FIGHT OR FLIGHT: How to think fast if an intruder is in your home

Fight or Flight: How to think fast if an intruder is in your home

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Imagine a thief inside your home. Think fast! Do you fight back? Run past him? Go for a gun? Or try to hide?

It's scary to even think someone might be inside your home without your permission, but catching them in the act can be life-changing.

"I wouldn't try to be a hero. Most heroes are dead," said Johnnie Birdsong, who has 40 years of experience in law enforcement and security.

Birdsong says first things first: If you even think someone might be inside your home, don't go inside.

"Always do a quick glance," Birdsong said. "If you see anything that's out of place or out of the ordinary, your number one priority is your safety ... If you can get a few houses away, go to a next door neighbor. Just make sure you're safe and call 911."

If you're already inside before you realize someone else is there, Birdsong says the answer is

"Flight. Don't fight."

"If someone is in your house, chances are, you are not going to be able to reason with that person," Birdsong said. "Tell the person you can have whatever you want, 'Take it. Take it,' and you go.'"

That's the best case scenario. But, what if you can't get away?

Martial Arts instructor Chad Chilcutt shows us how to fight.

"That's a decision you're gonna have to make on the spot," Chilcutt said.

Scenario one

This situation just happened to a Memphis woman last week. You're home in your bathroom, someone walks in and points a gun at you. Chilcutt says put your hands up and distract, holler to someone that everything is OK, even if there is no one there. 

During the distraction, grab the wrist of the hand the gun is in and push it away in one fast, fluid motion, turning your body with it. This way, even if the gun goes off, you are out of the fire line. Then, grab the barrel with your other hand, turn it inward toward the intruder, yank the gun back toward you and take control. (Click here to watch video for visual explanation)

Scenario two

You come home and someone comes up behind you and holds a knife to your neck. First, comply. Put your hands up on the defensive.


"Then, grab the arm that's holding the weapon, look away to the opposite side and pull that arm down, away from her neck. You may still get cut, but it gets the blade away from your carotid artery. Then, drop your weight. Turning the opposite way, step behind the intruder's leg and duck under their arm," Chilcutt said. 

Then grab the weapon, stab the intruder in the side if you can, and run.  (Click here to watch video for visual explanation)

Scenario three

If someone puts a gun to your head, a few quick-thinking decisions could save your life.


Again, comply first with the intruder. Your life is worth more than whatever the bad guy wants. If that doesn't work, drop your base (body weight) so you're underneath the fire line, and grab the intruder's wrists with both of your hands.

Chilcutt said, "By doing this, if the gun goes off, you're not in the fire line."

Another important tip to remember here is drop your head down to block the shot. 

"Once that happens, you're in control to fight to take the weapon from them," Chilcutt said. "You'll take that power arm, grab the gun and force it back toward them which will break their finger."

This will help you gain control of the gun, and you can decide what to do next: kick or shoot, and run. (Click here to watch video for visual explanation)

Preparation is key to survival

Chilcutt and Birdsong both suggest using your best judgement to determine your best options. Preparation is the key to any survival."If you've got those things in place, preparation before something may happen, then you can make an accurate decision on what you're gonna do," Chilcutt said.


"Material things can be replaced, but you only have one life," Birdsong said. 

Copyright 2015 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.