Starting the New Year safely: How to deescalate a heated situation

Posted at 3:15 PM, Dec 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-29 17:12:46-05

While Sunday night is a night to let go, officials say you should hang on to your vigilance.

New Year's Eve is full of fireworks, fun and drinks, making you an easy target if you've had one too many.

"That's exactly when you're the biggest target, and again if I'm looking for a victim, a sloshed individual that is not paying attention to their surroundings, makes for an easy target," Masada Tactical Owner and Chief Instructor BK Blankchtein said.

Blankchtein has seen his share of sketchy situations. In 1999, just before he moved to America, Blankchtein was in Israel when a situation got heated, "the guy shoved me, so being a man I shoved him back, you know which is not a bright thing to do. I should've just walked away, he came around with a big haymaker and I blocked and I kicked his knee and that was the end of that fight. Okay, but then his friends jumped in and my friends jumped in and it became a big brawl and again no reason, it could've easily been avoided."

He preaches physical contact should be a last resort. To avoid escalating a situation, first look for warning signs. That includes clenching fists, someone focusing on an object, not focusing on what you are saying, someone straightening their back and puffing out their chest to appear larger and more dominant.

At that point, you want to distract them. One solution is to ask a question. "Usually if that question has some humor in it or something that is completely out of the ordinary their brain is going to be taken by surprise... The one I usually use is, 'Why did your girlfriend leave your underwear next to my bed last night?'" he said.

You can also grab something nearby like a napkin or throw your hand in their face as a diversion, making the attacker process what you're doing, keeping them from striking.

"That's my opportunity to get away, I'm not staying there," Blankchtein said.

If the person continues to approach you, "just move them to the side, so if you come right, I'm just going to move you to the side, and I'm going to move around you, I don't want to move back, I want to move in a circle," he said that creates space for you to escape.

If the situation continues to escalate and someone grabs your arm, get out quick!

"Remember, the weakest part of my grip is actually where my thumbs are so what you want to do is you want to reach between my arms and grab your own fist and you're going to pull it up," he said.

While these techniques could get you out of trouble, it's best to avoid confrontation altogether.

"Be with a group of friends, make sure that you guys watch each others' back, and remove yourself from bad situations, don't let pride get in the way, don't try to prove anything to anybody. I'm pretty confident in my skills and I still, my avoidance is I don't go out on New Year's Eve. I understand people do, just be careful, watch it," he said, to ensure you ring in a safe start to 2018.

Deescalation is always key, there are three kinds of aggressors. Blankchtein said roughly 70% of the time if you simply tell someone you're not interested, and divert them, they'll go away.

Some need a reason, tell them you're at the event with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or call attention to a bouncer, or security guard nearby. You can also tell them there are rules at the event they don't want to break.

Always know your exit, and if you can, put anything, a table or people, in between you and the aggressor.