Yesterday I was visiting a blog and read an article describing one person’s admonition NOT to have a “plan” for self defense. The discussion that followed was very interesting, and quite long, and I suggest you go to the link above to read it since I won’t attempt to reconstruct any of the argument.
However, I think it is important to clarify this point in my own last article. After reading it over, in light of the above mentioned discussion, I can see where the need for, and limitations of, planning might be quite confusing to some folks, especially those new to self defense.
The person writing at TTAG had a number of excellent points, but neglected (I think) to make much effort to differentiate between the many kinds and levels of planning – so it appeared to most of us that he discouraged any sort of planning. I seriously doubt that was his actual intent, but I fear too many people will not read the subsequent comments that pretty well clarify it.
So, what kinds of “plans” are there, and which ones might – or might not – be a problem to someone suddenly finding themselves in a defensive situation.
The “plans” that would be a definite disadvantage in an emergency are those that attempt to predict exactly what is going to happen, and have a strict checklist or script for response – both of ourselves and our adversary. Since the possibilities are as vastly varied as human nature and action itself, that would seem to be a very foolish thing to do. Yet a lot of the “training” I’ve investigated is more or less along those lines. Criminals don’t follow “rules,” and an emergency is not going to follow a script, so one’s plans need to be of a completely different nature.
Training to respond in an effective and safe manner to any threat or emergency would certainly qualify as a “plan.”
1. Know your tools, guns, fire extinguishers, whatever. Practice with them diligently. Know how they work, how they can be used most effectively, and have some idea what to do next if the best tool isn’t available or malfunctions. I’d say this requires quite a bit of planning.
2. Understand yourself, your own natural response to stress, and give some thought to your values and belief system. Having the best tools in the world won’t help if you know you will freeze when frightened, or won’t be willing to pull the trigger even if it is necessary. This requires some deep thought and decision making… a plan. If you decide you want to overcome the things that would prevent you from an effective self defense, you will have to plan on a way to accomplish that.
And don’t buy into stereotypes of criminals or their actions either. A great many of them can be quite charming and appear harmless until they have you under their control. Trust your guts, always. If you are wrong once in a while, nobody is hurt. If you trust the wrong person, ignoring your discomfort with them, you may not survive the experience. This takes some serious thought and determination on your part, especially women who have been taught to be “nice” to everyone. Your plan to avoid that pitfall… and deliberate, constant practice, will never be wasted effort.
3. Knowing where you are vs wandering around in a fog. I don’t know about you, but when I leave my home I always know just where I’m going, how I’m going to get there, what I will do – more or less- when I get there, and I also take the trouble to think at least a little about what I might do if things don’t quite go the way I expect. That’s a lot of planning. Nothing set in stone, of course, but not having a plan is a sure way to waste a whole day, to say the least.
And if you think about it, this is no less true if you are taking off for the day with no absolute destination or time frame. You can’t really even leave the house without some kind of plans, and some capacity to adapt what you want to do to things you can’t anticipate much. Whether or not your plans or adaptation will be adequate to meet your needs is something to think about… plan and train for… not leave to mere chance.
This involves the serious need to at least appear to be confident, in charge of your life, with purpose and attention to details – like the people and places around you. Criminals want helpless, clueless and inattentive victims. People who are in a fog, looking timid or afraid, or just clueless while talking on their phone or “texting,” or whatever has their whole attention – are ready made victims. And carrying a gun won’t make a particle of difference in this case because you’d never know you were in danger until it was all over.
Seems to me that requires considerable thinking, training, hard work and yes, planning.
So, my example of planning and practice of a potential home invasion seems valid to me, with lots of serious variations and room to adapt. Knowing the layout of your home, office, even your hotel or other vacation dwelling might save your life in a fire or if faced with an intruder. Having a plan to evacuate or get your dependents into a safe room, or otherwise away from potential danger, might require considerable planning, and training for those dependents. The last thing you want is to face that bad man with a child hanging onto your arm screaming bloody murder. Or you standing with a gun in your hand, paralyzed with fear, not having any idea what to do next.
How do you plan and train to meet an emergency? Is facing an intruder with a gun the only one you can imagine? Or have you not even imagined that?