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No Second Chance
A Reality-Based Guide to Self-Defense
By Mark Hatmaker, Doug Warner
Tracks PublishingCopyright © 2009 Doug Werner
All rights reserved.
Thugs, drills and the cold truth
Let's get something out of the way (and off my chest). Although this book is about street survival, it is not about street fighting. I do not consider the thuggish beat downs and frat boy scuffles that many IQ deficient, testosterone addled, ego driven "tough guys" engage in worthy of discussion.
A street fight is an Old West wannabe, just-me-and-you affair. Don't get me wrong, these altercations are often quite violent, and if you are on the losing end of one, the tactics in this book will serve you well. But never lose sight of the fact that these confrontations are usually self-selecting and of little surprise to the participants once they go down. I have zero interest in catering to this contingent of humanity. Knock yourself out, boys, and leave everybody else alone.
What we will concern ourselves with in this book is not a street fight, but street survival. I use the term street euphemistically, fully aware that we can be met by criminal violence anywhere — home, car, work and every destination in between including the street. We will not concern ourselves with the guy who said something about your sister, but the serial rapist. Not with the man giving your girlfriend the eye, but with the car jacker. Not with the guy who bumped you as you were coming out of the bathroom, but with the type of animal that will commit a home invasion and rape and kill an entire family.
For those who picked up this book looking for tips on how to jack up some guy at the local bar, please put the book down and grow a neo-cortex. I want this book read by those who really need it. Those of us who simply wish to conduct our lives in a thoughtful, civilized manner. We sometimes need a reminder of just how dark the dark side can be, and that due diligence is not paranoia but wisdom.
It's too late to drill when the house is on fire
It's 2:37 A. M. Your house is engulfed in flames. The main entrance ways are blocked by fire. Thick billowy smoke is chokingly oppressive. Do you remember your secondary and tertiary escape routes? Do the other members of your household know them? Do you recall your plan for the young children in the house? Do you remember to feel doors before opening? Do you remember to stay low and crawl? Have you worked any of this out before this tragedy struck?
Most people do not find fire drills to be unusual practices. Most of us probably participated in them as school-age children, and those of us with children probably nod and think that it's an excellent idea for schools to hold an occasional fire drill. After all, you never know, right? Well, have you held a fire drill in your home? I have asked this question of hundreds of people over the years in the course of presenting the material in this book, and I have had one (and only one) person say yes. So much for mature, intelligent adults being prepared.
How much time would a fire drill take in your home? Maybe 15 minutes at most to discuss exit strategies and assign possible responsibilities, and then perhaps three minutes more for actual execution. After that, revisit the drill once every six months or once a year for another three minutes of your time. What's a few minutes compared with the loss of your life or that of a loved one in a fire?
OK, I'm sure you get it. Drilling escape plans for a fire makes sense, doesn't take much time or energy, and it is far more useful than improvising in the midst of the actual event. I ask you to view the tactics and strategies in this book in the same light as you would a fire drill. Bank a little bit of time against the possibility that you might need an escape plan for something other than a fire one of these days. And yes, get your kids in on the plan, too. We don't need to show them photos of blackened, charred bodies to teach them where to go in a fire drill. We don't need to scare them with horror stories to drill them in the scenarios found in these pages. It's OK to hold back details from children as long as they know what to do.
I hate to crib from vacuous self-help style speak, but there is an aphorism that sums it up nicely — Failure to plan is planning to fail.
The truth as a blunt object
I just said we don't need to scare children with horror stories to get them to drill, and that's true. You, on the other hand, are an adult (I'm assuming) and might need to fix in your mind's eye exactly what you might be up against. Interspersed throughout this volume you will find sidebars labeled Predator Profiles. These profiles are mini-snapshots of actual human depravity that have no CSI-chic nor the vague, watered-down descriptions of criminal acts one finds in the news. They tell what actually occurred. Euphemism does disservice to truth.
I firmly believe that having an understanding of the predator mind-set can better ensure prevention or survival. We are not reveling in the Predator Profile details for lurid fascination's sake — that is mere callow prurience. We need to understand that knowledge is power and that truth is empowering. We need to move beyond the simple insufficient definition of rape as sex without consent or any other dispassionate word used as a metaphor for evil. We use the details of truth to elicit a response — as an emotional plea for outrage — to spur indignation and as a stimulus to respond and react in the seemingly "extreme" manner that I advocate in this book.
If you find any of the advice within to be a bit much, then I recommend that you reread the Predator Profiles and ask yourself if there is such a thing as "reasonable" response in unreasonable circumstances? Propriety, civilization and nuanced decision making goes out the window when real-world violence erupts. Read these profiles and ask yourself if you think these animals could be stopped with negotiation. Or a rape whistle. Or a simple kick to the groin. Or a jab from a fist interlaced with your keys. Or a rap on the knuckles. If that last choice seems a bit facetious, that's because it is. Much of what is proffered in the realm of self-defense instruction is unadulterated bullshit. We seek to shovel away some of that BS with this book, but we have to start by leveling with you about what you are up against.
A final thought on the Predator Profiles — my heart and thoughts go out to the victims and their families. Nothing can be done to right these tragedies. I only hope that these senseless losses of innocent human lives can educate or motivate others to a safer existence.
Predator Profile #1
Thomas Vanda was a regular participant in church activities. One evening after an adult Bible study meeting, he propositioned the woman running the meeting and was turned down. Vanda responded by knocking her to the floor, going to the facility kitchen and returning with a knife. Vanda viciously stabbed the woman numerous times. As she was dying, Vanda copulated with one of the stab wounds in her abdomen and ejaculated.
Brent E. Turvey, Dangerousness: Predicting Recidivism in Violent Sex Offenders, Knowledge Solutions Library, http://www.corpusdelicti.com/danger.html (March, 1996).
This horrific act was reported in news sources as a brutal rape and murder, which it was. But those words hardly convey the repugnance, the maliciousness and fury of the crime. Again, unpleasant as such stories are, we need to understand the enemy if we are to provide ourselves with that snowball's chance in hell of survival.CHAPTER 2
You'll never be ready
I've got some bad news for us — we'll never be ready. The predators of the world always have the upper hand. They get to choose the when, where, how and why. None of the victims recounted in the Predator Profiles woke up the morning of their horrific destiny and knew what was in store for them. If they did, I'm certain they would have done everything in their power to alter what was foreseen.
Just as they never knew, we will never know if or when we have similar experiences in store for us. The predators of the world, on the other hand, always know. They always have the advantage. They have a plan. They know when they get up in the morning what they have in store for whatever innocents they have targeted. There may be unexpected developments in the course of executing that plan, but these are only minor course corrections in their overall scheme.
With that bit of cheery information, you might be asking yourself what's the point of this book if we will never be prepared? Let's liken preparation for surviving criminal assault to "preparing" for a car accident. Statistically speaking, chances are you have been involved in a car accident at some point in your driving life (hopefully a minor one). When you awoke that morning you had no idea it was going to occur. You didn't get into the car taking special pains with your seatbelt. You didn't make sure your driver's license, vehicle registration and auto insurance information were handy. You didn't reread your original driver's education manual (if you ever did) reviewing accident avoidance protocols. No, you were merely going about your business and the accident happened — catching you by surprise.
Assuming you kept your head and had some foresight, your seatbelt provided you with some protection, you had your information readily available and you knew what to do when the collision occurred. This preventive foresight still does not stop you from being surprised, injured or even quell the adrenaline dump that such occasions elicit. Like they say, shit happens, and that day shit just happened. We know that all drivers are unprepared for an accident in the foreknowledge sense, but let's compare drivers who exercise preventive maintenance with those who do not.
Chances are if you were obeying traffic laws, keeping your speed in control and paying attention to the environment, you might have been able to recognize that the accident was going to occur before it did. Often it is this split second of danger recognition that allows you to brake, decrease speed or veer to a less damaging collision vector. If you utilized your safety belt, you mitigated your injuries. If you are organizationally squared away, your information is easily accessible and are able to give 911 a quick call. A little bit of preparedness and obeisance to some simple habits make this sort of behavior likely.
On the other hand, if you are a driver who ignores what others have proposed as good sense and follow too closely, drive too fast or pay less than optimum attention to the environment (texting, shall we say?), then you have already increased your chances for losing your split second window of collision avoidance. If you have foregone your safety belt for comfort's sake, you have dramatically increased your chances for injury. If you have decided to keep your information in two or more locations or have no idea if you even have such information, you have increased your own stress level by stacking unneeded confusion on top of an already taxed nervous system.
Neither the prepared nor the unprepared driver knows if or when an accident will occur, but the odds easily favor the prepared driver. That's what we are striving for with this book. We will never know if or when we may be confronted by criminal violence, but by being a prepared driver we greatly increase our chances of surviving the collision.
Predator Profile #2
On February 24, 1985, Alex J. Mengel was pulled over in a routine traffic stop by Yonkers, New York police officer Gary Stymiloski. Mengel shot Officer Stymiloski in the head. That same month Mengel murdered Beverly Capone of Mount Vernon, New York. She was found with her face and scalp sliced away. On February 27, he attempted to abduct a 13-year-old newspaper delivery girl in Syracuse, New York. At the time of the attempted abduction, Mengel was wearing a wig made from Beverly Capone's scalp.
Michael Newton, The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers (New York, New York: Checkmark Books, 2000), 305.CHAPTER 3
Here's a quick and easy lesson in how to navigate in a world that contains predators. Turn on the TV and find Animal Planet or any channel featuring noninterference nature documentary programming. Most of us have seen this sort of thing. The following example will be familiar. Picture the plains of the African Serengeti during the dry season. The landscape is colored various shades of tans and deep browns. The sole watering hole in the area is trafficked by a wide array of species, both predator and prey, usually not seen in such close proximity if the need for water didn't hold precedence.
There's a herd of gazelle or springbok navigating toward the watering hole. We, the TV viewers, have been shown that there is a stalking lioness in the area, but the herd, not having paid their cable bill, are unaware of this fact. Although unaware of the definite presence of a major predator, they still do not make a blithe approach to the watering hole. Rather they make a circuitous approach in fits and starts as various leaders of the herd stop to sniff the air or cock their ears toward an unfamiliar noise. A prey species is exercising preparatory caution.
Only after the herd has deigned the area relatively safe do they commence quenching its thirst. We, the privy viewer, observe the lioness make her tentative stalk, edging ever closer toward the herd. We notice that she does not approach directly and out in the open announcing her presence. Instead she advances in a sly, furtive manner. This is another rule of predator-prey interaction at play. Even though the lion has the advantage of strength and mass and fierce weaponry (teeth and claws), the predator still forgoes frontal assault and seeks to control the time and location of the attack. The predator gets to choose as many control parameters as it can manage, whereas the gazelle controls none.
When the lioness makes its rush to attack, we notice that the prey choices are invariably the same. Predators choose from four classes of victims.
The lioness is not looking for a fair fight. She is not looking for a challenge. The lioness is behaving economically — she seeks the easiest vector to acquire her goals (in this case a meal for her and her cubs). The young, old and infirm prey make goal acquisition a more likely prospect. The inattentive animal, while it may be fleet of hoof or able to fight back under the best of circumstances, has placed itself on the list by dint of not being aware of its surroundings. Nature obeys this predator-prey relationship all up and down the food chain. We, as human animals, are not exempt from these laws of nature.
It is in our best interests to remind ourselves now and again that we are indeed animals. Along with this fact of nature, we must also remind ourselves that we are a member of an unusual species — one that can be both The criminal scum of the earth are the predators. Keeping the "laws of the jungle" in mind and their implications for prey species, we need to remain vigilant to remain safe. Predators seek ease of acquisition. By exercising vigilance and removing as many factors as we can from the "Easy Prey" checklist, we increase our chances of removing ourselves from the predator's menu.
Predator Profile #3
At the age of 15, John Lawrence Miller, beat to death 22-month-old Laura Wetzel while she lay sleeping in her crib. Miller, when asked why he killed the child, said, "I wanted to know how it would feel, but I'm sorry about it now, of course." Miller was convicted, "rehabilitated" and released after 17 years. Upon returning home, he shot and killed both his parents.
Newton, 306.CHAPTER 4
Cause they wanna
Asking Miller why he did what he did is understandable. We want to understand how or why a human being could commit such an atrocity. We hope that by understanding the hows and whys of such behavior, we can somehow fix or cure such inclinations. While these aspirations are noble, they are worthless and perhaps even a hindrance to your goal of taking yourself off the predator's menu.
Prosecutors, because of the dictates of the law, need to establish motive. That's the rule of the game. Keep in mind that motive in the judicial process is bandied about in after-the-fact discourse and is of zero value at the time of the criminal act. Crime books (true and fictional) and TV (both documentary and fictional crime) are equally obsessed with motive. We seem to think that by establishing some sort of crypto-factual, Freudian undercurrent of criminal personality or psycho-stimulus triggering event we can wrap our minds around why a given act was committed.
When we give this much weight to motive (too much by my way of thinking) we are being hypocritical. We seldom see people seeking the hidden motives behind kind and generous acts. When wealthy individuals like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet decide to bequeath or utilize much of their wealth in the pursuit of good works, we do not see a tumult of media time given to parsing the whys of this generosity. We see a simple reportage of the acts. When we hear of lesser crimes, so-and-so cheated on so-and-so's spouse, we want to know why they did it. Yet we don't seem to be obsessed with why people choose not to cheat or behave in non-aberrant ways.
Excerpted from No Second Chance by Mark Hatmaker, Doug Warner. Copyright © 2009 Doug Werner. Excerpted by permission of Tracks Publishing.
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