Anatomy of a Mugging

This incident was told to me by one of the instructors at my school, who spent some time working in Corrections. The incident was told to him by an inmate who had a long history and record of violent assaults, and gives us many key indicators about the way in which muggers go about their business and commit their crimes.
"The criminal and a friend were out driving close to a college campus when they spot somebody they assumed to be a student, walking in their direction, with headphones on, looking at their phone - if the victim had been looking ahead, he might have seen the driver and the passenger show interest in them, and could have possibly attempted to move from that location, before anything happened. The criminal passed by and turned the car round, synchronizing their movement with that of the victim. They passed him, and pulled up in front of them. Both the criminal and his friend approached the student, with the criminal pulling a knife. He then demanded that the student handed over the phone. The student refused, so the criminal stabbed him, repeating the demand. Sill the student refused, and was stabbed again, with the demand for the phone being made again. This process was repeated till the student collapsed from blood loss, and the criminal and his friend simply took the phone. When he’d finished telling the story he concluded it by saying, “all I wanted was the phone.”
There are many lessons from this story, and tell us a lot about the profile of a predator, and how the way they view the world is very different to our own:
  1. Predators feel entitled to use violence to accomplish their goals – the criminal felt justified to use violence because the victim wouldn’t comply with their demand(s).
  2. Predators lack conscience – not at one time when recounting the incident did the criminal ever express remorse or feel sorry for the victim; it’s almost as if the victim was to blame for getting stabbed i.e. if he’d handed over the phone he wouldn’t have been cut.
  3. Predators have many first hand experiences of violence – this was not the first time this criminal had mugged somebody and/or used a knife.
  4. Predators have little or no fear of law enforcement and the legal process – although no criminal wants to get caught, most have prior experience of dealing with the police and the legal system; most have little in the way of employment, possessions etc. to lose, and so there is not the same level of fear and respect towards these things that the average citizen has. The mugger did nothing to disguise his identity, or that of the car.
  5. Predators have a plan – it may be a simple one, such as walking up to somebody demanding a wallet or a phone etc. and if they don’t comply stabbing them, but they have a plan.
If we look at this profile and compare it to our own, we can see some major differences between us and the predatory individuals we may have to face and deal with. Firstly, most of us only feel entitled to act violently, when we’ve exhausted all other options available to us – and when we do we often feel bad about having to cause the other person pain i.e. we have a conscience. For most of us the last time we experienced violence firsthand was when we were at school – and many of us went through school never getting into a fight. Law enforcement and the legal system do concern us, and rightly so, as we have jobs, careers, possessions etc. that we fear losing (we don’t want a criminal record). One of the questions I get asked a lot when conducting seminars is, “Am I legally entitled to do that?” Predators never ask themselves that question. Few of us plan for how we should act when dealing with aggressive and violent individuals – if the student had had a plan on how to deal with a mugging scenario, such as complying with their assailant’s demands, and taking note of information available to them in the environment, such as the license plate number of the car, they might have been able to avoid being stabbed, and made a positive ID of their assailant to law enforcement, which meant they might have been able to get their phone back.
Although no victim is ever to blame for the crimes and violence committed against them, we should recognize that thinking about and planning how to act and behave in such scenarios can go a long way in preventing us being targeted, and helping us to survive such violent encounters.  

Predatory individuals are not like us, they think, behave and act differently to us, and for us to be successful we must adopt and copy something of their profile, whilst at the same time not losing who we are. We must understand when we are entitled to act violently, and claim the moral authority to do so – we should be decisive in this and act without hesitation or conscience. We should recognize that when we fight, it is not for ego but for survival, and at this point we should not be thinking about the legal consequences of our actions. Above all we should accept the possibility of being involved in a violent altercation, however unlikely it may seem, and plan for it.

About the Author:
Gershon Ben Keren has been training in Krav Maga since 1994 in both Israel and Europe. He holds a 3rd Degree Black Belt in Krav Maga in Israel, where he also received his teaching certification. He has been trained by some of the IDF's (Israeli Defense Forces) most experienced and respected Krav Maga instructors. In December 2011, he was inducted into the "Museum of Israeli Martial Arts" at the Israeli Martial Arts Center in Herzilya. He has taught Krav Maga to civilians, security personnel, law enforcement agencies, and to members of elite military units and Special Forces. He also holds a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Judo and has won regional and national titles in Judo tournaments.

He has a Master's Degree in Psychology, with particular reference to violence and aggressive behavior, and incorporates this knowledge into the reality based self-defense training that he provides. He lives and teaches Krav Maga in Boston, running Krav Maga Yashir Boston.

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