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Thread: The most important skill in personal protection is...

  1. #1
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    Default The most important skill in personal protection is...

    Observation!

    One must be in the proper mindset at all times to be observant of the surroundings. This is easier said than done. I feel that one of the benefits of Japanese martial art training is the development of focused observation.

    Learn to read your enviroment. This is more difficult while in a moving vehicle. You literally only have a second to see something or someone and determine its threat status.

    One common threat on the streets is drivers using cell phones. They only have one hand on the wheel, and their attention is often not directed to the road. They are driving reactively, not pro actively.

    Then there is trusting your gut feeling.

    One of the best ways to learn observation skills is to watch other people as they go through their daily activities. Watch them in the parking lot as they get in their vehicle. Watch them walking down the street, etc. Guess what, this is what the bad guys do when they want to pick a victim!
    John Lindsey

    Oderint, dum metuant-Let them hate, so long as they fear.

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    Another very useful skill I feel is the ability to make one self inconspicuous. The classic image of the massive bodyguards in their shades is just so wrong. It is better to blend in with your surroundings and be ready to act rather then projecting yourself as a target and praying...
    Keep to the way of the warrior

    Mc'pherson Lee

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Mc'pherson
    ...The classic image of the massive bodyguards in their shades is just so wrong.
    It depends on the time, place, and situation.

    Sometimes being "high profile" is required, sometimes it's not. (Oh, and the reason we often wear "shades" is so that if we have to run into a dark building we don't have to wait for our eyes to adjust.)

    It is better to...be ready to act rather then projecting yourself as a target and praying...
    I'll agree with that.

    I also agree with John, that the most important skill is awareness: situational awareness, and SELF awareness.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    Surely the big guys with the shades are the omote bodyguards...
    Josh Reyer

    Swa sceal man don, žonne he ęt guše gengan ženceš longsumne lof, na ymb his lif cearaš. - The Beowulf Poet

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    High profile is useful when wanting a visble presence to deter .cClebrity close protection for example . But in an enviroment such as Iraq or Afganistan were leathal force against the client is the norm. I would opt for low vis. and make use of existing security forces in the event of not having a covert option. Of course it all depends and any good close protection proffesional should be able to adapt to the situation.

    P.S.
    omote bodyguards LOL
    Keep to the way of the warrior

    Mc'pherson Lee

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    Yeah, those contractors sure are inconspicuous...

    I think Brian hit the nail on the head. Its a matter of time, place and mission. What John is doing is different than say, protecting one of Joint Chiefs in a law enforcement capacity, which is still different than say, protecting a member of a foreign government a) during their very public speeches on controversial topics and b) later that evening when they decide to go out for drinks or shoe shopping.

    A security detail has to adapt to the situation.

    Now, on a day to day living and civilian basis, becoming a "Gray Man" has many advantages. This is a common problem with police officers who still affect police garb when they are off duty. As well as with police trainers and the like who are non-police but seem to feel the need to "look the part" by decking out in 5.11, tan boots, and Oakley sunglasses everywhere they go. Then the Police T-shirts, fanny packs, tactical style boots, and the like are huge flags to garden variety bad guys, to others who are in the same "profession," and to what would be your worst nightmare, the bad guys who are trained.

    Haircut, build, and carriage are also red flags to a lot of folks.

    On TPI we had an interesting discussion regarding the new "off duty" look that seems to be growing among armed professionals of sturdy hiking shoes/boots, jeans, and a button down shirt. Even "going Gray" ain't so gray sometimes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hissho
    On TPI we had an interesting discussion regarding the new "off duty" look that seems to be growing among armed professionals of sturdy hiking shoes/boots, jeans, and a button down shirt. Even "going Gray" ain't so gray sometimes.
    Kit,
    You've just described the professional uniform of us landscape/horticultural professionals.
    Although, we also wear polo shirts.
    Cady Goldfield

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    LOL, I wear a polo shirt in my desk job now!

    I always pictured horticulturalists with a ratty T shirt with an environmentally friendly slogan, shorts, and thick socks rolled up at the boot tops.

    But since that isn't the case, don't be surprised if some operator guy looks askance at you in the check out line, Cady.

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    When you are observing around you, it can be overt or covert. Maybe you want to let the scum bags know that you are watching them. Or, you may want to observe the threat, but not show your hand just yet till you are in a better situation.

    To do it overtly, stop and turn your head around in all directions. Keep your head and body erect in a "power" posture. People seeing this will know that you are looking for something.

    To do it Covertly, the key is not to turn your head, but rather your body. You want to think about clearing zones as you move. For instance, as you get out of a car, face to the rear and clear in that direction, then turn your body clockwise and continue to clear as you close the door. Or, you exit a building and clear in one direction, then change your path to be able to clear the others. Sunglasses work well for this. So does aikijujutsu.
    John Lindsey

    Oderint, dum metuant-Let them hate, so long as they fear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Lindsey
    Observation!

    ........I feel that one of the benefits of Japanese martial art training is the development of focused observation.

    .......One common threat on the streets is drivers using cell phones. They only have one hand on the wheel, and their attention is often not directed to the road. They are driving reactively, not pro actively.

    A few months ago, I was driving on the interstate to the airport. As I'm passing an SUV I noticed that the driver was talking on his cell phone, with his left hand making his blind spot even bigger than normal. Just as I'm on his blind spot he decides to change lanes. I tapped the brakes and moved to my left as well, to give me enough space and time to get out of the way; I did not have enough time to honk the horn. Unfortunately, the was a small curb to my left and as my left front tire hits it, my vehicle started skidding. I'm used to driving in the snow and losing traction, so I recovered almost instantly, but the noise that my tires made scared the other drive, who had not seen me up to that point. He panics, swerves to the right a little to much, his SUV tilts to the left, so he swerves to the left, over turning too much again, and ends up at a right angle to the traffic, with me in between his SUV and the wall divider. I relize that he's about to pin me against the wall, so I hit the brakes and see him go by me right in front of the vehicle. His car hits the wall, shattering and deploying every air bag in the car. Now, all of this took probably less than two seconds, and we were doing about 75mph.
    The first thing I did the next time I saw my Sensei was thank him for his training because I believe that it gave me enough situational awareness to react properly, not panic, and not get fixated on a signle vehicle, but see the entire picture and be able to maneuver to a safe spot. Also, I was pretty surprised that after the accident I did not get any adrenaline dump, which I was expecting.
    I always keep phone conversations to a minimum while driving and I hate using bluetooth earpieces, but ever since, whenever I'm driving I wear one. I don't want to be the idiot that kills someone because I was too distracted on the phone.
    Jose Navarro

    Hakuhoryu Aikibudo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hissho
    I always pictured horticulturalists with a ratty T shirt with an environmentally friendly slogan, shorts, and thick socks rolled up at the boot tops.
    That's what the laborers wear if they're college students hired for the summer. The landscape architect, designer, or horticulturist (I'm the latter two) have to have a neater, more professional look. A lot of 'em have the obligatory cell or Blackberry hooked to the belt (quality oiled leather with brass buckle or, for the extroverts, a big silver-and-turquoise Navajo/Hopi buckle).

    But since that isn't the case, don't be surprised if some operator guy looks askance at you in the check out line, Cady.
    Once I learn some of the cool tricks John is sharing, I might be able to have some fun messing with their minds. Or, maybe I should have a dual career. I'll save money on the wardrobe.

    Back to the topic, it is amazing how many things people do while driving and still manage to stay on the road. Not just talking on cell phones, but shaving or applying makeup, eating/drinking, looking at their GPS in addition to any or all of the above activities... I've even seen guys typing away on their laptops and reading newspapers or othe stuff while also talking on the phone. Yeesh.

    They may think they are multitasking, but the brain is not set up to handle more than one complex task at a time while also overseeing the autonomic activities (heart, breathing, etc.). The level of awareness must be close to nothing, and it would explain the increasing number of near accidents I spot almost every day. Do these people forget that they are in a moving vehicle that THEY are supposed to be controlling?

    Observation skills are necessary not just when driving. What about environmental-situational awareness? In my neighborhood, a quiet side street in a small city with a "typical" crime rate (always at least several daily "incidents" that require police intervention), the residents instinctively note the coming and going of vehicles and pedestrians, and notice familiar patterns and routines to the point where they are aware of changes in their neighbors' daily patterns and are also quick to note the presense of unfamiliar vehicles and individuals.

    On the other hand, there are affluent communities in my area where, because they are rural and the McMansions separated by lots of wooded privacy, the residents are oblivious to their neighbors and wouldn't know a resident from a stranger. equate that with "far from crime." Lately, the police blotter in the area newspaper has reported dozens of burglaries where expensive vehicles were left unlocked, sometimes with the key in the ignition, and the car stuffed with goodies: laptops, GPS, wallets, money...

    What's weird, is that even after the first rash of thefts, nobody in neighboring affluent towns seems to have learned from this and taken precautions. There has been one burglary after another, all from vehicles containing valuables. Some were locked, but the burglars broke the windshields of course. And still, the reports are in the news daily. What's with those home/car owners? As clueless as the cell-phone-yakking drivers.
    Cady Goldfield

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    I think a key point in awareness, and one which may speak to the issue Cady mentions, is that it is an active process, not a passive one.

    It is a state of being or a way of life, really. Training and conditioning oneself to be aware begins with a lot of hard work and experience - learning to trust your gut as John notes, without becoming hyper-vigilant.

    For many people, the training process is the opposite - they are trained by their way of life to NOT be aware, and in fact, to dismiss their intuition, warning bells, and even blatant red flags in an effort to appear more socially accepting, more "diverse," or what have you... the end result is often shock and dismay and a realization that one actually ignored or dismissed their gut reaction which was screaming "danger" at them.

    Many rape and assault victims will tell you the same. Others can't tell us, because the price of ignoring training their awareness and ignoring their gut reactions left them dead.

    Here is a link to an old Aikido Journal blog that very much demonstrates this problem:

    http://www.aikidojournal.com/index?id=3357

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    "The gift of Fear" by Gavin De Becker discusses precisely what you're talking about. I believe it's been discussed on e-budo before, but I can't seem to find the thread. I highly recommend it.
    Jose Navarro

    Hakuhoryu Aikibudo

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    Talking

    Observation? Awarness? Anyone here drive a motorbike?
    Keep to the way of the warrior

    Mc'pherson Lee

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    There was a local news report about a Chicago city alderman who voted in favor of Chicago's ban on using cell phones while driving. He recently received a traffic ticket for talking on his cell phone while driving in his own precinct.

    What a moron.

    Nowadays if I see the driver of a vehicle near me talking on their cell phone I give them a wide berth. I've had too many close calls like the one Jose described. I've had them where I did have time to honk my horn and the other driver STILL didn't take notice.

    I used to work for a guy who was notorious for talking on his cell phone while driving. Being a passenger in his car was always dicey. Then one day he got a Blackberry! Talk about frightening. Fortunately for me I got a new job shortly thereafter.

    Awareness and body language are always so important in regards to self defense. Does anyone remember when so many tourists were getting pick-pocketed and mugged in NYC because they showed their lack of awareness by walking around Manhatten looking up at the skyscrapers?
    Robert Cronin

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