What would you do if you are walking alone down the street and realize there is a gang of people behind you and they are talking about you.  You hear them say derogatory terms about you and you are concerned……

For the sake of this exercise let me qualify what kind of gang I am talking about:

This kind of gang

Not this kind of gang

I usually get answers like run to a crowded place, look for a police officer or find a nice store to run into.  My martial arts friends would say something to the effect of first trying to defuse the situation then take a combative stance/action.  All of the above are good things to do.  However, I would like to introduce you to a different way of looking at this problem. The concept of the psychology of combat as it relates to urban survival.

To illustrate what I mean, I will answer the question posed above.  What would I do in this situation?  I would initially turn around, look then turn back around.  This action serves several purposes.  The first and foremost purpose is to break the gang’s learned behavior when they are trying to determine whether I am a potential victim or not.  I assure you, you are not the first person they preyed upon.  Since they were wee little baby gang bangers they learned what a victim response is and what an adversary response is and how to test it.

The taunting and derogatory remarks about you was the test.  They are looking to see if you behave as the other victims did.  It makes sense if you really think about it.  They could have just robbed you without saying anything.  Why make their presence and intentions known?  Because if you do act like a victim, they can reasonable assume that your behavior henceforth will be as a victim.  This what they learned. Others before you did and the roles of prey and predator have been well established.  You will act as prey and they will act as predator.  It boils down to a learned response.

When you break from the possible responses that have been learned, the gang does not know initially what to do.  Hopefully by the time they figure out a response you will be gone or would have gotten in better position ready for combat.  There is a practical reason to look back also.

Let’s go back to my response.  The gang conducted their test by taunting me.  They expected a victim to possibly cower and walk faster, certainly not at all confrontational.  An adversary (like a cop) would turn around and confront them.  I did neither.  I simply turned around, looked at them turned back around. I acted in a manner in which they were not accustomed to.  In addition to breaking their learned responses,  it gave me more information if in the event I do have to go into combat with them.  Had I not turned around I would not know how many were there, their positions, sizes, weapons etc.  All of that information was gathered within the one second I took to look at them.  I now know how many opponents I will have, who may be the first person I choose to engage and where I should go to engage them.  But that may not be necessary, my hope (and experience) is that the gang will pick on someone who reacts in the way in which they are used to and leave me alone.  What do you think?

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