Sorry for the hiatus, Folks, but keeping true to the theme of travel I have been on the road, stuck in airports, and sick as a worm-riddled dog. But I digress:
J-Hooks! What are they and how can they help you? Believe it or not, an apt definition for the term isn’t really that easy to find, though why it’s a common military tactic while patrolling is rather common sense.
Hypothetical scenario: Say that you’re done with that foreign beach we left off with in Travel Tip #5 . You’re ready to get back to your hostel. Sand in the ass crack, phone is dead—you can practically feel that leaf-blade fan already. One thing though: because you were too drunk to properly consult Yelp, or Google, you ended up in a neighborhood looking something right out of Mad Max. But fret not, you have all sorts of options to beef up your security. Yes, weapons, and BJJ, and punches, and spin kicks are all up for grabs, but I want to abide by what many shooting instructors live by and preach a little economy of motion.
Deception. Deception. Deception!
When in shady areas deception improves your odds. A “J-Hook” is when you deviate from your route (the straight line) to approach your objective from a different, non-essential angle (the curve of the J). In greenside military operations this means breaking brush in thick jungle to enter your long halt or harbor site by walking a physically-literal J. In booze-fueled, world-travel operations, this means something like having your taxi drop you off two hostels down from the one you’re actually staying in. After, approach your hostel by way of the beach, hopping a wall, or quickly using some connective alley. If done effectively, anyone watching you will either think you’re in the wrong place, kick in the wrong door, or both.
But let’s say you do all this and your card still gets pulled. Your evasive, counter-surveillance techniques with the confused taxi driver did nothing more than land you smack dab in robber country. What non-violent options are there? Is there anything you could have done ahead of time?
A buddy of mine was robbed in the Philippines. He’d been in the Army Rangers. He’d contracted all over the Middle East. He’d traveled like The Ramones before they all got sick and died—yet for all the credentials he still found himself with his back against the wall, staring at a knife blade.
Chalk one up for preparation. He had a throw down wallet. For those of you who are unfamiliar, this is akin to the lizard’s tail that breaks off and flails about the place. The predator goes for the tail and the lizard runs off to live another day. My friend reached into his pants and tossed down a super-cheap wallet. In it were hotel-lobby business cards and one ten dollar bill (the latter; strategically placed to protrude out a little bit). He then ran right through the armed semi-circle without further incident. His real wallet was pressed against his chest, hanging from a necklace of 550 cord. His passport, credit cards, cash—all safe and sound.
What the J-hook and the throw-down wallet have in common is, yes, deception. However, mindset and mental preparedness are what we are actually talking about here. Truth is, since we have no wiggling tails to break off, our deceptions all must originate from a fundamental attitude of preparing for the worst. Chances are you’ll never need such a wallet, as equally chances are a J-hook into your AirBnB won’t be befuddling any masked madmen. But, if you’re getting that vibe while abroad and trying to get to that dodgy bar, these two tools we discussed today will improve your odds of getting back home with both kidneys.
Now get out there!