It was almost a year ago that I was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer. I remember how my wife would use her PTO days at work to attend my doctors visits and be at my side like a great partner. On one particular day when she decided to join me, we had to make a short stop at my office in the burbs to print out some necessary documents.
We were literally a 1/4 mile from the office when a train, combined with construction on the roadway, forced a dead stop in traffic. After several long minutes of inching forward, I realized that a simple left turn onto a side street could stop the seemingly endless gas to brake mambo being performed by my feet.
Utilizing the rear camera and the ParkSense in our "Alfa Rosso "(AKA red) Stelvio dealer loaner, I knew I had plenty of room to safely backup and execute my escape. The blaze orange hat-donning gentleman in the Dark Brown Silverado behind me was apparently put-off by my cunningness. What started with a blaring horn, escalated to attempt to box me in with his truck.
Just his truck lunged toward my vehicle, I managed to escape and say goodbye with a friendly finger- or so I thought. As I pulled away, I heard the familiar sound of tires squealing and quickly realized his disenchantment and anger.
In spite of 280hp and plenty of experience with on-road racing/hooliganism, it was difficult for me to fully unleash those assets in a residential area. After turning several corners and being somewhat more generous with the gas than I should have, it was abundantly clear that he wasn't backing down.
Drawing from my personal experiences and from the training I received as both a student and instructor of Krav Maga, I knew this could not end well. It was clear that if I stopped the vehicle and addressed the threat (him) directly, that the situation would only escalate.
I had to think of a better way to de-escalate and prevent innocent people from being hurt- most importantly, my wife who was in the passenger seat. Thinking of what resources I had on me- I decided to take a chance. I knew the next corner would be my best opportunity to show him that enough was enough.
With the press of a button, my driver's window swiftly dropped open. I had to make certain that he could see what I was packing and that I wasn't afraid to use all it had. That's right, I showed him my Google Pixel 3.
While continuing to swerve through the neighborhood, I made sure to keep my hand out the window as I waved and shouted "Hey Asshole- I am calling the cops, so back the fuck off!" Surprisingly (and LUCKILY), that well executed stunt of stupidity worked and he turned off.
Despite of the best possible outcome, it certainly left me continuously pondering the "what ifs? With the uptick of robberies, assaults, carjackings and road rage induced tragedies, I decided to enlist the brains of a few of my fellow self-defense instructors and friends who are in the know.
These aren't your typical "I have read..." or "I heard..." guys, no. These are the guys who train with and alongside military and law enforcement professionals. Not only do I have the honor of calling these guys friends, I have also learned a wealth of knowledge that I, myself can share with my students, friends, family and readers, as well.
Adam F. who is a longtime friend, my martial arts mentor, and a man whose tactical knowledge makes John Wick look like an altar boy He was kind enough to share these tidbits of wisdom. "Pepper spray in the car, mounted to a little piece of velcro so you can get to it quick, is a good idea. You can shoot that out a cracked window that's rolled down just a little bit. I did that when I drove Uber."
Adam also suggested that "When stopped, don't stop right on some car's ass. Leave yourself enough room to make a quick move if you have to.." This is actually a very practical piece of advice as it can not only be used for protection. It is also a great practice to use when driving in inclement weather as well.
Another bad-ass-buddy is Oliver B. Oliver is founder of Modern Knight Combatives, a place where civilians can train and learn how to prepare to deal with the worst of humanity. Oliver's expertise and training focuses on the tactical aspects of "when it happens" and is useful training to have under your belt.
Oliver stresses the importance of not staying static. "When dealing with vehicle issues staying static is when people have issues and above all- the main thing to avoid. Use your vehicle to move, drive and escape/ram, use your body to leave the vehicle if needed but never just stop moving. That is when problems start to stack and you are now sitting in an aluminum cage."
This advice is not only applicable to law enforcement or security personnel, but it is certainly applicable to the average motorist. Sometimes we overlook the obvious, when simply removing ourselves from the danger is the best defense. Surprisingly, being able to disengage and get to safety is also a big part of Krav Maga.
This similarity, led me to seek advice from fellow colleagues at Alpha Krav Maga Compound. Since we teach and train alongside active law enforcement professionals, I knew there would be some valuable knowledge within this group. Here were some of the best takeaways they had to share as well:
- Being aware of your surroundings is key. Use your eyes, windows, mirrors and look around as soon as you enter or are about to exit a vehicle.
- Get in the habit of locking your doors as soon as you get into the vehicle. Regardless of automatic locking, its best to lock the doors yourself and don't unlock them until just before you are ready to exit. This makes it more difficult for a simple curbside grab-and-go.
- Listen to your gut. If your instincts are telling you to get out or to move, then move! Its always better (and more safe) to error on the side of cautiousness.
- Know your vehicle and how it behaves/responds. For instance, if you know the auto start/stop delays you from taking off in a hurry- then turn it off. Doing this myself, actually prevented an accident as I was able to quickly move to safety.
- Don't instigate. If a problem can simply end with one person honking the horn, just leave it there (yeah, I know...).
- Phones, Sat Navs, radio settings, or anything else that can disrupt your focus needs to be used with caution in unfamiliar areas. It can also cause distractions that can lead to accidents and incidents as well.
Without trying to sound like a fear-monger, it simply a sad reality that we need to rethink the way we perform our daily routine and how we react to others. I am certainly not trying to say that you must always be on edge or leery, but knowing how to prevent an unnecessary tragedy is worth noting.
I have often preached to my students during self-defense seminars, "There are three types of outcomes from an attack. You can either be a survivor, a victim, or a statistic." Although I know that it might sound a bit crude and overly simplified, but the point I make is that an individual CAN make a difference. You might not be able to prevent being targeted, but there is no shame in being ready for the "when it happens."