An Orderly or Tactical Retreat, (safely walking or running away!) Stay or retreat? A retreat has several definitions, like “retrograde” movements or a more modern “tactical retreat.” Usually, these definitions suggest that one retreats from a superior force in battle. Military. In today’s civilian world, remaining to fight and take action, may become a physical, legal (criminal law and civil law) nightmare and monetary problem. Winning and the law are often at odds.
Whatever the terms, retro, orderly or tactical, it still means you leave, escape, withdraw, whatever, with the best plan to do so. For a smaller, personal situation an orderly retreat is leaving a confrontation, safely and without being chased, at all, or much.
“Just run away!” these pseudo experts will say. But, just how far can you run? How fast? How long?
The law will ask, if there’s trouble, why did you go there and why are you still there? Can you leave people behind? Will you be leaving family, friends and comrades behind? Can you leave? Should you leave? Sometimes you can’t leave. Your choice is highly situational. Think of any violent situation from a fistfight to a crime, to an active shooter, on to war and ask these questions about staying or leaving?
- Who are you and who will you stay or retreat from?
- Who will you leave behind?
- What is happening that causes you to stay or retreat?
- Where is this happening that might cause you to stay or retreat
- Where will you retreat to?
- When is this happening that might cause you to stay or retreat
- When will this be over?
- How will staying or retreating unfold?
- How will this end?
- How far and fast can you run? Can he run?
- Why is it important enough to stay or go?
How exactly will you retreat? If you stay, there will be violence. If you go? Best go in an orderly fashion. When you add the term “orderly,” it speaks of significant specifics. What is this “orderly” version? An orderly retreat?
For one classic explanation, we can learn from Alexander the Great. His army suffered very few casualties and inflicted death upon some say 1.2 million soldiers more in comparison. The differences in death tolls were remarkable.
In his beginning battles he had some large causalities usually from chaotic retreats. When his troops hit their perceived “breaking point,” hey turned and they scattered, most were killed from behind, running in disorderly retreats. Long known, psychological factors reveal that it is easier to “kill from a distance” and to “kill from behind,” without seeing a person’s face, without seeing a “personality.” (This relates to crime also.) Then, Alexander adopted he Macedonian Phalanx, an infantry formation some historians say developed by his father Philip II, then some say the Sumerians. It consisted of blocks of heavily armed infantry standing tightly shoulder to shoulder in files several ranks deep. The blocks advanced. The blocks retreated by remaining in a tight Phalanx, still facing the enemy and moving backwards in formations, rather than splitting up, turning their backs and running away. This organized or orderly retreat principle has held true in crime and war.
Simply turning and running away, sounds like good advice, but how far and fast can you run, and such may make you easier to be killed, and may ignite an anger, and/or ignite a hunter-chase mentality in a criminal or a enemy soldier. Departing, withdrawing as smartly as possible is better choice.
Turning and leaving. In the martial word, just turning from a too close opponent standing or down on the floor-ground, is “giving up your back” and means something specific to martialists – exposing your back is an invitation to be choked. In crime and war your turned back make you easier to be beaten, captured or be killed. When you turn to leave, it should be done by first backing away in some manner to a safe distance and then turning to leaving.
When you turn to leave, it should be done by first backing away to a safe distance and then turning. That’s about the best universal advice we can offer for an orderly retreat, everything else is ever so situational. How do you do this retreat all the time? There is no one universal answer. It is highly situational. After studying the Ws and H retreat questions, then examine these options.
- 1: Back away, still facing the opposition with de-escalation words? That may work sometimes.
- 2: Back away, still facing the opposition saying nothing? That may work sometimes.
- 3: Back away, still facing the opposition with threatening words? That may work sometimes.
- 4: Pre-emptive strike. Then back away, still facing, then turn. That may work.
- 5: You are thrown down. You get up, then pick one of the four choices above. That may work sometimes.
- 6: You beat the holy hell out of the opposition. Then pick one of the choices as to if and when to leave. That may work sometimes.
- 7: Your draw and presentation of a knife or a gun has a good success rate of freezing the opposition. How about any expedient weapon? Then pick one of the choices above to leave. That may work.
- 8: This course is an unarmed course but pick up a nearby expedient weapon. This has a good success rate of freezing the opposition. Then pick one among the choices above to leave. That may work sometimes.
If no physical contact is made yet, we are still in the Stop 1 parameters and leaving the projected fight scene before it starts, is a quintessential Stop 1 situation-problem. But the option to leave may occur in any of the Stops, Stop 2 through Stop 6.
My old friend and advisor Colonel “Hack” Hackworth, vet of WW II, Korea and Vietnam, and at one time, the most decorated U.S. Army soldier, always had a “go to hell,” plan – for when things went to hell and that plan always included the best escape under the worst circumstances. He told me,
“Hock, sometimes you gotta’ blow the horn,” (the horn being thetrumpet of retreat.) “Always have a go-to hell plan, and another one when that one goes to hell too.”
“For he that fights and runs away, May live to fight another day.” This is attributed to Demosthenes, an epic Greek orator. Sometimes even heroes with the most hardcore, “never say die,” mottos are smart to retreat. Every stand-off, showdown and ambush is different. There is no one equation to retreat It’s all situational. All we can suggest is that if you can, if not escaping an active shooter or a bomb, you conduct an orderly, smart retreat should you decide to retreat. Face the person with words and command presence, a knife, or a stick, or a gun and back away. When a considerable distance is achieved then you might turn and leave. Sometimes with a weapon, you might even successfully order the aggressor to leave and he might comply under threat.
There is no one way to prescribe any one universal orderly retreat, but it is important to understand the concept, teach the idea, and develop and practice some real, “go to hell,” plans.