Stand Your Ground
Knowing When to Fight
by Jesse Seal and James Bullock

DISCLAIMER: If you want more information on Stand Your Ground laws, click hereThe information contained in these articles do not constitute legal advice. We are not responsible for the use or misuse of the information provided on this site. 

Where is that threshold; the line that someone has to cross before you spring into action?

When do you feel, without a doubt, that you're about to get into an unavoidable situation where you have to stand your ground and defend yourself?

These are important questions for everyone to answer for themselves, and if you don't know the answer, then you had better find it. You must know where that line is, so that you can defend yourself without hesitation. Your answer may include certain actions people make towards you, as well as a physical line that they cross, also known as your resolve bubble.

For me, this resolve bubble is anywhere within striking range. If I can strike them down, it's smart to assume they could do the same to me. This isn't to say that I keep everyone just beyond arm's length...that's impossible. If you remain aware, however, you can usually feel when someone places their intent on you, hopefully before they close too much distance.

Have you ever been out somewhere and someone was walking in your direction, but you knew they were walking over to you. That's because their intent is to walk up to you. Don't ignore this intuition; it can literally save your life. You never know when a case of mistaken identity gets you sucker punched or worse.

There is an easy way to reveal if somebody's intent is threatening or not.

How to Reveal Someone's Intent

The brain is a magnificent computer, taking in thousands of little details and both consciously and subconsciously registering them. If you ever get the feeling that something is "off" or "wrong," but you can't point out exactly what that thing is, you're most likely subconsciously picking up on things that are setting off internal alarms.

When someone is walking up to you, and these alarms are going off, don't be afraid to call attention to the person and yourself. Two things are going to happen if you let the person get within your resolve bubble:

  1. They're going to hurt you
  2. They're not going to hurt you

This seems pretty obvious, but if there's a 50/50 chance that someone means you harm, it does you no good to remain reactive to the situation. Don't wait for them to get too close...stand your ground and put up an index.

An index is something you place between you and this person, and includes physical and verbal indexing. A physical index may be putting your hand up, letting them know not to come any closer. A verbal index can be a simple question.

"Excuse me, can I help you?"

A non-threatening person will stop and reveal their intent as being innocent. Perhaps they were just wanting directions, or going to sell you something. Worst case scenario is that you were mistaken and they were just walking by. Sure, you might be a little embarrassed, but the important thing is you listened to your gut.

A threatening person, on the other hand, will continue advancing. Whether or not they say anything, they've revealed that their intent is to get close to you. They've chosen to ignore your body language, and at this point you need to stand your ground and be firm in your resolve bubble. Remember, if you can strike them, then they can strike you.

So strike first. Witnesses, if there are any, will see that you clearly tried to stop the advance of the other person.

The problem many people are going to have is not wanting to be rude or confrontational. Forget all of that, especially if you're with your kids or other loved ones. People say all the time that they would do anything to protect the ones they love, so what is a simple hand gesture and question going to hurt?

Beware of the Interview Process

Good criminals know how to get "in." They will use psychological tactics to get close to you, and to also reveal your resolve bubble and other reactions. You'll be making yourself an easy target if you just let anyone walk up to you without any reservations. Once again, awareness is key.

Something criminals might do is ask you a question, imitating the non-threatening person in the above example. The big "sign that you need to pay attention to is their body language. It's easy to lie verbally, but it's quite another thing to lie with your body language. Once again, if they continue advancing towards you, even if they appear innocent, then they are revealing their true intent. 

If they continue to advance, then three times is a charm...get them the hell away from you. The great thing about the physical, hands up index is that it's similar to our deceptive posture, allowing you to use some of the straight-line attacks demonstrated in our Self Defense Striking 101 video series.

Once they're close enough to strike it does no good to try to run. You will most likely have to use one or more strikes to create distance and a means of escape.

The take away here is to remain aware, and be vigilant in your personal protection. Listen to your intuition, and know how to keep people at a distance while you determine if they're a threat. Know how and when to stand your ground until you can escape.

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About the Author

Jesse Seal is the assistance Combatives Instructor, and has been training in Combative Sciences since 2008. He has also been training and learning through Bullock's Irondom Performance Systems since 2010.

About the Author

James Bullock is the head coach for Irondom Performance Systems and Combative Sciences. He's written programs for athletes and non-athletes alike, including numerous world record holders in various sports. Combative Sciences was found in 1999 and is the culmination of decades of martial arts training. 

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