The Single Dude’s Guide to Survival, Volume 16

The Single Dude's Guide to Survival


Countering the Tenth Step on the Confrontational Progression

The progression evolution we are working on is a rising trajectory, tracing one-on-one human aggression from the dimmest displays of awareness and intent to physical contact, we consider these behaviors with the understanding that we may not have the time, or the information, to accurately predict an aggressor’s next step. Scanning is a perfect example of a behavior that may indicate vastly different subsequent actions.

Scanning is when a person who is using aggressive body language and is nearing or within striking range, begins looking around for witnesses, cops or helicopter gunships that might take him out after he unloads his banana clip into you. Beware of scanning aggressors.

Taking the above definition out of the context of aggression, these could also be purely defensive behaviors. In fact, you, when approached by this man, would do well to keep one eye on him and one eye on the possible approach of his accomplices. Scanning is an inherently cautious act, often engaged in by the aggressor just before he throws caution to the wind and attacks.

The fact that an aggressor is scanning lets you know that he is concerned about being seen, being interrupted, being attacked or being arrested.

I suggest you move off, as this will require him to strike out before he is ready, or to follow and go through his entire scanning ritual again. If he is scanning, seek a more open, more visible, busier location and move sideways (preferred) or backwards while keeping an eye on him. I have sometimes used stepping into a road—almost getting splattered by an SUV on one occasion—as a means of making an adversary uncomfortable with the visibility of the potential confrontation.

Of course, the more you know about your foe, the better you can predict his behavior. If you are unknown to each other, he is most likely scanning for witnesses or cops, so head in the direction of his concerns.

The more you separate and force him to close the distance between you, the more opportunities you will have to observe his approach pattern. You hurt or stop an attacker most reliably when he is stepping up to you, so that you might use the kinetic energy of his advance against him when you hit or check. To use a boxing analogy, there are essentially five levels of timing:

  1. Punching bag: the person who does not belong in the ring and lacks the fundamental ability to time and intercept an antagonist’s motion.
  2. Dummy: the slow-witted fighter who must be hit four or more times before he can calibrate a response.
  3. Fighter: an athletically competent combatant, who will generally catch you the third time you attempt to do the same thing to him. For this reason, when in combat with a competent fighter, never step left three times consecutively, never throw the same punch three times in a row, etc.
  4. Superior fighters: a fighter who will catch you as soon as you repeat an action, meaning that these types are all but untouchable by the common putz, who generally has one effective action which he repeats continuously. I was of type 3, my brother of this type. It may only be one step in this progression, but the last time we fought he out-landed me approximate 400 to 10.
  5. Genius fighters: a fighter with the capability of catching you and making you pay for your first move. By a proper reading of a non-sport situation, you can appear to be—or at least enjoy the functional advantage of—this type of athlete in an athletic setting. Street altercations require far less ability than ring combat in terms of athleticism. However, the social skills needed to enjoy the crucial advantage are similar to the skills of a manager or promoter in making a match that is essentially stacked in favor of one party. Think of the early stages of a confrontation in match-making, not fighting, terms. How can you make the advantageous match? If you are a superior type of fighter, a 3, 4 or 5, in the gym, ring or cage, do not rely on that in the urban setting. You should hide your skills and deploy them to your advantage when needed. Manage the situation through behavioral controls to garner the utmost advantage before unleashing your superior combat skills.

When Do I Throw Down on a Scanner?

If an antagonist has looked for the cops, looked for your friends, looked for witnesses, and possibly looked to see if his friends are on the way, or, perhaps has noticed that the bus he wants to push you in front of is about to pass, he will look at you again once he has completed his assessment. Then he will look down, or down and away and attack, either with a push, a strike, or a clinch. The most likely for of a attack will be a strike, possibly with a knife or blunt object.

When he looks down after scanning, or looks down and away after breaking eye contact, either hit him, clinch him up, or move off.

If you think he is alone and going for a weapon—indicated by the dominant hand going for the belt or pocket—clinch him up and prevent that knife or gun from being deployed.

If he drops his shoulder, thus indicating that he intends to hit you and understands enough of the art to relax his shoulder before punching, hit him or clinch him. Depending on the situation (no clinching with his friends about unless you are strong enough to throw him at them).

The Chin Pick and Pin

If his head turns down to the right, he is about to hit you with a right; slide away from his right as you slap his chin upward with an uppercut motion of your open lead hand, and then crack that lifted chin with a right.

The Check Stab

If you want to take the path of least resistance, just slide right or step off as he looks down, prepared that this may trigger a charge on his part. If he charges, you can check the charge with your lead hand, and you should have had plenty of time to draw your knife. Jam your knife into his hip socket so hard that it bruises your knife hand, twist, and rip while cutting down as you push him away with your checking hand. Do not stab above the belt line, stab him in his ass from the side and twist the blade.

Of course, if he is not that dangerous and has no friends, you could simply check and slide away from him and then try to calm him, saying something that does not challenge his manhood. Do not ask him if he has had enough. Just say something neutral like, “I don’t want any more,” or “Are we good?” One that has worked for me is a definitive, “I’m done, I’m gone,” statement. What would seem to be (and would be) weak statements in the pre-contact phase of the altercation, can play well as declarative statements after you have successfully resisted his physical efforts.

Stop back next week for volume 17 of the Single Dude’s Guide to Survival.

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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