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Closing the Distance

Published In The Kiss of Death, November 1998
The Heartbeat of Denver, July 1998, Volume 1 Issue 7

Do you know what I hate? I hate it when I see a movie or TV show where the heroine is trapped, her assailant moves in close while she sits there pleading, "Oh, please don't. You'll regret it. I've got a family ..."

Number 1: He doesn't care if she has a family.

Number 2: He's not going to regret it. He's going to be toasting his success over a drink with his buddies.

So what's a heroine to do?

She's walking down a dark alley in the bad section of the city when a man jumps out in front of her, knife in hand, waving it back and forth, taunting her. What are her choices?

She can whine. And she can whimper. And she can shake from head to toe. She can give her assailant everything he is asking for ... fear, submission, power.

And then she can close the distance.

That's right. Swallow all of the above, remember that she can be in control, even if he doesn't know it.

A knife is only dangerous if it is actually touching the body. It can't cut from five feet away. It can't even cut from one foot away. In the time it takes a heroine to act, to step forward and hit a "target zone", Mr. Bad Guy can try to get the knife up, try to inflict a wound, but your heroine already has the advantage.

In the same respect, guns have their limitations as threats. Yes, they look dangerous. Yes, they are designed for the soul purpose of inflicting wounds. But, a gun is only dangerous if it is pointing at you. If he moves the gun off a trajectory, it will take him another half a second to bring it back on. Time enough to close the distance.

Remember Einstein? He came up with that E=MC2. Energy (beating him) equals Mass (her) times seed of light (How fast she can make him wish he had chosen another alley). See, it's all in science.

It's a scary thought, though. One I learned while taking an extensive self defense course where I got to beat up men in full body armor. The situations are staged with fake weapons and actors portraying the bad guys. They hold a gun on you. You see if you can get out. They have you pinned down with a rubber knife at your throat, you have to immobilize the man who is laying on top of you. They even blind fold you and tell you to get on your hands and knees to see what you can come up with as a solution. Though I graduated with honors, it was not before I was shot four times, stabbed thirteen and raped twice.

What a way to spend the weekend.

So there your heroine is, in that dark alley, a big bad Bad Guy all dressed in black from head to two standing five feet in front of her, waving the knife.

What is she going to do?

She's going to be afraid. Because no matter how prepared she is, the adrenalin is going to be pumping though her veins, making her shake, making her stomach hurt. She's got to use that adrenalin, use it to her advantage. Let her show her fear. The bad guys like to intimidate people they think are weaker. Have her plead, have her cry. And when he takes a step forward, she matches it, rushing toward him, taking him completely by surprise, until her body is pressed up against his.

That's right. She rushes at him. Closing the distance between them, taking the weapon out of the equation. It is a move that is completely contrary to nature. Where we know instinctively to run, hide, we have to train our heroines, and ourselves, to get as close as they can to the bad guy. Press up against him. Smell his sweat.

Because once that occurs, the knife is out of the way, pushed aside. If he even thinks about using it, he can't. He can't get the proper angel to cut or jab.

But I doubt he's going to be thinking about it. Because when she charged him, she dropped whatever she was holding. Bringing her hand up underhanded, she grabbed ... well ... some personal assets of his. And while she's holding these assets she's thinking of words such as "twist," "squeeze" "mangle." She's concentrating on these words, obsessing on them. Letting their very meaning travel down her arm and to her hand and to his ... assets.

Another target area are the eyes. Both hands wrapping around a skull, the thumbs shooting into the eye socket will cause enough pain that he changes his mind about continuing his activity.

Does she stop?


It is still a dark alley, he is still there and if she's not in the position to get away, your heroine has to be sure she has immobilized him enough to where he can't keep coming after her.

Get behind him, her arm around his throat, the flat of her hand pressed against his jugular and pull. And pull. Even after he has stopped moving, after she is convinced he is passed out cold, hold on a little longer.

If this move seems a little too much, then there is always plan ‘B': while he's on the ground recovering from round one, she grabs something, anything: a rock, a board, even the gun that he held on her, and whacks him in the head good and hard. Whack him a second time if necessary.

Finally, have her get to a phone and report the incident right away. "A man just attacked me and needs medical attention. He's at ..." More poetic words were never spoken.

Attacks can occurs anywhere, any time. Day or night. By a total stranger, by someone she knows. Inthe alley or in her car, or in her bedroom. Your heroine can win. Because she knows how to swallow her fear, redirect it, and closed the distance.




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