By Ernest Emerson, Emerson Knives
Have you ever heard of the Grey Man? It is one of the cornerstones of spook trade-craft and is a vital, invaluable tool, to anyone wanting to stay under the radar. It is easy to understand yet difficult to master and it can be the deciding factor between your safety and a very bad day.
What is the Grey man? Grey is a neutral color, it’s not black, it’s not white and it plays the role of filling in and becoming in essence, the background for all other colors. It is neither here nor there and goes completely unnoticed against all the bright colors and the sharp contrasts between light and dark. What does this mean in terms of you, the human element?
It means that often your best defense is to just simply become part of that grey background where you become completely unremarkable, unnoticed and unseen. It can start by being as simple as adjusting your choice of wardrobe colors. In fact grey really does work. It is not just an analogy. For example, if you are in a foreign country and don’t want to be “American,” don’t wear your “I Love New York” T-shirt. Look like a local, don’t talk loudly, laugh loudly, or do things that draw attention to yourself. Having a book, or better a local newspaper, (even if you can’t read it) is always good. Don’t pull out your map and look around trying to figure out where you are. Remember condition white? If you are in a foreign country some of your, must learn words should be, please, thank you, excuse me, good morning, good evening, hello and goodbye. Many times that is all you have to say, and nothing more, to pretend you’re just not in a talkative mood.
And learn to improvise. One time I was in a situation where I didn’t speak any of the language. I was on the spot and didn’t want anyone to know where I was from so I just made some words up. I think they thought I was from Lithuania or somewhere, I admit, that is not exactly being Grey but it got me where I wanted to go. I’ve even tagged along at the back of tour groups I’ve had nothing to do with. And, I’ve used a really bad Irish accent from time to time. The point is that you have to think like you’re a human chameleon, mentally, physically and socially if you want to “fade into the mist.”
The point I’m making here is if you are not noticed you can’t be a target.
Now, let’s take a look at your possible actions, if you have discovered an active threat to either yourself or perhaps some other unwitting victim.
What was the title of this article? Preemptive Self Defense, that’s right. What does ‘Preempt’ mean? My simple definition is this; the act of stopping something before it happens.
That definition denotes that there must be some action or interaction on your part.
Remember when I said that surprise was a necessary component of a predatory attack, the ambush? Well, nothing shakes up a bad guy more than a loud voice, shouting “Hey, what the f*ck do you think you’re doing? I’ve seen them pick up and run with just this action alone. Not all the time mind you, but what happens is this. The first thing from the bad guys view, is that you are announcing to all, that the bad guy has been discovered. You’ve broken his train of thought, his attention to his action and thirdly, you’ve asked a question, a process so powerful that the human mind internally always pauses to answer. In a case like this others may look at you like “What the hell is up with that guy?” But even if there were 100 people present, I guarantee to you that even if no one figures it out, the bad guy knows you’re talking directly to him. Funny how that works. It’s almost like the “hey, your fly is down.” scenario. It is awfully hard to avoid looking down (if you’re a man). When I played baseball, I found that there was no better way to rattle a pitcher than, at the proper moment in time, say a 3 and 2 count and in the middle of his windup, to simply yell out his name and ask a simple math problem. “Tom, what’s 7 x 6!?” It worked every time….And the ump yells, “Ball 4!”
Back to the pro-active side of destroying the threat. First, I’m going to throw in a little disclaimer or perhaps qualify what I’m about to describe and what I’ve been describing in this series of articles all along. I’ve noticed from the numerous comments about these articles so far that there are many who come from Law Enforcement and all other aspects of the legal and Justice System and, of course, a lot of good concerned, common sense folks who are also reading these. What I’m writing about and describing herein is based on the premise that all other legal means of action have been exhausted and you have been forced into a situation where you have no other option than to resort to violence and lethal force if warranted. The first article of this series and the subject of the whole series is “Surviving the Deadly Attack.” That means someone is actively, positively trying to kill you or someone under your protection.
So, back to preempting the attack. Remember we’re at the moment of no return, no way to escape and without question, facing a “clear and present danger.”
I will tell you this, I’m pretty good at reading people and situations and if I know (gut feel) that something is about to go south, I’m firing first. Not necessarily a gun but maybe a punch, kick, rock, bottle, or club and maybe a bullet. The question is, now, how can you be sure? Well, I don’t know if you can ever be sure 100% of the time. That will be between you, them and the situation. There are a lot of components involved in the dynamics of every scenario involving human interaction and there are a lot of split second decisions to be made but I will tell you this; When you’re there, really there, you’ll know. And you’ll know what decision you have to make. I learned that a long time and a broken jaw ago.
Let’s look at this in one context. You are in a hostage takeover situation. The bad guy has just told your co-worker to get down on her knees and then shoots her in the back of the head. You’re next. Sometimes it’s this easy. Most of the time it is not. Yet even in this black and white situation there are still people who will stand in line on their knees waiting for their turn.
Let’s take a deeper look at this.
In regard to a hostage takeover situation, when is the best time to escape? Answer; As soon as possible. In any hostage situation the most opportune time to escape is before the bad guys have taken full control of the situation. In the beginning moment’s confusion is still working on both sides of the equation and no one is in control. It’s not the only time you might have to escape but it’s when the odds are best in your favor. A successful hostage scenario, looked at from the bad guys point of view, is a series or sequence of stages beginning with the initial attacks, designed to initiate shock and awe in the victims, then adding threats or violent acts to instill fear, “anyone move and I’ll kill you,” Next they move to an assessment of who, what and how many hostages do we have, to a gathering or rounding up of the hostages, for better control. Once rounded up, there is a further assessment of exactly who the hostages are, (sometimes the most likely to pose a threat to the bad guys are killed on the spot). This progresses to a furtherance of more violence, threats, degradations, and further control, restraints, such as tying up, duct tape and gags, etc. all of which are designed to effect terror upon the hostages and to keep any attempts or even thoughts of resistance or escape from being an option. So you see in cases like this, especially if dealing with terrorists the best time to escape may be at the very beginning of this sequence. Remember Fight or Flight? Sometimes flight is the right choice.
Or, have you ever been in a confrontation, where the aggressor has just stated, “I’m going to kick your ass!” Now, mind you, I’m not necessarily thinking, “I’m going to kill this guy.” But I guarantee that I’m going to be the one to strike first and I’m not going to hesitate for even a split second until he is no longer a threat. Remember the subheading of this article is “He who strikes first usually wins.” That statement is oh so true. I’ve seen it, I’ve felt it. I’ve done it. You never want to let the bad guy get the first shot or punch off if you know ones coming. And that is a golden rule. In the article about the Attributes of the Sociopathic Predator I talked about hesitation shootings where police officers were killed. You don’t want that to happen to you. In a case where your life is on the line, it is definitely way better to give than receive. And remember to be generous.