Armed Robbery Shows Ineffective Self-Defense

Remember, the threat during an armed robbery isn’t to the money or possessions; armed robbers are threatening your life. Your Active Self Protection is far more about life than possessions, but if you’re going to resist an armed robbery you MUST do so with ferocity and intelligence!



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News story on this armed robbery from the Philadelphia PD blog:


What does this video teach us about defending ourselves against an armed robbery?


  1. Many times an attacker will give pre-attack cues during the “warmup” phase of an armed robbery that defenders can use to anticipate what is coming. One of the most common is looking around, either for witnesses or for escape routes. If you’re interviewing/being interviewed, and in your talk notice someone who exhibits other danger signs looking left and right away from you or searching for witnesses or escape routes, consider that a significant clue that something is wrong and place yourself in the best possible place to avert or deal with the potential attack.


  1. The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but the hands are the windows to the intent of a person (and the source of danger in an armed robbery). If you’re in a potential conflict, ALWAYS pay attention to what the aggressor is doing with their hands. They might have a force multiplier in their hand, or they might be hiding their hand so that you can’t see what is in it or using their hand to conceal something. If their hands are empty, there is a difference between someone with fists and someone whose hands are open and relaxed. As a self-defender your situational awareness must include seeing the hands of any potential threat in your vicinity, so watch the hands!
  2. Do not stay in the danger zone if you can possibly help it in an armed robbery. So many times people get decision paralysis and freeze, but you cannot stay in a place where a deadly threat exists! Either act to leave the area, or act to protect yourself. Every second you give an attacker is another opportunity they have to do you and yours harm, so don’t allow that. If you can, get out of there immediately. This victim tried to, but the robber didn’t let them. That happens! If you can’t, then look for your opportunity to ensure your own safety by whatever means necessary. Before your Kung Fu, and before your Gun Fu, you should consider whether your best defense is Run Fu!


  1. The “Five Ds Plus 1” are a tool that we use at ASP to organize our training and preparation for defending ourselves against an armed robbery when we are not armed ourselves. (or if we are armed but outdrawn such that we must deal with the problem with our hands) First, before the others, we need to control Distance. (it’s the plus 1…it stands by itself and is the gateway to the others working) Then Deflect, Dominate, Distract, Disarm, Disable. We pursue them from first to last, in order, to give us the best chance of successfully defending ourselves against an armed opponent. Close the Distance to the place where we can effectively use our empty-handed skills. Deflect their force multiplier, Dominate as much as possible (best is the whole person, second is the arm with the tool, last is the tool itself), Distract the attacker (usually using pain, redirection, movement, etc.), Disarm the attacker, and Disable the attacker.


  1. If you are fighting an armed attacker, you want to practice those Five Ds +1 effectively to give yourself the best chance of winning. Once you begin with Deflect (keeping the tool from initially hurting you), next you want to DOMINATE that tool and keep that domination up to keep it out of the fight. One of Ed Parker, Sr.’s sayings that bears repeating is, “Never send an opponent’s weapon into orbit, only to have it re-orbit back to you.” When it does re-orbit back to you, it is dangerous to you again! Maintain that dominance, then distract and disarm them so that the tool is no longer a problem. This armed robbery was very dangerous because the clerk and the man in blue both tried to dominate the gun and failed, but thankfully this robber didn’t want to commit murder.


There are 3 additional lessons for Patron Members and 3 class starters for Instructors from this video, so please join us in those programs to see them!


Attitude. Skills. Plan.


(music in the outro courtesy of Bensound at




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