I was asked about an imminent threat and other than creating distance, which I have talked about before, what else is an option to protect yourself.  While I answered this via email I thought it is important enough to publish this as an article.

Joe P. asks:  

I live in a pretty fucked up neighborhood and recently a kid that looked to be about 13 years old asked me “What’s in your backpack” aggressively while I was rucking like a do a few times each week “I told him its none of your business” and to “fuck off” and kept walking. When I was about 20 feet away he started yelling and pulled a fire arm out and I ignored him and kept walking. This lead to nothing and is not the first time I have dealt with something of this nature but it makes me wonder other than creating distance or finding cover what I should do next time in case some asshole has the intention of actually discharging his firearm with the intent to harm or kill me. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope for a reply. 


I guess as I read this my first thought about this potential imminent threat was he had no intent of firing, or he would have. Normally there is strength in numbers, an exception may be a young kid getting jumped into a gang or other rights of passage. Then you may have a real problem. Remember the threat is always in the hands. Typically assassins and criminals wear dark, baggy clothing and hoodies are not rare. Their hands will normally be concealed. You should increase your level of awareness if you should see this type of a person approaching you or attempting to enter your personal space for any reason. If this is not a subway or crowded street, then you may think about preempting a strike and interrupt his flow or her flow and rhythm before they get aggressive. Most criminals, crazies and bullies will attempt to gain psychological control from the outset. How you project and protect you persona or aura, is entirely up to you. For me it is like acting. Put on your game face, stiffen your neck, take on a forward lean, and move with a purpose. Save your smiles for personal time and not in the streets. If the imminent threat of this situation still escalates, be aware of parked cars and alleyways, doorways and other areas you can maneuver out of the line of fire by changing directions and using inanimate objects for cover. Take advantage of the same to funnel your would-be attacker into a linear or confined space. Normally I will have something in my hands “Not my keys and wallet, I could throw to take him out of his game while I closed the gap or ran. Maybe a few steel balls, marbles or anything that may have a little sting if thrown. Also practice throwing things. Once you have gained a piece of control and keep moving this will open up new avenues of defense. It’s good to have choices. Your personality and training will dictate the rest. If you instinctively don’t like to fight and don’t a have gun permit and are carrying, common sense should dictate your next move. Something I learned very young about people, if you fight back you will gain future respect and eventually you will not be bothered so much. Don’t become an easy target! You have to project your violent side when you feel threatened. It’s kind of like an ape beating his chest. He is not afraid to rip your limbs off and bite you to death, he is simply putting out his early warning when you are approaching his personal space and he needs to protect himself, family and territory. Don’t go crazy. Be calm when the storm is approaching, display confidence. Also control who and how anyone enters your personal space and stay vigilant and prepared. Fear and anger will cause you to either hesitate or make bad decisions. Stay calm and don’t for get to breathe when you have your sites set.

Read more on Jim West’s blog.