Escaping Restraints and Priority of Effort

Escaping restraints is an entertaining party trick. It is also a useful survival skill. That said it isn’t top priority. Years ago, my old employer sent me to a course teaching how to defeat common restraints to include rope, duct tape, zip ties and hand cuffs. Since I would be working in an area inhabited by some who would take great pride in capturing an American official and devising imaginative forms of torture and execution, leadership approved specialized training to add to the chances of survival. I am a firm believer in the idea that as long as we are still breathing, we’re still in the fight. So I was glad to have the training and an additional chance at escape. That said, this is a skill that supports the improbable salvage of a disaster. In training, it is worthwhile to look for maximum Return on Investment (ROI).

Training time has always been a limited resource. One of my favorite books, The Code of the Samurai, is an English translation of a Japanese manuscript that is several hundred years old. The author, an aging samurai, gives advice on prioritizing training. Archery and horsemanship were top priorities. Respectively, that’s training in the long range weapon of the battlefield and the means of mobility. Jujitsu in contrast was not a top priority. It was still trained, but not at the expense of core competencies. Jujitsu was the means by which the samurai could continue to fight even when disarmed. As such, it was in large part (Jujitsu skills could be used at close quarters while armed.) a contingency plan for dealing with a disaster.

This also reminds me of the great and famous physician whose more skilled brother was unknown because he focused on preventative medicine. Escaping is pretty cool, but less efficient than avoiding detention. Similarly, fighting a street gang is spectacular, but less efficient than evading that gang before a fight could develop. It is the ounce of prevention versus the pound of cure. Be prepared for the worst case scenario, but first invest in preventing it.

The threat of kidnapping and illegal detention is real even in the U.S. and happens with alarming regularity in parts of the world. Prioritization of training varies according to individual circumstance. That means skills get training time based on the situation. Regardless, first line defense skills are addressed first. Address situational awareness, avoidance, evasion and defensive tactics that could preclude the need for escape from detention. Then work on your escape. Besides, it’s pretty fun. Yesterday, I brushed up on some old skills picking handcuffs with a hairpin. Still got it.