Plans made and skills practiced before a fight are generally categorized as strategies. Actions taken during a fight are tactics. Among my strategies is to practice relaxed alertness. Relaxed alertness can be enhanced by observing people and trying to identifying their WPNS.  WPNS is a mnemonic device developed by firearms trainer Eric Edgecomb and is derived from the word “weapons” with the vowels removed. WPNS stand for: Weapons, Physical size or conditioning, Force of Numbers and Special knowledge or skills.

Everyone you see or meet possesses some, most or all of these WPNS capabilities.  Pick an individual at random and see how many of his WPNS attributes you can identify.  How many weapons or objects convertible to weapons does he have ready access to? How larger (or smaller) physically is he compared to you? How physically fit does he appear to be? How many of his friends are near enough that he can call to them for immediate support? Is there anything on his person that offers a clue to his martial abilities?  Is he wearing a belt of a width or of a style you would normally be associated with holding up a concealed handgun? Does he have a tactical folding knife clipped to his pocket? Is he wearing a hat, jacket or shirt with a name or logo indicating any possible firearm, martial art or military interests?

How many of these WPNS indicators did you identify? Now whatever number of them you identified add one more. This “Plus One Rule” accounts for that extra item that you did not spot.  Whenever adding up an individual’s WPNS attributes always add “one” for that hidden item you missed.  Now check your own WPNS count in the mirror.  How many WPNS attributes are you broadcasting? Which ones are going to be perceived as warning indicators to a bad guy? How many are going to give an attacker a “head’s up” advantage in his assault against you?

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