Although the likelihood of you being involved in a terrorist attack remains very low (for now, at least), we need to be prepared. We can't go on pretending that terrorism is not an issue, that Islamic terrorism is not an issue or that young men of all skin colors aren't motivated to take out their own personal vendettas on the "West".
We aren't just going to look into what you should do if you ever happen to be in such an event, we'll look into ways to prevent the bad guy (or guys) from hurting more people, and then practical ways to be a hero.
But first, let's talk a little about what's happening, about the places most likely to see terrorist attacks so you and your family can avoid them. After all, the best way to be a hero for your spouse and kids is to make sure they aren't anywhere near places that are likely to see these mass shootings.
There's no doubt that the world is getting crazier and crazier. If, up until recently, most of the tragedies were natural disasters (the Indonesian tsunami, the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, Katrina), the things that make the headlines these days are people killing other people.
Why? Because, as an article on the Independent points out, racial tensions have worsened lately. And it's not just the US, it's the entire world. A lot of people thought that the election of the first black president meant the end of racial division, but it's missing something very important: the fact that Islamic terrorism is on the rise.
Without it, we may have very well been a lot more "progressive" when it comes to living peacefully with those different skin colors and religions, but the President's stubbornness to not only destroy ISIS when he should have, but to ignore and not censor Islamic terrorism has lead us to where we are today. And not just him, but liberal European leaders such as Cameron, Merkel and Hollande are also to blame, as their people turn against them.
And now we're hearing from every media voice and news outlet about shocking headlines about extremist Muslims every single day. Things like "Muslim man stabs 3 little girls and their mother in France because they weren't decent" or "Muslim man attacks 15 people on a train in Germany" or "600 women were sexually assaulted by over 1000 migrants in Cologne on New Year's Eve."
Add to these the riots from Ferguson and Baltimore, plus the reactions of white people to everything that's been going on lately. What do you get? A deeply divided world, where terrorism will thrive.
An attack at a rock concert in Paris (at the Bataclan theater) should make you weary of going to such concerts if they're in neighborhoods and cities that are known for terrorist activities.
A truck attack in Nice that left over 20 people dead on France's national day should make you weary of going to any kind of celebration, particularly those that may attract angry extremists. US Independence Day, Christmas, and Thanksgiving holidays should be no exception either.
Needless to say, neighborhoods and cities that have a high crime rate should be avoided, such as the infamous Molenbeek district in Brussels. Basically, everything we already knew about avoiding personal assault rings true, as it's common sense.
You also don't want to be anywhere near protests of any kind, unless you really want to be a hero. If you really want to be the guy fighting for a cause you think it's important, be my guest. But do read the rest of the article, as it may help you be a hero for those around you should you come across with an armed or unarmed shooter.
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If you looked at footage of the Nice truck attack on France's national day, you saw two categories of people: those running around in disbelief (who figured out they're in danger), and those who were merely looking, trying to understand what's happening.
Although figuring out WHAT the danger is, is important, the fight or flight instinct should have kicked in them, and started to run for cover the moment they realized something is wrong. But their awareness levels were so low, they decided to sit there and wait to see what happens next.
How do you develop your awareness? I'm not trying to get you to walk around in public places with a deep sense of insecurity, far from it, but you have to be on the lookout for things and people that seem out of place.
One more thing... many people get the so-called tunnel vision in an emergency. This is when the brain becomes so focused on the immediate danger, that it completely ignores everything else. So, if you see a shooter, you'll be so worried about that shooter that you'll never see a second attacker sneaking in on you. It's even possible that the attacker comes for you from an angle you could easily spot, if your tunnel vision weren't so focused on the other one.
So practice being aware of all your surroundings, practice multi-tasking (such as looking out for dangers while talking on the phone as you're walking down the street) and, if you take self-defense lessons, ask your instructor to practice these multiple attackers scenarios where one of them sneaks up on you.
If you remember the terrorist incident of 2015 from the train that was traveling from Amsterdam to Paris, then you know that, while some of the ones who tried to stop the armed attacker were from the Army and the Air Force who happened to be on the train at the time of the attack, others were just ordinary citizens.
This doesn't mean anyone can stop a terrorist but it does mean you need to get into shape. Fitness for survival situations is nothing new, yet it's overshadowed by stockpiling, bugout bags and bug out gear, because, well ... people are lazy. Remember, all the gear in the world won't help you in a situation where the only way is to charge the attacker with your bare hands or a makeshift weapon you picked up from close by. If you practice concealed carry, hopefully you will have your gun with you (and the wits and know how to aim and shoot accurately in a high stress situation), but if you travel to Europe, that's definitely not an option.
That being said, some of the things you can do to get into shape, not just for terrorist attacks but also surviving a variety of situations, are: Focus not just on strength but also on flexibility. If you wanted to stop that gunman on the train, you'd most likely have to jump over seats or even other people, duck for cover and so on.
Improve your grip by working out your forearms. This small yet crucial muscle group is often ignored by folks who go regularly to the gym. Fortunately, there are plenty of exercises.
Focus on full-body exercises such as squats, deadlifts and bench presses (or push-ups if you're doing this at home). These will activate even the tiniest of muscles, increasing your overall strength.
Do some sprinting. This will help you attack a terrorist with full speed. Then kick it up a notch by regularly practicing uphill sprints, like those running backs and linebackers in the NFL. This will build serious leg muscle and explosive strength -- helping you literally run people down like a freight train.
Before you're tempted to be a hero, you first have to figure out if you can save your family, or even yourself. If you risk getting shot, it's suicide to try and stop the gunman. So long as they have you in their sight, there's nothing you can do except to run for cover.
On the other hand, if they don't see you, that's the ideal situation. Only problem is, there might be more of them running around, so you can never be too careful. Some terrorists act alone but most terror attacks are well planned and sometimes involve a number of people. Why? Because the vast majority of them are not crazy, they're religiously motivated. If you do run into a crazy gunman, you're probably in luck because he's most likely alone... but if you were to fall prey to a coordinated attack such as 9/11 or Charlie Hebdo or Bataclan, it's much harder to save the day.
This is serious business.
a.) Breath. Stay calm. Disassociate. A flood of emotions -- fear, panic, and adrenaline -- are likely to hit you like a freight train. You need to shake these off immediately, just like a trained Spec ops soldier, and keep your focus on the task at hand: Eliminate the killer and stay aware of your surroundings and whether or not you can be picked off by another terrorist that may be nearby.
Ok, but what if you don't have a gun? There's only one other way I can think of and that's to take the guy from behind, just like a football player tackling an opponent (though you risk getting shot, of course). And short of joining the army, probably the best way of practicing that is -- you guessed it -- to start playing it!
Of course, what happens after you put him on the ground is of equal importance. The most crucial thing is to disarm him, possibly by aiming for a sensitive area such as his throat, nose (smash it), or eyes (jab him in the eyes with pointed fingers and blind him, even if only temporary). As you eliminate this terrorist, this will encourage others to help out and pin him down.
Of course, your main focus should be the weapon, because you might get shot as you try the self-defense techniques. In fact, it's best that you learn specific techniques for specific weapons: knife, handgun and semi-automatic.
b.) If you tackle a terrorist to the ground, and even if you manage to take his weapon away, realize that he may have a free hand that he's now using to pull a knife and put into your neck or torso. Truly, the only safe way to tackle a terrorist and protect yourself with a tackle may look like this: In one fluid movement, following any tackle to the ground, roll him to his stomach, pull one of his arms behind his back, and now pull up on that arm toward the back of his neck, until he screams in pain from the tension on his shoulder and elbow. Create ripping pain on his shoulder and joints with this movement.
This is a common offensive move of trained law enforcement and prison security teams for taking down dangerous and aggressive attackers and getting them to give up in surrender.
Even the most aggressive attacker is powerless to stop the pain of a move where just one of his arms is pulled up and twisted high behind his back.
Your goal isn't to slap handcuffs on this terrorist though; keep pulling up on his arm (past the point where handcuffs might normally be applied), until he is literally screaming for you to stop. (Watch out that his screams don't draw any other terrorists to your location.)
Crazy that the times we are living in mean that many of us may literally be in a war for our survival that can happen on just any ordinary day at work or at the market place; it's a theme that has happened many times in history and now, even in the prosperous nations of the West, we can expect to see it ourselves at some point in the near future ... if terrorists have their way that is.
Note: Being able to defend yourself doesn't mean you have to carry yourself with a grudge for killing "extremist Muslims"; what it does mean is that you have the confidence and can tap into the aggression and focus that will be needed to stop a murderer in his tracks, who has no qualms with killing women and children, or you, or anyone else that happens to be in the vicinity of an attack.
This kind of "self defense" isn't for everyone though. Which brings us to:
This doesn't necessarily guarantee you'll get out alive, but it's better than nothing. It's possible that the terrorist will shoot dead bodies anyway, just in case someone's pretending. In this case, it might be better to hide yourself under a body. That way, if they do shoot, at least part of you will be protected.
But playing dead is a gamble; being quick on your feet and able to quickly spot a means of escape may be the best way to survive a terrorist attack, even if you have to play a bit of cat and mouse to make your get away; what that means is that a serious of cunning maneuvers may be just the thing that saves your life and gets you and possibly others to safety.
However you survive, give all thanks to God for seeing you through ok when surely other people will have probably have lost their lives. Faith, after all, will be the only way to understand and cope with the events coming to our world.
Better yet -- consider skipping some events all together.