Click to Subscribe
▶  More from Modern Combat The Man Cave The Combat Space
'To Put Myself in a Less Clueless Mindset'
A Man Question from a Young Man


I have some questions regarding basic de-escalation and awareness in bad places and with bad people.

But first a quick sketch. I'm your typical skinny white nerd (5'10 and 156 lbs) with no fighting experience since a handful of slapfight monkey dances in high school. [1]

I live in a sizeable midwestern town with minimal dindu presence and violence issues. (For now) Barring a crash course in self defense and a healthy program to gain a couple dozen pounds of muscle, I figure my best bet should I take an ill-advised wandering through your neck of the woods would be to run like hell. [2]

Still, though, I'm interested in cultivating situational awareness, recognizing best avenues of escape, and convincing dindus to either back away or just take my wallet instead of my life. [3]

Could you recommend exercises for "training" this mindset? [4]

Or books to read or videos to watch (for starters) If I find myself in a bad situation I'd rather not freeze or be stuck thinking "WTF now". [5]

How does a clueless dork like me go about not becoming food, if I find myself in a bad place. (Or would I be merely the proverbial rabbit and should simply recite my last rites?) I realize there is no 12 step program, but I am hoping at the least for everyday things I can practice to put myself in a less clueless mindset. What (or who) to watch. How to walk, talk, act. Recognition, avoidance, de-escalation.

Thanks again for your words and insight,


Found this whilst browsing the news, thought you might get some sort of perverse humour out of it. Thank you for your prompt response by the way, I'll be looking for an extra large bucket and plenty of rice during my trip home.


James’ Advice

BWF, I will start with footnoting your letter above.

1. Eddie Futch, Joe Frazier’s trainer said, “A 160 pound man, properly trained, can knock down a house.” Floyd and Conner are walking around at about your weight on fight night which means that you’re probably just knocking down the garage. Look, with minimal complications you can become dangerous. If you are not dangerous on some level, you’re not going to be able to pull off avoidance very well once you’ve made that wrong turn. Without being dangerous you have no real tactical option, only strategic options. You must learn how to hit hard with your hand or a handy little weapon, like an umbrella. The two books for that are below. For video advice go to the Lancaster Agonistics you tube channel. Keep in mind, that the most dangerous people out there on the street are roughly your height, weight and ethnicity.

2. Don’t run or the dogs will chase and if there is one racial stereotype that holds up it is that black dudes can haul ass!

3. Never give up your wallet. Keep a bill, a twenty backed by some ones folded in another pocket and drop that on the ground for them as you back away and angle off.

4. Every time you see a man you don’t know imagine his hand and heart are against you and run minimally complex scenarios against him as you keep moving, looking for other threats.

5. Even in church imagine a preliminary act of aggression from a person and mentally channel it away from you, usually imagine your empty hand to his shoulder as you slide off. This sounds strange unless you are a high level athlete and have experience with preparatory visualizations.

6. You are no longer clueless, you are among the clued.

Begin the following exercises:

1. Practice tucking your chin, constantly, everywhere, all the time, closing your mouth, clenching your teeth while breathing in a relaxed way into your stomach and pocketing your chin in your throat, pointing the crown of your head at the ceiling.

2. Do the boxers touch drill described in The Punishing Art with tucked chin.

3. Progress to checking walls, posts, poles, railings, trees, whatever with your open hand as you slide around or step off to the side, pushing yourself away on light feet. Do this with chin tucked.

4. Buy a five gallon icing bucket from the local grocer or baker. Fill it with cheap, dried rice. Learn how to make your hand into a cone, fingers all together each finger joint bent slightly, pinky and thumb applying inward pressure to keep the fingers unified. Now push that speared hand into that rice. Push it again. Push it harder. Push it fast. Eventually, stab your coned hand into that rice at various ranges and velocities. Do this with a tucked chin.

5. Tape a piece of loose leaf paper to the arch over your kitchen doorway and practice jabbing that with your spear hand, practicing popping holes in it. This takes you to the doorway of boxing. You stand at the entry point of the most feared martial art. Keep your chin tucked and practice sliding the left shoulder up to deflect a punch as you step around the puncher and slap his left shoulder. Being a slap monkey is okay, so long as you tuck that chin and move around.

Now, BWF, you have a checking hand and a spear hand to ward off aggressors and if they get serious, then send that set of fingers raking across or plunging into an eye as you step off. You will be in no condition to “fight” a trained man or even a fit meathead, but you will be dangerous enough to discourage aggression while you seek a better position. Most importantly, you will know that you are dangerous and therefore have a basis for negotiating aggressive landscapes.

Below are the books you should read for awareness and combativeness in the proper order, followed by the first of the recommended videos and the channel:

When You're Food: Raw:

A Fighter’s View of Predatory Aggression: The Forever Autumn Press Edition

Waking Up in Indian Country: Harm City: 2015

Thriving in Bad Places

The Hunt for Whitey

Recognizing and Surviving the Condition of Anarcho-Tyranny

The Punishing Art

Twerps, Goons and Meatshields: The Basics of Full Contact Stick-Fighting

Being a Bad Man in a Worse World

Fighting Smart: Boxing, Agonistics & Survival

Add Comment
PRJune 20, 2017 2:29 AM UTC

In addition to buying all of James' books, take a Blauer PDR class. James' advice on footwork, awareness, and angles are not given many places.

I took a grappling class and it was a gateway into muay thai. The problem with grappling is you default to what you train most. On the street someone attacking with a knife wants to grapple with you. In other violent encounters with multiple attackers grappling makes it easier for everyone to gang-up on you. Footwork and movement are the most important things.
ShepJune 19, 2017 4:12 PM UTC

You can never be too strong or too rich. Here's some ways to muscle up without spending a dime:

FatmanjudoJune 16, 2017 10:50 PM UTC

Try taking a grappling class of some type. It's the gateway drug to boxing