Archive for the ‘Tales From’ Category

The Stasi were aided by an estimated 189,000 citizen-informants (source)

This is part 3 “Our Surveillance” of a 5 part series titled Doomed to repeat?: Growing up in East Germany by Petra Foerster (Part 1 – Our History, Part 2 – Our Education)

Doomed to Repeat?: Growing up in East Germany – Our Surveillance Audio by Jonathan Fader

While I agree that the government provided the incentive for citizens to report on the “inappropriate” speech and behaviour of their neighbours, friends, and even family, it was everyone’s personal decision to report someone to the Stasi, and by doing so most likely threatening and destroying that person’s life and livelihood, as well as those of their family.

During the time the GDR existed they employed the divide and conquer approach to keep the population in check. In order to access higher social/career positions and earn advantages you had to be a member of the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (Socialist Unity Party of Germany) or SED. A big role was played by the secret service, the Stasi (short for Staatssicherheit). They had people everywhere.

Citizens were encouraged to spy on their friends and neighbors and to report any so-called suspicious behavior, meaning “did they do or say anything critical about socialism, the government, the Soviet Union?” Even a bad joke could get you arrested if it was perceived as critical of the system. The reward for the rat who sold you out was maybe a vacation, a color TV set, or a promotion. That being said – it didn’t necessarily mean that every police officer would report you if you said something, they had to be a member of the SED but many of them would still turn a blind eye.

Unfortunately people were sometimes reported by someone they least expected it from, like a good friend they used to go on family trips with. The people in my hometown were afraid of my dad because he often said things that were critical of the system but was never arrested for it. My family was lucky, we had friends in a high position in Berlin who made sure my dad wouldn’t be jailed.

After re-unification my dad requested his Stasi file and when he received it there was a lot of vetting and information deemed illegible for public viewing. They hid the names of the persons who reported my dad; those whom had hoped to get him arrested. I cannot even describe the feeling of disgust I experience when thinking about this, not only my father but everyone who was reported. Jail was different under the GDR. I know, police brutality exists, but often it is the prisoners who cause a lot of harm to each other. In the GDR, prison meant you were being tortured by the guards to get a statement out of you, to either blame yourself or another person.

When we read the word torture we have a rough idea in mind, but most of us are in denial of what one person is capable of doing to another, and we often don’t want to think what was done. Sleep deprivation was a common tactic, another was solitary confinement in darkness. Then there is physical torture, people were beaten with sticks, or water torture – the guards would use handcuffs to secure the prisoner to a wall and fill the cell with water. The prisoners never knew what would happen next; would they ever see the daylight again? And no, they didn’t have access to a defence lawyer or visitation rights. Torture was considered a “legitimate” means of interrogation in East Germany until its fall in 1989.

Living in the GDR came with a lot of fear of saying the wrong thing. Early on we were conditioned to feel bad about being German, and that we only had a chance for redemption by following the socialist lead of the Soviet Union. For the longest time I felt guilt when talking to people from other European countries, inherited guilt from the Nazis. And there are many people out there who take advantage of that. Imagine having a conversation with another person and both sides provide facts for their respective points of view, and all of a sudden the other party, running out of things to say and remembering that you are German, calls you a “Nazi” as a last resort to shut you up. I often didn’t know what to say because I was so conditioned to feel guilty.

Slowly, over time, I learned that many countries with surviving victims of National Socialism don’t blame the generations that came after, they understand that they cannot blame children for the mistakes of their parents. When I studied in the Czech Republic I took a train home one day, and ended up in a conversation with an older gentleman, old enough to have lived through WWII. We had a great conversation about history and all kinds of things, and it was while exchanging ideas and experiences with him that I started to understand that he didn’t blame me for what happened, that it wasn’t my fault. I have friends who are Jews and they also don’t blame the generations that came after.

We have to make sure that it doesn’t happen again, but I don’t have to walk with my head down because I happened to be born German, on the “wrong side of the wall.” But I still feel uncomfortable, even just writing this feels wrong on some part. This is what early childhood conditioning does to you. Under the GDR we had our own anthem,”Auferstanden aus Ruinen” (“Risen from Ruins”), which was literally about overcoming “old woes” to find “happiness and success”, but we were not allowed to sing the lyrics because that would have been patriotic and patriotism was deemed unacceptable…

…you could be reported for such inappropriate behaviour.

Written by: Petra Foerster – UTKM Green Belt

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A collection of East German textbooks from the School Museum in Leipzig (source)

This is part 2 “Our Education” of a 5 part series titled Doomed to repeat?: Growing up in East Germany by Petra Foerster (Part 1 – Our History)

Doomed to Repeat?: Growing up in East Germany – Our Education Audio by Jonathan Fader

Okay, so we’ve established that East Germany was a Socialist system. While West Germany was lucky to have “Gastarbeiter” the situation in East Germany was a bit different. While here, too, people from other countries were brought in (mostly from other Eastern European countries, Vietnam, North Korea, Angola, Mozambique, and, of course, Cuba), there was still a shortage of workers. Though East Germany tends to brag about how progressive they were regarding treating men and women equally, I personally think that it is this shortage that forced the government to provide resources so that both men and women could contribute equally to rebuilding the country.

In West Germany you could observe a more traditional role distribution, with the husband going to work and being the main breadwinner and the wife staying at home to raise the children. In East Germany both were working, often in a very exhausting shift system. Early childhood education started for quite early many children, beginning with Kinderkrippe (nursery school) for very young children (5/6 months old to approx. 3 years old), followed by Kindergarten (garden of children) for 3-5/6 year olds, and then starting primary school usually at the age of 6.

The positive side was that every child was guaranteed a spot in the Kinderkrippe and Kindergarten. Plus there was a lot of effort put into the education of the staff. As a child you learned early on to be part of a group, which is important, but this can also be used to start feeding the children into a specific social system. In my case it was Socialism. We were taught songs, German children’s songs and songs that were translated from Russian. We would listen to fairy tails from the Brothers Grimm and stories about Baba Yaga and the beautiful Wassilissa. The Soviet Union was often referred to as “grosser bruder” (big brother), not in Orwell’s sense of “Big Brother” from the book 1984, but as a literal older sibling who, allegedly, was looking out for his younger sibling, the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

There were many exchange programs going on between East German and Soviet schools. The first foreign language most people learned was Russian, starting in grade 5. Mine was the first generation of students who learned English first in grade 5, Russian still being added grade 7. Keep in mind, when I was in grade 7 it was 1993, so this was happening 4 years after the wall came down and 3 years after the official re-unification. The changes following the collapse of the Eastern Block were implemented very slowly.

There is a big age gap between my siblings and myself. My sister is almost 18 years older than me, but we still managed to have couple of teachers in common over subsequent years. When my sister was in school one of our shared teachers reported her for wearing a blue jeans with the US flag, resulting in her suspension. To become a teacher you had to be a member of the main political party, the SED (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands/Socialist Unity Party of Germany). When I had that same teacher in school (1993-1998) they were now a member of the CDU (Christliche Demokratische Union Deutschlands/Christian Democratic Union of Germany) which meant this person did a socio-political 180! Socialism considers religion as “opium for the people.” As a result there weren’t many active churches in East Germany. We had friends who were catholic and all of their children were incredibly smart and intelligent, but because of their faith they had a hard time getting admitted to universities. I think family friends were able to help them because I know that one of the children studied mathematics and physics at a university level. It was definitely not easy for them and I’m sure the Stasi (Staatssicherheit – the state secret service) had a close eye on them.

The first lesson my dad taught me was “don’t believe the media.” Especially in countries ruled by the Soviet Union newspapers, broadcast news, and books, where these forms of media were used to manipulate the population. We were provided with books in that promoted the idea of Socialism. Many German authors and artists who voiced their concern or openly criticized this philosophy where shunned, banned, not allowed to publish their works, imprisoned, or even expelled (anyone noticing the hypocrisy?). Critical thinking was not encouraged.

Uniform of the socialist youth league in East Germany (source)

From grade 1 to 8 students were part of the socialist youth organization called Ernst Thälmann Pioneer Organization. From grade 1 to 4 we were “Jungpioniere” (Young Pioneers) and our uniform was a white shirt with the Pioneer logo on one sleeve and a blue necktie. From grade 5 to 8 we would wear a red necktie and were called “Thälmannpioniere” (Thälmann Pioneers). I think my generation was probably the last one that still got to be a “Thälmannpionier,” I remember a big ceremony related to that. But again – that was years after the re-unification. We, too, had 10 commandments. One of them was to be friends with children from the Soviet Union and all other countries (but emphasis being on the SU). In grade 8 I would have advanced into the FDJ, the “Freie Deutsche Jugend” (Free German Youth). Part of that organization included attending all kinds of camps where you learned how to dig trenches, among other things, but by the time I was that age the whole process was discontinued. The FDJ still exists in Germany, though, but is no longer important. The positive side of these youth organizations was that they provided summer camps and arranged holidays for children and young adults, which was a great relief for working parents. Our summer break being 8 weeks long (as it is in Canada), many working parents were unable to take the time off.

Our education system was structured to get us ready to be good little workers in service of the higher ideal of socialism. History was taught from the Soviet point of view and emphasized how thankful we have to be “for the Soviets to free us from the Nazis.” Facts about war crimes committed by the Soviets were conveniently omitted. I was still very young when the brainwashing started and I remember reading a book about the crimes committed by the Red Army and my first reaction was shock and disbelief, but reason kicked in and I understood that my education had been very one-sided. When you are being raised in a specific system that also conditioned you on how to think and how to perceive things, it takes a lot of time to first acknowledge it, then try to break the pattern and to step away to get a different point of view on things. The first thing that our brain learns is often perceived as the ultimate truth. When you are taught early on that the Soviet Union is your “big brother” and “looks out for you,” and they are “all that is good in the world” and that “socialism/communism is the non plus ultra, it can be a very brutal awakening when this illusion is shattered and you will become very skeptical.

Or at least I became very skeptical.

Whenever someone is trying to sell me something as the greatest thing ever, without any negative sides, I don’t believe them. Every idea, every concept, has pros and cons; it really depends on your position. One thing that really bothers me in the social structure that pushed so hard on every side to “sell” us on this ideology, was the reporting, the subject of the next part in this series.

Written by: Petra Foerster – UTKM Green Belt

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Tales from the Job: Avoiding an International Incident Audio by Jonathan Fader

It should be no surprise to anyone who reads this blog or listens to the UTKM podcast that I spent sometime in the IDF. For me, it was not a positive experience, but I learned a lot about myself and picked up a few skills along the way. Though most of my experience was uneventful there was a particular event that stuck in my mind. An event which due to my actions, I like to think, managed to narrowly avoided turning into an unwanted international incident.

If you were not aware, Israel is constantly under the microscope, either due to anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, self hating Jews, or just general scapegoating, people still don’t like Jews or the nation of Israel. This should be obvious by the amount of “human rights violations” voted on against Israel at the UN compared to countries like, oh, I don’t know, North Korea, China, Turkey, Iran, etc… You know, countries that have committed, or are currently committing, genocide, and seem to like or stirring up violence and terrorism everywhere. But, you know, Israel is the worst offender according to the “oh so wise and moral” international bodies…

While I was there though I witnessed or was told about goings on that, as a Canadian, I wasn’t exactly thrilled about, but those were few and far between and nothing that I would consider a serious violation. In fact, compared to the actions of other Western armies, like the US or England, Israel is often the best kid in class.

This means, however, that any little thing that those who hate can find they will use to spin a negative view against Israel. (My favorite was the one that said IDF soldiers are racist because there was no recorded rapes of Palestinians. Assessments this are very hard to find online still, as most of the links were quietly taken down. I know, right? “Such an immoral army because there soldiers don’t rape…”) Anyway, you get my point. The fact is, Israeli soldiers need to be very careful because any bad decision they make, may become international news, or get them killed. Add on to that stress the burden of no sleep and insane management skills of the Israelis and it makes for a fun time indeed. So with out further adieu, I would like to share one of my favorite stories, in which I am fairly certain I avoided an international incident.

It was around Nakba day or “the great catastrophe” as the Palestinians put it. You can think what you want, but it’s a day(s) every year where Palestinians gather to protest (usually peacefully for the most part), against the Jewish village or IDF base nearest to their town or village. In this story I was stationed on a mountain top next to a Jewish settlement next to Nablus, one of the three major Palestinian cities. The city itself was basically a “no go zone” and we never much ventured into it for both safety and jurisdictional reasons. Our main concern was the three or four smaller, Arab villages surrounding us. Usually they were more of an annoyance, with kids or teens coming out to harass us on the weekly; it wasn’t risky for them since we usually just told them to go away. As up until this point we didn’t have much in the way of riot or crowd control gear despite the fact most of what we did was police work or crowd control. Go figure…

But on this day, as expected, things would be a bit more interesting. I was on the “quick response team” which constituted myself and four or five others soldiers, my Sgt. and a newer Second Lieutenant. None of us had seen any major wars or serious combat action. We were called out as a group(mob) of 100+ was quickly encroaching on our position. It happened to be a weekend, which at this time meant fewer soldiers on base than normal and any form of back up or assistance would probably be 5-10 minutes away. All we had was ourselves, our vests, and our Tavors.

At first we figured this would be like any other day; we yell at them to go away, they come to a certain point, they stop, they scream at us. Sometimes these protests (usually not this big) included foreign individuals, who seem European, also screaming at us (who knows why, misguided souls perhaps). In this particular case the mob was expressing a particular type of hate and anger, as they were not armed with just words, but slings as well.

Have you ever heard the story of David vs Goliath? Slings, with rocks and some training, can in fact kill. There is often a belief that because IDF soldiers have guns and Palestinians have rocks it’s not a fair fight. Except, in my experience, IDF soldiers, outside of a war or a live fire incident, are usually very, very, very reluctant to shoot at anyone, thought it does happen. This comparison, while true, ignores the fact that both gun and rock can be deadly. In fact, if I recall correctly, a few weeks earlier a soldier had been hit in the face with a rock from a sling and was in still intensive care as a result. A deadly tool is a deadly tool, whether its a rock or a gun, and believe me, when rocks started flying past us at speeds that would have been enough to put us in the hospital or worse, the fear was at a significantly higher level as compared to our normal, silly cat and mouse games.

I was certainly scared, as we only had our guns and were greatly out numbered; I image it was the same for all of us, including our commanders. At this point we were standing in a line across the hillside, probably 10 metres apart from each other to form a loose line. The radio was abuzz in Hebrew, much of which I still found difficult to understand.

Our Lieutenant, whom was out of sight, had told our Sergeant to fire in the air as per the standard policy. Shooting in the air was an indication that we were serious and to BACK OFF. I had never even heard of this order being given directly. For the record, assuming there was time, the proper protocol, as we were taught, was to scream in Hebrew (or Arabic) “back off or we will shoot,” rack the gun multiple times, shoot in the air, then, and only if our lives were imminently threated, to shoot on target. This, of course, is contrary to global popular belief of IDF protocol, which is usually something in the realm of aggressive fantasy.

More rocks fly by. As we couldn’t hear the command properly I asked my commander what he said. The commander replied, “He said I should shoot in the air. I said something to the effect of, “Just you? Sir? I think it wise if we all did it!” Though at this point it was some, panicked, incoherent statement; luckily he spoke English. He hesitantly agreed.

We all fired multiple shots in the air. With no ear plugs or hearing protection I might add. (OW! My ear balls…)

It worked!

The mob decided not to press further and to stay where they were. Eventually more individuals arrived and both sides just stood their ground.

The Lieutenant was annoyed that we had all fired in the air, as his order was only for my Sergeant to do so. I thought “what a douche,” he was the senior in command so he should have simply done it himself, but I guess that shows a lack of experience. Luckily it’s the IDF, and as nothing immoral or unreasonable was done, no harm, no foul.

After this encounter I was understandably quite pissed and scheduled a meeting with our Company Captain. At this time it was a large, muscular individual whom I recall being half Russian or something and whom had previously served in the famous Duvdevan unit (known for undercover, urban, anti-terrorism). I railed at him in broken Hebrew (in my typical fashion) about “why the hell didn’t we have any riot control gear, tear gas, or riot shields, and how this whole thing could have gone sideways fast, and turned into a international disaster!”

I don’t know if he was amused or annoyed, it was hard to tell as my Hebrew was crap and my emotional state was never great during this period.

I like to think it was because of me that things changed, as I would be shocked if anyone else complained, but eventually we got some basic riot control gear, in the form of various tear gas grenades and rubber bullets to disperse crowds. From then on we at least had non-lethal options to avoid international incidents which, to my knowledge at least, my squad and platoon had managed to do.

Quite shocking I know, one of the best armies in the world without proper riot control gear! I don’t entirely know why that was an issue at all, but I am glad we got it because for the next few months, though this was a relatively peaceful region, it turned out to be one of areas most frequently experiencing active engagements compared to the rest of the IDF. I felt it at least, with constant sleep deprivation. The most notable event in the area during that period was the murder of the Fogel family in the Itamar attack, which occurred while I was at Mitkan Adam (Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Warfare School) learning to be a sniper. But it certainly was representative of the increasing tensions at the time.

Though I certainly didn’t do this story justice, it shows that no matter how much you train or how much training you have, not everyone is able to react quickly and intelligently under duress to avoid a worse situations. For most, there is no substitute for experience. For me, for some reason, under extreme duress is when I excel, unfortunately it is in normal, day-to-day interpersonal skills that I struggle. Come on, Zombie Apocalypse

So, I seriously, ask you, “do you know how well you would perform in a potentially violent confrontation?” Unfortunately, the only way to know is to experience it, and in may cases this may be far from learning to walk in peace.

Written by Jonathan Fader

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Communication and awareness will solve a lot of problems before they happen. (source)
Tales From The Job: My Armoured Guard Experience Audio by Jonathan Fader

A number of years ago I landed a job with an armoured car company as a guard and driver. The job itself was a combination of logistics (transportation) and security, which seemed to be perfectly suited to the type of work experience I had at the time. I maintained a class one commercial drivers license for years, and had driven all sizes and varieties of trucks. I also had a security services license for quite a while and worked part time doing things like “access control” at special events, bar security, retail security, etc… There was even a period in which I worked nights/evenings as a doorman at an office building on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

In any case, you might say I was a “shoe in” for the job.

Now, as this is a Krav Maga blog, I thought I’d impart a little personal insight and experience with respect to the actual security aspects of my job. I believe this not only relevant to other parts of the security industry and law enforcement, but also to one’s day-to-day life as it pertains to personal safety, situational awareness, and the resolution/avoidance of conflict situations. The latter part of that last point being of paramount importance when one is carrying around a loaded firearm.

The Job

For those unfamiliar with the world of armed transport/security, bear in mind that armed personnel being hired to move high value items around is, in fact, an ages old profession. One that predates the existence of firearms themselves. Where there is something worth stealing, there has, and always will be, someone who will try to take it, sometimes by force. This is where people in my role come in.

With all that in mind of course, I was initially pretty nervous about getting into this line of work. This was in spite of the fact that the vast majority of security work I had done up to that point was, well…. pretty “hands on.” I had also trained in a number of different martial arts over the years, and grew up in a fairly gritty part of East Vancouver, back in a day and age where physical violence was a much more common, almost acceptable, part of our whole “social vernacular.” My concern however, was that I only had limited experience with handguns themselves, and had certainly never carried one around with me. Questions arose in my mind like, “What happens if I’m on the receiving end of an organized robbery?” “What if someone gets their hands on my gun and tries to take it from me?” and “How would I react to the pressures of being in an actual gun fight?”

What I learned in my training and from subsequent time on the job answered these questions and many more. For example, I learned that organized robberies are rare these days, at least in the part of the world where we live. If/when they do happen, it’s likely to go down fairly quickly, and as such you may not even see it coming, and may not even have time to react or draw your weapon. It will also likely be carried out by a group of professional thieves who, though they may rough you up a little in the process, aren’t going to want to deal with a murder charge and the associated problems that arise from that. You might get pistol whipped, but chances are you’ll make it out alive. That being said, you still need to train and prepare for the possibility that the thieves may try to kill you, and always be prepared to fight for your life or that of your partner if you have to.

The Complexity of Carrying a Sidearm

We did a lot of rigorous, live fire, shooting drills in the lead up to my employment, often while the instructor was yelling at us. Of course, a big part of the training I did for the job involved hands-on “weapon retention” drills and scenarios. I still run those drills as often as I can on my own accord or with a partner. Which brings me to my next point… the likelihood that you will have to fight for your life on the job increases significantly in a scenario where someone has closed the distance on you and is trying to pull your sidearm from its holster. This is a particularly dangerous situation where you must assume that the person doing this intends to use your gun on you, in a future robbery or murder, or even on a bunch of innocent bystanders.

It’s absolutely paramount that you don’t let them get control of your weapon!

This is one of the biggest pitfalls of carrying a loaded gun while working in what are usually crowded, public areas. This is why you will often see armed guards walking around with their shooting hand resting on their speed loader/magazine pouches at the front of their duty belt with their forearm and elbow resting on top of the grip of their gun. This is a relatively effective way of preventing easy access to the weapon without having to walk around with your hand on the grip itself; people tend to get nervous when they see you doing that.

Observe & Communicate

With that in mind, I still believe the best way to avoid being in either of the aforementioned scenarios in the first place really is through the use of effective observation and communication skills.

Critical observation of peoples’ behaviour, in conjunction with effective communication, are the most useful aspects of any security professional’s toolkit. In observing others around you, a little “healthy” paranoia is actually an asset in my line of work. Anything unusual taking place around you has to be at least considered as a potential threat, or a ruse with which to distract you from a possible setup. A big part of addressing that involves directly communicating with anyone who approaches you before they have the chance to get in your personal space. To me that means, hopefully, not less than 3 metres away, though at least 6 metres is preferable. The farther the better in any case. Though that, in many ways, is largely dependent on the environment.

This also means always having a keen sense of what’s going on in the environment around you at all times. If you got robbed, knocked out, or were relieved of your gun because you were on your phone, or just weren’t paying attention, you have critically failed the most basic level of your job. This could result in the untimely end of your life, or someone else’s.

The Verbal Disarm

So how do you communicate with people in a way that will hopefully prevent them from gaining and exploiting a tactical advantage over you? This often involves giving “polite” tactical commands to people who get in your personal space while you’re working.

For example, if someone approaches me while I’m loading an ABM, I will often put my left (not shooting) hand out and say “That’s close enough! Is there something I can help you with?” or… “Sir / Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to take a few steps back and give us some room here…” To a stranger who tries to start up a conversation with me I will often say “I can’t talk to you right now, I’m on the job” or “There isn’t a single thing we need to discuss here. I’m going to have to ask you to move along and let us work.” The thing to remember is that the conversation they’re starting with you could very well be a distraction tactic. The key in shutting that down is to make sure that none of what you’re saying to people presents any options for them otherwise, and though it may be a little rude, is also direct and not profane in any way. You must to speak to them in a clear, concise fashion, and often with a loud voice and definitive resolve. In some ways it’s the art of being an asshole, without actually being an asshole.

Now, in having members of the public occasionally try to talk to me while on the job, there are certain pre-indicators of violence that I am on the lookout for and do have to address directly. Having, as I said before, grown up when and where I did, I have experienced more than my share of violence at a personal level and at work. One common thread I found in the lead up to many violent events that took place, was that when someone intended to do harm to you, I found they would often make up a story involving you, and subsequently try to ram that story down your throat beforehand. It could be something as simple as “Hey, I saw you checking out my girl” or “Quit staring at me!” or “My friend said you called him a ______.” Sometimes it was more complicated or it could be quite subtle, but it was almost always categorically incorrect and simply made up for the purpose of justifying whatever they were about to inflict upon you. Unfortunately, the logical reaction of ignoring or denying the story that’s being told will simply speed up the process of you ending up in a fight. I found the best way to avert that is to change the story, or the subject of the story completely.

A good example of this in relation to my work is this: I have, on a number of occasions, had people approach me while at work with a “what would you do/are allowed to do if someone tried to rob you?” sort of question. To me this is a made up story that involves me potentially becoming the victim of a crime, and naturally raises a lot of red flags; this person could be testing the waters for a potential robbery as it were.

In these cases I will try to make them the subject of my response with something to the effect of “you may want to entertain the possibility that it would end very badly for you.” Which usually makes them really uncomfortable. Or I will simply point out something about their personal appearance that I think they need to address immediately, I might respond with “Hey, I think your fly is open.” I might even say something deflective like “Did you see that girl that just walked by?” Anything that changes the story and shifts their focus from me, to something else. The trick there is not to let them get to the end of their story, because the ending involves you getting beaten up, robbed, raped, murdered, exploited, etc. Even if it’s only hypothetical, it doesn’t end well for you, and, as I said, it my well be a pre-indicator of someone who is about to do something stupid.

The Use of Potentially Lethal Force

Which brings me to my final point: What happens in the case of an actual violent engagement and what are the rules by which different levels of force are justified?

In the absolute worst case scenario on the job, which is the use of deadly force on the part of an armed security person, there are three elements that need to be in play to justify that.

The subject(s) in that case must have/shown:

  1. A weapon.
  2. Intent to use said weapon
  3. A delivery system for that weapon.

In other words you have to be under attack and legitimately in fear of your life. But what does this mean exactly? Well, if say for example, someone grabs my carryall bag, full of cash, from my hand, in a crowded mall, and runs away with it. Can I draw my gun and threaten to shoot them if they don’t stop?

The answer is no.

If I draw on them I’m being incredibly irresponsible and risk losing my job and my ATC (Authorization to Carry.) If I actually shoot them in that case, I am committing a crime and will likely be charged according to the outcome (murder, attempted murder, etc.). If I even run after them I am putting lives at stake by, once again, risking losing control of my gun in any ensuing melee. At the point that they have fled the scene they are a problem for the local police to deal with. As armed guards we are strongly encouraged to disengage whenever possible. This is a luxury that the police themselves don’t have, for the most part.

However, if I end up in a situation where a subject has approached me, ignored any tactical commands I’ve hopefully had the chance to give them at that point, and pulls a large knife from their pocket and proceeds to rush at me with it, that’s the point when drawing and even using my gun might be justified. There will be a lot of factors to consider in that moment, including the presence of innocent bystanders, the terrain/environment, or the possibility of having to engage multiple subjects. The best case in that scenario is me having my service weapon out of my holster in the “ready” position, and shouting tactical commands for the subject drop the weapon and get on the ground, at which point the subject complies, stands down, and is likely held at gunpoint until the police arrive. The worst outcome, of course, is having to shoot the subject and deal with whatever ensues from that point.

In light of what I’ve said here, it is my sincere hope that throughout my career I never even have to draw my gun, much less use it (I haven’t yet).

In the case of what I do, a boring career is usually a long career. In the aftermath of even the most justified shooting, I would be taken off the job for an extended period of time, if not permanently. I might face some type of criminal or civil legal issues regardless, and, of course, would have yet another traumatic memory to add to the growing list in my head. Needless to say, there’s a great deal of important and very critical decision-making that can take place at my job. Lives may actually hang in the balance.


Beyond the possibility of a lethal encounter or more emotional scars, however, it’s one of the better gigs I’ve had over the years. The pay is decent, the actual work itself is fairly easy going, and it is kind of a hub for military/law enforcement types with whom I often see eye-to-eye, which makes the work environment very positive. Honestly, there are few groups of people I have trusted more than my current set of co-workers, but then what we do is predicated on that in many ways.

The actual day-to-day reality of the gig is that people do stay out of our way for the most part, and the job can be uneventful to the point that many of us do become fairly complacent in our work. I try to avoid that by training as often as I can, and definitely encourage my co-workers to do the same.

I hope this gives you all some insight into what I do. I would definitely recommend this kind of work to anyone in the security industry, those of us who are aspiring to careers in law enforcement or the military, or to anyone who just wants to challenge themselves to do something that requires a higher level of personal engagement in their work.

Written by: a UTKM Student

If you would like to submit a story about your experience in Security, Law enforcement or the military in relation to self defense, violence, de-escalation, what you learned and or how you handled it please make submissions to . Min 500 word. Published Submissions will be rewarded with 3 months free access to UTKMU.

For training online visit If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at

TransLink offers a number to call or text if there are problems/emergencies. (source)
Transit Tales: Thoughts on My Evolving Transit Experiences Audio by Jonathan Fader

As a young adult without a vehicle, I take transit a lot. To school, to work, to Krav Maga, at all hours of the day and night (I cannot begin to tell you how many podcasts I’ve listened to.) I’m actually writing this on the bus, perhaps fittingly, but that’s more because I have a tendency to procrastinate. I started relying of the bus when I reached my late teens and my parents didn’t want to drive from Langley to Richmond anymore. So instead of a one hour drive to UTKM, it was two hours spread across one bus and two SkyTrains to be able to keep up my training. And as a young teenager with no social life, I went “cool” and proceeded to download a ton of music. 

Suddenly having a lot of time to waste, I had to find ways to entertain myself. I personally don’t like studying or doing work on transit unless I absolutely have to (procrastinating strikes again). So in the beginning I used to bring books to read, but I would get too distracted and be more likely to miss stops. So situational awareness, that thing that Jon likes to beat into our heads in class? Nah. So headphones and podcasts! I started listening to the UTKM podcasts, and countless more from there. I really only listen to podcasts on transit, as they require some amount of focus but I can still be paying attention to my surroundings. I’ve talked to some people who prefer being able to hear what’s happening around them, which is fair. I just need something to do before my thoughts spiral into madness. As a tactical compromise I listen at a low enough volume that I can hear what I’m listening to, but am still aware able to hear if something is happening around me. 

Thanks to years of Krav, I now factor in threats when I chose where to sit. Thaaaaaanks. On the SkyTrain, I’ll take the single seats and sit however I need to so that my back is to a wall or barrier. I don’t like standing in the middle of the SkyTrain if I can stand against the door. On the bus, I do the same thing, but I’ll hide in the back of the bus. Yes, I’m further from the driver and the exits, but I can see everything and usually people will fill up the front first anyway. I also have the problem of needing to transit to Vancouver for work now, which is another two hours… one-way. Having given up on getting a good night’s sleep on weekdays means I have dozed off on transit more then I would care to admit. This hasn’t resulted in any problems yet, but I still wouldn’t recommend it. That’s when choosing a safer place to sit can be helpful, because I do not want to sleep when someone is sitting beside me. I tend to not actually fall asleep, rather I just doze, opening my eyes every so often to make sure I haven’t missed my stop. If you are going to sleep though, make sure there is a decent amount of people around and that you have a way to wake up before you need to get off. Taking out headphones so you can hear more clearly could also help, and is generally a safer choice. Just remember that choosing to sleep is putting yourself in White, in a public area. 

Then there’s the delightful people you get to meet. Ugh. There’s a few different types of people, some more tolerable than others:

  • There are people who come up and ask for money or food. I don’t tend to carry cash and I say so, this usually isn’t a big deal and they move on.
  • Then you have people “selling” something. Whether it be their religion or a cause, they stand outside of stations and try to give out fliers. Don’t look, don’t engage, just keep moving, throw out the flier later, whatever works. This type are unlikely to hassle you or escalate the situation.
  • Then you have transit police. I honestly don’t see them a lot unless they are dealing with an issue or the SkyTrain is closing. 

Story time!

I had one person who was bothering me about buying him food. Not to judge, but he looked pretty rough. He went to go sleep once I agreed, ’cause it’s ten bucks and I had a bit of time before my bus, so whatever. He was standing over me, dozing, while I was sitting down. I was leaning away ’cause, yeah, that was an uncomfortable situation. It must have looked bad to the other man in the SkyTrain car with us, ’cause he came over to ask if I was okay. We get to my stop, and as the guy was still sleeping I just got up to leave as fast as I could. And there, waiting outside the door, are an officer and a medic. I just leave as they go into the train because I don’t want to be anymore involved then I am already (1st stage of self-defence: Avoidance). I figure the second man could let transit police know enough about that guy. Thanks, random stranger! I would not have done it so I appreciate you doing so.

Lastly, as a young female, I’ve had guys come up and start talking to me. If you, as a male do this, you can fuck right off.

I’m not joking.

I can guarantee you are making someone feel uncomfortable and they are talking to you because they don’t want to be rude.

When I was younger, this used to scare me. As I’ve learned more Krav, I’m more confident in my ability to stop something bad from happening, but it’s still awkward for me. As someone who was raised to be polite (and due to the way women in our society are socialized), shutting down strangers I don’t want to talk to is difficult, but it is something I’m working on. Don’t let people get harassed on transit if you see it happening; be like the man in my story. Translink now has a posted number you can text if you are worried about something that’s happening if you take transit in the Lower Mainland

That’s all I got. Be safe. Try not to become too paranoid, like myself, as staying in Orange too much can also be bad. Go read the post on the colour code if you don’t understand what I’m saying. Don’t bother other people. Also when you complain about how far away Krav is from your place, remember that I used to take the bus for four hours for a one hour class.

Written by: Karis M. – UTKM Green Belt

If you would like to submit a story about your transit experience in relation to self defense or violence please make submissions to . Min 500 word. Published Submissions will be rewarded with 3 months free access to UTKMU.

For training online visit If you are in the Metro Vancouver area, come learn with us in person, sign up at