Why You Should Trust Your Gut With Personal Defense

posted on January 29, 2021
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A friend of mine recently told me about an incident in the parking lot of our local grocery. My friend was loading groceries in his truck when he noticed a man wandering through the parking lot and headed his way. Something about the man’s appearance or demeanor seemed out of place to my friend. So, while he spoke politely to the man, he put down the groceries that he was holding and kept the man in sight until the fellow exited the parking lot, crossed the street, and went out of sight. Later, my friend was almost apologetic as he related this because he said that the man had really done nothing wrong and had made no overt actions.

Sometimes we become so sophisticated in our personal-defense training that we forget to pay attention to a gut feeling. This can often be a big mistake. What has actually happened is that something in our subconscious mind has told us that something is not right. While we may not have enough evidence to act on that gut feeling, we shouldn’t ignore it. Instead, we go on alert and try to determine what is going on.

This is part of what Col. Jeff Cooper called Condition Orange. We have observed a potential threat. We keep an eye on that potential problem until it leaves, we leave or the situation is resolved. This is rarely a situation where we will draw our defensive handgun, but we may very well get ready to do so. While we may still have a smile on our face, we get rid of whatever is in our hands, give some thought to clearing our covering garments, and check around for the closest cover and exit.

The honest citizen is rarely faced with Condition Red—an actual threat. But, quite often that citizen confronted with situations that could be a threat. It may not be the time to go John Wayne on somebody, but we certainly don’t just turn our backs and ignore it.

The best analogy that I can give is discovering a snake while working in the yard. We go on alert until we can determine if the snake is of the venomous or non-venomous variety. And, until we can make that determination, the snake is the focus of our attention and we make some preparations to do something about it if the snake turns out to be actually dangerous. 

The important thing is that by going on the alert, we have shortened our response time should defensive action be required. Our mind set is such that we have taken some of the advantage away from the criminal. That old gut feeling is a good thing and it’s there for a reason. Don’t ignore it.



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