Thursday, April 25, 2013

CofV 12.3: Terrain

I'll be winging this.  Terrain is, literally, a big topic and I know I can just touch on it in a blog post.
Some things that need to be in there:
Vision, including reflections and shadows
Movement control
Resource access
Escape routes
Unconventional applications

And all under the headings of how to read the terrain, how to use the terrain and how to manipulate the terrain.

There's way more.  This is stuff I do but rarely teach.  I'm finding a direct correlation between how well I can write or speak about something and how often I teach it.

Reading Terrain--
One of the elements to be aware of is flow of resources, and since we are talking about self-protection, you are the resource.  Bad stuff happens in predictable places. A mugger could starve waiting in random dark alleys. But the mouth of the alley between, say, the convention center hotel and the nearest strip club will give you a lot of unaware, out of shape, drunk, non-local, cash carrying businessmen.  Think about the victim profiles and where you would hunt for them.

Another element are forced flows.  Places where you must pass too close to a blind spot.  Places where the threat doesn't even move but his prey comes within arm's reach. There is a reason that women despise nightclubs with long hallways to the restroom.

Blindspots and vision spots.  Places you can't see into (blind corners, pockets of shadows) and places you, or the threat, can watch easily from.  This list expands as you get better at utilizing reflections and shadows.  And that skill is manipulatable as you can position yourself to take advantage of shadows, but you can also adjust a windowed door or place your sunglasses to maximize useful reflections.

Escape routes, choke points and death funnels.  How well you must know terrain and how you use it changes by mission.  Defensive strategies use funnels of death, offensive strategies need to bypass them quickly, for instance.  The 'funnel of death' is any small area that you and your team must bypass that allows the enemy to concentrate fire.  Choke points or bottlenecks in other words.  Escape routes are cool and the bad guy will likely have planned his.  You should look for them by habit.  The trouble with hiding strategies that have only one escape route is that by definition, when you are found, the threat will be blocking your escape route.

Cover and concealment.  Cover will stop a bullet, concealment will keep someone from seeing you.  Hiding behind drywall is concealment, but drywall won't stop most bullets.  It's not cover.  That said, I'm a little disturbed with the idea with cover as a category.  Concrete blocks are not necessarily cover for .308 rifle rounds.  I've shot through those.  Anyway, think of cover as a guideline.  Better than nothing and always use it, but don't count on it.  Also, remember, that some things change with angles. A stick-built house offers practically no cover... except if you are shooting down a hallway, the threat's bullets have to engage, because of the angle, sideways drywall and all of the studs.

Everything above you need to be able to see, but you also need to be able to exploit.  How do you see around a corner before you negotiate it?  How do you angle  to get maximum visibility at safest distance.  How do you cramp an assailant's movements?  How do you use the environment instead of simply mitigating the effects? (That's what I love about day two of the A&T seminar). How do you position yourself to maximize your useful information and minimize the threat's?

And what is there in the terrain that you can change?  Already mentioned adjusting doors and placing sunglasses to maximize vision.  There's more.  One of our old deputies always sat in a way that let him flip the chair out from between his legs in a flash.  My cell extraction method got a lot of juice from the fact that there was a concrete bench at knee height and I knew precisely where it was.  Sophisticated inmates who expected the team would soap their floors...and we countered that with kitty litter.

There's a psychological element to terrain as well.  A surprising number of people, even in emergencies, will respect a "Do Not Enter" or "Employees Only" sign.  Not bad guys, of course.  If they followed rules they wouldn't be bad guys.

Enough for now.  Big subject and I need to organize thoughts a little more.


Kai Jones said...

Terrain...also think about who else might be looking? Sometimes the who else will help; sometimes just the fact that there are other people about will slow down or even stop a potential attack. I think of this as part of terrain because the people are in the environment and out of your control (for the most part).

One of my escapes was to a bus stop in full view of a crowd of people. The attacker had already passed out but just in case, there was a crowd available to watch us (I was 13, my sister 11, my brother 2) if anything went wrong.

Anonymous said...

Rory or whomever can help,
I had tried to find an email to contact you but wasn't able to. I'm looking for a teacher to learn violence under whom is effective in what they know here in my home of Utah. I lack the money to learn out of state or some of those more expensive places. But to keep it short I'd like to learn under someone here in Utah who knows what they're talking about in Violence as well as someone who can teach me without just teaching me an "art" or some system but what I would like to learn more about stuff someone with your experience would teach.
In short I want to learn real street combat and things of the like- thanks

Josh Kruschke said...


And how does the environment/terrain effect your use of time. Both sides want the time to do what they want to do & to limit the other sides time to respond.

So, you have an escape route, will you have time to use it?

So, there's a chokepoint coming up, how can you limit the time you will be in it?

Depth, what can you do to give yourself more time, and take/steal time from them?

I've heard or read somewhere that most people only think in two dimensions. We only see or look in the horizontal plane, that we have to be tought to think in think verticly (up and down) and in the forth (time).

We need to remember that we live in four dimensions when evaluating our envornment/terrain.

My 2 cents,

Clever Survivalist said...

I think the main thing we need to know, is that these techniques do us no good if we dont practice, and practice what will go wrong. I love airsoft guns for practice. Start by practicing the defensive and offensive strategies here in your own home where you are familiar, and get to the "why does this work" and "what are the basics of this that can be used elsewhere" questions that will help in more unknown situations. It is always best to be visited by experts on occasion to tell us what is wrong or right in our techniques. Thanks, Rory, for an idea for another blog post!
"Check out my Survivalist Blog at the Clever Survivalist and read daily Survival Guide content."

Josh Kruschke said...

"Hiding behind drywall is concealment,..." Depending on what the other guys tech level. I might not even be that.

Concealment & Cover is only good up untill it's breached. It is either effective or ineffective in dealing with what other side has.