A self defense story

Discussion in 'Self Defence' started by Morik, Aug 29, 2016.

  1. Morik

    Morik Well-Known Member Supporter MAP 2017 Gold Award

    When I was in college I had a girlfriend who studied Chemistry.

    One night she was at the lab late. I had agreed to meet her there as she finished up her lab work.

    It was about a 10 minute walk from the lab building to the parking lot where her car was.

    As we left the lab building around maybe 9pm, there was no one else around.
    But as we turned onto the path towards the parking lot, a guy started following us.

    At first I didn't think anything of it, but he was acting oddly:
    - Kept staying behind things so it was hard to see him. E.g., stayed behind a bush/wall until we turned a corner, then would follow some more, staying behind a row of bushes or whatnot.
    - Kept altering his pace so he didn't come into full view of us.
    - Not really sure, I just really felt like something was wrong.

    There was no one else around, and we were heading into an even more secluded area on the way to the parking lot.

    So I pulled out my new 3" buck knife I had gotten the other day, and very loudly started telling my girlfriend about how much I liked my new big knife while making sure to make the knife very visible.

    I opened it for her, loudly discussed how big the blade was, etc.

    The guy stopped following us about 10 seconds after I started talking about my knife.

    Perhaps not the story you were expecting. I'm not even positive he had ill intentions (I certainly thought so, but I could have been wrong).
    But if he did, I think the knife talk discouraged him.

    Potential violent situation averted.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2016
  2. slasha

    slasha Banned Banned

    Have you seen Crocodile Dundee?
  3. Morik

    Morik Well-Known Member Supporter MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Is that the one with the "That's not a knife! THIS is a knife!"?
  4. liero

    liero Valued Member

    Pre-escalation, the new de-escalation.
  5. chucksmanhood

    chucksmanhood Valued Member

    Cool story, bro!
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2016
  6. SWC Sifu Ben

    SWC Sifu Ben I am the law

    As much as I'm a fan of innuendo, that's going a bit far here mate. Might want to walk that one back a bit. Just a friendly suggestion.
  7. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    You could also ask your girlfriend loudly, "You don't mind if I just kill one more person today, do you?"
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
  8. chucksmanhood

    chucksmanhood Valued Member

    Wont happen again boss.
  9. Morik

    Morik Well-Known Member Supporter MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Guess you had to be there--all the responses seem to be "you way over-reacted".
    I didn't (explicitly) threaten the guy. I had a seriously bad vibe.
    I have never had a repeat of such a bad vibe from someone following me; not like I'm running around pulling knives on people all the time. This was the only time I've done so, actually.

    Back to the regularly scheduled mockery now :)
  10. SWC Sifu Ben

    SWC Sifu Ben I am the law

    It's not about overreacting. Awareness is a good thing. I call it a 'healthy level of paranoia' where you plan for the worst and hope for the best.

    Heck I work a job where I literally have to assume that everyone I see may want to blow me up, dust me with anthrax, shoot me, or cut my throat. Now if I pull a weapon from my duty belt every time someone gets within sight that's an unwarranted escalation. Is the potential for harm there? Sure. But the presentation of the weapon and suggestion of violence is unnecessarily escalating the situation even if I had a "bad vibe," and I've had plenty. There are better deterrents and what you did was not only stupid, but if someone was actually out to lay some hurt on you could've simply resulted in you dying, quickly.
  11. Morik

    Morik Well-Known Member Supporter MAP 2017 Gold Award

    What would a better response have been?

    Let me try to answer my own question by breaking this down a bit.

    Possible actions:
    1. Do nothing, keep walking like nothing is wrong (reassess as the situation evolves)
    2. Stop walking and just stand in place (talk to GF for a bit, or something)
    3. Confront the guy
    4. Try to scare the guy off (I did a version of this).
    5. Walk faster/Run
    6. Something else

    1. Do nothing, keep walking like nothing is wrong.
    - If he wanted to attack us, we were heading into places where it would be easier to do so.
    - I don't think this is the best option in this case.

    2. Stop walking and just stand in place for a while
    - He would be forced to either stop following us or to be even more obvious that he was following us
    - He could pretend to just be walking past us and attack right there (though that would be a bit risky for him, as while I didn't see anyone around this was not a very secluded area_.
    - This seems like it would have been a decent option.

    What would the correct response be if he stopped and waited too, just around a corner from us? I sort of tried this; I varied our walking pace, and stopped for maybe 10 seconds at one point; he did not pass us, and slowed himself/waited so he didn't come into full view of us.

    3. Confront the guy

    This doesn't seem like a good idea; if he was going to try to harm us, it would just move the timetable up I think. (With a small chance of discouraging him, maybe?)

    4. Scare the guy off

    Yeah if he had a gun and intended us harm I guess he coulda just shot us as soon as he saw me with the knife.

    He was still ~15 feet away and not in full sight at the time I did this (he was behind some shrubs that mostly blocked him from sight).

    I didn't really think it through at the time, but:
    - If he had a gun we are probably screwed anyway
    - If he has some other weapon it would make him more likely to just attack first rather than demand money or whatever he may have wanted from us
    - On the other hand (without a gun) he may figure it is too risky/too much trouble and leave.

    5. Run

    I'm not a great runner (in terms of stamina). If I was going to run in this situation it certainly wouldn't be to the car (still minutes away, and more secluded). If I thought to run it would be to a more populous area.

    6. Something else

    Any other ideas?
  12. aikiMac

    aikiMac aikido + boxing = very good Moderator Supporter

    Honestly, I thought what you did made sense in the moment. It didn't sound like an over-reaction.
  13. Ero-Sennin

    Ero-Sennin Well-Known Member Supporter

    The truck I landscaped with in DC had bullet holes in it. There were a few jobs we did where the security guards "told us white boys" we were crazy for working where we were at. I remember working in Anacostia where the people wouldn't even look at or acknowledge us because we were white, and if they did it was a stare down. Hell, there were kids 10-12 years old walking the street during school knives flipping butterfly knives 0_0

    I made sure I walked around with a large landscaping tool or my knife in hand on those jobs. Sort of the same concept as the OP. Making yourself out to be a hard target will deter a lot of people. However it's also revealing your cards so if somebody is going to go after you, they have a leg up in knowing what they'll have to deal with when they go after you.

    Nothing is ever a win win though : /
  14. Morik

    Morik Well-Known Member Supporter MAP 2017 Gold Award

    I would love to hear back from some of the people who say my reaction was a poor choice--what would a better option have been?
  15. Giovanni

    Giovanni Well-Known Member Supporter

    how do you know this guy meant you harm? you probably just scared him off from being near you because you're wielding a knife. if i was walking down the street, and a guy in front of me pulled out a knife, i would probably go the other way. just saying. how do you know the person even heard you?
  16. Morik

    Morik Well-Known Member Supporter MAP 2017 Gold Award

    As I already stated in the OP, I don't know that he meant me harm.
    Based on the volume I spoke at, I am reasonably certain that he heard me talking about the knife. But of course I can't know for sure he heard me.

    I wasn't flailing the knife around. He was still at least 20 ft from us. I'm not sure he could even see the knife from his vantage point. But I'm pretty sure he could hear me.

    I'm not sure how this particular branch of the conversation is of interest. If you are asking why I thought I was in danger, I think I've explained that to the best of my ability.

    If you are saying that based on the data I had, I should not have thought I was in danger, then that may be interesting to discuss.

    If you are saying something else, I am not clicking with you--can you clarify what your goal is? (Are you trying to understand more of my state of mind at the time? Are you just pointing out that many people would go away from this scenario in the guys' shoes, regardless of whether they meant me harm? I do understand that.)

    I'm more interested in:
    1) What would the optimal reaction be, given the set of data I had at the time.

    2) Was my reaction 'good enough' (obviously in this particular case, things worked out fine, I mean if this situation played out many times, is the way I reacted likely to have a non-bad outcome most of the time?)

    Regarding (2), some people have stated that it was not a good way to react. I'm interesting in hearing more on why it was not a good way to react, and what a better way would have been. (See my post a few posts up where I try to break down what my options were.)
  17. Giovanni

    Giovanni Well-Known Member Supporter

    it's of interest because you shared your story on a public forum. if you don't want people asking questions or commenting on it, maybe you shouldn't post it on the internet.

    i don't have a goal per se. i have questions though. if your paranoia was correct, let's just say this person meant you harm, are you prepared for the possible legal implications or pulling out a lethal weapon? even if you are seemingly in the right? what if in fact, he was only walking in the same direction? what if he walked by you? were you prepared (or thinking of) to preemptively strike?
  18. Giovanni

    Giovanni Well-Known Member Supporter

    did you think of maybe the gentleman was staying a distance back as to not freak you out at night? but yet, you pulled a knife out?

    in a case like that, who's the violent one seeking to do harm?
  19. aikiMac

    aikiMac aikido + boxing = very good Moderator Supporter

    Going the other way Giovanni, I argue that these two points warranted his reaction (cut and pasting here the OP):

    - Kept staying behind things so it was hard to see him. E.g., stayed behind a bush/wall until we turned a corner, then would follow some more, staying behind a row of bushes or whatnot.
    - Kept altering his pace so he didn't come into full view of us.

    My spider-sense totally would have been tingling if someone was following me like that.

    And the OP, Morik, said that he pulled his whopping 3-inch knife out in a conversation with his girlfriend, to tell her about it conversationally. He didn't say that he was holding it menacingly. He said he was showing it to her conversationally as they walked.
  20. Morik

    Morik Well-Known Member Supporter MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Giovanni, I meant "I'm not interested in exploring this tangent as it doesn't seem relevant". My language was unclear. If you think I'm incorrect about its relevance (whether I know for sure if he heard me or not, which I have no way of knowign for sure), I'd be interested in how (if I answer 'yes', does that change my optimal actions? I'd already fully acted by that point...)

    As to your other questions:
    As far as I'm aware there is no law against taking out a legal-to-carry pocket knife, opening it, and showing various parts of it to my girlfriend who is walking next to me. (And further, no other people (besides the GF) within 20 feet of me.)
    If I am incorrect, please inform me what the possible legal implications are. (This was in the state of Virginia, in the US)

    If he sped up and came into view and started to walk by us, I would have moved over to a side near a wall away from any paths out of the area. (The point where I pulled the knife out we were in a courtyard, he was on some stairs leading to the courtyard and running parallel with it, with bushes hiding the full view of the stairway (when viewed from the courtyard).

    I was not thinking about a pre-emptive strike. That seems way over the top based on the data I had.
    About the only things I can think of that would cause me to pre-emptively strike with a lethal weapon would be:
    - He pulls a weapon and verbally threatens me
    - He verbally threatens and rushes me despite seeing the weapon
    - Etc (either a clear physical action leading to attack on his part, or clear verbal threats plus some sort of physical action)

    If I was unarmed, I'd be a bit more willing to pre-emptively strike in general, but not at all in this situation.

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