Interpreting Body Language

(Gershon Ben Keren - Sun 30th Nov)

One of the supposed easy to spot pre-violence indicators, is a person’s body language. In fact there have been countless books written on reading a person’s body language, whether to tell if they’re angry, sad, lying etc. Most of these books (and articles) have been written by FBI profilers and criminals interviewers etc. who have the luxury of observing the individuals they are questioning, on their own turf, in interview scenarios; where they control the time and pace of their interaction with the person whose motives, behaviors and actions they are trying to ascertain. Whilst they’re observations and conclusions surrounding body language and non-verbal cues are probably true and accurate, it would be wrong to believe that it is a simple job of translating these signals into real life, dynamic scenarios.

One of the funny things with interpreting body language, is that you probably already know a person’s intentions towards you if they are violent, without having to resort to checking off a list of body actions/behaviors. I remember being taught how to fold a map correctly, so that the enemy wouldn’t know where you were, or where you were trying to get to by the folds in the map – if you folded the map to look at a particular area then it would be obvious where you were, or trying to get to etc. I was also told never to put a finger on a map, as the dirt/sweat on your finger might leave a mark. I remember being very impressed at the thought that went into all of this, and then coming to the realization that if you were caught by the enemy, they obviously knew where you were, and didn’t really need to examine the creases and marks on your map to ascertain your location. It is normally very obvious when someone has harmful intent towards you, and interpreting specific signals is not really necessary.

Where an understanding of a person’s body language can be useful, is where somebody is hiding/disguising their violent/criminal intent towards us, and this is really something that is specific to certain types of violence e.g. the rapist who wants to convince a potential victim to leave the bar with them, the mugger who is trying to talk their victim into following them to a particular destination etc. Most of the time it will be verbal, rather than non-verbal cues that will alert us to their true intentions however there are certain non-verbal behaviors/actions that can help us gain a better overall picture of a person’s real motives.

It is usually pointless to try and examine facial expressions. This is because we see and interpret the world according to our emotional state e.g. if we are happy, we see other people as being happy whether they are sad or angry etc. A tight, forced grin, with the lips drawn back, which is a sign of aggression, will be interpreted as a happy smile, if the person viewing the face is in a positive/happy emotional state – if this is the case they have failed to pick up on the other signals that their aggressor is giving off, and are therefore so unaware of their predicament that they won’t be on the lookout for any particular pieces of body language. This really means that an individual’s body language can only be used as a means of confirming what you probably know already.

One of the things I always looked for when dealing with individuals who might become violent was an overall sense of anticipation, preparation and deliberation i.e. they were waiting or looking for something to happen e.g. people who were carrying weapons would often check the weapon, and make sure that any clothing that might restrict their draw would be clear – if somebody was constantly checking, patting down their pockets then it would be a good idea to either stay clear or apprehend them before they were able to escalate the situation. If somebody didn’t seem comfortable in the moment, then it was likely that they were planning or expecting something in the future – rarely good or positive. It is this overall sense of body language that I believe is more valuable than specific pieces relating to whether a person’s toes are pointing in or out, if they’re exposing their crotch/groin etc. These are things that may help an interviewer in a controlled environment etc. but are of little use to somebody interpreting a real time, dynamic situation that may well end in violence. Having a sense of whether a person is comfortable and easy in their present situation is a much better indicator of whether they have nefarious intentions towards you.       

Looking for specific non-verbal signals is a dangerous way to ensure your personal safety. Looking for verbal cues, and coupling them with a person’s body language is a much more productive approach. In saying this, most times interpreting a person’s demeanor and behavior only occurs when you hold suspicions about them, which means at the very end of the day, trusting your gut is your first and best line of defense. 

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Holiday Shopping Safety

(Gershon Ben Keren - Sun 23rd Nov)

As we approach Thanksgiving and Black Friday, we start to see Xmas and Holiday shopping start up in earnest. The increase of shoppers on the streets, in malls and parking lots, also increases the number of potential victims for muggers and other financial predators, especially when many of these victims are harried parents, trying to get their shopping done in the shortest possible time. In this article I want to talk about some of the ways in which you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim of crime when shopping at this time of year.

The following statement might at first sound somewhat alarmist; people are watching you. There are few parking lots, and shopping malls, where there aren’t any financial predators or criminal opportunists looking out for potential victims. This is not to say that you are always in a state of high risk and constant danger, as several things have to come together to facilitate an actual crime, but rather that you should be aware that there are those in these environment who are looking to take advantage of any mistake you make e.g. if you forget to lock your car door in the parking lot, there is a good chance that else somebody will observe that – it doesn’t take much to recognize someone who turns away from their car without putting their key in the lock, and doesn’t use the remote lock on their key fob either i.e. the horn doesn’t go and the lights don’t flash etc. It may be at the start of your shopping trip you are much more clued into your security and personal safety, but if you return to your car loaded down with bags in order to drop them off, before you continue your shopping spree, you may easily forget to lock your car.

Also be aware that if you do use your car as a storage facility like this, any criminal in the environment will know that there are valuable items in your car – it may be a hassle but driving to another parking spot in the same lot may be enough to fool any potential criminals that you have actually left, and are therefore no longer a potential target (few if any criminals will actually memorize a registration plate and go looking for a particular car) – if you do this make sure your bags are in the trunk and are not visible to anyone passing by your car.

It is often safer to park your car, near the exit and entrance ways to the parking lot. These areas usually enjoy the best natural surveillance, as there should be – especially at this time of year – constant traffic moving in and out of the lot, meaning that there will be a lot of eyes on your car, and less opportunities for a criminal who may be trying to target you or your vehicle from going unseen.

Understand as well that different spaces have different norms and levels around personal space. In a crowded mall, it is acceptable for a person to be within a few feet of you (or possibly less), in a parking lot, this distance expands, and generally no person has any reason to be within 10 feet of you. When we change environments, it can take some time for our awareness around personal space to adjust; what may be an acceptable personal distance in a mall, may not be an acceptable distance in a parking lot even though only a few seconds have passed. Be aware of individuals who are not keeping an acceptable distance between them and you; if necessary change your route/direction, and see how they adjust theirs. If there is some form of synchronization of movement, try and head back towards an area where there is a lot of people, and possibly security, than trying to rush to your car.

When you do head to your car, have your keys ready. It’s a good idea before you leave a mall or shopping outlet etc. to adjust your bags, and have your keys out, so that when you get to your car, you can transfer everything quickly, get in and put the central locking on – and immediately start the engine. Parking lots are not places to check and send text messages etc. The shorter the amount of time you have to spend in them the better. If you are going straight home, consider if it is quicker to put your shopping on the back seat, rather than using the trunk.

If you are spending a long time at a shopping mall, try and take regular breaks. It is very hard to ascertain if someone is watching/observing you if you are constantly engaged in an activity such as shopping. Sitting down somewhere and having a coffee, will allow you the time to relax, and observe those who may be engaged in some sort of surveillance of you. Take a moment to think back if anyone seemed to have an unnatural interest in what you were doing – if you can’t recall anyone that’s fine, but going through this process will help keep your awareness up, without getting you adrenalized and panicked. Something which will actually lower your effective awareness. Whilst shopping malls do see their fair share of muggings, you are more likely to be targeted in the parking lot as you leave – stopping for coffee or similar immediately before you leave, is a good chance for you to readjust your bags, get your car keys ready, and move to a more alert mode.

As any security operative will tell you; there is no substitute for planning, and thinking about a shopping trip from a personal safety perspective will go a long way to keeping you safe. 

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Convincing Others

(Gershon Ben Keren - Sun 16th Nov)

If you are reading this article my guess is that you’ve already bought into the idea that the world we live in contains violence, and that it is a good idea to know how to deal with it, should you find yourself in a potentially dangerous and threatening situation. However there are many people out there who either don’t believe that they are at risk of being assaulted, and/or if they are there is probably nothing they can do to identify, prevent and avoid the attack and/or physically deal with it if they are assaulted. If you are trying to convince someone of this viewpoint to start training, many of your arguments will probably have fallen on deaf ears – you may even have been labelled paranoid, reactionary and ridiculous by those you try and convince. In this article I would like to lay out some arguments that can be used to convince those who don’t want to learn how to protect themselves, that it might be time to start thinking about doing so.

Argument One: The most common types of aggressive and violent acts, are low-level, simple incidents that can largely be dealt with by non-physical solutions, rather than the worst case scenarios that people tend to fixate on. When the media reports on a home invasion, where a 300 pound Behemoth, storms into a house where there is a mother and child and systematically starts assaulting the mother, as they conduct a robbery, the question on everyone’s lips, is what could she possibly do that would have worked against such an assailant? The conclusion: nothing, and therefore it would be a waste of time to try and learn a self-defense system or martial art because it would be largely ineffective in such a situation. It’s a good argument, and one that is very difficult to counter, however the situation described is an extreme one; it’s a worst case scenario. Being mugged in a parking lot is much more common, having an aggressive stranger in a bar shout at you and push you is much more likely, finding yourself facing an individual or group who you have somehow “disrespected” is a much more common occurrence etc. but these are not the situations that the news and media report on, and so they are often not the situations that people think about. If you find yourself trying to present to people solutions for worst case scenarios, try and turn their attention away from these, and get them to consider that there are a lot of very simple solutions for the more common types of violence that they are likely to face, and that the consequences of not knowing how to act and behave in them can be equally as serious, as those faced in a worst case scenario e.g. an armed mugger can stab and/or shoot you if you don’t know how to behave and deal with the situation.

Argument Two: Personal safety is just formalized common sense. This is probably one of the biggest and laziest self lies that people tell themselves to both avoid thinking about the danger and threats that are out there, and to convince themselves that they don’t need to be trained in personal safety and/or self-defense. Every sexual predator out there, whether targeting men, women or children knows what our common sense dictates, knows how we will act in a situation, knows how to get us to trust them etc. You may believe you are a good judge of character, that everyone else who has been sexually assaulted and raped somehow lacked your common sense and wasn’t as street savvy as you – the truth is, they were just like you, and they met a skilled social predator who was able to use their ideas about how violent situations occur and develop against them. If you are still of the opinion that strangers who try and get you into your car pull up beside you, and offer you a ride etc. you are thinking back to when you were a six year old, and your parents warned you about men in white vans trawling your neighborhood. As an adult the strangers likely to try and get you into their cars will do so in much more subtle and sophisticated ways – ways which will bypass and use your common sense.

Argument Three: Lifestyle prevents risk. Many older people look back on their teenage years and their early twenties, recognizing that there were times when they were at risk, and were perhaps lucky, and then contrast it with their present lifestyle e.g. they no longer stay out late at night, they don’t frequent certain bars and clubs anymore etc. Because of this they believe that there is no longer any risk in their life that having a good job and living in the suburbs etc. means that there lifestyle is one which doesn’t puts them into contact with dangerous people. Dangerous people prey on people who believe they are not at risk because they’re the easiest and most compliant victims. You don’t have to go to them they will come to you; they will frequent the shopping malls you go to, the parking lost where you park your car, the transit stops you use on your way to work etc. If you go where there are people, predatory individuals will be there with them. It should be remembered that the crimes and acts of violence they commit are usually low-level ones, but lifestyle will not preclude you from being targeted – in fact quite the opposite.

These are three arguments I have had the most success with when people argue with me against the need for personal safety and self-defense training. Try not to be dragged into a debate on worst case scenarios and how you would handle them (the martial artist in all of us wants to…) but instead present a realistic and non-hysterical picture of what everyday violence actually looks like. Don’t buy the idea that personal safety is just common sense – predatory individuals can play us like cheap violins if we behave and act with just common sense (plus we often make exceptions for ourselves where common sense is concerned). Yes, your lifestyle now may be less riskier than what it was, but in and of itself it is no defense.

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Self Defense Applications & Technology

(Gershon Ben Keren - Wed 12th Nov)

One of the things which is very in vogue at the moment is the use of technology for self-defense and personal safety. The market in recent months has been flooded with phone apps that alert friends, family and even the police, when you are in danger (providing you know when you are), with your location, using GPS. Similar technology has been produced and fitted into jewellery, and clothing, working on the same premise; you identify a threat, you press a button, and friends and family members etc. receive details via an app on their mobile phone as to where you are, and in some cases they can even listen in to what’s happening. Whilst all of this may seem like useful technology to have and use, the real question is, how effective is it, and is it detrimental to use it?

There ae two pieces of personal safety advice that we received as very young children. These were: don’t get into cars with strangers, and always tell a parent where you were going. These apps, which can provide our location to others, emotionally resonates with the personal safety advice we were given as children; always tell an adult where you are going and where you will be. Technology that allows us to tell others where we are, automatically makes us feel safe, as it reminds us of a time, when as long as Mum and Dad knew where we were they could come and rescue us. The problem is, that our parents gave us that advice because they wanted to give us a sense of freedom, whilst maintaining a level of control. At the end of the day, if you as a 12 year old were abducted from a shopping mall, the fact that your parents knew you were there was inconsequential when it came to preventing the crime. Knowing where people are makes everybody involved feel safer, however it’s not effective when it comes to preventing assaults and abductions etc. Undoubtedly technology that allows us to notify people where we are and that we are in trouble will make us feel safer however just because we feel safe doesn’t mean we are.

There are a number of reasons why this technology has a very limited use from a personal safety perspective; to say it is completely useless would be unfair, as it does have some very, very limited practical applications. One reason it is generally ineffective is the speed at which most assaults occur; something which many people are unaware off, or grossly underestimate. In 1982 a woman was raped on a New York Subway train, between two stops. The entire assault was completed within 7 seconds. The rapist was already aroused when he started the assault, and it took him only a few seconds to move behind the woman (who was standing, holding on to a pole), lift her skirt up, pull her pants down and penetrate her, and only a more to ejaculate and move away. There were also people present who failed to see the assault, or who did see it and didn’t want to get involved. Whilst such assaults are rare, two things from the account are evident: firstly, the assault occurred very quickly, and was over in a matter of seconds, secondly if anybody did see what was going on, they either decided not to get involved, or explained the incident away to themselves e.g. that both parties knew each other and it was consensual – they denied it for what it was. This is the problem that such apps have to deal with.

If you find yourself in a threatening situation, and have the presence of mind to use an app to alert a circle of friends, they may only have a few seconds to act – if they are in the same environment as you, such as in a club or bar, they may be able to get to you in time, however at any greater distance it is unlikely that they stand any chance of reaching you or notifying law enforcement and security agencies to the fact that you are in danger. Also, it is likely that they will go throw a period of deliberating what to do when they see the alarm go off on their phone; they may well debate with themselves (and others) if the app has gone off by accident, or whether you’re over-reacting, they may also assume that somebody else will be receiving this alert as well and that they can let them take responsibility for dealing with it – something that is referred to as the “Genovese Syndrome”. It really doesn’t matter how reliable the people the app contacts are, they will initially not believe it and then find themselves wondering what to do, and having to convince themselves to do it – this is our shared human condition when dealing with high stress events.

There is then the question of the person using the app being able to recognize the threat/danger earlier enough on, so that they can alert people. If we believe that all violence happens when we are walking alone at night then we might convince ourselves that we’ll be able to recognize the danger soon enough however, how many times has the hair on the back of your neck gone up, and you’ve felt that somebody’s following you? And how many times have you told yourself not to be so paranoid and stupid? When we first identify threats we experience denial; a simple emotional coping mechanism that allows us to feel safe and less stressed. Even if you have a piece of technology in your hand, ready to alert the world to danger, you may be assaulted before you have the time to use it, because you’ve explained away the danger to yourself; just as the people who receive the alert are likely to do. The majority of sexual assaults against women are conducted by acquaintances – are you likely to have your phone and app open when communicating with them? Probably not. The creators of these applications have not studied the reality of violence, they have just created something that will work in their “world” of what violence looks like.

In all of this the larger question remains unanswered: what are you doing about your personal safety when you rely on an app or piece of technology to tell others you are in danger? Basically nothing, and this is the real danger of relying on technology to keep you safe; you remove your own responsibility for personal safety, and place it on to someone else. You’ve ticked a box that says you are now safe, and then you switch off. These apps, are no different to the rape alarms and whistles, which nobody carries anymore; there were too many false alarms, nobody came when they were used (people “mistook” or explained away the rape alarms as car alarms) etc. Just because the technology has become more sophisticated it doesn’t mean the idea itself has improved. Will there be success stories surrounding this type of technology? Of course there will as these stories will always be newsworthy, however the number of people who relied on these apps to keep them safe and were still assaulted will never be reported on – and that will be the far larger number.    



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Falling for Predator's "Traps"

(Gershon Ben Keren - Tue 11th Nov)

In every aggressive or violent interaction you have, there will always be a primary motive, possibly a secondary motive and a host of underlying motives – whether the act of aggression is one of demonstrating dominance over you, or trying to take possessions from you. When we talk of primary and secondary motives, we are referring to situations where a predatory individual engages in one type of crime, such as a mugging or burglary (crimes aimed at gaining resources), which then turns into a sexual assault or rape (crime of dominance) i.e. the predator is primarily motivated to commit one crime, but if the opportunity to commit another occurs then they will take this. Underlying motives are ones which help fuel the primary and secondary motives e.g. anger, control, power etc.

In certain acts of violence such as muggings, and sexual assaults the goal and motivation to commit the crime are usually understood by both parties e.g. somebody wants to mug you, it is clear what they want, and how they are motivated etc. However we may also experience acts of aggression, both at a high and a low level, where a person’s motivation may not be so obvious e.g. the person who refuses to move out of our way when we are trying to get on/off a bus or train etc. or the person who seems to take extreme offense at our very presence in a bar or club, and is trying to drive the situation so that they have a “legitimate” reason to become physically violent towards us. Such situations, can often appear extremely confusing to us, because in neither one does the person acting aggressively seem to get anything out of the situation – yet they must, or they wouldn’t engage in such behaviors.

This is where understanding that it may be the underlying motives, which cause a person to act aggressively. Part of our human condition, sees us wanting to exert control over the situations we find ourselves in – in many cases the rules of society and employment, will naturally restrict our ability to do this e.g. at the end of the day you have to do what your boss tells you, or you get fired. As social animals, we buy into this idea because it yields rewards (such as a paycheck), but it is not in our nature as animals to automatically hand over control, to others in such an automatic fashion. If somebody feels that they have given up large elements of control in their life, they will often take advantage of ambiguous situations, where no formal rules of behavior exist, and exert their desire to control their environment in these i.e. their work, social, family lives see them have little opportunity to influence or control their life, so they engage in small acts of control and dominance in other settings to compensate.

If somebody has perceived that they’ve experience a loss of status in any one of the groups and environments they operate in, they will also look to exert control in other areas of their life, that they may not otherwise be motivated to do so e.g. if they are passed over for a promotion, they felt was due to them, in the work environment, they may try and up their status in the eyes of their peers in other groups they interact with – such as their drinking buddies; they may act more aggressively within the group to force a higher position in the pecking order, and/or act aggressively/violently towards, someone outside of the group, so they reinforce/extend their position as a group member. Studies have show that people will largely put double the effort to regain status than they will to try and simply improve status. The mistake we make is that we often separate the groups, and the hierarchies, believing that someone who suffers a loss of status in a work setting, will only try and readdress that loss in that particular setting, rather than in their social, familial and other environments.

If we have been chosen as the victim/target of such aggression, we may find ourselves initially confused as to why we, rather than somebody else has been picked on – we basically fitted the profile of somebody they believed they could dominate, and whose domination would be respected by the group they were with etc. To regain this perceived loss of status, the individual involved, will have to find a way to justify both to themselves and the group, that they had the right to act violently, and they weren’t simply engaging in aggression and violence for its own sake. Simple lines such as, “Are you looking at me?”, “What’s your problem?” about projecting the “challenge” on to you, and away from them; making you the instigator of the aggression, which then justifies their right to become aggressive and violent towards you. These type of questions are scripted out, and we often fall into the trap, of answering them in a way that facilitates and promotes violence, rather than one that deflects, distracts and de-escalates the emotion within the situation.

One way we do this is by denial e.g. we tell the person that we’re dealing with that, no we weren’t looking at them – which then sets them up nicely for the next line, which might be, “Are you calling me a liar?” etc. Our goal should be to answer in a way that prevents an aggressor from continuing with their script e.g. “Hey I’m sorry, I guess I was, I haven’t got my contact lenses in, so I can’t actually focus and see people at that distance, so sometimes when I’m just looking in a general direction, it may seem like I’m looking at one person; my bad, sorry.” – a line such as this acknowledges their “interpretation” of the situation, without giving them the “justification” to become violent.

It might not always be clear what an aggressor’s motivation is when they begin to act aggressively, and they may not consciously understand why they feel the need to become violent, and this is when the underlying motives surrounding violence start to become more important. If we also recognize that the “scripts” that are used in such situations, are largely hard-wired into our DNA, we can interrupt the process, by taking the situation in a totally new and different direction.  

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Defensive Knife Carry

(Gershon Ben Keren - Sun 2nd Nov)

One of the questions I get asked a lot, concerns carrying a knife for defensive purposes; something I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand I agree with the argument that you shouldn’t go into a confrontation putting yourself in a disadvantaged position, and as your assailant is probably carrying a weapon – such as a knife - you should too. At the same time though, I see many arguments, against carrying a knife, which I am going to present in this article – and hopefully present where knife carry for civilians might be appropriate. At the end of the day, personal safety and protection is personal, and whether to carry a knife or not is a question of individual/personal choice.   

Many people believe that pulling a weapon in an aggressive situation, is a show of force that acts as a deterrent, convincing an aggressor that it is in their best interests to back off. This may be true in some instances but it is certainly not universal. I have seen on more than one occasion, the sudden presence of a weapon, escalating the situation, and being the trigger that moved the dispute/argument/disagreement from a verbal confrontation into a physical one. We also know that many criminals have rushed police who were pointing firearms at them, so there are certainly those individuals out there who will take their chances against an individual who is better armed than them, however great the initial odds may seem stacked against them. The other thing to note about deterrents, is that your deterrent must be the “winning hand” to be truly effective e.g. if you pull a knife, and in response your aggressor draws a firearm, your upping the ante of the situation, didn’t give you the winning hand, and has in fact put you in a disadvantaged position.

If you do, or are thinking about, carrying a knife how are you intending to be effective with it? As discussed previously, presenting a weapon to an aggressor as a deterrent can’t be relied upon as a means of avoiding a physical confrontation, so how in a physical conflict are you intending to use the knife? A friend of mine who worked for the Metropolitan Police Forensics Department, told me many years ago, that from the Met’s findings the average number of stab and slash wounds that caused a fatality were 32. Obviously this is an average, and in some cases it only took 2 or 3 etc. but it helps demonstrates that stabbing somebody isn’t an immediate fight finisher. I have been with people who didn’t even realize they were stabbed till several moments after the fight/conflict had ended. Is your intention if attacked to keep stabbing the person till they back away, or till they are unconscious, or are you looking to try and use your weapon to help you escape and disengage? Having a realistic understanding of your weapon’s capabilities and limitations, should be one of your first considerations when choosing what to carry e.g. hitting somebody over the head forcibly with a blunt object (such as a flashlight) may stop a person faster than cutting or stabbing them.

One of the considerations to make when carrying any weapon is when to draw it; what are the triggers that will cause you to pull it? Is it a person’s actions or behaviors, is it down to situational components e.g. the presence of multiple assailants, or due to the position(s) you find yourself in, such as when you are on the ground, when your unarmed defenses are failing etc. Being decisive is a fundamental fighting/self-defense skill, and not knowing when to draw your weapon, could cause you to hesitate and fail. The situations when you envisage pulling your weapon, may also influence how you carry it e.g. if you are only going to use a knife when you are on the ground, and possibly on your back, carrying it in a rear pocket would be inadvisable – you may also have to adapt the way that you fight on the ground, so that you are able to access it. Your weapon should not be an abstract component, in your self-defense strategy but fit in with all the other pieces, such as your prevention and avoidance piece, your de-escalation piece, your unarmed piece etc. If you choose to carry a knife how and where will it fit in with all your other pieces?

I try not to think too much about the legal system when designing my self-defense strategies, as when the time to fight for survival comes, there should be no limits imposed, however when weighing up the effectiveness of a particular weapon, the situations when it would be appropriate to use etc. it is worth taking a moment to consider how society – as represented by the legal system – views the choices we make. If we consider OC/CS and other Sprays, the general opinion seems to be that these are primarily defensive tools, as there are rarely any long term consequences (the person affected is normally back to normal in 20-30 minutes etc.), and the outcome(s)/effect(s) of spraying someone are known. Sticks and Batons fall into a similar category – it is possible to choose targets, and affect them at range. There is of course the possibility to use a stick to cause serious trauma to the head, and inflict serious damage to the limbs and body. Both Sprays and Sticks can be used at range, and in a way to cause limited damage and trauma – this is why law enforcement uses them (if you are to use one of these tools you have a good point of reference from a legal perspective to have them viewed as non-lethal weapons). Knives are used differently, they are not used just to cause pain but to cut and destroy tissue, and cause blood loss regardless of the part of the body which is targeted – they are also generally used at close range, rather than at distance. This makes it hard to argue that they are by nature a defensive tool, in the same way that a spray, stick or flashlight could be represented as. This is not to say that a knife couldn’t be used in a defensive capacity or manner just that inherently it would be difficult to argue that it is anything but an offensive weapon.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe knives have a place in individual’s self-defense and personal protection strategies. I do believe they have their uses e.g. one of the quickest ways to get somebody to release you from a strangle or choke is to stab them repeatedly in the leg, and groin area etc. but their carry and use, need to be thought about clearly and sensibly. Simply carrying a knife because it gives you an “advantage” is not really a good reason, unless you know what that advantage is and where it can be leveraged.

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