The Win Before the Fight

by Kellene Bishop

I’ve been reading a great book over the last couple of weeks, Molon Labe. In it the author reminds the reader several times that all fights are decided before the battle begins. The point being that it’s the level of preparation which takes place before a battle which determines the victor.  In the case of the self-defense of women, I advocate consistent, challenging practice which will ensure successful self-defense. While the attacker may have life-long experience as a bully or a law breaker, it doesn’t make him/her fully prepared for their battle with you directly. However, through consistent mental and physical rehearsal to apply to multiple “what if” scenarios, you are leagues ahead of any assailant. And thus your battles are already won before they even begin.

Even better, confidence, calm, presence of mind, necessary tools, and a clear conscience are the fruits of such preparation—even if you are ever called upon to defend yourself. There is simply no price of time or money that can be put upon such fruits, in my opinion.

This past Saturday I took a couple of my girlfriend’s children to the dollar theater to see “Shrek 4.” Both children were under 12, with the youngest being only 9 and who also has Asperger Syndrome. Unfortunately, by the time we were able to get into the theater for seating, there were very few options left for 3 people to sit together. Thankfully one of the theater employees escorted us to a side row of 4 seats, with the outside seat being occupied by a hefty man. The movie had just begun and so the employee quietly leaned down and requested the man allow us to scoot by him and be seated.  As if he had just been asked to relinquish control over his own private remote, and give up a years worth of beer, and run a 5K marathon, he responded quite put out.  His only “effort” to allow us to pass was to spread his overstuffed sausage legs further apart. Yes, it was so attractive,–not—and a bit creepy. Because of his size, it was still a bit difficult for the kids to get past him, let alone myself, who is also quite chubby. It would have been so much easier if he had simply got up from his seat, and stepped into the aisle a moment.  I suppose that I’m a bit spoiled nowadays with this expectation, as my husband certainly would have done the same thing for us and any stranger. Needless to say, it was irritating to have an example of such rudeness displayed to the kids.  Well, being the somewhat sassy person that I am, I just couldn’t hold it in and it had to be heard. I just had to say it. And say it I did. “Well, I guess chivalry is dead”, I quietly demurred.

I didn’t have any anger when I made this statement, nor did I shout. I suppose that a kinder person would have just kept quiet and tolerated his rudeness, but I guess I’m not very good at keeping some of my thoughts to myself. Having said my two cents, I realized that such an inconsiderate man would have been compelled to say something in return, but I suppose I had simply expected an apathetic “whatever” from the sweating, heavy breathing mammoth.  Not that I expected an apology in response to my comment, but I was a bit startled with what did come out of his mouth. “Why don’t you just shut your mouth or I’ll punch you in the face!”

Wait a minute.  Did you really just threaten to physically assault a woman with two kids simply because she called you out?  Really? This was your very first instinct, to threaten physical violence in a packed movie theater without a care in the world as to the consequences?  This was your knee jerk, comfortable, standard response?  Folks, that’s saying a whole heck of a lot right there!  Now ladies, understand what I’m about to share with you here.  I’m only 5’2 ½”—yes, you’ve got to count the ½ inch. *grin* And I’m just over 200 pounds. So no, I’m not an imposing person to deal with physically. In fact, I suspect that I’m looked at as an “easy mark” by some fools due to me being out of shape.  This man was approximately 6 feet and weighed probably about 300 pounds.  In spite of these physical factors, combined with his revealing physical threat right off the bat, , I was not frightened. In fact, it’s probably my lack of fear of any repercussions which I thought I could handle, that I uttered my initial sentence within earshot of him. I was calm and confident. In fact, my only concern at the time was that I didn’t want to cause the kids to feel uncomfortable—especially the youngest. So I simply replied, “I’m not trying to fight with you. You could have simply been nice and let us in. It was two kids for crying out loud.” His response, “Shut the hell up or else.” I must say, I was a bit shocked at his angry behavior in response to such a small incident and in spite of there being plenty of people surrounding him, he seemed to posses no shame, no modicum of morality, and certainly no care in the world about anyone else. It was easy to see that he was comfortable with his rage and his attitude against others who inconvenienced him. Since I would be sitting beside him during the course of the movie, I decided that I would make clear to him that I wasn’t quite who he thought I was. While it may seem overly dramatic, given his “first impression” I saw the faces of various women in my minds eye, who may have been the brunt of his societal standards. I’ll be honest. There was a point when I asked myself if the opportunity would present itself for me to use my Asp on this guy. I know. I know, just a titch warped. As such, I looked right at him and said very clearly “Sir. I’m definitely not the woman you want to mess with.” He turned his head to me for a moment as if to size me up.  He then sarcastically replied, “Oh. I’m really scared.”

“Good! That’s just where I like ‘em. Overconfident and unaware,” I said, still looking directly at him.

He then turned his head back to the movie and said “just shut up and watch the movie. That’s what you paid for.”

I decided that I had said enough at this point and ran the risk of upsetting the kids if our voices got any more elevated so that they could hear.

Now, there’s a reason I’m telling you all of this and it’s not for a purpose of self-aggrandizing. It’s because there are two important things for you to learn from this scenario. First of all, I was told by one of my friends that I should have said “Let’s see how scared you are with a forty caliber pointed at you.”  I suspect that my friend was just getting in to the mood of things in this comment, but if I had said something to that effect, I actually could have gotten myself in a whole lot of trouble. I would have easily been accused of inciting a riot, “brandishing a weapon”—even though I wasn’t literally showing my firearm, disturbing the peace, and lastly I’m creating a threat. More importantly, if a person ever truly does feel threatened in such a situation, you certainly would not want to show your cards like that. If you truly feel threatened, then do something about it. Act, not react.  In this case, I felt that for the time being this guy was just full of himself and didn’t like being called out by a girl.  If I had truly felt threatened, then it would have been within my legal right to have physically assaulted him with non-deadly force.  Yes, in such an instance I, being out manned in weight and height, would have been legally within my rights to have “thrown the first punch” so to speak. As women, it’s not necessary for us to get hit, shoved, beaten, etc. by a man first before we respond. I realize for some of you, that may be hard to conceptualize. But after Mr. Sausage made his first physical threat of punching me in the face, I would easily have been in the right with a solid punch to his wind pipes, or whatever other physical maneuver I would have felt necessary—enough to minimize the physical threat of this man. However, that’s only the case if it was me, short and chubby, against him.  Had a 6 year old boy said that to me, then I would not be permitted to proactively defend myself. It all boils down to the level of threat and the weight of advantages, vs. disadvantages. For example, if it had been my husband who was being talked to that way, he would not have gotten away with a first strike because of his training, physique, and the fact that he was armed. In order for a well-trained man to have responded to this threat, Mr. Sausage would have had to make a physical threat imminent.

So, did I just sit there and watch the cute movie and not give this anymore thought? No, that would have been foolish on my part. I was strategizing, actually, in the event that my leg bounced just the wrong way to make him mad, or one of the kids aggravated him if they had to squeeze out to go to the bathroom.  So, I made sure that my Asp was in my grasp, my pepper spray was ready to spray, and I discreetly removed my knife from my purse and put it in my pants pocket. I was ready if I had to defend myself.  But, I also recognized that the two kids were a liability to me if there was an altercation. So, I texted my husband and invited him to join me at the dollar theater. Through a series of texts he was brought up to par on the scenario, and secured a seat right behind Mr. Sausage in the theater.  I casually made it obvious to Mr. Sausage that I knew the man sitting right behind him. When the movie was getting ready to wrap up, Mr. Sausage decided to exit before all of the mushy, happily ever after took place in the film. All he left behind was the stench of his body odor and a lesson learned. No regrets. No fear. No rattled children. All was well.  As the children and I exited the movie theater, all they talked about was how cute the movie was. They were impervious to the problem, didn’t notice that my husband had joined us or that I had additional contents in my various pants pockets. We were able to keep everyone else safe without any stress or concern.

There’s one other thing that I want to share with you. While I was sitting there, enjoying the movie, I thought about you. Yes, you.  You; who may lack the sufficient confidence necessary to handle such a situation. You; who may be lacking in the appropriate tools of leverage necessary to handle such a situation.  While a firearm would not have been appropriate self-defense tool for this particular level of threat, nor was the environment appropriate; would you have been essentially unarmed otherwise? I decided that this man had obviously pushed around, without challenge, too many women in his life thus far. I want to do my best to ensure that you are not one of them in the future. So, I decided to share this little story with you. I hope it provides you with some food for thought and that you will see that occasions for vital mental and physical self-defense capabilities self-defense are not limited to robbery, rape, or a home invasion. And they are not all solved with one particular tool each time.  The great benefit of really internalizing and learning self-defense though, is that you can walk away from such circumstances without any regrets, and with your confidence still in tact.

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Copyright Protected 2010, Women of Caliber and Kellene Bishop. All Rights Reserved. No portion of any content on this site may be duplicated, transferred, copied, or published without written permission from the author. However, you are welcome to provide a link to the content on your site or in your written works.

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Does a Knife Constitute a Gun Fight?

By Kellene Bishop

Photo c/o bostondirtdogs.boston.com

Photo c/o bostondirtdogs.boston.com

In short, the answer is yes. I have received some e-mails over the past year from persons mistakenly believing that the defense should be in “like kind” of the attack—meaning that a fist should be fought back with a fist and a knife should be fought back with a knife. I don’t know whoever made up such a nonsensical rule. Is this some kind of a ridiculous gentleman’s rule or something? Does that mean that if I don’t have a knife that I’m not allowed to fight back? Such a thought process completely ignores the fact that the fist of a skilled, drug enraged man against a skinny 21-year-old female college student isn’t a weapon to be taken seriously. Even if such a “weapon” wasn’t backed up with sufficient skill and soberness, it can still end or dramatically alter a life. Additionally, what is your goal if you are attacked? To survive or to see if you got your money’s worth from that year of Tae Bo Kickboxing class?

In the world of self-defense, persons with “other” weapons are clearly underestimated. A knife is still dangerous and deadly even at a distance. Not simply because it can be hurled (which takes a great deal of skill not common even among the dark side of criminals) but because a person is capable of covering 21 feet in a deadly charge in only 1.5 seconds. 1.5 seconds. Can you even draw and shoot your firearm accurately enough to defend against such an attack? Well, if you can’t you need to practice so that you are adept. And most importantly, you need to assess every potential attack in one way and one way only. The good news is that a physical memory discipline of quick-draw and accurately shooting is easy to learn and permanently incorporate. Simply practicing with a brush, curling iron, or practice gun at your side for few minutes a day in a quick draw motion will help to incorporate such a response. The important thing is to practice a quality quick draw. Practicing a flawed system will not save your life. It will only ensure that you are expert at performing poorly.

Finally, when it comes to assessing a physical threat of any kind, there really is only one question you need to ask yourself. “Does this pose a viable threat against my life, health or that of another?” If the answer is yes, then point and shoot. “Fair fights” are for Hollywood. 

Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.

Multiple Attacker Self Defense

By Kellene Bishop

Recently one of my readers sent me a real life sexual assault scenario involving multiple attackers and asked me for my advice.  I feel that understanding the necessary defense skills and mindset against multiple attackers is a valid subject to address.  And so I’m going to share her question with you as a perfect segue.

“Here’s the scenario; a young lady was raped while in the bathroom at a party. The door was locked but the first animal used something to open the lock, which is not hard to do. He came in part way (probably to see if she was alone), said ‘excuse me,’ started to leave but came right back in, letting the second animal in. They immediately turned the lights out…and that was that. She cooperated and wasn’t beaten, strangled or had any other manner of horrible things done to her, but being raped is horrible enough.

My question is, what do you suggest be done when there are two attackers? Having a gun (yes I’ve seen the sharp shooter videos) or some other weapon, and/or knowing some self defense techniques may lessen the likelihood of being assaulted by one attacker, but two? I’m scratching my head about what to do in that case. Unless someone is sitting on the toilet with a gun on their lap (unlikely), they are extremely vulnerable. Pants and undies are pulled down, so charging toward the door or the attackers is also unlikely. I read a suggestion of wearing a whistle around the neck (or some other noise maker), but with so many people talking, etc. and loud music, the sound may blend in.

The likelihood of this happening again to the same person is slim, but if it happens again to anyone, that’s one person too many.”

Understand that the likelihood of multiple attackers occurs once out of every 24 rape attempts in the U.S.  That’s not exactly a small number in my opinion. Thus mentally and logistically preparing to defend against this evil is realistic.

Your first line of defense against multiple attackers is indeed a firearm.  I keep one of mine on the waist of my pants or skirt. Thus even if I’m “indisposed,” if a person were to enter the bathroom as this scenario plays out, I could easily retrieve my firearm.

Another great place to keep a firearm is in a belly band.  Even the most fashion-conscious woman will appreciate how unobvious and well concealed they are.  With a belly band you also have easy access. 

belly-band-holsterbelly-band-holster-2

AspThere’s no limit on the number of actual “weapons” you can have on you.  I have a great knife, which is always handy in my purse.  I would hope that that would be nearby if I was in the bathroom, but I’m certain that it should be nearby everyone especially if it houses a weapon with which to save your life.  I have an Asp in my purse as well.  This particular weapon will literally crush a skull, break a wrist or arm or knee cap when brought forcibly into contact with an assailant.  (My concealed firearm permit allows me to legally carry both of these items in the state of Utah.)  Last, but not least, I also have my red-dyed pepper spray on my key ring.  This is usually tucked into the front of my waist regardless of where I am.  ALL of these weapons are easily usable, and readily available.  I don’t rely on just one because life doesn’t exactly work out that way.  Perhaps this approach causes some of you to think I’m crazy like Dwight from The Office, but I assure you that the likelihood of my being able to save my life against multiple attackers is suitable.  At some point they will get tired of my pulling out weapons, don’t you think?

However, all of these weapons are not the most important aspect of preserving your life in the event of a multiple attacker self defense scenario.  There are two components that you literally cannot live or hope to survive without.

be-awareAwareness is one of two most critical lifesavers when it comes to preserving yourself from multiple attackers.  You can never afford to be disengaged from your surroundings.  Not at a party.  Not in a bathroom stall.  Not in a movie theater.  Not while you’re grocery shopping.  In all seriousness, the likelihood of you being attacked when you exude a confident awareness of your surroundings goes down significantly.  Those who attack in a group are actually the most cowardice of them all.  They can’t even “rape” on their own without all of their buddies to watch and help control one girl.  Thus keeping this in mind, remember that they are looking for the easiest target.  Your job, in order to stay alive and NEVER have to overcome such an instance is to stay aware!  All of the things you’ve been told to do (use a buddy system, park near a light, ask for an escort out to your car, etc, etc) are all valid deflectors of an attack.

Your second and most important defense against a multiple attacker scenario is your mindset.  And no, I’m not talking about some kind of Anthony Robbins or Deepak Chopra fluff here.  There is something that you must understand if you are ever attacked.  You are NOT being attacked by a human being.  Don’t let your instinctively compassionate mind tell you otherwise.  The moment they choose to take your virtue, your life, or any of your freedoms in any way, they have become sub-human.  They are literally nothing more than a vagrant animal.  And just as you would willingly shoot a rabid stray dog attacking your child or someone else you love, you MUST be mentally prepared to shoot an attacker.  Stop thinking of your attacker as a human beings, because they are NOT!  Stop thinking about your impact on their life!  You are not responsible for that impact in that moment.  They made that choice be attacking you.  They ASKED for the consequences.  Don’t wait and see how much damage they intend to inflict upon you.  Remember, it’s NEVER just sex.  It’s violent control.  And if you allow it to happen because you don’t suitably fight back, it can quite possibly control who you are for the rest of your life.  So be prepared to fight it at ALL costs.  My attitude is if I’m going to die, someone is definitely going with me!  

Understand that an assault encounter typically takes between 2 and 12 minutes.  However, most women have never practiced physically and mentally fighting for their life for a full 2 to 12 minutes.  Practice some unfettered “whoop A$$” on a pillow or a mattress for a full 2 to 12 minutes.  Attack that pillow or mattress with all of the fire you can muster.  Yes, it will tire you out.  But you need to practice it again and again so that you know you can endure the time and the energy necessary to save your life.  You need to mentally AND physically be prepared to put up a fight.  

Lastly, in a multiple attacker scenario, don’t worry about taking them all down at once.  Yes, that’s possible with a firearm, but if you lose that option, know that you have a Plan B.  Statistically speaking as well as with psychological considerations, focus on ONE of them to destroy… and I do mean destroy… and the rest will desert their mission.  If you don’t have a gun, go for the throat muscles.  Grab them and literally pull them out.  Most men have a prominent Adams Apple.  Put your claws in there and YANK!  Be prepared to do the same with their eye sockets if necessary.  I know, that sounds absolutely awful.  But remember, this is your life and your sanity that you’re fighting for.  This is war in its truest form.  As I said before, psychologically speaking, when you defeat one violently and the rest will flee.  Remember you have FEET, HANDS, and TEETH to use for your defense.  But most importantly you must have the determination to survive under the best of circumstances, not just barely.  The same goes for the use of a firearm or any other weapon you choose to use.  Don’t use it mamby pamby.  Use it with direct and controlled rage.  You need to let them know that they chose a fierce and deadly creature to mess with.  One who is NOT fragile, NOT passive, and who’s NOT willing to be a victim.

self-defense-throatself-defense-eyes

Multiple attackers need not result in victory for the sub-human body masses.  You can combat it and yes, you can survive victoriously – even from multiple attackers.  

Copyright 2009 Kellene Bishop. All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Kellene Bishop.