Movement and Overcoming Resistance

A forum for which I moderate was having a discussion of auxiliary “dynamic” skillsets, those things that while often overlooked in the rush to the guns, knives and MMA, are no less important. I mentioned that I felt the ability to move, fluidly and undeterred through an environment on foot was essential. Someone asked for clarification, and framed his question by asking what I would put together for a class on that subject. This article is an expanded version of that answer. I’ve retained the structure of an expanded course layout, as it makes an effective device for framing these skills so the autodidact/independent student can create their own course.

Flight from pursuit. The phrase conjures images of bad-guys running from the cops, spy’s running from spy hunters, a soldier running from a prisoner camp, or you running away from a pursuing criminal. For many, that last example will have brought their mental streams to a crashing halt; “Running away? No, man, just, no… I’m beating him to a pulp.” Well, whatever. Really. I’m a big fan of, as the great philosopher Snoopy once said, running away to run away again another day. I don’t like fighting. Good at it? Better than I was yesterday. Like doing it for keeps? No. There are times to stand and times to run.

Now, of course, there is more to this type of movement than running away, but that is the most obvious, and immediate, need for such skillsets among everyday folks. There are other reasons, not the least of them being capability for capabilities sake, but if you’re looking for reasons or justification? There it is. Call it “escape and evasion” if it makes you feel better.
(And if it doesn’t, don’t make the jump…)

If our need is to put distance between ourselves and a pursuer or group there-of, there are a variety of ways of doing that. Vehicles are an obvious solution, and not one to be dismissed. There are, however, reasons one may be on foot, or that a vehicle wouldn’t be the best idea. Use your imagination here. Making space on foot is difficult, particularly if only you are on foot. There are also advantages to not being tied down to a car, bicycle or other vehicle. People can disappear into crowds, get lost in labyrinthine office buildings, scale walls and get into all sorts of remarkable places where vehicles cannot. Or, people with the right skills can do that.

If designing a course, as a primer for the essentials of these activities, it would look something like the following.
We’ll call it: Movement, and Overcoming Resistance

Friday Night –
Social Engineering:
– NeuroLinguistic Programing (NLP) & Communicative Deceptions
– Props, Tools and Behaviors

Saturday –
Physical Movement and Evasion:
– Fundamentals of Navigation and Movement
– Basic Evasion
– Climbing and Parkour

Sunday –
Restraints and Barriers:
– Entry (Non-Destructive and Destructive) and Bypass
– Escape from Restraints
Combined Exercise.

Before continuing, I want to note two things.
Firstly: This would be an introductory class to these elements as a combined practice and far from complete. It would require participants who were already physically fit and able, and experienced in physical pursuits. And it would serve merely to introduce integrated fundamentals, and methods of practicing and executing them, that could serve as a frame-work for further study and training. Mastery of these skills requires a very long term dedication to study, and even competence at them requires certainly more than a three-day course. Sub-elements that I’ve drawn from are, by themselves, vast fields of study and there’s no way to even really get into the depth necessary for, say, parkour, in a Saturday afternoon. The three-day format may be entirely out of line, in fact, and is more to lend some sort of framing than anything else. Secondly: This is not to say I could teach this. This is simply what I would try to create if bringing together a group of instructors for such a symposium for a more general audience – Specific groups would have other needs, and the essential core for them would be different, or include different things (such as expanding to vehicles and things like hot-wiring, vehicle selection, etc).

Why these subjects? When brought together these things are, in my estimation, the essential elements going into an integrated practice of getting out of where trouble comes to call on foot.
Beginning with the root of movement – For all environments having some experience walking/running good distances is fundamental. If you can’t stay with it until you get where you need to go, the rest is moot. Experience doing that in varied terrain is also important – I.E. I am better (and less constrained) at getting around in an urban environment, for being good at getting around in a mountainous one.
Land navigation and urban navigation skills, with map/compass and GPS are also fundamentals of movement (in or on anything). City people get lost in the country, and country people get lost in the city – Overcoming this is a must.
These are skills which provide a foundation for being able to get where you need to go in general. Be it finding a chicks house based on her text message directions, walking to a service station to get gas/fan belt/stop leak, or un-assing an area (familiar or non) in an emergency. Even without other shiny, cool, skills those things alone can make a world of difference – Verification of this requires that we but look at people who walked out of Manhattan on 9/11, walked home from where-ever during the 2003 blackouts in the North-Eastern US, or walked through New Orleans after Katrina. Simply being versed and capable at moving on foot is a fundamental skill.
Once the physical foundations of being able to walk/run until you’re done, and do so over terrain variances, are established, we can move on to more specialized skills – For these needs, I look primarily to climbing (particularly “buildering”) and parkour. For the problems of getting over obstacles and moving functionally through the often dis-functional urban layout, I think that these approaches are the best available. A lot of lip service is given to “Nike-Ryu” but few people actually have a functional skill at it.
Basic techniques of evasion and losing pursuers come in here as well – This is likely to be your reason for employing these skills anyway. The softer skills of losing someone without vaulting walls or doing anything dynamic-and-attention getting are as important as being able to carry out rapid “Merrel-Jutsu”. A lot of this will dovetail into our other skills as well.

As we move from running and vaulting into slipping out of sight and disappearing into the crowd, I put a lot of value on NLP and Social Engineering type skills. Specifically, using various forms of deception and misdirection to move among/through people without getting stopped – This is part being the “gray man”, being able to look like you belong, and not stand out, and part manipulation of the attention you do draw. These skills are quieter and softer, but no less valuable, than more brute-force evasion techniques. You can get into, out of and through places by looking/acting like you belong, more efficiently than you can by running through and trying to muscle your way.
The individual skilled in this area typically ends up with a tool-box of these skills that’s small, but primarily filled with high value tools (and adaptive ones, at that). Such a tool box is created through studied practice, and learning not just what works, but what you are good at. A course as we’re laying out here would provide a basic run-down of fundamental concepts, and starting places from which to build developed skill.
Carriage and manner is important. Moving with appropriate purpose and determination could be called fundamental. If you look like you know what you’re doing, most people ignore you. One advantage to having good navigational skills is that it heightens your observational awareness, which gives your movement an air of casual competence, even if you’re seeing whats in-front of you for the first time. (As a note on this being an integrated practice: Good observational skills are also fundamental to mimicry of both individuals and crowds.) Exercises in observation and awareness, such as item and detail spotting on the move, would be used here to foster increased observance. The caveat here, of course, is moving too purposefully – Storming through a place like you’re there to raid it will draw attention. Your purposeful and determined motions must be no more so than those of the people typically/currently coming and going through an area – Purposeful determination varies, depending on if you’re late for a meeting, or window shopping.
When moving through the environment and trying to blend in, undesired attention received must be averted or redirected harmlessly. Successful interaction with others, while maintaining the lie you’re trying to sell, requires confidence, and being convincing. What you have to say must fit the pattern you’re trying to sell, whatever it may be. The pattern in your behavior, dress and what you say needs to be consistent, self-corroborating, to be believable. How you say what you say, and your body language, are important factors in maintaining the effect you desire. What you say should draw who you’re speaking with into the pattern you want them to follow. The same herding along the path a good seller does to a client, you need to be able to do to anyone to sell your lie.
Use of props is another staple technique. Some overtly complete an image: A clipboard and hardhat, even just workmans type clothing create a deception that often goes un-challenged. On the fly, we need smaller, common, props that help sell the image we’re going for. The cell-phone is gaining popularity as a criminal prop, and is one of the more commonly seen prop-barriers in day to day life. Very few people will interrupt someone who is obviously on the phone, particularly someone who sounds engaged in a serious conversation. Many of us have probably used this socially, to duck unwanted conversations, and others will probably remember having had this happen accidentally as well. Hacker Johnny Long gives a presentation, and has written a book, titled “No Tech Hacking” (you can see video of Long’s “No Tech Hacking” presentation at DefCon15, here) that deals with some of these types of deceptions. In scope, Long’s material goes above and beyond our call, but has got some great gems in it. One of my favorites is what he refers to as the “jedi wave” (or something like that), with an ID card. i.e. palming an ID that looks vaguely right and waving it as you pass a security desk while acting like you know where you’re going. These examples are all the type of thing that would be essential for a “starter kit” class like this. The hacking community has been on this one for years, of course, and their findings would be one of the best sources from which to draw these strategies and tools.

Beyond basic movement, and minimization/management of human interaction, we’re left with physical resistance. If the physical resistance is human, our combative skillsets exist to deal with that, or we fall back on escape skills if fighting our way through is inappropriate. Parkour and climbing have already been brought into our mix for overcoming certain obstacles, so we’re left with physical resistance in the form of doors, windows, locks, etc. that have to be opened or defeated.
Lock picking is, realistically, going to be of limited use here given the amount of time and the tools (often illegal to cart around) necessary – The techniques and tools to focus on would be raking, pick guns, and similar low-finesse tools that allow fast access to a wide variety of common locks. Bump keys and bypass tools are fast, but lock type specific and having the one you need would require having them all, which is a non-starter for most people. Bypass techniques would have to be focused on simple tools like shove knives, improvised bypass (ala ye olde credit card lock slip) and forced entry techniques. Attention would have to be paid to different types of doors and openings, including vehicles (the trunk too). The goal being a generalized knowledge of what can be bypasses/forced and basic methods, plus some experience practicing those things.
Beyond opening doors, gates, windows, etc. our remaining interest in opening things would be in escape from restraints – Zip ties, cuffs, rope ties etc. Along with bypassing and forcing locked doors and obstacles this is probably the most practical out of the general lock picking/entry category. Again the focus would be on low-finesse, high speed, methods of defeating restraints rather than in the artful slow processes.

For such a course, recurrent themes and the interconnection of principles and skills should be fairly obvious, but a point would have to be made of tying everything together and showing how each skill builds on the others. Each of these skills is fairly demanding on its own of self control, calm/rational thinking, and keen observational ability – Escape from and evasion of pursuit adds additional levels of stress to the tasks, and makes remaining calm and observant even more fundamental. The practice/repetition of skill, and creating challenge (adding stress) to that practice is extremely important in cultivating skill that can be counted on under real-world stress. Students seeking this kind of training, and conducting their own, must always keep that in mind.

This is more a thought exercise on how to approach a structured learning program, and some of what that would contain, than a “how-to” for any of these things. As such, this is far from complete and probably has some short-comings – We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, or on the Facebook page.
The goal of such a course, or personal program of study, is not so much to be the ultimate Gray Man, Human Hacking, Traceur, Escape Artist bad-ass. Very few people need to be that guy – You just need to be better than whoever might be chasing you.

(Someone will, doubtless, want to make a comment that I’m talking about things that shouldn’t be made public. Many believe that skills I’ve mentioned here should be heavily restricted, and not freely available.
Every skill I’ve talked about here is mentioned elsewhere online, in unrestricted settings. I am not the first, and won’t be the last, to disseminate such ideas. More innovation in things like lockpicking and social deception (and how to counter such threats) comes from the private sector than from the legitimate professional sector. If solely restricted to professionals, the level of knowledge and skill among those professionals would begin to stagnate, and be quickly outstripped by the criminal element [the only ones left innovating]. In these matters, I believe in security through transparency. Gunfighting, knife combatives and other tactical skillsets are also available openly and have not lead to the downfall of modern civilization, or our beloved nation.
You don’t have to like it, but that’s the way things work here. If that doesn’t work for you, shuffle along.)

3 responses to “Movement and Overcoming Resistance”

  1. […] a few tools in your pack can help you overcome difficult situations, and that too, isn’t that […]

  2. Darren Edwards says:

    Tool you may want to check out…Dead on Tools Annihilator….its a wrecking bar/demolition tool, that has many uses! Hammer, pry bar, punch, axe, gas/water wrench, board breaker and of course lethal weapon on any end you choose. They come in two sizes, I’ve got the larger on my bug-out bag…would be extremely usefull in a worst case/disaster scenario, especially in urban areas, for breaking into buildings, water/gas tanks extraction/hooligan tool! It’s a little on the large/heavy side, but i think has real merit given all it can be used for! Check it out and thanks!

    • BFE Labs says:

      I really like the Annihilator, and similar tools like Stanley’s FUBar series (particularly the rescue/EMS series). They are a bit attention getting for anything regular, though having one in your vehicle would probably not raise any eyebrows along with a small shovel and some other useful items.

      For regular carry, I really like the mini pry-bars from County-Comm, , and have a few of each size. They recently introduced some flat ones, that would lack the advantage of the slight curvature, but be easier to carry in a wallet or pocket based kit.

      One of these days we’ll be doing a post, and probably a video or two, on tools for these concerns. Thanks for adding some ammunition to the thought processes!

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