Compliance Doesn’t Always Ensure your Safety!

Written by Greg Ellifritz

Topics: News and Tactical Advice

  • SumoMe

Written by: Greg Ellifritz




Many of my students tell me that, should they ever be robbed, they plan on complying with the robbers’ demands.  While I can’t presume to tell anyone the individual best course of action during a dangerous situation, I can provide some general statistics about past events.


Statistically, complying  with armed robbers’ demands generally results in fewer injuries to the victim than resisting (except when the victim resists with a firearm…that is the safest action available).  Since many people do not carry weapons, compliance may be a very viable option.  It does, however, have some costs…


The first cost of compliance is that you will most certainly lose the items being demanded!  You must balance the value of the loss with the chance for injury if you flee or resist.  For most people, giving up the money in a purse or wallet seems like a better choice than getting shot or killed.  But what if the robber was demanding your child instead of your wallet?  That changes the risk/reward ratio significantly.  I know lots of people who would think it is a smart move to give the robber a wallet.  No one thinks it’s a good idea to comply when someone demands their child!  In order for compliance to be an option, you must be willing to give up what the robber demands…


The second potential cost of compliance is that there is no guarantee that the robber won’t shoot you anyway!  Good people tend to think that criminals share similar systems of morals and values.  They don’t.  Many criminals are pure sociopaths.  They simply do not care what happens to you!  Rationalizing in your brain the idea that “He won’t shoot me, because I wouldn’t shoot him if the tables were turned” is faulty logic.  Recognize that your criminal attacker will likely not have the same moral or ethical values that you have.  Even if you comply, you still might get hurt


One last pitfall in the “always comply” strategy is that you may not even get a chance to comply.  In many encounters, robbers don’t initiate the confrontation with a demand for money.  Instead, they attack.  The first indication that you are involved in something bad is when you feel the criminal’s fist hitting your face or his knife sliding into your body.  After he beats/cuts/shoots you for a little while, then he’ll take your money…rifling your pockets as you are unconscious if necessary.


For an example, check out THIS video of an ATM robbery.  The victim never got a chance to comply.  He was approached from behind and IMMEDIATELY STABBED IN THE FACE as he was withdrawing cash from the ATM machine.  He wasn’t even given an opportunity to comply!


The most important lesson to learn is not assuming that your personal value systems are shared by your attacker.  Don’t assume his actions will be either logical or predictable.  Don’t expect mercy.  Be prepared for anything.  If you need additional evidence that most violent criminals do not think like you and I, see this recent article: MAN COMMITS TEN FELONIES IN NINE HOURS.


The second lesson is to always have “Plan B”.  I’m not telling you to avoid choosing compliance as a response option in a robbery.  It often works well.  But sometimes, like in the story above, it doesn’t.  You must instantly recognize when your strategy becomes counterproductive and seamlessly transition to your backup plan.


Recognize if your response strategy isn’t working and find a new one!




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4 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Will says:

    Dear Greg
    What are your thoughts on emptyhanded knife defense? Can a knifeman be disarmed or stopped by a barehanded person or would a gun or knife of your own be essential?

    • Greg Ellifritz says:

      For most knife attacks, there is no successful resolution without empty hand skills. You have to do something to buy time to get to your gun. With or without another weapon, you still need empty hand skills to either stop the threat or allow you to draw.

  2. Hi Greg,

    Excellent article. The fact that so many people preach compliance as opposed to resisting their assailants has been a long-term pet hate of mine. I cannot abide by it. It is a dogmatic myth that has gotten people killed. Kudos for taking it on in your write-up.

    I wrote a similar article some time back. Please feel free to read and reference it if you find it of value.

    Take care, and thanks for doing what you do.


  3. TD says:

    Also worth noting: While compliance may be safer in any one instance- it helps to perpetuate robberies in society as a whole…If potential victims are often compliant then robbery becomes a much less risky action for criminals…If victims take a stand, that victim puts him/herself at greater risk but is hopefully making robbery a more difficult (and therefore less enticing) endeavor.