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Man Skills: Secret Agent Disguise Tips

Hey… it’s Jimbo.

Over the last 33 years or so (but who counting?) FightFast has been blessed to work with gutsy operatives who work undercover.

I’m talking about plainclothes agents hunting bad guys on foreign soil… black operatives who need to blend-in to get close to their targets… hardened undercover street cops… and generally the kind of ghost soldiers we all depend on to quietly “take out the trash” (so the rest of us can sit back, enjoy a brewski, and yell at the TV).

So, today’s Man Skills is about simple disguises and techniques to laying low in case you’re ever forced to disappear or “go dark” yourself.

This will also help you spot people who are trying to cleverly blend-in. (First Hint: If that woman hiding behind the newspaper has got hairy legs and a five-o’clock stubble, something’s wrong).

  • Confidence: Look like you’re supposed to be there.
  • Master of disguise: Evasion disguises.
  • Hide Your Tracks: More clues to keep you hidden.

Confidence:

Look like you’re supposed to be there.

There are some common rookie mistakes that can quickly blow your cover if you’re in a situation where you have to blend-in or disguise yourself.

One of the biggest errors is to look confused, or lost, or like don’t want to be there. (Like when my lib spy brother-in-law was caught at a Trump rally accidentally wearing his “Obama-Biden ’08” ballcap. So brutal).

Maintain Purposeful Demeanor.

Your demeanor can be key if you need to get into places where you should not be.

I had one undercover agent tell me that “walking with purpose” was a huge factor to fitting-in and looking like you have the right to be somewhere. (Think James Bond. Nobody ever asks him if he’s “supposed to be there”).

So, my first recommendation to “blending-in” is to act like you’ve got the perfect right to be there. (Unless you’re in the women’s bathroom. That would be a challenge, even for Bond).

And if you need to hang out for a while, you’ll need to blend-in by doing what everyone else is doing. (Here in Southern California that means you’ll need a facelift and your lips freakishly puffed-up with collagen).

If people are mostly sitting in an area, you should also be sitting. If they’re all studying, you should find something to read, (just don’t hold the book upside down). Anything that ensures you’re not standing out from the crowd.

If you’re working alone in a hostile country and need to scan a specific area of town without drawing attention, one tip would be to sit down with the least-threatening person you can find and start a conversation, (double-check that they’re not wearing a “Death To America” t-shirt).

You can also watch a game of chess or some other activity that provides you with a plausible cover while you casually observe the surroundings.

As one undercover agent put it: “It’s not uncommon for inexperienced surveillance operatives to get tunnel vision and plant themselves in the middle of a bustling sidewalk transfixed on their target”.

Don’t do that.

Which brings me to…

Silly Disguises.

Yep, even though we’d all love to peel off a Mission Impossible mask, it’s actually a bad idea to dream up complex disguises.

The brain is extremely adept at spotting anything that doesn’t look quite right on the human face, (dogs are another matter).

So fake latex noses and prosthetic chins and puffy pirate shirts and other cool stuff you’ve got stashed away in your bag-of-tricks will probably draw more attention than you want. (Yeah, bummer).

Instead, keep it simple.

If you’re clandestinely watching someone or trying to “disappear” inside a crowd, the whole point is that you do NOT want to be noticed or remembered.

Dress inconspicuously. Don’t wear a Ralph Lauren business suit if you’re surveilling a target at the beach (unless it’s like a really-really formal beach party).

If your subject leaves the beach and travels to a professional part of town, don’t follow him into the office building wearing your Speedo, (please no).

Some silly disguises work, (yay!).

If you’re being followed or think you’ve been spotted surveilling someone and need to change your appearance quickly, it’s scientifically proven that certain small, simple, and deliberate alterations can be surprisingly effective at concealing you.

The human brain (assuming you’re being followed by humans) tends to “recognize” someone by the type and color of their clothing and hair.

So the brain tells them they’re looking for a guy with short dark hair and a red coat.

A few things could make enough of a difference to render you virtually “invisible” to your pursuers.

  1. Hat — Putting on or taking off a cap. Boring, but simple and effective.
  2. Coat. Undercover surveillance experts often carry a light jacket that’s reversible and two different colors. Flip it around and suddenly you’ve got a blue coat instead of a red coat.
  3. Glasses. Okay, I think we’d all agree that Clark Kent still looked like Superman, (why can’t Lois see that?). But combined with a hat and a different colored coat, glasses are just one more element to throw off your pursuers.
  4. Facial hair. This is one time when the ol’ “fake mustache” could come in handy — as long as it’s “natural” looking”. Slapping on a “Diamond Jim Brady” ‘stash will only get you noticed.

Master of Disguise:

Evasion Disguise.

If your objective is to change your appearance long-term so that stalkers and surveillance goons can’t recognize you, there’s good news, (with the exception that there are stalkers and goons hunting you).

Turns out that “evasion disguise” — or the art of trying not to look like yourself — is a relatively easy thing to do, (meaning that your career as an international jewel thief is finally within reach).

According to researchers in the UK, you don’t need to disguise yourself much in order to trick the average person into thinking they’re looking at someone else.

The test had 26 people disguise themselves. They weren’t allowed to use sunglasses, hats, or scarves to hide their faces.

Even when volunteers were told that they were looking for a master of disguise, their ability to match up faces was still relatively low.

The key was to change hair color, different hairstyles, facial hair (which didn’t work well for the women), and gobs of makeup (which didn’t work well for the men).

These simple alterations were extremely effective at preventing participants from matching up faces.

Test subjects often thought they were looking at an entirely different person.

“Our models used inexpensive simple disguises and there were no make-up artists involved,” said Eilidh Noyes, a cognitive psychologist and facial recognition expert at the University of Huddersfield in the UK.

“If people want to, it’s very easy to change their appearance.”

Noyes’ also pointed out that computers are slightly better than humans at sniffing out disguised faces, but they’re not foolproof.

Hide Your Tracks:

More Clues To Help You Stay Hidden.

Not being identified isn’t always about disguises.

Oftentimes it’s about hiding your tracks. I mean, if you’re traveling to some dicey location where potential dangers lurk you must be careful of leaving clues to your true identity.

Pay cash when you can. Destroy receipts that reveal where you’ve been… what date and time you’ve been there… and what products you’ve purchased, (all things my wife has been using against me for years).

Also, avoid storing “identifiers” inside your car.

Anyone who broke into your vehicle could quickly obtain your full name and home address from your vehicle registration alone.

Another hint: Don’t reveal your capabilities. For example, operatives in third-world countries often need to use a small power-generator (since power outages are common).

If it’s gas-powered, make sure it’s a quiet generator so you don’t become a target of suspicion (or someone to rob). Also, black-out your windows with towels so you’re not the only place for miles with the lights on (and Monday Night Football blaring in the background).

Another thing: Be careful about what you throw in the trash. Get a decent paper shredder.

If someone’s going to target you, they will almost certainly “dumpster-dive” into your trash to see what they find. (Caught my neighbor Ralph doing this. Turns out he was just hungry).

Dumpster diving is also a great way for YOU to glean information about a target if need be, (just pray they don’t have a new baby with poopy diapers).

Finally, if you’re laying-low or surveilling inside a bad area don’t inadvertently become a target of local thugs. If you wear headphones or are texting you’re much more likely to be attacked on the streets.

Again, dress the part, act like you’re supposed to be there, and move with an air of confidence.

Stay Manly,

Jimbo, Editor
Man Skills

P.S. With the holidays fast approaching, you may soon find your home filled with mouth-breathers.

>> 50-Pak Of Medical Grade Surgical Masks HERE! <<

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