Returning the verbal challenge

Retaliation, however justified, will be seen by your aggressor as an acceptance to fight. From my experience, if you do not make a hasty retreat at, 'actual challenge', especially if you do counter verbally, more threats and a possibly attack will result. A non-counter and immediate exit on the part of the victim usually results in the challenger aborting, perceiving the response, or lack thereof, to be an embryonic victory. Therefore, if a verbal challenge is thrown do not counter.

If you are approached and are unable to escape, then you must prepare yourself for fight or flight. If you are in a pub and you sense trouble, it is my advice to leave that particular pub and find another that feels less threatening. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. At and before eye contact you should have been in Code Yellow, this will have given you awareness, not only of the potential situation, but also of the 'ritual'. In such situations knowledge is power.

Like a cancer, confrontation should be caught and treated as early as possible -the longer you leave it, the graver it will become. It is easier to treat a small malignancy than a fully-grown tumour. If a verbal challenge is thrown down, you should rise with the threat to Code Orange where a potency assessment may be made. If an approach follows you should automatically rise to Code Red, this being 'fight or flight'. The approach may be made across the bar of a public house, on the street, in a traffic incident, it may be some one getting out of their car and approaching your vehicle. At this stage you should have already utilised your 'flight' option and be a hundred yards down the road. Where 'flight' may not be plausible you may take advantage of the aforementioned Four D's, if this technique works for your attacker then it can work for you. As the famous Japanese strategist Miyomoto Musashi said in his Book of Five Rings; 'What is true for one is true for a thousand and what is true for a thousand is true for ten thousand.' In other words, if it works against you it can also work for you.

We now move on to the professional attacker who works for profit and covets compliance. He does not want to fight. To make his job easier he employs guile as opposed to force, this coming via deception. As with all predators, he seeks people in a victim state, or Code White. He is usually very different from the archetypal, celluloid attacker that we have been programmed to expect. This is the case with the most disarming of predators. They rarely look like potential attackers. The archetypal stocking-faced robber with a cosh and a swag bag is far removed from the real world villain who is more likely to be dressed in a smart suit and tie.

As With most attacks the professional attacker follows a ritual, understanding this is the pre-requisite to threat avoidance. There appear to be four different kinds of mugger:

  1. The 'snatch and run' mugger, who literally rips your handbag/briefcase from your shoulder/hand and runs away at speed, or even drives away on a bike.
  2. The blind side mugger who suddenly appears out of an entry without any apparent warning
  3. The defiant mugger who attacks without ritual or fear of the law or consequences, usually because you have walked into his patch or have inadvertently crossed his Path and he wants whatever you have got
  4. The professional mugger who plans his attacks and uses deception as a 'way in'.

Environmental awareness is the best way to avoid the first three, but a thorough understanding of attack ritual is the only real way of avoiding the fourth. Below are the ritualistic steps of the latter. If you can spot the ritual in the early stages you can avoid attack. Attackers look for victims, and the ideal victim is in Code White, mentally and/or environmentally: those daydreaming or detached from the herd. Selection often occurs in sparsely populated locations, the mugger wanting as little fuss as possible in the execution of his attack. He favours the quiet park/street/entry etc. This does not mean that people are safe in highly populated areas like shopping malls or busy streets. Very often the mugger stalks such places for victims, after selection following them to a safe attack zone like the car park. It is thought that Stephanie Slater, murdered by Cannan, was stalked in just such a way. Cannan spotted her in a shopping centre and followed her to the car park, which was his trade mark, pouncing as she got into her car.

Prior to attack a stalking of the chosen victim often occurs, like a cheetah stalking an antelope. This is a part of priming. If necessary the victim will be followed in the hope that he/she will heighten their vulnerability mentally/environmentally by walking into a park, down a quiet street/entry etc. If the victim is followed from a shopping mall the attacker often waits for him/her to put the shopping in the boot of the car or even strike as he/she enters the car. It is at such times that even normally vigilant people drop their guard, and even though it may only be for a second, this is all the attacker needs.

When you have your hands full of shopping and are trying to get the kids into the car you may not notice that you are being followed. Often the attacker covers the whole of a car park without being noticed. His attack is then so swift that even other people in the car park do not notice what has happened. When you are off-loading the shopping and getting into the car, be very aware. As soon as you are in the car, bang the locks on immediately.

Often if the attacker needs more information he will initiate an exploratory approach, coupled with disarming dialogue. It is also used as a secondary awareness assessment -the attacker wants to see if you are switched on, wants to make sure he is safe before he attacks. If at this point, or at any point after victim stalking, the victim appears switched off, the mugger may initiate his threatened attack without further priming. Unless the attacker is a real pro he will show signs of adrenal reaction in the exploratory approach that you will sense. Listen to your instincts.

If the attacker feels that the chosen victim is switched onto the attempt and his secondary assessment is negative, he will often abort and find a more vulnerable victim. If he feels that the chosen victim is switched off he may initiate the attack/threatened attack whilst the victim is engaged in answering his disarming question -this may be any thing from asking directions to asking the time. Often the disarming question will switch off those that are switched on. An experienced attacker will use deception to take down any defensive fences that his intended victims may have put up.

The professional attacker often likes to take his booty without actually attacking his victim, instead he threatens to attack. I found it very interesting that many of the muggers that I interviewed used the 'threatened attack' as opposed to the 'actual attack' to prime their victims. They professed that this was because if they got caught and they had used violence in the course of the attack, the sentence they got would be longer because of it. So they frightened victims into submission, rather than beat them into supplication.

The mugger will often threaten the victim with attack to frighten them in to supplication, frequently underlining the threat with a weapon or an accomplice, or both. These threats will be aggressive and menacing, thus effecting adrenal dump in the victim, quickly escalating to the freeze syndrome

(the reasoning process mistakes adrenaline for fear, often freezing victims into immobility). The threats are repeated with escalating aggression causing the victim to experience multiple adrenal release, grossly heightening the supposed feeling of fear and adding to the 'freeze'. The threats of course are married with demands for money/credit cards etc.

Often the attacker threatens to hurt the victim if they are not compliant, or, not to hurt the victim in exchange for compliance. It is not uncommon for attackers to use a physical attack, creating compliance via disablement, others initiate an attack to disable the victim, before robbing them. Sometimes the attack will be minimal, used only to add to 'freeze', on other occasions, the attack will be frenzied and severe. Any chance of a physical defence, other than actually attacking back with the same degree (or greater) of ferocity, is unlikely to be effective. The concepts of 'blocking' an assailant's blows or using hypothesised release techniques are unsound. If the situation has got this far, only the very strong will survive.

If you know how the bad guys work it stands to reason that you can avoid him like the plague. These people mainly rely on deception, not so easy now that you know how the blighters work. Avoid at all costs, escape as soon as you see their ritual in play, if that doesn't work, or the option has been spent .then use verbal dissuasion.

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  • EMILIA
    What is the art of verbal fighting?
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