A few examples:
- You see a change in trajectory towards you
- You see an irregular line of motion to include you in the person’s intended path
- You’re in a large parking lot and someone is taking a line towards you that is not in the direction of other vehicles or not towards the store(s).
- You pass by someone who was stationary (loitering) and he starts walking in your direction immediately after you pass
Let’s tie this into a recent teaching example:
While finishing up teaching a self defense lesson for 4 ladies in a park area, 3 guys walked up the stairs near where we were training: late teens/early 20s, baggy dark blue jeans, over-sized white t-shirts, styled in a conforming manner, they walked on a line parallel to our direction where there is only one path a trail to continue walking that leads to the street and some apartment buildings. I could tell that the ladies in the group got really uncomfortable as the guys got closer to us.
The three guys minded their own business and passed without any incident or verbal interaction; after they cleared us I asked, “How many of you had a negative emotional response about those three guys that passed us?” They all admitted to it and said it was the appearance of the individuals that made them feel uncomfortable. (I assume our conversation about how two gang-related bodies being recently found less than a mile away from the park have also contributed to them feeling uncomfortable).
I said to them, "that's one way you know that something requires more attention, if it makes you feel uncomfortable.”
A pairing of a bad vibe about someone in combination with an irregular line of movement = be alert, it might be time to do something.
I explained that given the layout of our landscape (see picture below), any deviation from them walking directly to the trail that passes through to the other apartments towards us would be an irregular line of movement and would require immediate thinking on your feet of what the situation is and what your options are based on what unfolds, particularly when the presence of the individual(s) approaching makes you feel uncomfortable. I emphasized the need for an agile verbal skill-set, the utilization of tools for self defense if you are comfortable and have them accessible, and a vicious stun-and-run to facilitate your escape as training priorities.
Making it real: Tie this concept into a previous encroachment that you have experienced where something was “off” about the person’s trajectory, how they were moving, or changed direction. If you can identify how this felt or looked with a previous encounter it should help you identify it sooner if it happens again, and buy you more time to do something proactive, if needed.
Train smart & stay safe,
NOVA Self Defense
Red: given the above, seeing anyone deviate off this path towards us would be a known encroachment, which can still be a gray area depending on what they say/don’t say, how they move, what they do, how you feel about all of the above, and how they respond to any verbal interception prior to closing distance.