The Single Dude’s Guide to Survival, Volume 1

The Single Dude's Guide to Survival

How to be a Bad Dude, Being the Last Dude on Earth, and Dealing with Post-Apocalyptic Women

Manuel and I have exchanged a number of e-mails in an attempt to determine how best a fight coach and urban survivalist, who does precious little traveling beyond the Baltimore area, might be able to consistently benefit the Single Traveling Dude. The answer I found in the question.

For starters more and more American cities aspire to the example of Baltimore, Detroit and Camden, and in case you somehow take the wrong exit ramp, I’d like you to think of me as your urban survival coach. There is also the fact that societies in decline tend to imitate the lower class rather than imitating the upper class, as societies on the rise do. Hence, we have the spectacle of mid-western teens reclining in their parent’s mansion [I’ve seen this while visiting relatives] spending hours a day watching biographies of famous rappers, which will ultimately lead to emulation in the suburban streets of America.

I am a single dude with a ridiculous amount of experience negotiating dangerous urban environments and “the combat space,” which is any space—be it a cage, a ring, a fencing strip or a sidewalk—in which you might find yourself engaged in a violent situation, whether in the form of a sporting contest or a crime. In deciding to dedicate one morning per week to contributing to Single Travel Dude, I would like to serialize a such-themed book on this site titled The Single Dude Survival Guide.

This will not be the first online book I have serialized, and in so doing, have discovered that reader queries should take top priority. I will henceforth commit to one entry a week in the Survival Guide, and the answering of questions as they come, in the following three categories:

  1. Being a Bad Dude
  2. Being the Last Dude on Earth
  3. Dealing with Post-apocalyptic Women

Being a Bad Dude

This is a vast subject encompassing fighting skill, fitness, masculinity, vigilance, and more. This comes down to your ability to deter aggression through behavior, and to be able to deal with aggression in the combat space, which ultimately increases your level of deterrence. This week we will start out with two tips and one anecdote.

Tip #1: Do Not Fight, Ever

In the 1990s 40% of all violence in Central Maryland consisted of mutual combats, or fights. Today that total is around 10%. We live in an increasingly predatory society. In the U.S. A fight is legally defined as a mutual combat, for which both parties might be arrested, and in which the court generally sorts things out by awarding damages to whoever sustained treatable injuries or lost work. Outside of a sporting context, a fight is always a lose-lose proposition. If the person who you are in a position to have a fight with, does not have the social skills necessary to avoid this absolutely avoidable idiocy, then do him a favor and avoid it for the both of you. Men have died in ‘street fights,’ for which the charge is manslaughter, carrying up to 10 years.

How can I say all fights are absolutely and totally avoidable?

I write this for the simple reason that all fights are avoidable.

If you walk away or refuse to square off for some stupidity, and he decides to fight without your consent, then what you are now engaged in is not a fight, but defending yourself against a criminal attack. You now have a legal leg to stand on in court.

I am 52, and have not been in a fight outside of a sporting context since 1979.

But what if violence is called for? For instance what if a man has told you that he is going to kill your daughter?

The goal here is to prevent your daughter’s death and preserve her safety. The law enforcement apparatus in the U.S. is not set up to protect and serve, but to apprehend and punish. Most killings of women by estranged men occur almost as soon as a protection order is granted by the courts.

If a man tells me that he is going to kill my granddaughter I would not fight him, because he might win. Fights are always up for grabs. Just ask Mike Tyson or Anderson Silva. If some young man told me he was heading off to kill my granddaughter [as I only have sons, but do have a granddaughter] I would prance about behind him lisping, crying and begging him not to hurt my darling, until I found the right size garden brick to smash his head into blood pudding. When the cops got there I would still be jumping up and down on his head.

I have never, obviously, had to do this. However, I have attempted to kill people three times in my life. Two of these were in my youth [which I define as under 30], and though I came minutes away—in terms of my victim’s bleed out—from succeeding once, I was shocked out how easily people, even stupid people, are able to understand immediately when you are trying to kill them! Large aggressive dogs are particularly good at this and will comically run from any human who is giving off whatever killer scent we give off when we decide on murder.

After hacking that first guy up, I tried to bury the demon in my soul. But years later, on two occasions when the need arouse to defend my wife once and my son another time, the people I was going after knew immediately what was up and committed remarkable acts of cowardice to evade me, never to be seen again. My opinion is, to the question on your lips, is that the guy that doesn’t run like a rabbit when you charge him and his partner with a tomahawk while they sit in the white pickup truck they have been following your wife in, if they don’t run, then they definitely mean her harm and you might as well do the time.

Tip #2: You Needed Functional Combat Ability Yesterday, not Tomorrow, and Not After you Graduate from Krav Maga

Let’s say you have no combat training and have never been involved in violence. To begin with, training is overblown. The primary indicator that a violent actor will be successful in his next act of violence—whether it be defensive or offensive—is that he has a violent past!

Of course, not being some kind of animal raised in a hood rat hatchery in some hellish American ghetto, you would like to trust to training rather than experience, and that is fine. In the meantime, I suggest you begin visualizing yourself in a violent situation. Believe it or not this is the primary training method used by champion combat athletes, visualization.

Now, what sports have you played?

Try to imagine how skills you learned in that sport will help you prevail in this encounter.

If you were a baseball player, throw a ball at his jaw, the ball being your balled up fingers.

If you were a football player tackle him, hit him right on the numbers.

If you were a soccer player, head butt and kick.

Tennis? Hit him with a forehand using your open hand as the racquet.

Overall, though, sports teach us bigger lessons about imposing our will on men and in overcoming bad situations. The fact is, most violence is going to kickoff with you behind in the game, because it has become a predatory game. The mental tenacity to come from behind in any situation that you may have encountered in your life and travels must be preserved in your soul for such clutch situations.

Anecdote On Vigilance: Tying My Shoes

In the 1990s I was suffering from serious back injuries as I worked a number of laboring and clerking jobs at night and during the day, which had me out and about at all hours as Baltimore burned during the converging crack cocaine and heroin epidemics depicted in the HBO miniseries, The Wire.

For most of this time I was too injured to train, spar, or even defend myself with my empty hands against the younger, larger and much more numerous black men who were taking over the city and driving 1,000 home owners per month into the surrounding municipalities. The resulting house flipping caused numerous vacancies, with 25,000 vacant houses by 2001, which provided a desolate habitat for the dope-fiends, crack-heads and stickup boys that preyed on single working guys like me, on foot and using mass transit.

I determined that I would not be taken easily. Since I carried a utility knife for my work, and would be able to get my arrest thrown out by the court commissioner, I decided to keep the blade always wear I wore it at work, behind my belt buckle and the flannel shirt I habitually wrapped around my waist even in summer time. I did this to keep my low back warm in the refrigerated environments I worked in supermarkets, but also so I had a flexible shield to whip with my left hand as I drew my razor knife. [Editor’s note, check out James’ book
Logic of Steel: A Fighter’s View of Blade and Shank Encounters where he discusses the art of knife fighting and analyzes more than 250 knife fights is told from the perspective of the attackers, eyewitnesses and victims.]

One day, as I got off a bus in a black area [Belair-Edison, where my cousin was raped on a street corner this past July 8th] where most white guys were getting beaten or robbed on a daily basis, I saw my shoestring was loose on my right shoe and knelt to tie it. As I rose on one knee I did what I always did at work after taking a knee, after cutting the top off a box, or in preparation to do so from a standing position. My hand, whether full or empty, always went, by way of habit, to my belt buckle, where the aluminum butt of the cutter stuck out six inches. As I rose, looking ahead of me, from a one knee down position, with my hand going to the butt of my blade, I looked straight ahead to see a black teen running at me in a low crouch, like I remember seeing soldiers running to place satchel charges in old WWII documentaries, a knife held low behind his thigh as he closed on in me, his prey—until he saw my hand go to that razor knife handle and his eyes expanded like two saucers and he veered off to my right at a sprint, bounding nimbly over a wall.

After that incident I made it my discipline to cultivate such hand habits as unconscious and barely noticeable movements to the common person, but which betokened to the predator a caginess and readiness which they found unpalatable in their quest for human food.

We have covered two tips on being bad and one example of deterrent behavior, which is as much a part of the package as the ability to fight. Remember that Emile Griffith, former middleweight champion, was mugged outside of a bar.

Deterrent behavior is a clutch skill, and is based on awareness, which is the subject of the second section of the Single Dude Survival Guide.

Being the Last Dude on Earth

I currently reside in the criminal matrix that was once the city of Baltimore, Maryland, which I have called Harm City for the past 15 years. To date I have written 16 books on surviving such urban environments, and only three books on how to fight in said environment. In my mind the skill of the lone man is based first on awareness and second on deterrence. The fact is, with gangs of armed hoodlums, even martial arts champions are routinely robbed and killed in America’s cities. I knew three men who were done to death in Baltimore because they were feared for their ring accomplishments.

Your combat space skill should not be worn on your sleeve but held in your belly. What gets you through the day if you find yourself visiting some place like Baltimore, Camden, Philly, Detroit, Cleveland or Atlanta, is the same thing that granted long careers to men who traversed earlier predatory environments. Daniel Boone, Simon Girty, Simon Kenton, Lewis Wetzel, Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, and even Liver-Eating Johnson himself, survived for decades in wild places stalked by enemies no less savage than the hoodrats of you region’s deteriorating urban centers, not by fighting all of the time, or even most of the time, but by avoiding disadvantageous situations through their knowledge of the landscape.

Below are some tips that will help form the basis for your ability to negotiate violent urban zones. These are primal human behaviors and are true across racial and cultural divisions, but morph significantly according to class.

  1. Single men with a woman carrying a purse do not initiate violence unless she is a psycho-bitch, which will become apparent when she starts ranting and raving like Richard Pryor on coke. The male-female pair is the least likely source of violence in urban America, aside from the male-child pair. Urban women with children often start violence, but men never do.
  2. Men with a single dependent child are almost never targeted for violence This has to do with the fact that the vestigial heart strings of urban criminals—who are all orphans—seem to be tugged when a father demonstrates affection for a child.
  3. The man that is most likely to be the object of aggression by a group of men or youths, is the man accompanied by a woman. He is also most likely to be panhandled by lone actors, who will be more persistent than normal, based on the presence of the woman who is assumed to be sympathetic.
  4. The second most likely man to be attacked by a group of men, is a man who is accompanied by another man. Pairs of men who are obviously unarmed are seen as easier targets than lone men who are dressed in such a way as to leave open the possibility that they might be carrying a weapon.
  5. If you ever find yourself in a low or moderate income area in which most males appear in public only in groups of two or more, you are in a predation corridor.

Taking these factors into account, the masculine civilian landscape of an urban crime zone will look something like this:

  1. Sketchy and grungy individuals of the homeless or vagrant types. Depending on their character they are either treated like prey and robbed regularly, or are shunned as urban boogiemen.
  2. Obviously employed individuals stepping briskly to and from mass transit stops.
  3. Pairs of law abiding men socializing, shopping, driving, parking or entering or exiting eateries and drinking establishments.
  4. Groups of three or more male youths on the move and alert to their surroundings. I call these prowler packs.
  5. Groups of four or more males relaxing while alert, in public spaces.
  6. Groups of three or more males drinking, playing dice, smoking, lounging, or loudly socializing in public spaces. In other words, wherever you see behavior normal to suburban bars, on a sidewalk, or in an alley—get the hell out of there.

In a future volume I will cover law enforcement cues that will give you the basis for making a determination as to police responsiveness and crime deterrence to your needs in a given locale.

Dealing with Post-Apocalyptic Women

In our rapidly unraveling society, women are all over the place in terms of behavior and expectations, and are in a position to make life a legal nightmare for the unaware man. I do not advocate increasing one’s ability to “pick-up women” as I am a boxing coach, and see women as a distraction to my young fighters. To a large extent the man who succeeds in the first two legs of the Single Dude Survival Strategy, has grown this third leg, the unbalancing leg that tilts his tripod of serenity, as women tend to be attracted to bad dudes who know their way around bad places out of all proportion to our expectations.

It is my considered opinion that women are too easy to come by, and rather than getting better at acquiring their complicated company, The Last Dude on Earth would be better served if he learned better tools for managing his interaction with these volatile wallet-seeking reproductive devices. This section will largely be written in response to reader queries, though there will be a couple entries taken from interviews with fighters who have engaged in the perennial side-line of the escort.

Until next time, be alert to your surroundings and think in tactical terms about them, just like you would consider a mountain climbing trip in terms of practical advantage and survivable utility, rather than dreamily jaunting through the world as it changes at the speed of the byte.

James LaFond

Horror and science-fiction author, James LaFond, writes on violence, urban survival, racism, masculinity, boxing, MMA, stick-fighting, fractional autonomy, history and man-whoring, from his ghetto rental in Harm City, U.S.A. His articles are available at You can purchase books by James on and you can follow him on his Facebook page.

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