There’s been a video doing the rounds on Facebook recently about a guy in Thailand being stabbed (fatally) multiple times over an iPhone.

You can watch the video here, if you want to (it is VERY graphic, be warned):

It shows two criminals getting off a motorbike and attempting to grab the phone from the unsuspecting pedestrian. The pedestrian appears to resist relinquishing his phone and a struggle ensues. The victim flails ineffectually with his free hand to the side of the assailant, whilst the assailant uses a knife to stab him multiple times to the body and twice to the throat, before running off.

There’s a huge amount that could be said about this sad scene, but here’s a quick point. Most of the people commenting on this video suggest that the victim should have given up his phone rather than entered a struggle. I agree. No material possessions are worth dying over. Give up your shit, if you think that will solve the situation, and get gone; you can replace your phone.

The problem is, everyone says this, but there’s lots of people each year who still pay the ultimate price for trying to keep hold of almost worthless objects. Why is that? Well, it’s a bit like the sagely advice that the best self-defence “technique” is to run away. Great advice from the comfort of an armchair, and if you’re actually physically capable of out-sprinting a determined attacker over several hundred metres (how many of those who advocate this actually practice it?). But, when it comes to the crunch, it doesn’t occur to most people to run; the option deserts them and they stay rooted to the spot.

The same with situations like the one in the video. Faced with the overwhelming shock of a sudden assault then all those well thought-out options are suddenly blocked from the front of your mind. In fact, it gets worse; most people not only freeze like the proverbial rabbit in the headlights, they actually become physically rigid, like a lump of wood, and their physical motions are limited to ineffectual flailing. The situation doesn’t compute because they’ve never actually faced it before, so there are no available solutions. The demand to comply with handing over your stuff just won’t register. Coupled with going rigid, the assailant will become increasingly frustrated and interpret your freezing as resistance.

To relinquish your possessions in such situations you have to actually practice doing it under the most real circumstances you can manufacture. You have to dial in the physical motions, and you have to then do it under conditions of extreme adrenal stress, just like any skill you’re relying on to save your life. Then you stand a chance. There are no guarantees, but it raises your odds of survival.

Is it the panacea? Nope. There’s plenty of people that are stabbed after doing what their assailant wanted. Why? Probably lots of reasons… So there is no one to identify them; to see what it feels like… The reason is irrelevant. Comply if you think it will help, but be prepared to fight for your life even if you do.