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Physical self-defense power dynamics & strategies

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A thread like this one was missing.

There is one lesson in PU on power dynamics of physical escalation, but it admittedly needs some re-word.

Physical confrontation is not apart from social power dynamics, but it's the continuation of it -paraphrasing that German statist "war is the continuation of politics"-.

So on this thread, we can collect case studies, principles, strategies and techniques of de-escalation, self-defense, and coming out ahead if things turn for the worst.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

First, a personal reflection on the topic.

DOES SOCIAL POWER DYNAMICS TRUMP CONFLICT POWER DYNAMICS IN LIFE EFFECTIVENESS?

Few people consciously focus on learning social effectiveness, power dynamics, and self-defense.

Of those who do, most people focus on the physical side of self-defense, including:

  • Martial arts / physical fights
  • Non-lethal tools (pepper spray, stun guns, etc.)
  • Guns ownership, use, and carry

Most people focus on physical confrontations, on average, because it carries larger consequences than verbal ones.

However, that can be misleading in my opinion.

The focus on the extreme grabs out attention, but it doesn't take into account what is instead "extremely more likely".

Most adults will go through life without ever having to physically fight.
And even more people will go through life without ever drawing a gun.

That means that all those hours at the shooting range, reading gun reviews, and strapping yourself every single day is actually going to be wasted time the vast majority of times.
It's great to be "prepared", but when you prepare for what's very unlikely to happen, you don't want to spend too much time on it.

We as men are more likely to fall for these types of time-sink since we can be "geekier", and get lost into the details and minutiae of the tools, rather than looking at the larger life-toolkit (I definitely am like that).

SOCIAL POWER DYNAMICS HAPPENS EVERY DAY -WHETHER YOU WANT IT OR NOT-

Far fewer people learn and train for the social power dynamics that allow us to gain status, make friends and allies, and climb social and power hierarchies.

Albeit often the non-physical social power dynamics are less obvious and more subtle, over a lifetime social power dynamics are far more likely to carry a far bigger weight than the more extreme physical confrontations.

This is because non-physical, social power dynamics instead envelops you every day.

And while you can avoid lots of physical risks by avoiding risky places and behavior, you simply can't avoid social power dynamics if you want to aim high in life.

So when you lose a physical fight, it's obvious.
When you lose a frame, when you let someone one-up you, and when you let people verbally aggress and micro-aggress you and let them get away with it... It's not as obvious.

But over a lifetime, the lack of everyday life preparadeness prevents you from advancing in life, acquiring status, money, power, and even mates.

TOGETHER IS BETTER, BALANCING THEM OUT

Luckily, it's not a matter of "one VS the other".

To use time most effectively, my opinion is:

  1. Learn the basics: the basics, luckily, are simple, and overlap with social power dynamics. They include:
    • Personality recognition: who is most likely to be a mugger / threat (and leave behind the PC here)
    • Spatial awareness: where are you, who is around you
    • Physical power dynamics: are the people around you in a group? Potential accomplices, allies
    • Pre-attack indicators (largely body language, but also emotional intelligence like recognizing emotions in the words, anger, etc.)
    • General risk-mitigating behavior: this is actually your 90%, but we'll skip for brevity
  2. Choose one gun, then stop reading about it: for those who can carry guns, or at least keep one home, the best use of your time is to pick one gun to carry, and that's it. No more video reviews or gun magazines. Then, you can train on how to pull it quickly and visit the shooting range from time to time
  3. Choose one tool of self-defense: for those who can't or don't want to carry guns, choose another tool. For example, pepper spray. Learn how to use, keep it where it's easy to reach, and train from time to time on taking it out quickly and using it (there are pepper spray loaded with water for training)

Luckily, training martial arts is different than the above two, and can accomplish two things at once: staying in shape, and improving self-protection.
That's why I'd personally prioritize martial arts over the gym.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

In short: guy in black takes out a gun as a threat. Puts the gun away, and continues to aggress. Guy in orange draws his own gun surreptitiously, and kills him.

One thing not mentioned in the video:

  • Never show your leverage to later withdraw it

The guy in black takes out a submachine gun as a threat, and then puts it away.

Taking a gun out is showing your leverage.

He fully displays and advertises his power and willingness to potentially use it and harm the guy i norange.

But the moment he puts it away, his willingness to coerce and kill has been made clear -and reinforced by his aggressive behavior-, but his actual power is largely gone (the gun is away, taking much longer to draw again).

So if the other guy now has a tool himself, or if wants to attack, he might be more motivated to do so now that you put your leverage away, instead of less.

Which is exactly what happens.
Guy in orange doesn't do the same mistake: he knows that guy in black (indirectly) threatened to shoot, he has been bossed around enough... And now that guy in black doesn't have the same advantage of a drawn gun, he can get his revenge (and also protect himself, up to you which is which here).


SAME MISTAKE IN VERBAL / LEGAL POWER DYNAMICS

This remind me of a girl I was seeing some time ago.

She was tussling with an aggressive landlord threatening to kick her out.
The landlord was threatening illegal stuff, and I had advised her to record the call.

What did the lady do, instead?

She TOLD the landlord "I will record the call" -and she wasn't even recording!-

The landlord never acted out on the phone again, but got far more aggressive with his actions.

Similar mistake: she showed her weapon to get the small battle win and get that "power-high", but to only make it more likely she'd lose the war.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Adding to this thread with what I've learned so far:

How Chris Voss De-Escalates Physical Confrontations Using FBI Hostage Negotiation Strategies

Chris Voss might first start by giving his name, calmly and slowly saying something like, "I'm Chris, my name is Chris." That way, the aggressor knows that they're dealing with a human being (good for getting started on the road to building empathy).

Then, he might use a label that lowers or deactivates competitive emotions such as saying:

Voss: "It seems like you're upset."

Or, from one of his actual hostage negotiations:

Voss: "It seems like you want to stay safe."

That way, he can begin framing it as a collaborative effort to make sure they both stay safe by avoiding that confrontation.

And, he says these labels using his late-night FM DJ voice:

*Late-night FM DJ

“This voice is straightforward with a soothing, downward lilt.”

This way, he can do what's called "manipulating their mirror neurons":

“So, if you can see me or you can hear me, I can hit the mirror neurons in your brain. So, if I’m angry, I’m going to hit your mirror neurons [by behaving angrily such as yelling and shouting], you’re going to get angry too. It’s an involuntary response.”

You can also speak using the late-night FM DJ voice which is soothing, deep, and slow to hit their mirror neurons which will slow their brain down as an involuntary response to your slow, calm voice. If you use this technique to calm down your counterpart, it’s far more effective than trying to facilitate a change of mood from them by telling them to “just calm down”. And, that’s because “calm down” is an order, so they’re going to hate that (especially if they’re already upset). Instead, slow their brain down using the late-night FM DJ voice to calm them down.

My Thoughts On Chris Voss's Approach

That said, I'm not a huge fan of this approach. It feels like a way of handling the situation that's less powerful than it could be.

The label is meant to be said in a way that's deferential to draw out information that you can use to reframe for collaboration.

If you want to sound less submissive in the heat of the moment and decide to use a more fearless tone, saying "It seems like you're upset" can make you come across as a smart-ass.

TOGETHER IS BETTER, BALANCING THEM OUT

  1. Learn the basics: "the basics, luckily, are simple, and overlap with social power dynamics."I think that this is where Power University is also great for raising emotional awareness of these situation types.
  2. Choose one gun, then stop reading about it:In terms of preparation for sticky situations, I've always been a fan of retired US Navy Seal Clint Emerson's book 100 Deadly Skills. This is his usual carry for preparedness in less than ideal situations:I don't know if I'd go for the whole "loadout" personally. But, I am leaning toward the idea of having a small concealed carry inside my "thunderwear" underneath my pants for the very worst of situations.

    *Note: "BLUF" = Bottom Line Up Front

  3. Choose one tool of self-defense: You may have noticed above, but Emerson likes to keep a Microtech knife in his pocket for "just in case" situations.

Never show your leverage to later withdraw it

Yes, this reminds me of your note, Lucio, where you said something along the lines of: "people appreciate your handshake (friendliness) more when they know you have a gun in the drawer (you have the power to be unfriendly) underneath the desk."

And, albeit the video you posted doesn't seem to be working, this might have been a case where the other side also had the power to be equally unfriendly and didn't appreciate the initial threat.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Yes, this reminds me of your note, Lucio, where you said something along the lines of: "people appreciate your handshake (friendliness) more when they know you have a gun in the drawer (you have the power to be unfriendly) underneath the desk."

And, albeit the video you posted doesn't seem to be working, this might have been a case where the other side also had the power to be equally unfriendly and didn't appreciate the initial threat.

Yes, that line in PU was mostly metaphoric where "gun" meant general leverage including, but not limited, to coercive power -which, as well, might include a real-life gun in the drawer-.

In that video, the action of the guy in black was the equivalent of taking the gun out of the drawer, then putting it back in, and then keep on harassing the other person.

Sometimes it's a good move to flash a gun as an intimidation tool -for example, when you know you're dealing with someone who's not willing to risk his life and/or will retreat-.
But it's a risk, and you better know who you're dealing with -and what they're carrying and willing to use-.
When you're in the street locked in an ego battle though, it's a risk to intimidate first, and then take your power away.

More strategic options are to either keep your gun in, and stay at the verbal -or even physical- level, both of which are far safer, or take the gun out and keep it out until you're in the clear.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on March 1, 2021, 2:07 am

SAME MISTAKE IN VERBAL / LEGAL POWER DYNAMICS

This remind me of a girl I was seeing some time ago.

She was tussling with an aggressive landlord threatening to kick her out.
The landlord was threatening illegal stuff, and I had advised her to record the call.

What did the lady do, instead?

She TOLD the landlord "I will record the call" -and she wasn't even recording!-

The landlord never acted out on the phone again, but got far more aggressive with his actions.

Similar mistake: she showed her weapon to get the small battle win and get that "power-high", but to only make it more likely she'd lose the war.

This whole thread is very interesting.
I am thinking now that, to stop an aggressor whether physically or socially, you need to

  • have leverage and
  • be prepared to use that leverage.

You cannot always depend on assertiveness or verbal power dynamic skills.

In the case of threatening to record the call, it's a verbal threat without any real threat behind it.
There's no recording in the first place.
Now the landlord understands that she wants to fight back.
As such, he wants to get even more aggressive to gain the upper hand.

Never show your leverage to later withdraw it

I guess showing your leverage and withdrawing it later minimises your leverage and your willingness to use that leverage.
People think that you were displaying your leverage to aggress them, but now they understand that you do not have the personal power to utilise that leverage.

How to Verbally De-Escalate a Situation Where Someone May Get Violent?

More strategic options are to either keep your gun in, and stay at the verbal -or even physical- level, both of which are far safer, or take the gun out and keep it out until you're in the clear.

Verbally de-escalating would be the cleanest option though not always possible if the other is out for blood.

Ego

If it's a matter of ego for the aggressor, you can let him win the verbal argument.
And you can appease the person by taking on the blame and apologising.
I think it's important to not come across as too weak or submissive when doing this as well.
He may feel better but decide to continue with the aggression.

Money

Keep a fake wallet or some cash in other pockets.
If someone comes up to you to demand money with a knife, you can give him what he wants.

Should You Run?

I'm thinking about when it's safe to run and when it's a bad idea to run.
If the other person does not have a gun, running could be the best option.
If the aggressor draws a gun, running may be dangerous because he may decide to shoot you.

Sometimes standing your ground and staying at the verbal level would de-escalate the situation better than running.

Should You Fire A Warning Shot at the Sky?

If you draw a gun out against an aggressor, I was thinking of shooting a warning shot at the sky.
I think that this may be risky as the aggressor may panic and start attacking you.

Martial Arts Vs Going to the Gym

Luckily, training martial arts is different than the above two, and can accomplish two things at once: staying in shape, and improving self-protection.
That's why I'd personally prioritize martial arts over the gym.

This is coming from someone without any martial arts background.

Would being good at martial arts allow you to defend yourself against a physically stronger opponent?

I'm thinking whether increasing strength at the gym or practising martial arts would be a better use of time from a self-defence perspective.
Some of my friends tell me that it's important to do both.
It's a combination of strength, technique and skill.

Another consideration is perception.
Looking bigger would be a deterrent against assailants.

Money

Keep a fake wallet or some cash in other pockets.
If someone comes up to you to demand money with a knife, you can give him what he wants.

Yes, this is a popular technique and can often work.

Otherwise, in general, carry the cash you need + a card with a daily limit, and parting with pocket cash will never be a huge issue.

If you're in higher danger areas where ATM kidnapping can happen, link that card to an account where you only keep a few thousand.
Of course, that should be for shorter visits, as in general it's just much better to move the F out of places where ATM kidnappings are common: let them starve and move to a better place.

Another consideration is perception.
Looking bigger would be a deterrent against assailants.

Definitely true.

Yet, if you consider the time/reward, I'm skeptical about this approach.

To begin with, there is an upper limit that is not that high: size mostly helps with hand to hand, and is barely a factor in case of handgun muggings, or groups.

And the other issue is time: the bigger size you target, the more time you need in the gym until it becomes almost a job.

If size-deterrent is the goal, in my opinion, one is probably better off putting all that effort into business and then hiring a bodyguard, since business success comes with a lot more perks and pluses.

This is just a self-defense consideration of course, if one enjoys the gym for personal enjoyment, then, great.

Matthew Whitewood and Transitioned have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodTransitioned
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Of all the analysis that went into that self-defense / gunfight, the overarching strategy and life-approach was missing -and was amiss, in my opinion-.

This is the original title:

MetroPCS Employee Absolutely Saves The Day

This is the different interpretation from a more positively cynic, as well as more life-effective point of view:

MetroPCS Employee Gets Shot At and RISKS His Life, to Defend Someone Else's Low-Value Property (That Was Likely Insured)

Unluckily, albeit that employee's reaction might have been heroic by some standard, it's also not the type of attitude and mindset that leads to life's success.

That mindset makes you a good employee, maybe a loyal defender (of other people's property and well-being).
But it doesn't make you effective in achieving success in life.

And this is not to bash heroism.

Even if you want to pursue heroism, which is a great value, you gotta be more strategic in life about when, where, for whom, and for what you put your life at risk.
Putting your life at risk for some crummy cellphone and a meager half day's proceeds is just nonsense. You're really selling your heroism short.

And if your goal in life is to change the world for the better, than you really can't afford to risk your life for some dollars, because the bigger your goals, the more your life is worth.

In this case, there weren't even upsides to the risk.

Even after that employee "won", he didn't win anything.
And if his last shot at the fleeing robber hit the target -which the commenter forget to mention or didn't notice-, he would have lost a lot of money in legal defense.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on March 2, 2021, 9:02 am

MetroPCS Employee Absolutely Saves The Day

This is the different interpretation from a more positively cynic, as well as more life-effective point of view:

MetroPCS Employee Gets Shot At and RISKS His Life, to Defend Someone Else's Low-Value Property (That Was Likely Insured)

Unluckily, albeit that employee's reaction might have been heroic by some standard, it's also not the type of attitude and mindset that leads to life's success.

That mindset makes you a good employee, maybe a loyal defender (of other people's property and well-being).
But it doesn't make you effective in achieving success in life.

I was thinking that we can use some of the de-escalation techniques in Power University in the physical threat module.

Would it be too dangerous to use some of these techniques?

Ignore the Power Differential and Tell A Story

Robber: (Pulls out the gun)

You: That gun really reminds me of my grandfather.
A real fun guy.
We used to grow up on the ranch and have these types of gun.
Really miss him.

Frame Buffet: Choose What to Reply To

I think this is a bad idea but exploring this technique over here:

Robber: (Pulls out the gun)

You: (Laughs) That is very rude of you.
How did you get the gun?

It may shock the robber for a while and buy time to press the panic button & let the cops come.

"Give them power over you + Shaming" Technique

For example,

Robber: (Pulls out the gun)

You: You can pull the gun out, shoot me and kill me.
Would that be worth it just for a day's worth of money?

I think the risk is that the robber may get aggravated further.
Or if it's a truly violent criminal, he may shoot you or your arm to prove a point.

Choose humiliation over brawl & Give them the feeling of power

Or should the employee choose to "lose" the battle in this case?
Let the owner deal with the situation.
Maybe press the panic button and give the robber whatever he wants.

Choose humiliation over brawl & Give them the feeling of power

Would you personally feel humiliated to let a mugger take the money in the cash register?

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
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