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If you want to avoid/survive a violent attack, situational awareness may not be enough. Humans simply aren’t wired to maintain maximum vigilance every waking moment of their lives, even in war zones. Out and about in your regular haunts? At some point, you will let your guard down. But wait, there’s more! Whether or not you see an assault coming, your attacker has the first mover advantage. In other words, there’s a good chance they’ll get the jump on you. That you will be “behind the curve.” That you may find yourself just a fraction of a moment away from a close encounter with a gun/knife/baseball bat/fist/etc. Or outnumbered. Or surrounded. Or all of the above. Which pretty much leaves you with two options  . . .

1. Capitulate

Despite the video above—where bad guys are shooting people who hand over their valuables—do not discount the option of doing what you’re told. There are times when a self-defense firearm or close quarters combat skills may do you no good whatsoever.

Let’s say someone has a knife to the throat of your daughter. John McClane that? Uh . . . What about a gun pressed against your kidney? Krav Maga warriors are good to go. Unfortunately, those skills aren’t on my resume.

Remember: survival is the goal. If you and yours survive, you win. If you survive without physical or mental injury, even better. There is nothing you own that’s worth dying for. Just thought I’d mention that.

Equally, think of capitulation as a temporary strategy. You can always go from not fighting to fighting. Even as you “pretend” to capitulate, you should prepare for an opportunity to attack. Constantly assess whether the odds favor aggression rather than submission.

Things change. Say you’re in a Stop ‘N Rob. A guy with a gun comes to hold up the store. If you can stay out of it, result! If the robber or robbers start flashing their gun around, threatening customers and/or begin to move people to the back room, it’s go time. No matter what.

2. Fight!

If you’re willing to risk your life to fight a bad guy because you’re unwilling to acquiesce (even temporarily) to the forces of evil, that’s a perfectly understandable perhaps even admirable position. We’re all going to die someday.

Personally, I prefer to think of fighting as a means to an end. If I can run away from an attack, run I shall. As for leaving innocents behind, I dunno. There is something to be said about helping your fellow man. There is also something to be said about being alive to raise my daughter.

If I believe that fighting is my best option, that turning tail or surrender is untenable or morally repugnant, I will fight with everything I’ve got. Instant on. All in. Gun, fists, kicks, elbows, nearby picture frame, whatever. That much Krav Maga I do know.

How I or anyone else makes that determination is hard to say. It’s not even possible to predict whether the “decision” to unleash the dogs or war will even be a decision. It may be an instinctive reaction. But this much is true: timing is everything.

There are two conflicting adages in play: “He who hesitates is lost” and “Act in haste repent at leisure.” On one hand, fast reactive violence is an excellent way to regain the first mover advantage. On the other hand, if you go all-in too soon (i.e. it doesn’t work) there’s not much of a chance of a plan B.

Anything you can do to prepare for a violent attack—firearms practice, going to the gym, keeping your head on a swivel in public, etc.—-will increase your chances of survival, provided you don’t die during training. You see how that works? Life is a crap shoot. But there are times when you’ve got to fight for your right to party. Good luck with that.

[h/t Taurus609]


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  1. I’m thinking if they already have a knife to someone’s throat, they won’t be letting go anytime soon. That’s easier to say than do, but I would recommend attacking quickly and violently. Most of the time you can stop the bleeding of a knife attack if they only get time for one cut, and if not, then they weren’t going to let the victim go anyway. Might as well attack.

  2. Even the criminals are learning. Victims left alive make excellent witnesses. Dead people dont talk. Fight back. Compliance will get you death.

  3. It all depends on the situation. If I can run I’ll do it but if I can’t or I think the guy is gonna shoot, stab, or chase me down even if I take off I’m going to try to stop him with whatever force necessary.

  4. What, no physical description of the attackers; I thought we were supposed to be on the look out for some violent criminals; wait, could it possibly be because they are of the “special” demographic, they who shall not be named? At least by liberal/progressive news.

  5. I don’t know about everyone else, but I try to mentally prepare for different situations. I’ve thought through what to do in certain situations and decided my actions accordingly. Hopefully, I will never find a situation where I have to see how my planning works out.

    • Sounds like you have been to SERE school. Our instructor told us…”Of all the tactics you learn here the best is not to put yourself in a position where you need to use them”.

  6. Statistics also show that, especially for women, there are a few situations where capitulation is never a good bet. If an attacker wants to tie you up, or take you to another crime scene (“get in the van!”, for example) you’re almost certainly better off fighting. As bad as the tactical situation may be in that moment, it’s unlikely it’ll ever be better once you’re restrained and on the attacker’s turf.

    When a predator wants quality alone time with you, all sorts of outcomes are possible, but you can pretty much bet that what happens will be a lot more fun for the attacker than it will be for you. (Voice of bitter experience, there).

    • I completely agree. These different types of predators are outlined in Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected by Rory Miller. Any predator that wants to get you to an alternative location is usually a Process Predator, and you will be better off fighting them at your current location or trying to get the attention of anyone around you for assistance if at all possible.

      Usually criminals that just want your money or on-person valuables will just focus on getting what they want and leaving as soon as possible. They aren’t stupid (well some aren’t) and it does them no good to prolong the encounter with you.

      That said, for females especially, always be doubly wary of any person that wants to take you to a more remote location — they are usually the more dangerous type of predator because they don’t want to be disturbed or seen by others and their interest is harming you and keeping you cut off from any help. So make noise, kick, scream, run away, or fight back if that’s the case. But don’t comply and let them take you anywhere.

  7. I’m bloody unlikely to give up my gun under any circumstances. Anyone who attempts to steal it from me is a felon, and I’m not in the business of arming felons. Fight and you may die, but you will die anyways. I’d rather die fighting than begging, and a dead criminal is incapable of harming anyone. Giving up weapons turns a stalemate into a surrender. Sometimes I think this country needs more violent victims.

  8. Since you will be under stress and likely have a hard time assessing the situation, my advice would be to go on the offense in almost every situation. Act fast and with overwhelming violence. The saying “the best defense is a good offense”. The one time I got my a$$ kicked, I tried to diffuse the situation rather than giving it my all. Situational awareness and avoiding dangerous situations is your best defense. And don’t forget: having a weapon, knowing how to use it, and being willing sure beats a sharp stick in the eye.

  9. I have enough time in my own skin to know that in sudden up close encounters i react without a lot of second guessing. I usually go for the throat, tends to get a person’s undivided attention that way.

    As a partner of mine was fond of saying” if he’s close enough to hurt me, he’s close enough for me to hurt” Only his language was a lot rougher than that.

  10. The City of Portland was the #1 most Livable City in the US a decade or so ago. It is now #5 despite Mass Transit, HIGH property taxes and a wonderful Liberal establishment running the State (Gov. released a few thousand, non-violent perps) and City, but that could not be the root cause could it?

    • “but that could not be the root cause could it?”

      it sure could be the root cause and it is 😀 Portland has enormous potential, as does oregon, if they could let go of the kalifornication propensities.

  11. When I was 17 I complied to the demands of 3 guys that confronted me on my way home one night. (Bare in mind, I was not armed as a teenager). After complying, I was rewarded with a broken nose (required surgery) and 2 chipped teeth. Compliance is overrated.

  12. Some situations are ideal if you run away or “get off the X”, though rarely does compliance result in favorable conditions for you. Complying on a criminal’s terms will result in circumstances bad for your health and well-being. If you can drive away, drive away. If you need to shoot, make sure the bastard’s lungs are hanging behind his shoulder blades.

  13. Good introduction but a very week article.
    Defense tip?! Not at all.
    You also could have said “fight, flight, freeze”.

  14. If you wind up in a place and time where things fall apart, I usually would try to capitulate just long enough to not be at the disadvantage, then all out attack. Just my preferred method.
    If I don’t have a gun, then a knife. No knife, then a strong pen. No pen, just my fingers..
    Don’t stop until the perp stops moving.

  15. Unfortunately there is no cookie cutter answer for these types of situations. I think the article does a good job of giving readers advice on what to do to prepare for an attack. Regardless of the situation, your first reaction is to not panic. Panic causes confustion and results in poor decision making. Take your time, assess the situation, then what ever course of action you decide, go with it.

  16. Having been hostage once before when very young and experiencing the fears when the aggressors deliberately hurt you, demean you and scare everyone else around you, I can tell you that you will have to kill me because I will try my best to kill you. You never forget such things, especially their smiles and their laughter.

    I will not submit. Ever.


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