Archive for the ‘What would you do if…..’ Category

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?

Photo credits:

Hello all.  First, let me say that if you have subscribed via email, your email message usually does not contain the whole post.  To see the whole post you may have to go online.  Usually I put the most relevant information at the end after a some nonsensical jokes or something …like…. this!

Recently, I happened to come across two of my colleagues talking about how long it would take to respond to various scenarios such as some of the scenarios you may have read right here on the Urban Survival Blog.  Specifically, they wanted to know how long it would take to respond to an unforeseen threat.  The problem of course is once you tell someone you are going to do something it becomes impossible to really catch them off guard.  Nevertheless, they wanted to give it a go.  So they had to come up with a way to “test” reaction time to an event (stimulus for those egg heads out there).  Now most people would choose to do this by, I don’t know…… dropping a ruler and seeing how far the ruler drops before the other person catches it.?  You can find this very intuitive experiment here:

Well….. that’s for namby pamby 7 year olds!!  Not Urban Survivalists!  They decided they wanted to try something more realistic.  So they agreed they would test if one could block a slap in the face.  One person would slap the other.  The person being slapped would try to put his hand on his cheek to mitigate the slap. To be fair they would take turns slapping each other. It kinda looked like this:

So folks what have we learned?  Well…… no one likes getting slapped in the face. When you think you were hit just a little harder then you hit, you make up for it and voila!  You get a slapfest. Okay…. I really did not want to post a video of a slapfest but I couldn’t help myself….  for those too high brow to watch two people slapping each other just skip the next video 🙂

Okay, now that we got that out of our system, let’s talk human reaction time.  We all have different reaction times.  These times are dependent upon the stimulus, our own physical condition, our mental/emotional condition and of course, the environment.

Believe it or not there is a lot of science behind the study of human reaction time. Think about if a 100 yard runner could react to the sound of the starter pistol 100th of a second faster.  That may very well mean the difference from obtaining a gold medal rather than a silver medal.  But what would happen if there was a slight incline in that person’s lane?  Would that affect how fast that runner could run?  If that runner had a big bowl of egg foo young the night before and is feeling that wonderful queasy eggy side effect?  Would that impact how fast that runner would hit the finish line?  Lastly, what if that runner heard some devastating news the minute before the sound of the gun?  Would that effect the runner’s start time?

Makes sense.  In the world of Urban Survival, reaction time can mean the difference in making it and not making it.  So what do you do?  Can we do things that will potentially improve our reaction time in the event we are faced with a life and death situation?  The answer is yes!  My colleagues, although funny to watch actually got better at protecting themselves as time went on.  Now, I don’t suggest you grab your friend and start slapping each other (if you do please post the video here).

There are fun and easy ways to improve your reaction time starting right now.  One simple way is to be in better physical shape.  Exercise more.  You cannot respond if you are gassed out.  Second, be in better mental/emotional shape.  Practice meditation, and practice mind enhancing games (see below). Lastly, be aware of your environment at all times.  You can read the post on situational awareness here:

To start you off,  here is a fun reaction time game my friend Bill sent me.  I warn you, it can be addicting!  So get to it!  Thanks Bill for the game and the inspiration for the post.

you are standing in an enclosed bus stop and this guy, a 5’10” 265 lb. mental patient comes up to you and says “you owe me a chicken sandwich from yesterday!”  You politely inform him that he must be mistaken because you are allergic to mayonnaise.  He then starts to yell and scream around you that you stole his sandwich and he wants it back.  You decide to walk away, but he still follows you yelling about his sandwich.

Before you answer…. this is a real story about how one mentally ill man “terrorized” a neighborhood.  Please read below:

What would you do??

you are riding the subway/metro/underground and a blackout occurs midway between stations.  It is rush hour and there is a wave of panic among your fellow straphangers.




you are using a public toilet (in a stall) and someone kicks in the door?