Soft versus Hard Target

 

Really and truly, you want to avoid situations that require self-defense skills.  In everyday life, fighting is the action of last resort when all else within the realm of self-protection has failed.  Those among us who have something to prove might disagree with me, and I say the fight on the street is a brutal testing ground.  Though I do train my physical skills every week, I am keenly interested in target hardening.  How do I make myself less desirable to the predators of society?

 

But let’s step back.  What is a soft target?  A soft target lives in a state of cluelessness, or in what we call Condition White.  He or she is highly accessible—personal boundaries are fluid, or not established at all.  Often, the soft target looks insecure, is oblivious to people in his or her vicinity and has poor situational awareness, in general.  Very little attention is paid to personal responsibility, and no control is exerted over personal space or environment.  The soft target is predictable.  You think of a sheep mentality, and you have your soft target, ripe for the picking by a hungry, opportunistic wolf.  Take a good long look at yourself.  Does this sound like an accurate description of you?  Be honest, and take a moment to step outside of yourself and see things from a third party’s perspective.

 

“We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” Anaïs Nin

 

So, what is a hard target?  A hard target is armed with the capacity to perceive and accept the threat, whatever it may be.  He or she is equipped, both mentally and physically.  This requires pre-meditation, planning and practice.  It also requires a total shift in mindset.  Metaphorically speaking, there are wolves in the landscape of life that have made it their personal mission to prey upon others to fulfill their needs.  Believe it, just as you believe the sun will rise tomorrow.  You must become like the sheepdog: vigilant and ready for the threat in the event that it appears.  The sheepdog is in what we call Condition Yellow, as soon as he or she steps out the door each day.  This state of awareness involves 360 degree security at all times.  Contrary to what you may believe, it is not a state of paranoia, though it may seem like it to others, and even feel like it to you for a while.  When you make the firm decision to make awareness a part of your everyday life, it will be exhausting in the beginning.  I speak from personal experience on this.  You will feel jumpy, or hyper-vigilant, and you will think you have to look at everything all the time.  Accept this as part of your training, though.  It is a necessary stepping stone along the path.  Eventually, you will learn to be in tune with your intuition, and move into more relaxed awareness.

 

The hard target is also unpredictable in daily patterns, and is action-oriented.  Knowing and understanding pre-incident indicators and body language are important—awareness of them informs your intuition.  Being able to perceive and evaluate a situation properly and quickly, is critical for winning.  The hard target is concerned with minimizing risk, taking security precautions at home, in the car, on the street. . .wherever.  If this individual has done everything he or she can do, and despite all efforts, steps into a critical Condition Red situation, the hard target is prepared for flight, to stun and run, or fight until the fight is done.  Nevertheless, with the right mindset (and even some confrontation management skills), violent conflict can be avoided most of the time.

 

Like anything worth doing in life, expanding your awareness takes practice and persistence.  I plan on posting some awareness exercises, but in general, get in the habit of taking note what you see when you drive around in your car, walk around in public spaces, etc.  If anything looks like it is just not right, observe it in more detail, or leave immediately.  I was recently in a restaurant, sipping coffee and reading a book.  I watched a man briskly walk in a door on one side of the restaurant, look around, and walk out the door on the other side.  Many people had come and gone, but something about him made me stop reading and take note.  An inner voice nudged me to leave the premises.  Instead of trying to analyze this, I did leave, though my original intent was to finish reading my chapter.  As I walked to my car, another car arrived.  Two men exited the vehicle while one stayed inside.  The two men stared at me as they walked toward the restaurant.  I was not alarmed in any way, but something again nudged me to go.  So that is exactly what I did.  I do not believe there was any incident—it is a restaurant I frequent.  Maybe it was just time for me to go, and there was no harm in leaving.

 

One other thought.  Try to minimize your distractions that engage you so fully that you cannot be alert.  Walking out of a grocery store with a cell phone pinned between your ear and your shoulder, carrying an armload of bags and fumbling for your car keys is not a great idea.  Do not willfully hamstring yourself so that you are unable perceive the world—life does not stop for you.  Besides, have you seen the way people race through parking lots?  This slogan from Baader-Meinhof, a German Terrorist organization and self-proclaimed “communist urban guerrillas”, gives you some insight into the minds of those who victimize:

 

“When you are hungry, it is foolish to hunt a tiger when there are plenty of sheep to be had.”

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