed” always has such stigmas, like that your life is in-danger or someone wants to kill you. Most times and for most average people, nothing could be further from the truth. There’s a specific reason you’re being followed and a reason the pursuant doesn’t want to be found out. So breathe (and continue to regulate your breathing), you’ll need calm to make some quick-thinking decisions while on-the-fly and if you’re panicked or deeply anxious or stressed, that’ll be more difficult to do.
Then make mental or physical note or hypothesis of the other 4ws & the how as well: why would the above be physically following you and what would they have to gain by it (information-gathering/intimidation/pattern-learning/living details/known affiliates), how (foot/vehicle/static surveillance/3rd-party questioning of acquaintances), when (times/days/conditions that may be consistent), where (is it the same ballpark locations? at the same places or general vicinity?)
Whether on-foot or in-car, call someone while being followed and let your pursuer know you’re calling while looking in the rear-view or making eye-contact if the pursuit doesn’t abate. Make sure to tell someone trusted to make note or file-away for future reference after the fact as well. Most pursuers don’t want 3rd-parties involved, don’t like being discovered, and aren’t fond of paranoid, nervous targets that can expose them or get them in trouble with law-enforcement or violence. There are times where simply acknowledging them and their presence may be a good tact but note that the information-gathering stops here, different methods of following you will be implemented, and at times hostility at being found-out could be the result. If yours is one of those times (and you’ll likely know by the context and type of follower it is) do it subtly…eye-contact or acknowledging greeting or genuine smile…don’t make a spectacle of it and keep it low-key. If feeling greatly threatened, make sure to open a police-report or call law-enforcement. Even if they won’t do a damn thing about it, it’s on-file and documented, should personal-defense or counter-violence means become necessary. It sets a precedent for future potential legal issues that may arise.
*As an asterisk to this, sometimes it’s prudent to not give away that you’re aware of their presence, if you’re information-gathering, for instance. Trying to learn more about your tail and their motives. If that’s the case, no peripheral head-turning while looking in mirrors, use your eyes alone. Sunglasses can aid here in preventing them from seeing pupil movement toward the rear-view mirror or in their direction if on-foot. 180-degree scans of the area while picking up whatever information you can as they pass into your moving vision. Try, while remaining attentive to traffic/driving and if pursued by car, to get the license plate number, make, model, color, and any identifying marks (bumper stickers/dents/unique features/paint scratches/rearview mirror hangings. Here in Costa Rica, as we’ve stated in a previous article, you can do a vehicle check online to find out owner, registration number, corporation names affiliated, and if you connect that name to social media and other online avenues, as we’ve shown, you can sometimes find out a ton of valuable information about your pursuer.
If on-foot, make note of as many identifying features as you’re able to catch; these days you can even subtly take a picture of someone else, often without them knowing (feigning looking at or typing on your cell, reversing camera-direction on your camera-phone, or if low-threat outright taking a photo or video as they’re in-range to put them on-the-spot. Finding a security-camera to have them walk in-front of shortly after you can be another bit of evidence should any legal issues or proof be needed. Have a decoy that’s with you break-rank and circle around to take video is another.
Different elements that you pass can help gain info without revealing you’re on to your follower. Utilizing reflections in store-mirrors/stands/window-glass. If outside, silhouettes or shadows after turning corners to expose their identity or catch them in the act. Positioning yourself so the sun is in their face to gain momentary knowledge or escape. You can utilize poles, display stands, aisles, building-angles, corners, barriers, other people, and apertures where he/she can’t see you but you can see them for concealment or to gain advantage of view/vantage points/escape routes. Utilize crowded areas by ducking/lowering body/using serpentine routes instead of straight line and diving into stores along the path to utilize the above-mentioned strategies.
What about by car? You can lose them in traffic naturally if ingested, utilize sudden lane-changes or abrupt turn-offs from alternate lanes if they’re trapped in the other lane from you on 4-lane thoroughfares. I’d recommend ‘not’ getting out of your car at any point to engage or confront. Road-ragers, jilted ex-lovers, PIs, strangers with potential unseen weapons, even police will all have different, yet usually equally-negative reactions to this. Threat, defense, anger, aggression.
Change your routes daily, even slightly. Even if you narrow it to 2-3 different routes you’re comfortable with and alter the times you depart or arrive at daily destinations, even by minutes. As a foreigner who stands out here, I often take backroads on daily routes (also to avoid the horrible traffic here), change portions of my routes when a longer drive is in-order (as well as for a solution to boredom), and use route-apps to give me the best-possible route automatically (which fluctuates from day-to-day) when heading into ingested traffic-areas. WhatsApp is a great app to utilize for upcoming traffic-blockages, roadblocks, police-checks, fastest routes, high-volume traffic areas (car). It does use GPS but with the demographic that’s usually following everyday citizens, I doubt they’re concerned with tracking you via GPS and one can always turn off GPS in your car if you lose pursuer if it’s a concern….or turn it off to prevent tracking in the first place. And, yes, the technology is available to almost anyone to track phone numbers via GPS, as this article explains and I’ve tried first-hand: https://www.trapcall.com/blog/track-phone-number/
If the pursuit is aggressive or threatening, you can drive to/in front-of a police-station or call 911 while on-the-move as a deterrent or for assistance…but DO NOT lead them home or to meet the wife and kids for lunch. This last one applies to being on-foot as well. I cannot stress this enough and I made that mistake once when young. Nothing happened but it set an anchor for a lifetime even without the consequences.
As a rather common-sense element upon the realization you may be being monitored, cease posting your whereabouts on social media and turn off all apps that do so automatically (geotagging on Facebook & Instagram, for instance) I can’t stress this enough. I don’t use it at all. Ever. I don’t need to advertise when I’m not home and my house is unattended, don’t need to alert strangers on Facebook to my whereabouts, or tell the world what I’m doing and with whom.
Let’s take an honest look at knife usage for self-defense. I know I’m breaking my own rule by writing an article on knife-combat but it’ll be worth the hypocrisy, I assure you. There is likely no single bigger misunderstood element….and most often that misunderstanding comes from the instructor part of this equation – not the public, as it’s so often attributed. (Where do they get their misunderstandings…I wonder…)
So, in real-life case studies, what do we see playing out in the real-world?
BLADED-DEFENSE? I’ve seen a handful (maaaybe 2 handfuls) of public case studies where knife usage in a self-defense situation was defended successfully in a court-of-law. Note that these were generally a-l-l after lawyer-retention, court-case, hourly lawyer rates, some jail-time until trial, social stigmas, life on-hold, psychological trauma, and all the other elements that went with that successful defense. I have yet to see one knife defense where legal-case/police-intervention/serious-outcome didn’t end in this way in a public environment. Note also that most were the weapon-of-choice – carried for purposes of self-defense, not weapons-of-opportunity. They are rare in the grand scheme of things. Extremely rare.
The line of legality and public stigma of using a blade against someone without one (regardless of advantage-discrepancy) is pretty steep. How we see most bladed-arts handle this is almost always via the murder or permanent-damage route. 16-cut combos, biomechanical maiming, lethal targeting….over-excess of brutality that would and will be seen as overkill in the court-of-law by judge, jury, lawyers, and public. Are there times where these can be successful legally? Yes, there are documented case-studies, as mentioned above. What aided in them be deemed “successful” (in spite of the above byproducts)? Superior forces – multiple opponents, bigger/trained/notoriously-violent/male attack on female victim/younger/armed opponent(s), immediate threat to life, you exhausting all other possibilities. (see ability/opportunity/intent/preclusion tenet present in most Western countries, generally included even here in Costa Rica as well)
DUELS? Simply do not happen very often outside of prison or in lower-class rural areas of (most often) undeveloped nations, sometimes in developed ones though a needle-in-a-haystack. (Here we’ve had some incidents of migrant machete “fights” over social indiscretion, women, land, money, alcohol, etc. but even here, they’re hardly omnipresent. Poor neighborhoods and rural. Even in prison, “shankings”, educational lessons, and hits seem to take far more precedence than the equal-footing duel. They are incredibly rare in the grand scheme of things.
Yet these 2 are often the focus in the MA/SD worlds to civilians/citizens, with far more focus than given to counter-blade. Blade-on-blade and blade-on-empty-handed aggressor.
So…when else then? Let’s explore a little deeper than many tend to. What contexts have at times shown themselves to be even somewhat viable for actual “successful” knife usage situations? (*noting that “successful” does not include psychological/mental/emotional trauma that may also be a financial burden and a long-term venture)
-War, though with the post-WW2 Geneva Convention and the invention of long-range/distance, chemical, and technological weapons-of-war, I’d say that’s likely even lower than civilian instances – and the majority of us aren’t at war…other than with ourselves.
-Brandishing. Deployment to intimidate. The hope/whim that presentation will be sufficient to nullify the threat. (presentation)
-Brandishing with command presence. Adding aggressive body language and weapon-positions/motions that reinforces the above presentation.
-Brandishing with command presence and adding verbal reinforcement. Implied or direct threats added to the above two.
Now, caveats. Let’s acknowledge that 2 things have to happen for the above 3 to have the desired impact: 1) you to be willing to follow-through on the escalating stages or stand-alone tactics above should your bluff be called, and 2) that you sell it to the other party such that they believe that #1 will happen. Should those not happen, we cycle back to the 2nd paragraph in the article. Rinse. Repeat. Also, be aware that brandishing itself is illegal in many areas so we’ll cover that aspect below a little further as we introduce further aspects…and if your knife is outside the legal limits of length, style, and type, it still may be moot. (The Scalp-Stealer Mach 2 might not be a great tool for self-defense use either….so you know)
-Pressing. Putting the knife with pressure against the opponent in some manner to gain psychological upper-hand, intimate via threat, or escalate the above 3. Throat, abdomen, back/kidney, face, groin, etc. Upping the stakes on the threat. (accepting the bluff can also be called here but there’s perceived greater risk in doing so) For instance, an old schoolmate of mine had this happen outside a bar in Manitoba (witnesses corroborated his account) He was the instigator, the scenario ended with him having a blade put to his throat by the other gentleman to avoid further violence. It worked. No harm, no foul outside of injured pride.
-Closed-folder used as a fistload or compact pocket-stick. (would apply to situations/contexts similar to other impact weapons with regard to legality)
-Using the carried-blade as a justification for a lower-force tool – a decoy. I was told of a case in the US where a pencil was used for self-defense and the verdict was swayed because the user claimed restrained self-defense, noting he was also carrying a “more-lethal” blade on him at the time of assault.
-Non-lethal, minor cuts. Always a risk but cutting hands, arms, legs, clothes, superficial areas. Hardly target-focused and not at all the surgical bio-mechanical variety claimed accessible and medically-viable under great duress (a debate for another time), but generally to create space, demotivate attack/attacker, or allow for escape. I’ve heard many of these, a few ended badly and with unintended results, many not.
And when would these be considered “successful” in the post-event aftermath? If the opponent doesn’t know your identity. No law enforcement are involved. No charges filed or report made. No trip to the hospital is necessary. Superficial wounds. Or you don’t wait around to find out the above. (no maiming, disfigurement, heavy-bleeding, permanent injuries, life-threat, etc.) Maybe the offender also doesn’t want to be held accountable, risk an assault charge, have a criminal record, can’t afford a lawyer or hospital bills for minor injuries, initiated the confrontation and isn’t well-versed in legal aspects, etc. None of which you’ll know beforehand or can assume will be true when making the decision to use.
*Let’s also acknowledge that a) most of these occurrences are, of course, anecdotal by nature and from either first-hand participants or witnesses – not actual media reports or court cases out of necessity (so, admittedly, there is obviously some room for error but when isn’t there even in a court case in a battle of “closest-to-acceptable” perception-twisting for others’ benefit). And b) that future legal-battles are still a potential concern should things come to light and circumstances change as, though “successful”, all could still be illegal in nature.
Any others? Sure. Unsolved murders. You went too far and didn’t get caught…yet. And, if not, can you live with yourself? Keep the secret? Deal psychologically with taking a life? Manage your guilt? Your cross to bear, I guess.
So, to summarize, successful (meaning circumventing jail-time, lawyer/court fees, criminal record, trial, social stigmas that result) knife-presence in a violent scenario has to have a number of things go right for it to occur. Low-level of force & minimal receiver-injury plus not having the situation escalate out-of-hand. An opponent (and witnesses) unwilling to press charges/go to police/identity offender and not have law enforcement be needed at the scene. OR…successful knife-usage by going through the legal process and “winning” after financial/legal expenses and possibly jail-time awaiting trial. Witnesses (if applicable) supporting you, proving justifiable self-defense against superior force or dire circumstance within the legal channels, a good lawyer, a money supply, and a judge/jury believing your case from their personal (often suburban and isolated) perspective. (not your industry peers) And NONE of these including possible psychological, emotional, spiritual, and/or mental trauma resulting from the act itself and potential therapy that may come with it.
To be clear, I love knife-training. Dueling. Playing. Drilling. Handling. Strategizing. Footwork. Measurement. Timing. It’s fun, focus-forced, and attribute-building…but I don’t teach it for self-defense any longer. (Though I don’t begrudge those who do so responsibly) I don’t advocate student-carry. I don’t glorify it and write how-to articles on it. I don’t push it over more legally-viable and higher-percentage stoppers whether improvised, tertiary, or strategically-placed/carried. AND, to be absolutely clear, I am NOT referring to those circumstances where the other option of the above-mentioned is death. Of course, legal/psychological/mental/fiscal issues would always be preferable to the alternative of dying, at least we hope that’s the case. And these are profound choices you’re going to have to make yourself….personally….well prior to an event actually happening. (training or not) This is directed at those multi-bladed murder-advocates who teach others offensive/aggressive knife-defense or knife-fighting or negligent bladed-defense to whatever type of transgression on the sliding scale of attack-seriousness.
But, that being said, as we can see, the window for successful bladed self-defense is pretty streamlined and narrow and even what’s deemed as successful bladed SD has a fairly steep cost. The above examples also don’t require 20 years of stylistic TMA knife-training. At all, whatsoever. And, to be extra clear, this also isn’t factoring in the wildly unpredictable nature of blade-attack response. Knives are simply not a guaranteed stopper. We see it time-and-again in case studies, Youtube videos, historical references, personal anecdotes from survivors and medical professionals. There is no specific area to cut, set immediacy of cutting/stabbing shutdown, ensured blood-loss amount, bio-mechanical-cutting surety….that will guarantee the stop of a motivated, intent-driven, aggressive attacking person. Case studies prove this out – they are wildly erratic, hugely unpredictable, and human will and adrenaline are quite the things. Even medical professionals have been at a loss to explain how some victims are walking and talking in the ER after great blood-loss and 40 puncture wounds. Big knives, bigger damage-potential, sure…but that legal-length thing, again. (and acknowledging public-carry is different than private-positioning for a home-invasion are different things entirely)
In conclusion, you need to really study the above examples as they’re what true case-studies, documented incidents, anecdotes, and witness testimonies are predominantly based on….in the real-world. I’ve never ever heard of a successful 16-cut surgical targeting shutdown attack against a right-cross…yet. But I’ll be the first to admit I’m wrong when and if it happens. Keep me posted if it comes to a neighborhood near you…
Lots of anxiety and stress in the country right now with a new tax being implemented (deemed deeply unfair to the middle-to-low-class, while the upper-class go untouched). New progressive ideas that are seen as “1st-World” while fundamental staples like infrastructure, education, poverty, and wage go unaddressed. A government that’s lost the faith and trust of the people. Misinformation and fake news (some misunderstood, others planted intentionally) causing unrest, anger, and paranoia. Strikes, protests, blockades in random pockets of the country preventing the working-class from getting to work to feed their families and causing greater disconnect within the same class/demographic. Rising violent episodes, including one with law enforcement, force, and student protesters. And polarizing figures in the middle of it all calling for a coup d’etat – the same polarizing figures who last election pushed an agenda of misogyny, unifying of church and state, a personal police force that answered only to leadership, and backed by the money of shady religious powers from the US. It’s a powder-keg of explosive proportions hanging in the balance, to be sure and most media aren’t adding all of the elements involved here at the moment.
Now, there are various phases of this that can be addressed in terms of how to prepare and, rather than taking a holistic approach and widening the scope of this article unnecessarily – let’s address the immediate threat first. The one that’s the current greatest issue without overwhelming ourselves with the ones that aren’t….yet. What can one do, within context, to manage safety in the midst of surprise strikes, protests, rallies, and blockades.
I’ll share what what we’re doing differently daily at this stage.
-carrying bottled-water supply in case of running into strikes, barricades, or protests. Long waits can cause dehydration and waiting is far safer than trying to crash or pass the blockage. (you also then have a place to urinate should I need to and the wait is exorbitantly longer than expected, without leaving the relative safety of your vehicle
-making sure there’s a car-charger for your cell phone with plug-in in case you get low on battery or need to communicate with LE, concerned parties, or 1st-responders/medical-assistance/paramedics
-have a small 1st-Aid kit in the glove-box for whatever needs become necessary
-make sure you leave valuable (jewelry, big bills, items of value) at home as these blockages tend to draw the curious, opportunistic, and hostile in crowds to capitalize on trapped drivers…especially foreigners that stand out. Carry small local-currency bills
-wear common, humble, low-key, non-branded clothing to blend-in and not draw attention. Speaking the local language certainly helps not put a target on my back from interviews and prying questioning
-make sure the Waze application is working and updated on my phone as it’s the only GPS program that gives prior micro-details on upcoming/high-volume traffic, stoppages, LE-presence, and fastest-route availability
-wear running shoes or comfortable footwear when knowing you’ll be entering high(er)-risk areas for quick and fluid movement if needed. Generally, if you don’t need to go into the center of the city or populated suburban pockets – don’t. There are almost always other, close-to-home options for the time being.
-make sure the car has at least half-a-tank of gas in case of long lines, times where the car needs to stay running in anticipation of quick departure or route-switches. This also goes for back-up propane re-fills as often shortages of gasoline, propane, and other services occur due to the strikes, government regulation, or slowing of outside services entering the country out of concern over the state-of-things.
-make sure the spare tire is full and tire-change equipment is ready to go in case of intentional puncture, fluids topped-off, small change for quick toll exit
-as an aside, it wouldn’t hurt to have a bug-out bag ready to go or stored in the trunk, should the situation deteriorate over the next couple of weeks
Now, these have the potential to change and alter as/if the threat, unrest, and events increase but first steps first. Start building your prep in stages to avoid being taken away by public hyperbole and panic. By being anxious over grand scope of where this can lead, you contribute to the phalanx of anxiety and pressure that can cause this to explode. Don’t be a feeder, be a responder. Remember too, that empathy to the cause of these barricades goes a long way – many of these protests are entirely justified here (some are not) but be aware that peer-pressure and pack-mentality is a very real thing in people that it might otherwise not be. Keep you posted with further progressions and matching preparations. Head-up.
Motor-skill coordination has long been misinterpreted to have universal effects on human performance. (As an aside, the only images that come up originally in a Google search are child-related, something that wasn’t lost on me regarding why this is still a huge topic of such importance in the SD world) Heart-rates, performance capability, general physiological-response lists at exertion-levels that transfer to every single person equally, breakdowns of specific performance under duress for complex/fine/gross motor-skill accessibility. Grossman and Siddle really left a glowing myth to overcome for rest of us. The gift that keeps on giving.
A close affiliate of a very well-known SD figure stated something on social media the other day that I witnessed. This person stated that “If anything requires fine motor skills, it’s simply not achievable under the effects of adrenaline and, therefore, it’s utterly useless and nobody facing antisocial violence will ever be able to access it. The most important elements in SD is the delivery system, which is never physical but psychological, emotional, mental, and behavioral…” Understandably, lots liked the comment because it sounds great as a soundbite and who would question such a respected authority, right? (I did but took it down after a while as a) few care, b) I don’t get paid to argue with strangers – on Facebook – who make grand sweeping statements, and c) tons of what we see on social media is bullshit and who wants to be a little Dutch girl putting their finger in the hole of the dam, I have a life to lead) But it’s wrong. At best, contextual, circumstantial, and personal.
So you know, it is always person-specific so “nobody ever” and “never” are rather generalized, as are “always” and “everybody always.” People rise to the occasion quite regularly…even using “fine- and complex-motor skill” under survival-duress. No, it may not be ideal or highest-percentage for everybody and every situation – granted – but to universally state “it’s crap” in all antisocial scenarios would be to discard Youtube videos, case-studies….and modern science. Deploying, opening, and re-loading weapons, medical management, firing, opening doors, multi-tasking, split-attention function, making complex decisions…are all achievable for some – even under life-threatening stress and antisocial violence. Physiology/nature, experience(s), breathing, exposure, prior awareness all are intangibles that dictate. Hell, that day’s sleep, food-intake, fear-level/anxiety as well. It’s exactly because of that delivery system (psychological/emotional/behavioral) being the thing, that it is so person-specific. This person inevitably defeated their own argument.
Now, to further this counter-point, let’s remember as well that not all antisocial violence happens the same way. That’s a fact that most SD experts neglect to discuss in their rush to inform you of their variations of “social” and “antisocial” paradigms and scenario-specific strategy-breakdowns. Muggings are different than pickpocket-catches are different from snatch-and-run theft. Kidnappings are different than home invasions. Even home invasions here in CR have different motivations, goals, and levels-of-violence that the perpetrators are willing to invest. (warnings, items of value, a hit, violence for violence sake) Interviews for change from aggressive panhandlers are probing and testing. Ambush attacks are yet another dynamic. As are sicario-hits. What is “antisocial violence” and no fine-motor skills are achievable ever? There’s a vast array of sliding-scale “antisocial” violence and all have their own context of intent, motivation, strategy, and innocuousness. Slow-burn, immediate and explosive, prolonged. The problem is that far too many SD experts generalize all situations with universal strategies. Or transfer their prior violence experience to a vast chasm of customer need and lifestyle. Regardless, it’s easy to be one-dimensional, generic, and cookie-cutter, making big sweeping statements that sound great to the loyal followers they maintain.
To get back to the original premise, each individual person (all this above factored in) has their own environment, capability, behavior, mission, beliefs/values, nature/nurture, experience/experiences, states that affect their ability to manage stress/violence/anxiety/pressure at any given time. Law enforcement in firefights achieve amazing things under duress…including fine- and complex-motor skills. Regular civilians with innate survival-skillsets as well under attack or great levels of surprise violence. Professionals in life-saving environments as well….firefighters, pilots, military personnel, medical personnel for instance.
As well, these tools that the industry incessantly passes around – universal heart-rate charts (like the one above), performance-capability numbers, motor-skill correlations to stressful environments….have long ago been proven inaccurate by science. They are only perpetuated by industry professionals who’ve made their name, client-base, and reputation off of this outdated and useless information. Science, medicine, human performance, and the invention of social media to show glaring real-life examples have all put a lot of this hyperbole to rest….yet here we are. Still selling the legend.
All this combines to make a very specific, contextual, and individual stress-response…..hardly semantic, which is what most of these people lean on when cornered. “Well, what I MEANT was…”nobody BUT experienced people”” or “”wasn’t adrenal-FRIENDLY” but doesn’t mean some people can’t surpass these “restrictions”” or “I should’ve said “higher- vs. lower-percentage options” (a good one, by the way) or….you get the point. Sure, they can always go that route, indeed that’s why it’s so easy to spew these colloquialisms, because they are so easy to change meaning to midstream. And those, my friends, are the most dangerous of all. One-size-fits-all generalizations on a topic that is staunchly-contextual and multi-dimensional – violence. When you hear words like “always”, “never”, “nobody ever”, “if/then” conditional statements…..really, really do an internal validity check. A quote I’m familiar with fits here nicely, “always look to refute, not confirm. Attempting to confirm a suspicion shows bias. If you’re unable to refute the suspicion with all reasonable possibilities, then you’re left with the appropriate conclusion.” Rarely is anything concrete in the counter-violence/violence world and that has been proven time-and-again by average everyday people shattering those universal quantifiers. (I even saw a guy once on video do a wristlock against a real, live gun-wielding criminal and that’s never ever supposed to hap….)
"Un-Hammering Nails: a cerebral approach to personal preservation, self-defense, combatives, and martial arts.