“A coin collector and Sherlock Holmes fan, Snigdha Nandipati [not shown] aced the word ‘guetapens,’ a French-derived word that means an ambush or a trap, to outlast eight other finalists and claim the trophy along with more than $40,000 in cash and prizes.” You can read more about Miss Snigda’s triumph at csmonitor.com. Meanwhile, I’d like to address the fatiferousness of guetapens, and how they can be avoided, starting with the simple fact that anyone who intends to do you harm will prepare to do you harm and, most likely, set a trap to do it . . .

Why would’t they? Criminals may be stupid but they’re not dumb. If nothing else, they instinctively survive according to the law of the jungle. Regulation One: predators get their prey through speed, surprise and violence of action. And if the perp is too whacked-out to do anything quickly, and too drugged-up to act violently, they will still depend on the element of surprise.

While much ado is made of situational awareness, most armed citizens doing the “head on a swivel thing” are looking at people. Scanning them for physical clues (dress, demeanor, posture, etc.) to see if the stranger(s) want to do them arm. Nothing wrong with that but . . .

How’s this for a piercing glimpse into the obvious: your assailant will hide. A perp who plans on an attack (best practice from their POV) will find a place where you can’t see them but they can see you. Or nearasdammit. A corner of a building. A bush. Behind a car.

Surprise! Guetapens. Ambush. So here are three ways not to be taken unawares and, thus, lose any hope of a strategic advantage.

1. Stay away from potential ambush locations

It’s a variation of ye olde “Avoid stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things.” Avoid places where perps predate.

At nighttime, why would you go through a public park when you could stick to the street with lighting and traffic? Cut through an alley? I don’t think so. When you’re going to the bathroom at a rowdy club, use a locked stall (better than a urinal).

Im not recommending agoraphobia or encouraging shy bladders. But I am saying you should think like a perp. Where would YOU hide if you were going to attack someone? If you have a choice, don’t go there. If you go there, go carefully.

2. Pie public spaces

Just as you might “pie” a room during a bump in the night scenario (“move in a determined and continuous arc or line around the entryway with the weapon at, or close to, eye level. As you move in the arc or line ‘pie shaped’ slices are revealed to you and threats assessed and eliminated” – thefireingline.com), “pie” entrances to public places. A slight detour can be the difference between life and death.

3. Scan places, not just people

If you see a foot poking out from a corner at a time or place that gives you pause, give that corner wide berth. Or, indeed, cross the street. Or turn around. If you’re in a parking garage, look for perp bits peeking out from behind surrounding vehicles. If you have the choice, park away from other vehicles. Or near an exit. Or both.

Don’t let familiarity shelter criminal contempt—especially when approaching your home or office.

It’s worth repeating: there is no such thing as a random attack. It may random for you, the victim. You may have been chosen at random. But an attack is, by it’s nature, intentional. Be ready.

 

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47 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Three Ways to Avoid Guetapens

  1. I’ve been taking classes in Krav Maga, which for those who may not be aware is the Israeli martial art which is all about street fighting and taking bad guys down with overwhelming force and violent kicks to the balls. Most of the instructors are really big on situational awareness, always being aware of where you are, whose around you, what people are doing, and how you are conducting yourself. One thing that I’ve taken to heart is to always be looking around you and letting people know that you are aware of them. No, not staring people down or being aggressive in any way, just take a look and take note of where they are, what they are doing and how they are behaving. A good reason to let people see that you are looking around and are aware of your surroundings is that MOST bad guys aren’t going to try and mug/attack/rape/tickle the person that is obviously aware of them and keeping tabs on them. They are more than likely going to go after the person walking around with their hands in their pocket with a thousand yard stare directed at the pavement. In other words, DON’T LOOK LIKE A VICTIM. Don’t try and look like a hard ass, but make it clear you are not easy prey. That alone can keep you out of some nasty situations.

    I’m no bad ass Krav master by any stretch of the imagination, I’m just a humble beginner, but would highly recommend that anyone who is serious about self defense and has a Krav school in their area check it out. Or any practical martial arts training in any form IMHO. It can go along way because it can give you some kind of game plan and the instincts necessary to react when fists start flying. Krav Maga IMO is a good option for gun enthusiast because it seems like a high percentage of Krav Instructors and students are like minded and conceal carry. Actually the Krav gym I go to does offer conceal carry classes.

    • Thanks for the information. That sounds like a really cool discipline. I am going to look into it.

    • Here is a really compelling reason for some minimal level of martial arts training. Armed citizens who carry openly cannot walk around with handgun in hand. (It must be in a holster in plain view.) Normally, armed concealed carriers cannot walk around with gun in hand either. (You could have your hand on a subcompact handgun in a coat pocket but how often does that apply?) And yet we are regularly very close to strangers who could conceivably be criminals deciding whether or not to attack us. That means a criminal can and will often get the drop on us. In those pretty much unavoidable situations, your best first move could very well be a strike with your hands or feet. That first strike would then enable you to draw your handgun if necessary to end the encounter.

      The rationale is simple. I can strike a criminal in the face or neck with my hand in less than 1/4 second. Drawing a pistol would often take at least 1 second and quite often more like 1 1/2 seconds. A good first strike to the criminal will often stun them (literally incapacitate them) for about 1 second or so buying you time to draw your handgun.

      This is a good backup plan if your efforts to avoid an ambush come up short.

      • depends on what kind of shoes your wearing lol. fluffy pink bunny slippers? Then its just a hilarious kick to the balls.

    • I wish there was a Krav Maga school where I live so I could check it out. From what I’ve read it looks interesting, particularly since it acknowledges the advantages of carrying.
      OTOH my rule of thumb is if you’re really practicing self-defense you should be wearing street clothes, not some kind of karate suit.

  2. You’re really losing it, Robert. Preparing for random violence is not enough, now it’s people who are setting traps for you.

    The vastness of your readership ensures that much harm is done with this nonsense.

    Congratulations.

    • How is maintaining situational awareness harmful to anyone? And while you’re not answering that one, define “random” violence.

      • “random violence” apposed to “someone ambushing you” should be obvious, unless you’re just playing hard to get.

        The harm it does is that you and your followers are doing it so hard, the situational awareness thing, that some of you see problems where none exist. In the absolute worst case, you come out with the gun unnecessarily, and in the even worse case you shoot someone you don’t need to.

        But, never fear, you have good advice for those guys too, don’t you?

        • [“random violence” as opposed to “someone ambushing you” should be obvious]
          Not really. The criminal isn’t setting an ambush for me personally, it’s for whoever comes along. It’s still “random violence” even if I’m the one that comes along.

        • That’s fair enough, Larry. So, be prepared, every moment. Never take you eye off the ball, not for a second. That’s what Robert preaches. If you’re lucky and that one in 10,000 thing actually happens to you, you MIGHT be able to defend yourself.

          Meantime, were you able to enjoy your life, be a husband and a father, really be present for your loved ones? No, you weren’t. You were too busy defending them from phantoms.

          And, were you able to avoid negligent incidents handling guns every day like that? Were you able to avoid having any guns stolen from you since you had to keep them available at all times? Did your gun ownership have NO downside at all?

        • I have been. Situational awareness becomes habit pretty quickly.

          I have had one Negligent Discharge (defined as a bullet leaving the barrel unexpectedly), and that was at a range, pointed down range, while clearing the weapon. Uncontrolled range, full berms between me and the next lane.

          I have never had a gun stolen from me, nor have I lost one.

          My gun ownership has brought me quite a bit of entertainment at the range and given me the knowledge that I can defend myself and my family if I’m forced to.

        • Here’s the wishful thinking fantasy part.

          “the knowledge that I can defend myself and my family if I’m forced to.”

          If you ever find yourself in that situation, you’d have to be lucky to be in exactly the right place at the right time, and then MAYBE you’ll be able to protect yourself and your family. Chances are you won’t be able to, depending on how it goes down.

        • Mike, I said “Can Defend” I did not say “Can Defend Successfully.”

          If I get killed trying to defend myself and my family with the best tools I have at my disposal, so be it. It’s much better than getting killed without being able to put up an effective fight.

        • Keep spinning it, Dan. You live in a fantasy world which says I’m a bad mother fucker and you better not fuck with me.

          Owning and carrying a gun puts you and your family in more danger not less. Your bias won’t let you even consider such a thing, though, will it?

        • No, my training and experience vs. the environment I live in is why I am safer armed than unarmed. Perhaps if I lived in Utah or New Hampshire I would be as safe unarmed but not in most areas of the U.S.. Training changes the dynamic in my favor, you just cannot see how this works so choose not to believe it.

          You assume more gun ownership equates to more crime, more gun accidents, and more gun deaths and a given. Many people take this as “common sense”. The opposite has been proven if you give any credence to the FBI crime stats.

          It is difficult for people who hate guns and have always discounted the idea that the second amendment secured and individual right but the decision is in… and it does. A base concept of Supreme Court Justices is the importance of precedent. It is not weakened by the fact the two decisions were relatively recent. If a hundred years went by with no related decisions based on the second amendment it might, might, be tempting for the court to consider a redo.

          For SCOTUS to overturn these two decisions sooner would require a huge departure from precedent which would greatly weaken the power of the court. This power is not the power to judge the past or affect the present, it is the power to change the future. If decisions can be nullified by the next group, this power is largely gone and it is the power treasured most by the court. This is why Heller and McDonald are settled law Mike.

        • Yeah, “settled law” for now. Let’s see what happens when the balance on the Supreme Court changes. I think we could have a day in the US when you guys are see as the fanatics you are and gun appreciation peaks out and wanes. I’m giving it four more years then I’m either gonna switch sides or start blogging about cats.

        • “Owning and carrying a gun puts you and your family in more danger not less. Your bias won’t let you even consider such a thing, though, will it?”

          Mike, Can you present any evidence that says that Owning a gun puts me or my family in danger? Or does your bias not let you even consider such a radical notion as evidence.

          Also, if you would be so kind to not dodge questions, tell me how gun control will prevent enough murders to tip the balance that says governments kill more of their citizens in Genocides than Murderer’s ever will.

          Mike, when you can give us 155million lives saved through gun control over a Century, you might start making headway.

          (There were 180million disarmed people killed in the last century in Genocides perpetrated by their governments. With some over the top estimates to make sure I vastly overestimate the number killed by Murder using firearms, there were 25million people killed by criminals with guns. With some over the top estimates to make sure I vastly overestimate the number of people likely to be killed by criminals with guns in the next century, there will be 144million people killed by criminals with guns in the next century. Genocide, which kills disarmed people, killed more people in one century than normal criminal murder can kill in two.)

          http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2012/06/robert-farago/why-indifference-to-gun-rights-is-a-crime/#comment-287931

        • There’s plenty of evidence, some of which I have presented. You just don’t like it. So, what you do is keep asking me if I have any evidence as if I never do. And you keep repeating that I dodge questions. Meanwhile, you proffer your repetitious and nonsensical questions as evidence of debunking.

        • Mike, the only piece of evidence you have ever provided is the fact that the US has a higher Murder rate than the UK. You failed to prove WHY that is.

          Show me evidence that owning a gun makes you less safe. Show me statistical evidence of that, and I’ll shut up.

        • Oh, and Mike, I don’t have to offer evidence to debunk your points (even though I regularly do) because you fail to provide evidence to back them up in the first place.

          If I say “The Moon is made out of Green Cheese” the onus is not on you to go to the Moon and prove otherwise. The onus is on ME to show why the Moon is made out of Green Cheese.

        • Mike, the Constitutional issues surrounding armed self defense were settled around 150 years ago in several precedents which have yet to be overturned.

          The trend in Supreme Court cases involving gun control has been to overturn the Gun Control law.

          Gun ownership is once again on the rise after being stagnant for some years.

          Somehow I don’t think 1/6th of Americans (1/5th of adults) will be labeled as fanatics anytime soon.

    • Mike, when you are driving do you ever use your mirrors to look at the lanes around you? Or do you just drive without considering the other cars on the road?

      • I consider my surroundings, not only when driving, but in a calm manner. I’m afraid many of Farago’s disciples cannot achieve that, they’re too keyed up. Those are the dangerous ones.

        Reasonable precautions, that’s what’s needed, not carrying a gun everywhere every moment and continually scanning the area for ambushes and booby traps.

        • I totally agree with Mike B. on reasonable precautions.
          My reasonable precautions are a loaded .357 snubbie or Glock .40 cal, a leatherman MUT multitool, cell phone, situational awareness, and warrior mindset.

          God Bless us, every one!

        • You’re in Italy. Why would you be afraid of anything? You have the strict gun laws you want.

  3. Mike B, if your fine with waiting 20 minutes for the police to show up after someone beat the snot out of you to take your wallet, watch, shoes and the shirt off your back that’s your right. I’m sure the police and EMT’s will be very sympathetic. You can say that never happens, but I know people it has happened to, and I am really not wanting that to happen to me. It’s my right to acknowledge that the world is not perfect, some people are crazy, angry and dangerous. While you will say its me that is, anyways you don’t know anything about me, it’s really a guy like me who will help you when that bad guy see’s you in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the police are no where to found. You don’t like that, that’s fine, I don’t expect all sheep to like the sheep dog.

    • BTW, we were advocating considering your surroundings in a “calm manner.” Not going a recon mission with a AR-15 to get a gallon of milk for my sons cereal like your making it sound.

        • I felt like Mr. Farago’s comments as well as mine, were advocating the use of street smarts to avoid potential violent situations. Situations that might result in the justified use of deadly force. I don’t see why your upset with this. I think you took away something different from the article than I did. It’s good advice whether you carry or not.

    • Have a gun in the house if there’s any reasonable chance of a home invasion, but carrying it with you at all times, because “you never know,” to me is a bit over the top.

      Even concealed carry is fine with me, but only if there’s a reasonable concern that you might need it. The ATM service man, yes, the suburban dad going to soccer practice, no.

      It depends on your definition of reasonable. But, since that can vary so much, I want you to be screened thoroughly and tested. Allowing any idiot to carry a concealed weapon, like your recent friend in Seattle, is wrong.

      • What if the suburban dad stops at an ATM on his way to or from the soccer game? Or perhaps the local “stop & rob” convenience store? Criminals don’t publish their schedule so “reasonable” people can be out of the way while they work.

      • Mike, the advent of shall issue concealed carry has resulted in only a minor amount of the population being armed. The heaviest amount of concealed carry is estimated to be near three percent. The result however has been wonderful. Criminals no longer can assume victims are unarmed which changes the dynamic of their occupation. The chance of getting killed is harder to calculate for the thug thereby causing many to pass on the attack. Criminals are shifting from muggings, assaults, and home invasions to property crimes. Even those are harder to succeed at with surveillance cameras and Low Jack type tracking systems but generally stealing (without a B&E) won’t get ya killed. The bottom line, Mike, is that if you live in a state with shall issue carry permits you have had a reduction in serious crime and you owe a thank you to the three percent. Oh, and you are welcome.

      • Yes, it could be anywhere at any time. And even if the chances of it happening are more or less like a meteorite striking, you still have to be READY, because the consequences are potentially so severe.

        And it’s not just random shit you have to worry about, THEY could be setting up an ambush for you right now.

        • Funny you should mention meteorites. Earlier you wrote about “random violence” which caused me to try to think of an example. Yep. Getting struck by a meteorite would truly be “random violence”. From what I have seen almost all violence is intended.

  4. A few months ago an interesting incident happened at a gas station in Memphis. A gentleman pulled past the pumps so he could fill his rear tank. Since his driver’s door was in the open and not blocked by a pump, a criminal decided this was his opportunity to jack the man’s ride. The thug yanked the driver out and threw him on the concrete. Jumping in, he kept moving his right hand in a downward motion trying to find the gear shift handle. Seems someone forgot to teach the punk about manual transmissions. He looked to his left, out the still open door, to be greeted by a .45 1911. Evidently the gentleman did not want to splatter his truck interior. He was content to hold the fellow for the police. The station donated air fresheners.

  5. In one way, Mike is right. Those of us that choose to be observant of our surroundings and use caution as to where and when we go to certain places, may never have an encounter with “random” violence BECAUSE of the vigilance they used. But those that wander thru life thinking that they have no worries because an attack is as rare as a meteor falling on them, totally clueless about the risks they are taking by walking down that alley, or in the bad part of town after dark risk having 80% of their face eaten off their head like that poor fella in Florida. Which one do I want to be? Sorry Mike, but I’ll keep aware of my surroundings and hopefully keep my face.

    • Isn’t there a middle ground between those two?

      You guys always have to exaggerate to make your point.

      I choose to be in the middle ground, no gun needed, careful of where I go and reasonably aware of my surroundings. And I’m not spending my precious life fantasizing about imaginary battles.

      • Sure there is. But there are some fights that you can’t avoid. Some fights that there’s a moral imperative to wade into. Why not enter them with more options than less?

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