Meet Urban Survival, Escape, & Evasion Instructor Terry Trahan

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Editor’s note: I’m delighted to introduce our newest contributor, Terry Trahan. He is a really cool guy who I met through Toby Cowern, who you may remember was Selco’s co-instructor in Croatia. Terry brings a lot of practical advice and no-nonsense skills to the table. He has lived an extraordinary life and his unique experiences can help us to broaden our horizons within the scope of violence, personal safety, and mindset (both the bad guy’s mindset and our own.) He’s an incredibly kind and interesting person. Please give Terry a warm OP welcome! ~ Daisy

by Terry Trahan

Hi there.

I have been knocking around and teaching in the survival/self-defense/knife etc. world for quite a while. One of the things I try to hit upon and get across in all my teaching is to scale your goals, gear, and outlook to the reality of your life.

You have to train for the life you have.

We all know we should be planning for the future, but we also know that we cannot ignore our present needs in order to build for a future that is, at best, a maybe. In a more real and tactical sense, it means to pursue training in skills that will really help us, buy gear that addresses real needs that we have and that can fit in the parameters of the life we actually live, as well as addressing future needs.

In order to do this, we need to be brutally honest with ourselves as to the profiles of the threats we face, the skills we already have, and our overall environment that we exist in.

Here’s an example.

I live in an apartment where storage of water is next to impossible except for an immediate supply. I know that water is at the top of the list for survival items, so, I have located a source of fresh water nearby, have means of filtration, and a way to transport it if the need comes. I would like to store 55-gallon barrels of water, but I think the owners of my apartment would be mad at any leakage or structural damage caused by storing ‘enough’. Same for food, ammo, or any number of things.

But more importantly, we need to have a realistic and honest outlook when it comes to our abilities, proclivities, gear, and the threats we should be preparing for. It is popular to prepare for a TEOTWAWKI scenario. But the reality we should look at is a downgrade, like in Argentina, or Britain in the 80s. If you live in a large city, or along the coasts, you might be looking at a Venezuela type situation.

So, this brings some things to mind. How well can you defend what you have against mobs of desperate, starving people? Unless you have a solid tribe and great resources, odds are against you prevailing long term in that scenario.

Ask yourself these questions.

Some other questions are:

  • Do you have the other important skills, besides firearms and pack ratting?
  • How are your medical skills and gear?
  • Bartering, blending, mechanical acumen, or other things to offer in order to make life better both now and in a more dystopian future?
  • Do you see the need for advanced trauma care, as well as oddball things such as ditch dental?

These are all important things to keep in place, now and in the future. These skills are not just important from a SHTF scenario, they were also largely responsible for my journey to arrive at the point in life I am at now.

Have you sought out information from sources that have lived it? One of the reasons I love the Organic Prepper is due to her working with these kind of people, such as Selco, Toby Cowern, and others.

The best-kept secrets of being prepared

This is one of the best-kept secrets of really being prepared:

Knowing the limits of your knowledge and skills, seeking others that can both fill those gaps, and teach you to be proficient in the areas you see a deficiency in.

The other one is this:

No man is an island, and the idea of the lone survivor fighting off hoards of radioactive mutants is great fiction, but a horrible way to plan your future.

Team building and relations with others out of your immediate circle are more important than having that 13th AR or another 1500 rounds of ammo. The goodwill you engender with others, the reputation you have for being fair and helpful, and the way you help and treat others is a form of armor you don’t always see, but is priceless.

And as I keep saying, this stuff isn’t just for survival situations, it is for everyday life. Face it, things just go easier, and people help you more when you are not a jerk.

A manifestation of mindset

A quick story to show how this works. I have a lot of skills, but unfortunately, being a mechanic is not one of them. Recently we had some issues with our vehicle. Nothing major, but more than I knew how to deal with. One of our problems was fixed by a family member, and all it cost us was a good Korean dinner and hanging out with him. As a bonus, he was able to show me what he did, and that, mixed with the magic of YouTube enabled me to learn a new skill.

The second problem with the Suburban was more difficult. It needed the water pump replaced. Due to the connections we have made by adhering to the principles above, we were able to get the parts on a commercial tax-free account, labor and a workplace were provided for free, and once again, I got to learn something new that will add both to my skillset and my value later in a similar situation.

This is all just a manifestation of mindset.

And mindset trumps all. In my teaching and writing, my friends and I developed a saying, software before hardware. This means that it is more important to have a knowledge base than the greatest tools. With the proper knowledge and skills, you can make even subpar tools work, but if you are tool reliant, the reverse is not true.

Another important result of the software>hardware equation is the ability to improvise. And as we all know the mark of a true professional is the ability to make mistakes and improvisation look like a planned event.

A bit about me

My areas of knowledge are Urban Survival/ Escape & Evasion (usually abbreviated as USE&E), criminal subculture, immediate trauma care, as well as armed/unarmed personal protection. As we go forward, I hope to bring forward a different outlook, some new skills, and commentary regarding these areas.

I will be writing about things such as the legal framework for personal protection, the importance of tribe building, hard skills with knives and other weapons, and other things that fit into our envelope, in order to help thrive now and survive later. I also work well in a response format, so I would welcome any email questions in order to spur on deeper conversation.

In closing, I would like to leave you with the principles I attempt to live my life by.

Be good.

Be kind.

Live well.

Do the work.

Don’t be a dick.

Love is the greatest gift.

About Terry

Terry Trahan has been a long term martial artist and teacher of personal protection, as well as an author for numerous publications. His experiences from being a gang member, enforcer, protection specialist, and bouncer have given his teachings a strong bent towards the practical. Fighting his way out of extreme poverty and some unsavory environs also gives him insight into survival and everyday life not often commented on. He can be contacted at terry.trahan at

Terry Trahan

Terry Trahan

Leave a Reply

  • Any friend of Toby’s… Welcome! Great article and I especially like your principles at the end. Will look forward to hearing more.

  • Welcome! What a great article. I was thinking the other day about this and you pointed out several things that I can incorporate in my prepping. Thanks for the great article and I am looking forward to more.

  • I have heard wonderful things about you from Toby; and, your article proved him right! I am very excited to read more of your insights. Welcome!!!!

  • Welcome Terry. Looking forward to learning more about the ‘criminal subculture’ from a pro. 😉 Actually I’m looking forward to learning anything from you because any guy living by the principles you outlined has my attention.

  • Welcome Terry! Look forward to your articles.
    As a suggestion, please consider those of us who are retired, senior citizens, and/or handicapped. I have read many articles on many sites, where the most popular articles just don’t fit with our lifestyle. Many times much more info is garnered from others commentaries than is presented in the articles. This is the best site I am a member of, and look forward to the expanded experience of the writers. Thank you for your time and consideration.

    • Hi, I actually base everything on operating from a deficit, having been born with a disability, as well as paying the costs of the lifestyle that gave me the knowledge I have.
      As I’ve gotten older, age, chronic illness, and injuries inform everything I teach or write about.
      As everyone has different disabilities, not all of my teaching applies. However, one of my senior students has been in a wheelchair since childhood, and people are scared of him at seminars…

  • Great to have you in here Terry. Daisy has worked hardly and tirelessly to build a great, attentive and eager group.

    Selco and I are writing more and more about the need to find contextual, experienced, applied and, increasingly in these past few months, empathetic lessons on the WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and HOW of preparedness skills. I mention empathetic expressly, as SO many articles are written for the combat ready, warrior sheepdog, that does not fit with most peoples reality.

    Selco and I wholeheartedly embrace Rorys concept of ‘train with the body you are in’, and this is where you will bring SO much value to this group. Breaking down key concepts and approaches, in a way that will work for ‘everyday’ folks’…

    WONDERFUL to see you here and can’t wait to read more 🙂

  • Thanks, and I’m looking forward for future articles from you.
    I’m in the process of moving and downsizing accumulated “stuff”, so your point of being in the present rings true. It’s a constant reminder to myself, “Do I really need this? Will I be using it in six months, three months, … down to today?”.

  • Good article. Turning 73 and husband no longer able to help out. It is younger friends and people I’ve helped in some way that jump in and make repairs if I buy parts or help with things I need built. People who I can depend on if I get hurt or have a need. A neighbor that has taken me to the emergency room 25 miles from our rural village, then sat through most of a night with my husband because he can’t be alone. Once I went home after a round of exrays and once I was admitted for emergency surgery in the morning. Later on when I needed surgery on the arm that had all the exrsys, the neighbor took us to the day surgery because I insisted on the surgery awake so I could go home the same day. He sat with my husband and then they say with me in the recovery area till I could go home. They brought us sandwiches to eat that evening and a stack of pancakes in the morning.
    if SHTH or another medical emergency happens either of two families will help. Either man would help repair my vehicles. One spent a day in a U Pull It junk yard finding parts and harvesting them to fix his car and my car. When he needs to go for wood he takes my truck. When they have family emergencies I offer the one thing I know they need…gas money. The last three years since loosing their home and business have been tough. We’re neighbors. Close enough to feel like family and there for each other.
    The other family were members of my church for several years. He drives 100 miles one afternoon a week to help move things into the home or build a frame and put up beadboard for my entrance room divider I needed. In about a week he will be making a business trip a couple of hundred miles south of here. Ill give him my truck and flatbed trailer to drive and money for gas and a motel room so he can stay an extra night and dismantle an aluminum handicapped ramp to bring home for me. I’m buying it through Craigslist. He will take the cash to pay for it. Later he will come and assemble it as much as he can do in a few hours once a week.
    I give him a little for gas money and a meal for him and his wife. The labor is worth much more.
    Those are friends I can trust to help me or if possible I will help them. Family are too far away. Most of my neighbors are men I’ve known since they were teens. They are grandfather’s now while we are great grandparents. One of those sons changed a flat tire while I was gone. I’d set out everything then time was pressing so I left the spare and jack sitting beside the flat tire. I came home from an appointment 60 miles away to find the tire changed and the flat repaired. No one claimed the good deed. 🙂
    Good neighbors become good friends by being good neighbors yourself.

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