If you have experience of Reality Based Martial Arts, you will already have come across the idea of target hardening. However, it is not always included in traditional martial arts, so although this is not a new concept, I include it here for traditionalists who may not have heard of it before.
If you look at the way that animals hunt in the wild, they nearly all follow a similar pattern; whether it is lions stalking buffalo or wolves hunting moose. They don’t go for the big, fit, powerful young bull with the huge big horns, they go the old, the sick or the young calves who can’t keep up with the herd.
Because it is an easy kill and they can get fed without too much risk of injury to themselves. A hunter who gets injured can’t hunt effectively and starves, so they are not interested in a fair fight with the alpha male of the herd. One on one, a lion is no match for a fit young buffalo. One on one, a wolf is no match for a fit young moose. So they look for the vulnerable members of the herd. If they can hunt in packs to bring down prey larger then themselves, then all the better.
Our caveman ancestors were no different. One on one they were no match for a mammoth, but working together as a tribe they could bring one down. And I’m pretty sure that they did not target the biggest bull mammoth in the herd. So it should be no surprise that this basic primal instinct has been passed down to our modern day street predators (bullies, muggers, rapists, etc).
Our social conditioning and modern environment adds a number of different factors into the equation. The human street predator doesn’t only have to consider whether he (they) can get overpower their victim, they have to consider things like, will they be caught by the police. But the same underlying psychology of the predator is still there.
Street predators will usually look for an easy target where they feel success is assured without much injury or consequences for themselves. Of course, if they are high on drugs or drunk then all bets are off anyway as all ability to reason is out of the window. When drunk or high they are more likely to act in a completely random manor rather than a premeditated manor of a mugger or rapist.
So how you can you deter a street predator(s) by looking like a big young bull with bloody big horns (metaphorically speaking)?
The first thing to realise is that you don’t necessarily have to be big, powerful and strong (though it does of course help if you are). What you really need to do is to exude an air of confidence and awareness.
Lets say for example that a potential rapist is looking for a victim. One women go walks by who is looking around (aware of her surroundings) and confidently looks like she wouldn’t take any nonsense from anybody. Another women of similar age, looks and build walks past; but this one is looking at the ground, afraid to make eye contact and with a very timid demeanour about her. Which one do you think the rapist will go for?
Obviously he is more likely to pick the second one. First of all, he is not likely to get too close to the first lady before she’ll spot him, so not so much chance of getting close and taking her by surprise.
Secondly, even if he has a knife (or any other weapon) and threatens his victim; the first lady is more likely to fight and shout for help. Yes, he can still cut her and run off, but if she screams or shouts (if only once), then the chances of people coming to her assistance and his chances of being caught have been greatly increased. Even if he kills her, he is still more likely to be caught and like the jungle predator who can’t hunt when injured, this can often be enough to deter him (them).
Some rapists intend at the outset to kill their victim when they’ve finished, but they want to do it where they have full control of the situation and they won’t be caught (often by taking her somewhere else). They don’t want to do it where there is a risk that their victim can attract help.
So it is the second lady who is looks timid and looks like she has no fight in her who is more likely to be selected. The irony is that women who have been attacked or abused before will often stop taking care of themselves and dress down in order to make themselves less attractive to a would-be attacker/abuser. But as in the case above, they actually give out more “victim signals” by doing so. Abusers and rapists can often read those signals and know intuitively that they have an easy target.
Men often find strong, confident looking women more attractive; but as discussed above, ironically these women are less likely to be attacked (even though they are perceived as more attractive) because they are more likely to put up a fight.
Although I use the example of a rapist selecting a woman victim, this can be read across to any street predator selecting a target, be it a mugger or just a bully.
Animals in the wild are seldom interested in taking on a target where they may get injured as it will limit they ability to continue hunting and they risk starvation. The human predator has more social conditions to contend with, but the mindset is basically the same.
I want to emphasis that I am NOT suggesting that all you have to do is look confident and you’ll never be attacked again. But it will reduce the odds in your favour. The best self defence of all, is not be attacked in the first place.
Martial arts training with help to give you an air of confidence which will help you. Most traditional martial arts teach good body structure as part of their basic techniques, which also tend to teach the student a more upright and confident looking posture. These things are not enough on there own to assure complete safety, but they do make a definite contribution and should not be overlooked.