Over the Holidays, I received a book called The Little Black Book of Violence: What Every Young Man Needs to Know About Fighting. I put it on my Amazon.com wishlist after reading "Meditiations on Violence". The subject matter is very similar though the authors have different backgrounds.
Both books tell you that the best way to win a fight or confrontation, is to avoid getting into one in the first place. This falls in line with most martial arts teaching. There are excellent examples in both of what has a high chance of working for you. One, which seems obvious, can be dificult for many people to pull off. Carry yourself with confidence. That is, don't look like a victim or an easy target.
There is more involved, including situational awareness, to help you keep clear of such situations and both of these books are great for learning more about avoidance. I try to to keep higher awareness in certain areas to help avert any possible threats. Luckily, most of where I commute and travel is pretty safe. But I recently had an enlightening experience with this.
I bought a walking cane for my mother-in-law after she had injured her leg. I had to carry it home on the subway. The train was a little crowded and after a few minutes, someone tapped my shoulder from behind. A young lady offered her seat to me which I declined. I couldn't figure out why for a few seconds. Then it dawned on me - the cane.
Even though I was not limping, showing no signs of pain or even actually using the cane, someone perceived that I was injured (I was holding the cane in the same hand as my lunch bag while reading "Little Black Book" in the other). I wasn't worried at the time because I "know" the area and crime is practically non-existent there.
But what would a thug have thought? "Great! An injured guy, I can take him." Or would he have noticed that I actually showed no signs of being injured and could possibly use the cane as a defensive weapon? Luckily that's a situation I didn't have to deal with. It just goes to show that you can never tell what people are thinking about you. Stay safe.