Posts Tagged ‘psychology of combat’

Ever since the motorcycle gang attack in NYC

motorcycle attack

people have been discussing how such a thing could happen and how to prevent these attacks from happening again.

Here at Zenshin LLC we analyze these attacks with a view toward survivability. We assume that these attacks will occur, it is just a matter of when. The news is full of examples. This is just the latest one.

In our Psychology of Combat series we discussed briefly how understanding the psychology of the gang can be used to protect yourself. You can read that post here.

This motorcycle incident is a very specific act but illustrates the several ways in which we have to focus our attention when dealing with mobs. In this case these subjects come up:

Driving through a mob
Being attacked while in a car
Fleeing a mob via a motor vehicle
Surviving a gang attack alone and/or while protecting loved ones

Driving through a mob is the easiest to discuss.  It’s simple, don’t do it.  Drive over to the side of the road and yield to the mob.  Look for the best possible location to move over.  Keep in mind, some places are not conducive to protecting yourself.  Be aware of where you go at all times and where you can exit if necessary. Do not allow them to engage you.  The most important thing is to keep moving.  If you keep moving they have to move with you.  This means even just driving 5 miles an hour, moving back and forth, in circles or in reverse.  They will have difficulty dragging you out as long as you are in motion.

So they caught up with you and they start attacking the car.  In this instance, they smashed the windows and punctured the tires.  How far can you drive on flat tires?  Pretty darn far!  So keep going!  As the mob starts smashing the windows you have to assume they are going for you next.  The most important thing to remember now is to ensure that the doors are locked.  If the doors are locked they can’t drag you out.  Hopefully, you are still moving so it would be that much more difficult.

Check out our next post for ideas on fleeing a mob and surviving a gang attack while protecting your loved ones.  In the meanwhile ask yourself this question….What do you have in your car to protect yourself and your family?   Comment with your answers and why you have what you have.

Be safe




the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship.

We left off in part one talking about perspective in our decision making process.  We looked at adding the perspective of a third-party, thus adding another dimension to our perspective.  This additional perspective will help us make better decisions when in conflict.  But, is there a way we can still increase our perspective?

Let’s just say that while in conflict, you were able to stop time for a moment and fly up higher to the edge of a ridge overlooking your conflict.  Would your perspective change?  Yes, of course.  This perspective will allow you to see your opponent, your BFF, a greater sense of the terrain around you and it will also allow you to see in the distance.  If you are able to see in the distance you can see threats before you see them on the ground.  In effect you will be able to see in the future.

The intent of almost all decisions is to predict the future. Great!  If only we can freeze time, climb up on hills, we will greatly increase our ability to make better decisions while in conflict.  We can’t literally do that, but there are ways we can gain better perspective in conflict.

1.  Accept that there is uncertainty in conflict, but that uncertainty is true for all.

Often times we are in conflict in areas that are uncommon for us.  The MMA fighter has no problem getting in the ring but fears the courtroom the same as the lawyer has no problem in court but fears the octagon.  When we are in areas that are unfamiliar to us we feel less certain of the outcome.  Fear can be blinding and hinder our perspective. Accept it and move on. Uncertainty will have no bearing whatsoever in the eventual outcome of your conflict unless you let it.

2. Know your own strengths and weaknesses and plan accordingly.

It is said that in physical fights we revert back to fighting the way in which we fought our last fight.  For instance, if you are 30 years old and the last fight you had been in was in 6th grade, you will fight like you are in 6th grade.  If we consciously take an honest mental accounting of our strengths and weaknesses we can then plan a strategy for defense or offense. Let me emphasize you must make an HONEST accounting of your strengths and weaknesses.  I have in the past overestimated my weaknesses and have paid the price.

3. Have short-term goals and long term goals and act accordingly.

Ask yourself, what do you want and when do you want it. Looking at short-term and long-term goals forces us to make decisions on a time continuum.  Often we are concerned with specific bits of time.  Today, tomorrow, ten years from now.  Instead we should be thinking of time as a continuous flow. As you move along in the conflict things will change, it is inevitable.  Those changes will not be so dramatic; they may ebb and flow or increase or decrease.  Keeping a clear set of short and long-term goals will give you a better perspective of time and help you decide when to change a strategy, if needed.

4.  Pick a course of action based on 1,2 and 3 and plow through, if it doesn’t work change your plan and plow through.

This is harder than it seems.  If you are fearful (see#1) then you are also hesitant in your actions.  Make the best decision you can make given all of the information you have at the time, then plow through.  If you see that you need to change your actions based on your strengths, weaknesses, goals, changes as a function of time (people get older, tired, etc.), then change your actions and plow through.

I remember when I was going through my horrific divorce.  I was scared I was going to lose my kids, I did not know how the system worked, I had no confidence in my attorney, I was literally frozen and getting battered. I decided to take a break and went on a retreat to a Buddhist monastery.  While there, I asked a  monk what I should do.  He said that I should make a decision, then put all my energy in that decision.  No doubts or worries.  Just plow through.  So, I’ll add…..Fight and when you’re tired, rest.  Then fight again until you are successful.  Acknowledge and appreciate each victory, learn and move on from each defeat.  It’s a matter of survival.

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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