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Andrew Chan, G3 Instructor of Krav Maga Systems at Perth.

Lo Cocilovo asks:

How do you protect your family when out in public eg restaurant or shopping?

Andrew answers:

A lot of it comes down to awareness and prevention. If i see people who make me feel uneasy (e.g, their body language sends out signals to those around them that they're looking for trouble), I avoid them and shepherd my friends/family to avoid them too. When I sit down in a public place to eat, I try to choose a seat where I can see my surroundings and peoples' comings and goings easily if possible (e.g. with my back against a wall).  

  As I'm walking around, I try to maintain a code yellow, that is, alert, but not paranoid or alarmed that everyone is going to fight me. There will always be activity happening around you. If you choose to try to constantly focus and consciously process every single thing happening, your senses will be overwhelmed, so the key is to keep a lookout for and distinguishing what I call "alarming observations " over "regular happenings". For example, at a shop, regular happenings are people talking, laughing, reaching for and looking at products. All this activity is normal, and instead of processing each event, my eyes tend to "glaze over it all" and see it all together as background noise.   However, if i was to observe , say, someone in a big jacket when it's really hot, or someone who is constantly looking around nervously, or 2 people yelling at each other, someone following/watching/approaching me, these observations are what I call "alarming observations" because they stand out, they don't belong in the context I'm in, or they potentially threaten my safety and the safety of those with me.   Having identified something that stands up above the noise, I'll then start paying more conscious attention to it while trying as best as I can to not look like I'm staring the person down or triggering off any alarm bells for him. Where are the person's hands? What are they doing? Are they approaching me? Can they be avoided? Is so, let's avoid and exit using the closest or least dangerous way. If not, and I find myself suddenly caught in a pre-fight engagement, then my "fence"/semi-passive stance comes up and I'll consciously try to put myself between them and those with me. If I can, I'll start talking with the person, without challenging, threatening, accusing, or ordering them.   As Richard Dimitri says, most "assholes" don't socially want to be "assholes" straight away. They need a trigger from you to initiate aggression. By not providing such a trigger, you may be able to stop the conflict from escalating further. I'll try talking to them, seeing what the issue is, and trying to deal with it. For example, "hey dude, what's going on?". The reply might be something like "why are you eyeing me for?". OK, so we've identified the apparent issue as me eyeing him. From here, I'll try to de-escalate the issue by saying something like "sorry bro, I've had a really hard day today, and when I'm tired I tend to zone out. I'm really sorry if I zoned out and my eyes were in your direction". Notice I didn't antagonize, or command, or accuse etc. What I did was try to deescalate the issue and provide a peaceful way out.   Now what the person does after will be very telling. If he's a good guy having a bad day, he'll register that the issue is being dealt with, and God willing, will deescalate with me. Great. Conflict is resolved and we'll make an exit. If the person doesn't, then that tells me the issue isn't really the problem, and he/she is looking for trouble. They've identified themselves as a bad guy having a bad day. If it gets to this point, that's when you have to start thinking about flight, fight. What makes it a bit more complicated is that if you have friends/family with you, what will happen if I choose fight or flight? What will happen to them?   This is where the physical side of training comes in for me, although my mental and psychological side has been going ever since I got to the public venue in the form if awareness and prevention. In Australia, we tend to live in a place where being in public usually doesn't result in violent encounters, so most of the protecting comes in the form of awareness and prevention. Also, it pays to teach your family members to develop an awareness and prevention mentality too.