Self Defense Tactics: Visual Threat Indicators and Identifiers Whether you’re walking down the street in New York City, in your local grocery store parking lot loading goods into your vehicle, or on vacation in Mexico—regardless of where you are, there are risks when out in the open and where criminality is present. Using basic skills of Situational Awareness (SA) and these detailed indicators can help you maintain the upper hand on individuals who wish to commit a crime or do harm to you and those around you. There are several visual-physical indicators that are important to look out for: Nervousness/ Glancing and excessive blinking or wide-eyed focal behavior- Fairly straightforward, a threat may approach you quickly or with effort to be
silent and act nervous or erratic in nature, looking around rapidly and over their shoulder, physically shaking lightly, talking in a low and quiet manner to elicit getting close to you-- the target, to enact their violence. They may also blink very rapidly/ faster than what is considered normal, or blink very little and be very focused, even wide-eyed, and may regularly glance at your hands, pockets, and purse or backpack. Pay attention to their behavior. Indexing- When a threat has a weapon be it a knife or firearm, they may habitually/ impulsively index, that means they will move and touch/ grab and adjust the area where the weapon is hidden to ensure that it is there and hasn’t moved or been dropped, and secondarily shows their intention to reach for that weapon to commit their crime. This also means that they may not be very well trained or comfortable with said weapon, and many low-level criminals don’t use a holster for their firearms. Unnatural Gait or Hunchback stride- Also when a threat has a weapon, they may move or walk strangely to compensate for the weapon they are carrying. It may look as if they have a slight limp or are walking with one leg or the other not bending/ flexing in a normal way to keep that loosely secured weapon in place, and may also hunch a little to conceal the weapon in their waistband. As mentioned with Indexing, this also may indicate they are not properly trained and not using a holster. Unseasonable Clothing, Baggy Clothing or a Heavy Hoodie- As it says, if a threat is wearing a large or heavy/ puffy coat in warm weather, or a large hoodie with their hands in the frontal pouch-pocket or with aforementioned indicators present, they may be concealing a weapon—this also goes for baggy clothing that is usual with gang affiliation and criminal activity. Pay attention to what someone is wearing when they try to approach you. Visible Weapon- The most obvious is that the threat has a weapon visible or in their hands already, ready to perpetrate a crime. Take action immediately—make noise, call for help, try to escape and evade, or in last resort engage the threat for your safety. Do not take their or your actions lightly if this kind of escalation happens. Stay alert, stay alive, stay adaptive, and stay lethal. About the author: D.J. aka “The Metalhead Mercenary” is a US Army Veteran and Security Contractor and Executive Protection Specialist with over 20 years of combined experience. He still currently works in the industry.