“What would you do if…”

How often have you seen the phrase “What would you do if…” in a defensive tactics forum, shooting forum, or martial arts forum?  I’m pretty sure your answer is “pretty often.”

How many times have you seen people immediately give specific, detailed answers about how they would competently handle the threat/attacker/situation?

Unfortunately, I bet the answer to that is also “pretty often.”

Why is that unfortunate?  Because most of those “what if” questions give few details, and as such, there is no way to give a definitive, solid answer.  Which means that all of the people who did so either 1) added lots and lots of details in their own minds to an open-ended question so that they could give an answer where they could use their skills (making me wonder how realistic they are in terms of their own skills) or 2) don’t know what they are talking about in terms of actual self-defense.

Or most likely both 1 and 2.

Self-defense, as a concept, is very straightforward.  Self-defense, as a set of principles, is very simple.  Self-defense, as a set of techniques, is very basic.

Self-defense, as a set of choices in an unknown situation, is extremely variable.  Yes, there are a few situations in which your reactions should be cut-and-dried.  (Example:  someone tries to force you into a car to take you someplace different.  This is a “fight immediately” trigger.)  However, most situations are highly dependent on a large number of variables.

Some basic modifiers (and in this case, confounders) with regard to decision-making:

1) are you alone, or is there someone else with you, like a spouse or a dependent?
2) what routes of egress are there in the given situation?
3) what level of threat is being presented?
4) is the threat presented directly, or indirectly (to a group including you, as opposed to specifically at you)?
5) what level of force is being presented?  (not only for legal use of force responses, but also for decisions on reaction type based on threat level)
6) what physical condition are you in?
7) what encumbrances do you have?  (are your arms full?)
8) how immediate is the threat?
9) what defensive tools are available to you?  (not merely what are you carrying, but what are the surroundings like?)
10) what is the nature of the threat to you?  (junkie in withdrawal needing juice now versus a gang of teenagers out for a “lark” versus drunken ex-boyfriend—even if they all have the same weapons, that doesn’t mean your reaction is going to be the  same for each case, particularly due to the type of actions they will present.)

….this list could go on and on and on.

Which is why it is so important to have a solid understanding of the concept of self-defense.  And a clear set of self-defense principles.  And a good, practiced set of broad-based techniques.  Because if you have those, often the choices you will need to make will be clear.  However, if you aren’t “at that time,” the chances that a random question on a discussion forum will have enough details to make said choices obvious is—-small.

And if you think the answer to “What would you do if you are being mugged?” is “I’m going to explode off the X while acquiring my firearm and shooting them to the ground until the threat is stopped, then check my 360 after which I’ll tac-load to survive this dynamic critical incident”  —-then you REALLY need to go to to a class that teaches you about realistic self-defense.

Recently, MissMichella over on the NFOA forums (in this thread:  http://nebraskafirearms.org/forum/index.php/topic,10374.msg72925.html#msg72925 ) asked the following three questions:

1.  If you were in a business and someone was committing armed robbery, what would you do?
2.  If you were told to get in a stranger’s vehicle…and you could tell they had some evil intentions, what would you do?
3.  If you were mugged while armed, what would you do?

I was extremely glad to see that with the exception of question #2, most people’s answers were effectively “it depends.”  In the cases where people gave more specific answers, they almost always carefully added specifics of details that affected their decisions—but still left it mostly open-ended with a “it depends” tacked to the end.

As for me:  If I were in a business and someone was committing armed robbery, what would I do?

Depends.  Is it my business?  How many other people are in the store?  How many armed robbers are there?  Is there anyone with me?  Is the armed robber paying attention to only the cashier?  Is the armed robber actually pointing the weapon at anyone?  Have they already shot someone?  Have they threatened to kill anyone more than “give me the money?”    Can I simply slip out the back/side/front doors?  What are my egress points?  Is there any cover near?  Are the robbers paying any attention to me?  Who is in the line of fire?  Where will misses go (from either side)?  Is the cashier simply going to hand over the money, and the robbers are fairly calm and might just leave?  Am I being directly threatened?  Is my life in immediate danger?  If the cashier doesn’t pay, will my life move to being in immediate danger?  How am I armed?  What weapons are available?  How much attention are they paying specifically to me, and how much time would I have to access and use a weapon?  Can I just leave?  Move away from the situation?

Give me a specific situation, and I’ll answer the question—because discussing choices about these things IS important.  (And that’s why I think that scenario training is so important when learning self-defense.)

But only ask me a short question like the above, and I’ll need more details before I’ll be able to say anything.  And if YOU think you can answer the above question with a simple “I’ll just do THIS!” answer, you really need to take some different self-defense training.