Had fun yesterday. A group of us got together at an urban mall for a small class in awareness and avoidance with Rory Miller, author of Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected and a half-dozen other excellent books about self defense and related skills. As far as class reviews go, this one’s tough to write so you’ll have to forgive me if any of it sounds fuzzy. It’s a hard write-up because the class covered a huge amount of territory in a short time, and – as is frighteningly common with lessons from Rory – the material it covered mostly reminded us of stuff we should already have known. Rory’s strength as a teacher is sliding ideas into your brain so deftly that when they arrive, you think they’ve always been there. That’s a subtle gift.
Meanwhile, there were lots of “d’oh!!” moments for me and everyone else.
Want an example? Not long after we got the group together, Rory showed us his cell phone. He’d snapped a picture of the map as he walked into the mall, and thus would always be able to find an alternative way out of the mall should he need one. D’oh! 1
One of the assignments was simply: “Find a fire extinguisher.” Do you know, even though I’m really good at checking for exits and remaining aware of ways to leave an area, I’d literally never before looked for a fire extinguisher in a public space? D’oh!
Standing in the parking garage, we discussed how to spot someone loitering near the cars and looking for potential victims – for mugging, carjacking, kidnap, whatever. It took Rory about two seconds to point out that cars are made entirely of reflective surfaces. It’s really really hard for someone to sneak up behind you, or to hide behind a support pillar in a garage, without you spotting them if you make a habit of using those surfaces to look around you. D’oh!
When we sat down as a group in the food court area, Rory steered us to a table in the open, not a corner booth. Then he asked us why he’d done that. Several theories came up, but the kicker was this: as a group, we could easily see in every direction without any effort at all. There’s no need to wedge yourself into a corner and limit your ways to leave, when you can instead choose to sit where you can see all around you and have more routes to get away should it become necessary. D’oh.
Lots more there. Those were all little things, small aha! moments dropped into the day, huge value in small chunks. During the day, we discussed the basic strategies for dealing with catastrophic bad events such as mass shootings or mall bombings. In many cases, deliberately choosing to shepherd others to safety while remaining prepared to defend yourself and others — rather than running directly to the sound of gunfire — might be your best option, improving both your personal survival odds and the overall situation in some very specific ways. I hope Rory chooses to write about that sometime soon, if he hasn’t already.
In the mall, we learned how to use our peripheral vision to see farther behind us. We also played a few awareness games (including one that Rory called ‘tag for grownups’), learned to use all of our senses to remain aware of the world around us, and made up stories about the people we saw which helped us become more aware of details the subconscious might see that the conscious mind might not recognize. That was all tremendous fun, and led straight into a discussion about training from a place of love or joy rather than from fear or other negative emotion (that’s huge, and something tremendously important to me on many levels). We also talked about how to manage our own risk factors in public, including the risk factors we can’t eliminate.
Lots more happened that I’m still processing. But in the meanwhile: if anyone ever offers you a chance to take a class or seminar from Rory Miller at Chiron Training, don’t pass it up.
- And yes — that’s where today’s Facebook tip came from. Thanks, Rory! ↩