There is a common saying in the tactical training and self-defense communites: Don’t be prey; be a predator.
At first glance, that is a really cool thought. Don’t we all want to have a mental self-construct of being capable and powerful (especially if it is so obvious to outside observers that we can frighten off potential attackers)? Of course!
There is an underlying problem there though that all too often gets short shrift in the community. Without a doubt, none of us want to look like prey. That is all too readily apparent. But do we truly want to look like a predator?
Before you answer yes, think about this. In the wild, if you are a predator, are you immune to attack? Obviously not. So who is attacking? Other predators! And sometimes, that other predator may be the apex predator of the area. For example, when a young lion wanders into new territory already occupied by another lion, the resident lion is not going to let that pass. He will want to keep his food supplies to himself, as well as his access to his sexual partners. The same holds true in the world of Violent Criminal Actors (VCA). They too want to maintain their control; of the resources and sexual partners, as well as having the added need to maintain “respect”. And the VCA will not act as the animal in the wild does. He will not obviously challenge his new rival. Far from it. The VCA will do whatever it takes to maintain his dominance. If that means sucker punching, or hitting from behind, or bringing a gun to a fist fight, or even bringing friends, he will do so. He will do whatever he can do to keep his apex predator spot.
And to make this situation worse, we may not even know that we are challenging some thug. We may have our situational awareness switched on, but this type of thing may not help us if the other guy sets up an ambush dedicated to taking us out.
So if we don’t want to be prey, and being a predator may put us directly in the line of fire, what do we do? The third path. Being the Gray Man (or woman).
Anyone who has been smart enough to take any of William April’s coursework will understand that criminals have a very simple binary decision tree to do their violence. It is go or no-go. There is no “maybe” in the process. If you look like someone they can rob or assault, they do it. If you look like anything but an easy day, they won’t. It sounds simple, but it is true. They want to do what they need to do to get paid, and they are not interested in a fight. If they look at you and go “I don’t know”, their instantaneous decision to a definite no. That is what the real world research tells us, over and over. So we can use that knowledge and understanding.
If we don’t conduct ourselves like a victim, we won’t be victimized. Walk like you know what you are doing and where you going, pay attention to those around you (Given’s Law – Who is around me, and what are they doing?), don’t be ostentatious in dress or in things you have displayed on you, and you will negate almost all threat from the opportunistic criminal. On the flip side, do not walk around acting like you think you are the hardest hardcase on the planet, don’t mean mug every person you meet, and don’t wear sleeveless t-shirts that are three sizes too small, and you now remove yourself as looking like a predator on the prowl and other predators ignore you.
With simple, easy to implement steps, we make our lives massively safer and more peaceful. Win!
As much as I love the training I have done over the past 38 years of learning to fight, shoot, and be fit, I much prefer to not have to exercise those skills unless they are in a training environment. Life is too short to be occupied with violence.
Be the Gray Man, and have a fun life.