I'm not a lawyer.
I do know, though, that one of the ways to survive a self-defense altercation during the legal aftermath is being able to show that you tried to prevent it.
This means de-escalating the process of the “street interview.”
It means disrupting that process where a thug sizes you up and things escalate until they get physical.
Staying out of jail is part of the survival equation.
To do that, you've got to know how to prevent a fight if you can.
I spoke with my friend Matt Numrich about this, and here is a summary of what he told me.
3 Tips For PREVENTING A Fight!
Most of us know about verbal de-escalation.
Backing somebody down verbally, refusing to throw a punch, and assuming a passive stance all help not to escalation a situation into something physical.
We're not replying with something harsh.
We're being almost apologetic, and we're going as far as we can to stay on the legal side of defending ourselves.
There are some things you need to remember when it comes to preventing a fight, however, beyond verbal de-escalation.
1. Can You Just Leave?
Whether you go ahead and get physical or not, I always judge by this thing:
Could I leave safely from the situation without it getting physical?
For instance, if I’m going ahead and I’m walking down the street and I have two guys, one get in front of me, one get behind me, and they ask for my wallet, could I leave that situation safely?
Could I just literally, whether it be walk away or run away from the situation safely?
If the people want to go ahead and mug me they’re going to go ahead and mug me, or they wouldn’t have asked for my wallet in the first place.
On the other hand, once again, use the old parking lot kind of situation.
If I’m walking by somewhere, and let’s say someone thinks that I put a ding in their car or something like that, could I leave that situation without it getting physical?
- Could I escape the situation without getting physical?
- Could I leave the situation safely just by walking, either that or running away?
In my mind, that’s going to give you that answer to whether that preemptive strike is that the right thing to do.
2. Is Your Ego Pushing You Into A Fight?
I’m not going to lie to you.
Every single situation is a little bit different.
I think so many times our ego gets in the way.
Because our ego gets bruised, that’s what we want to defend.
There’s a big difference between defending your ego, as opposed to offending your physical life, or physical harm being done to you, or someone you love.
Learning to conquer your own pride, to back down even when you think someone is trying to goad you, can be the biggest battle some people face.
But refusing to let people push you into a fight you don't have to have is a big part of preventing a lot of altercations.
3. Spot Pre-Fight Indicators
Even if we decide to walk away from a situation, if someone comes up in an aggressive standpoint I’m never, ever going to turn my back on that person until I feel that I’m at a safe distance.
When you become aware of a potential threat, you should be looking for pre-fight indicators the entire time.
Those indicators will warn you that, despite what you've done to de-escalate, that the fight is on.
Obviously, we don’t have time to go through all of them.
The number one indicator, though, is that if you are backing away and the person is closing the gap, that is a huge indicator they mean to attack you.
If you’ve gone ahead and you’ve taken your two, three, four steps back and all of a sudden the person starts inching their way on in, that’s a huge red flag.
Could they be coming on in to try to intimidate you and they have no means whatsoever, no desire whatsoever, to physically attack you?
It could happen.
The fact is, though, that if someone is decreasing the distance more and more, chances are good they mean to attack.
Another thing to watch for is rate of talk.
If you're trying to de-escalate verbally and they keep ramping up, talking louder and more quickly, that's a red flag.
Finally, watch their facial expressions and their skin tone.
The redder they get, the darker they get, the more you should be concerned that your de-escalation is not working.
Keep all these factors in mind.
If you can't prevent a fight, if you can tell the fight is on top of you, you have to be prepared to fight back.
That's why we train… and it's why we train to prevent fights whenever we can in the first place.