There is a selection process when a bad guy is picking you. If the attacker is someone you already know, there is a different selection process. But we are going to talk here about random selection.
Let’s just say the individual who is going to attack you does not currently know you. There is a major selection process, and it is called Opportunity. I am going to dip into the animal kingdom for an example. We have all watched Animal Planet or Discovery Channel. You are watching one of these shows, and the lion is the king of the jungle, the strongest and the meanest and the most ferocious. Well, if he is so tough, let’s talk about his selection process for a second, because it is the exact same process which is used by the criminal that walks our planet. They do not know you, so they really do not care about you. They want you as an easy opportunity. If you ever watch one of these lions hunt, what they do is they wait for an animal to fall behind. He is going to catch one drinking, not paying attention. He is going to catch one injured and limping. He is going to catch one that is newly born and is a soft target and just cannot keep up with the herd. He does not want the fastest, he does not want the strongest. You do not ever see this lion running to the head of the pack, passing up all the other gazelles to try to take down the biggest and strongest one. Why? They want an easy opportunity. They are not going to work hard when they do not have to. There are a ton of easy opportunities out there. So, the easier the opportunity, the more likely we are to become a victim.
Think about the decision-making process of the average person. Humans thrive on opportunity in all things. Here are some examples:
- You park in the closest open spot to the store instead of accross the lot.
- You invest when asset prices are down to make more money.
- You save money by shopping when there is a sale.
- You apply for the highest paying job available.
I could go on and on, and so could you. The point is, it is the same with self-defense.
“Whatever opportunity you give, someone might take”
Imagine a fortress. Now think like an attacker for a minute. Are the gates locked? Are the walls too high? Are there guards, dogs or rivers to cross? Did someone see you coming and sound an alarm? If your chances of success are low, you will probably move on, because there are always a softer target right down the road. This is how a potential attacker evaluates you.
Constantly think in the mind of a bad guy: What would I do? How would I victimize myself right now? Am I making myself an easy opportunity? Am I not around a lot of people? Is it dark outside? Does anyone know where I am? Am I jingling my keys? Am I sitting in my car too long? Am I taking my time when I should be speeding up? Have I given myself an out in traffic with my vehicle? Have I ever had any kind of training? Am I putting myself in a poor time, in a poor place, around individuals who do not have my best interest in mind? Do I understand pre-attack indicators? All these things add up to either becoming an opportunity or not becoming an opportunity.
And right off the bat there are a lot of us who are already opportunities. Soft targets. Women, children, we can go as deep as individuals who wear glasses, people who look down at the ground, older men who have gray hair or may be balding. Why? A lot of individuals, a lot of attackers, they might see this as a sign of weakness. Gray hair? Guess what, maybe not strong enough to defend themselves as much as a young guy, a 25-year-old or a 23-year-old. Many women are inherently smaller and physically less strong than males. A lot of people do not like to hear that, but it is a biological fact, and once we recognize it is a fact, we can do something to make a difference. We teach women in the C.O.B.R.A. Self-Defense Program how to ultimately bring down any male attacker, and it is not by out-punching and out-kicking him, because that cannot work very well.
Criminals generally look for 4 easy opportunities when selecting their victims:
1. Physical weakness i.e. small posture, old & fragile, physical disability, poor body posture;
2. Distracted persons i.e. checking your social media status in public, applying make-up at a busy intersection, talking on your cellphone in a public place;
3. Relaxed persons i.e. you are at home, your guard is down and your home alarm is switched off;
4. Uninhibited persons i.e. you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs and tend to do/allow things you would not normally do.
In 1984 Betty Grayson and Morris Stein conducted an experiment in New York in the United States. They set up a video camera and filmed people walking along a street. Nobody was aware that they were being filmed. They then took the footage and showed it individually to prisoners who had been convicted for violent crimes such as aggravated assault, rape and murder. They then asked convicts to look at the video footage and identify who they would select as a victim. What they found was astonishing. 87% of the Prisoners selected the same people from the videos as victims. What is even more remarkable is that most prisoners selected their victims in less than 5 seconds!
From this study, 3 things were identified that triggered the prisoners to select the people they chose as victims:
Identifier number 1: Walking with the head down, and the eyes pointed at the ground. This signals a variety of things to would be attackers. Firstly, that you are not aware of your surroundings and will most likely not see them coming. Secondly that you may not have a lot of self-confidence so you will probably be easily intimidated and will most likely not fight back.
Identifier number 2: A stride length that was too short or too long, relative to their height. It may create an impression of lack of self- worth or even “nerdiness”. If you stride with too long strides and try to appear super confident, it may give off signals hat you are insecure and try to make yourself appear taller and bigger.
Identifier number 3: A disconnect between the way a person’s upper and lower body moves. Normally when you walk, your opposite arm should swing as you step with the opposite leg and for most people there is a distinct rhythm. In the study, it was shown that those who were identified as victims by the convicts, moved in a less coordinated fashion with an unusual rhythm.
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