I’m finally home after several days of traveling and training — from Utah to New York to Las Vegas to Baltimore and back to Utah.
I always exercise good situational awareness no matter where I travel. I also keep in mind that every city has a different level of danger. For example, of the cities I recently traveled to, Baltimore is the most dangerous and the place where I was the most vigilant.
I lived in Baltimore for a few years while my wife was in law school, so I know the city rather well. I kid you not, I’m about the only person I know that didn’t get mugged or have their car broken into while in Baltimore. (Although a group of kids did try to carjack me once; however, I was able to keep them out of my car and speed away.)
On my recent trip, I was chatting with a few folks about the crime in Baltimore these days, and it sounds like little has changed.
One of the guys I was with — we’ll call him Larry — told me about an experience he had one night while walking back to his apartment.
Larry had just left a restaurant with a pizza in his hand when he noticed three suspicious-looking characters sauntering toward him. So Larry made the smart decision to cross to the other side of the street.
But before he knew it, one of the individuals was right near him and began talking to distract him. Larry glanced over his shoulder and saw the other two individuals running up behind him.
Wisely, Larry dropped the pizza and took off running. He kept looking over his shoulder and noticed that only one person in the group seemed to be able to keep up with him.
Eventually, the front runner grabbed Larry and told him to give up his phone. As they struggled, the criminal’s friends shouted something and the criminal quickly let go of Larry and sprinted off.
Naturally, this was a terrifying experience for Larry. He was fortunate that no harm came to him — he didn’t even have to relinquish his cellphone.
But it was a great reminder for him (and for all of us) that while running is the best option, if you’re caught and can’t escape, you’ve got to be prepared to defend yourself… and you need to be able to do it automatically.
In other words, Larry was reacting. He didn’t have a plan in mind on how to fight back. He just got lucky that the guy happened to leave when his friends called him.
However, if the criminal didn’t leave, he could have done some serious damage to Larry, who was wasting precious time when he could have been fighting back and stopping the criminal in his tracks.
This is why it’s so important to plan ahead and decide what you’re going to do if you ever find yourself in a situation similar to Larry’s.
While I was recently in Baltimore, I was staying at a hotel downtown. I didn’t have a car, so I had to walk several blocks to get to restaurants.
Each time I left my hotel, I carried my tactical pen and my monkey first keychain with me. I didn’t carry my gun, because I don’t have a permit to carry in the state of Maryland.
Anytime I felt uncomfortable, I would take my tactical pen out of my pocket and visualize what I would do if the person or persons I saw around me decided to attack me. I realize this may sound a bit paranoid, but remember, I was walking alone in a city — anything could happen.
Visualizing how I would protect myself took only seconds. This exercise mentally prepared me so that I wouldn’t freeze if an attack did occur.
I envisioned where I would strike an attacker with my tactical pen — the chest or the neck or the eyes — depending on the severity of the attack and how much I felt my life was in danger.
Thankfully, I never had to use my tactical pen and was able to leave Baltimore without any incident.
But wherever I go — especially in areas infamous for crime — I always stay alert, visualize potential attacks and play the “what if” game. I highly encourage you to do the same.
Believe me, I have zero desire for violence and I hope I never have to use my tactical pen (or any self-defense tool) on another human being. But I’ve heard stories from several of my students who have used the pen to survive an attack. If it could happen to them, it could certainly happen to you or me.
Please don’t be a victim. Take some time to plan ahead so you have the confidence to defend yourself. In other words, don’t stumble around in a trance like so many people do these days. Instead, pay attention to your surroundings, think about what might happen and decide how you will react.