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Guard Yourself: Verbal De-escalation

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

The third installment in our Guard Yourself series is De-escalation.

De-escalation is the act of talking someone out of a physical altercation after an incident has occurred that increases tension between 2 or more people. If we've trained in martial arts for 1 day of 40 years, whether we have no experience or think we can stop anyone coming at us because we have a weapon and are proficient with it, we always want to avoid an altercation if at all possible.

For one, no matter your level of training, there can always be surprises or a lucky punch. For another,  we have to think past that one moment in time and consider our future. If the interaction were to escalate to blows, we may win the fight, but be sued for damages. We may be arrested, even if we were only defending ourselves and have that on our record for life. It may be as simple as not setting the best example for those around you. So, do we always comply and become a doormat? No. One easy thing we may do is redirect the conversation.

Say you're walking along minding your own business and someone accuses you of staring at them with the clichéd "What are you looking at?". Simply respond with, "You look familiar, is your name John?". If not, respond with, "Oh well, you look just like John. Anyway, have a good day." and walk away. If his name is John, come up with an obscure last name, like Lipschmidt, and follow the same script as above. This way, you aren't denying that you were staring and you aren't insulting him either; you're simply redirecting the conversation in a direction he didn't expect.

When we train in martial arts or with weapons, whether stick, knife, or gun, we always train in the hopes we never have to use the skills we've obtained. Remember that no plan is fool-proof and we may need redundant plans to get ourselves out of certain situations, but redirecting can be a good tool to use in de-escalation so that we aren't taking the blame for something we didn't do while still avoiding an altercation.

Be alert, be aware, stay safe.


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