Thursday 07/05/15

What do you think of when you hear the word camouflage? Most likely, you will think of the multi-coloured uniforms and face paint worn by military personnel. Camouflage isn't as complicated as it sounds; it is simply the art of blending into your environment. While the green, brown and black Woodland pattern uniforms are ideally suited for blending into a forest, they will do very little to help you hide in a sandy desert, or in the snow.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to hide, you need to use the colours and textures of your immediate environment. "That's nice; but what does this have to do with self-defence?" I hear you ask. As I have advised in previous blog posts, running away from an attacker is a valuable survival tool that is easily forgotten in an adrenalized state of mind. If you manage to escape from your aggressor, you might not have the speed or stamina to outrun them. This is where camouflage becomes an important skill.

Blending into your environment can be something as simple as hiding under one of the cars parked along the side of the road, scrambling under a pile of garbage bags stacked next to a full dumpster (yes it's gross, but how desperate are you to escape?), or quickly modifying your outfit. I have even seen someone successfully hide by pulling a clean perforated garbage bag over the top half of their body and sitting in a pile of full trash bags.

If you are being chased, (unless your attacker knows you personally), they are going to be chasing after a specific item of clothing like your hat or your jacket, because they stand out in a crowd (unlike jeans, which just about everybody wears). Unlike the movies, you probably won't have the opportunity to grab unattended clothing hanging from a clothesline. Your most likely options will be to remove your hat or jacket; and put on or remove your sunglasses. Unless your jacket is reversible, don't try putting it on inside-out (you'll only succeed in drawing attention to yourself). If you have to remove anything, ditch it behind a garden wall or in a bin, then walk in a different direction to the one you were travelling in. If you're lucky, you might be able to come back and reclaim your gear later on.

Walk in a different direction to your original escape route, but don't run. It is likely your pursuer will be looking for someone wearing your jacket, and still running in the same direction you were headed. Unless they got a good look at your face, they won’t recognise some random guy wearing a short sleeved shirt, walking in the wrong direction. Be careful; any panicked movements will immediately attract their attention. If there are other people around, but they can’t or won’t help you, push your way into the crowd and copy whatever they are doing (window-shopping and listening to buskers are boring, everyday activities that draw very little attention). Wait for the attacker to run past, then meander along with the crowd until you reach somewhere safe.

Control your breathing. Nothing will give you away quicker than gasping for breath (and sweating heavily) when you are supposed to be just another shopper or pedestrian. Also be aware of any smells that will readily identify you. Strong, easily remembered colognes and perfumes will draw attention to you; as will bad breath, cigarettes and strong smelling chewing gum.

As soon as you have evaded your pursuer, immediately call the police for help.