- What type of attempt is this?
- How persistent is the person being?
- Closing distance or being static?
I’ll breakdown a recent attempt that was more politely persistent than usual to the point that I almost stopped what I was doing an got drawn in.
Walking back to my car right after a martial arts class and I hear a loudly projected, “excuse me, sir? Excuse me, sir? Sir hey! Sir!”
The man attempting to engage me was probably 75 feet away; we were on opposing sidewalks of a side-street in the downtown of the sometimes sketchy Columbia Pike in Arlington, VA. For a second I thought maybe I dropped something important and this guy wanted to help me. Quick pocket index: phone, wallet, keys, check.
I could tell by how he was dressed, his voice, and where in town we were that he was not a candidate for a future best friend and that I did not want to talk to him, though he was likely just asking for money. My first strategy was ignoring him because of the distance; initially I pretended to not hear him, but I still had to walk closer to where he was to get to the parking lot where my car was parked.
He continued his attempt and started to cross the street towards me. This required me to change tactics and engage him, so I acknowledged him with a loudly projected, “Sorry man!” and gave a polite wave as I walked through the parking lot towards my car. I realized that I was parked in a blind spot from the street, so anyone nearby would not see either of us if he was to continue his approach. Knowing my safe exit was not in a great place, my objective shifted to: Get in the car, get it locked, and get mobile.
Any further encroachment from where he was to in isolated area would require an assertive if not aggressive response to make it clear that I am not up for conversation-especially aggressive if his pace increases.
The way I see this unfold is I am either all in on the encroacher, or all in on my escape, no time to go slowly and be caught transitioning into the car, just in case.
While sometimes I would advocate avoiding engaging the person, this was a situation where I clearly wanted him to know that I was aware of his presence even from a distance because I did not want him to interpret my ignoring or lack of response as…this guy is not paying attention and is walking to a more secluded area, this is a opportunity to attack.
Takeaways from this example:
Learn to think strategically and analyze situations that you have been in, where the holes were, and how to make more direct, thought out decisions when confronted with something similar in the future. You personal experiences can be some of your best assets for teaching you how to be more aware and problem-solve more effectively in the moment.
Train smart & stay safe,
NOVA Self Defense