Risk Analysis For Self Defense

A few years ago, while on vacation, a man grabbed my mom’s credit card from a restaurant table and dashed out the door. My mom realized what had happened, jumped up and chased after him. Probably luckily, she didn’t catch him. “Mom, what if you ran after him into an alley and he had a gun or a knife?” I asked. “I know, probably not a great idea.”

The truth is, that my mother’s actions were impulsive, but understandable.  She had never thought through this scenario, and did the first thing that came to mind. The loss of a credit card or a wallet is a relatively negligible risk. It is very unlikely to be worth your life. Understanding something about risk analysis can help you develop a good survival-mindset and strategy. Thinking about these things in advance can guide your actions later when it matters and you don’t have time to think.

Risk analysis comprises understanding what you have to protect (assets), what might cause the loss of those assets (threats), and the actions and strategies you employ to reduce the threat to your assets.

In business, assets always have a monetary value. Even you, as an employee of a company, represent a dollar amount loss to company. For most individuals this is not probably so. There are some things, my family, my life, my values – that do not have monetary value for me. Nothing in this world can replace them, and I’ll fight like the devil to protect them. I also value my freedom, so I will avoid doing things that would land me in trouble with the law.

Begin by looking at your assets. What do you place the most value upon? We’re going to use this inventory to build a hell of a self-defense mindset in a minute.

In threat analysis, we look at the things that could take your assets from you, and the likelihood they might happen. Terrorism is scary, but you’re more likely to be killed by lightening than by a terrorist. The real risk factors for you and your family include violent crime, car accidents, household accidents etc.

Risk mitigation strategies for business involve a cost analysis. You don’t spend $1000 to defend a $20 asset. Again, not everything in your life can be measured in dollars, so let’s look at a different example: Do you value vanity and pride more than your life? Hopefully you said no. However, how many people get into violent confrontations with others, like a typical bar fight, over a perceived insult? Plenty. This is not a good risk management strategy.

When going through self-defense scenarios, it’s helpful to think, “what do I have to lose here?” What you could you lose by either fighting or running away? The answer will depend on the threat. In a home invasion I know that fighting someone (strategy) probably means they aren’t hurting my family(asset). If I get into a bar fight with someone, I might get hurt, killed, or go to jail taking me away from my family.

I’ve been through the scenarios literally thousands of times in practice, but if someone mugs me with a knife or a gun, I am most likely going to hand them my wallet. I’m good, but that’s not a risk I’m willing to take for the contents of my wallet. If someone pulls a knife or a gun and tries to abduct me or a family member – then it’s most likely going to be  a different story.

In the middle of an encounter, reminding yourself of what you could lose if you don’t survive yourself can give you the extra mental push to carry yourself through. When I train I always remember that I’m training for my children, and it brings me motivation.

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