The Most Dangerous Man in the Room

I realize there’s a lot of debate out there about how to appear like a hard target to a would-be assailant, so I wanted to address what I think makes you the most dangerous man in the room when it comes people who want to do harm.

Let me start with a story about a man named Tony Lopez. 

Tony Lopez was the Spanish teacher in my high school, he coached the girl’s soccer team, and when you looked at Tony, there was nothing really impressive about him. He was middle aged, thick rimmed glasses, kind of portly, and you would never guess by looking at him that he was generally always the most dangerous man in any room he walked in.

I found this out the hard way as a puffed up high school kid. 

I was a senior at the time, and when people saw me they thought of me as pretty tough because I was the school’s wrestler and I was pretty good. 

And then Tony Lopez came to wrestling practice one day, and I still haven’t really recovered, even after all these years. 

Tony was my wrestling partner for the day, and I’d heard he had a martial arts background, but I sized him up and was pretty sure he wouldn’t be any trouble. 

So we started wrestling and immediately I thought “Am I off today?” I could not get an advantage on him.

He would get my legs, pick me up, and dump me and I felt like I was watching it all happen in slow motion. I was powerless to stop anything he wanted to do. It seemed effortless for him.

He was taking me apart. He was destroying me. Portly, middle-aged, girls soccer coach Tony gave me a savage beating. And here’s the most important point–I didn’t see it coming.

The Most Dangerous Man Has the Element of Surprise

I found out later that he has eight black belts and a gold medal in Sambo. After that I remember very vividly one day working out in the gym and saying:

“Hey, Mister Lopez, let’s go!” (joking of course) 

Without any change in his expression, he took two steps towards me and then, faster than I could flinch, his foot came out. I felt the tip of his foot graze my crotch and the wind of that lightning fast foot whip up my whole body and went, “What was that?” I looked at him and he looked at me and we both knew, okay, that would have been over just right there. 

Part of his power was me not knowing his power. It’s kind of like pulling on an animal’s tail in the forest only to realize the tail belongs to a ferocious tiger.

Don’t Broadcast Yourself as a Dangerous Man

I’m not a big fan of open carry or Glock t-shirts or firearms bumper stickers, because for every person that might be intimidated, there are many more who would see that as a bullseye. It would allow them to prepare their attack, and you would be the first person they would attempt to neutralize. 

If I was a bad guy, I’d give that guy the respect of putting my best foot forward. I might make a plan. I would attack hard and fast. I would see them as a threat and I would bring my A game. But with people like Tony Lopez, who could truly lay you out, he would never be my prime target and would’ve been my greatest threat.

There’s a man named Sun Tzu who wrote a book many centuries ago called The Art of War. You should read it. 

Sun Tzu wrote “Let your movements be as dark and impenetrable as night and when you fall, fall like a thunderclap.” This is essentially tactics. Let them underestimate you, and never let them see you coming. 

This is my approach when I’m out in public. I let them underestimate me and never let them see me coming. 

Dangerous Men Don’t Make Themselves a Target

People don’t realize that everybody is very, very easy to kill. If I thought about how I would kill me, I really have no chance of defending myself against me. That sounds stupid, but welcome to the games I play in my head. Everybody’s vulnerable, especially if you lose your element of surprise. It’s not just about hitting your target, it’s ceasing to ever become a target yourself. I never want them to see me coming. And that’s why I kind of dress nondescript.

I wear collared shirts and jeans. I don’t have any multicam anything. You won’t see any gun stickers on my cars or anything else like that. 

The way I ensure that I’m not an easy target is not through the clothes I wear but by the way I carry myself–tall, always alert, making people aware that I see them. Plus, I try not to end up in stupid places at stupid times with stupid people. 

Now, for some of you this is going to be a crazy, upside down mindset. What you’ve read here is the difference between the mindset of a shooter and the mindset of a tactician. 

When I respond with violence, I want to respond so quickly and with such a surprise that I end that fight before they ever realize I’d launched a counter attack. Let your actions be as dark and impenetrable as night is. When you fall, fall like a thunderclap.

For more on tactics, preparedness, and warrior mindset – check out the Warrior Poet Society Field Guide and the WPS YouTube channel.