The Awareness Factor– Most Important Factor in Self Defense
January 23, 2017 By Eva S
There are numerous aspects to effective self defense including everything from weapons, to striking, to clinching, to wrestling on the ground.
But there’s one particular aspect to protecting yourself that’s hands down more important than all the rest combined…
It’s not your striking.
It’s not your toughness.
And it’s not your skill with weapons..
So then what’s the most effective weapon in any self defense situation?
It is just so much easier to see a situation coming and come up a plan to deal with that situation than it is to get blindsided by something you didn’t expect and then have to play catch up.
It’s awareness, not your ability to substantial fighting skills that prevents you from getting surrounded by a group of young punks intent on relieving you of your wallet or purse…
It’s awareness that makes you realize you’ve wandered into a bad neighborhood and turn around before anything bad happens…
It’s awareness that gives you a heads up when someone is trying to invade your personal space, allowing you enough time to back up and verbally put him on notice that you’ve spotted him…
And it’s awareness that makes you to notice someone sneaking up behind you, allowing you to cut him in half with a backwards mule kick before he gets too close.
Here’s the thing about awareness: many people think you’re either born with it or not.
But I’ve got some good news for you…
Awareness is your #1 defense- and it’s a skill you can and should train to develop!
Awareness is actually a developed skill!
You can train it and improve it, just like you do with punches, kicks and chokes.
Being alert to impending dangers isn’t as sexy as knocking someone out with a spinning wheel kick, if I had to choose between awareness and a killer kick then I would choose awareness every time.
So what is Situational Awareness?
If you really want to know what it is, forget all the technical garbage. Situational Awareness is simply the ability to assess your environment for threats so that you can either avoid those threats or control the situation and start stacking things in your favor.
So what’s all the hype?
Well, from a preparedness perspective, I hope it’s obvious. There simply isn’t a more important survival skill that you can possess. If you can identify a threat before it becomes a threat, you put yourself ahead of 99% of the public, and you go a long way to ensuring your safety and security.
Unfortunately, in today’s world, this is a skill, or better yet a mindset that most people simply don’t have.
We live in a world where people live in a contact state of distraction. From walking around with their heads buried in some electronic device to stressing out about their day or trying to recall yet another thing that slipped their mind, most people are blissfully ignorant to the world around them.
Why is Situational Awareness Important?
Well, let’s look at a couple of different scenarios.
You are at a theater watching a movie with your family, and the fire alarm goes off. A number of things could be happening right now. It could be a false alarm, it could be an actual fire, or even worse there could be an active shooter picking people off in the theater right next door. That’s the world we now live in.
In this situation, most people are going to panic.
You’re in a dark theater, children are probably crying, and adults are probably stampeding the aisles not knowing exactly what to do. But you, if you’re a situationally aware individual, already left ahead of danger. You smelled the smoke, heard the gunshots, or recognized the threat before the alarm was ever even pulled.
And if it was a false alarm, you weren’t injured by the panicked crowd because you calmly headed to the exit point that you instantly identified as you walked into the theater. While everyone else was running for the main entrance, you quietly and calmly helped your family slip out that little noticed side exit.
Criminals are experts when it comes to situational awareness!
We live in a world where it cannot be ignored; criminals and violent criminal attacks.
Unfortunately, when it comes to situational awareness many criminals are damn good at it; but even worse for you, is they are good at spotting people who are not! These people come into a situation with the upper hand; in most cases, they have diligently planned for what they are about to do, and they took the time to select the target that they felt was most vulnerable to an attack – usually the guy who is walking around totally oblivious to the world around him!
Listen, self-defense training is great; knowing how to use a firearm is a skill everyone should have, and I highly advise you go out and find a good self-defense school. That being said, none of it means anything without being aware of your environment. Any self-defense school that doesn’t stress that fact is a school you don’t need to waste your money on.
Your only real chance of not being targeted by these people is to be able to perceive the threat before it becomes a threat: Situational Awareness.
What can you do to Develop Your Situational Awareness?
Situational Awareness isn’t the supernatural ability that some Hollywood movies make it out to be; in fact, I believe it can be learned.
Listen, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you this is something that is going to be easy. It’s not. But if you take the time to start looking at the world around you and running through some of these drills, you will start to develop the background skills you need to protect yourself.
Did you notice the word background in that last paragraph? Again, this is not living in a constant state of fear and paranoia. I know I said this wasn’t a supernatural skill, but it is a subconscious mindset that allows you to know when something isn’t right.
It’s that gut feeling that most people have been conditioned to ignore.
Step one: Mastering Mindfulness
Ok, I’m not going to go all hippie new age guru on you, but there is a concept that can help tie things together. Buddhists, and those who are into meditation practices, call it Mindfulness. But don’t worry, in the context of this article, it’s not a religious thing. What we are looking at here is the concept of releasing your stress, and fully becoming one with your environment. Simply put, you are present in the moment.
A lot of stress release and anti-anxiety therapies are built around this concept because it allows the person to stop thinking about their fears and anxieties and instead just live in the moment, really taking in the world around them – the sights, the sounds, and the baseline world. That is what’s important here.
It’s about recognizing that baseline. That state of how things are in the world when things are normal. By understanding your environment and being able to recognize the baseline realities of what’s going on around you, your subconscious mind will instantly be able to pick out what doesn’t fit and what things signal danger ahead.
Mindfulness, from a therapeutic standpoint, is simply the mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily feelings. Simply taking the time to release your anxieties, to relax, and just take in the world around you can do wonders for your overall situational awareness.
Step Two: Honest Analysis and Identifying Threats
Some of this information isn’t going to be politically correct, but if you’ve followed this site for a while you know that I excel in offending people! I don’t do it to be provocative; I just don’t live my life pussyfooting around other people’s P.C. bull crap or emotional insecurities.
I’m a realist. And I realize that we live in a world that has made people weak; a bunch of precious snowflakes who are so offended by everything in the world that they have become unable to recognize the real dangers in life and in our society.
Profiling people is an acceptable reality!
It’s not racist, sexist, islamophobia, or any other label that you want to attach to it; it’s reality.
The fact is criminals do fit certain profiles. Profiling has nothing to do with race, but it does have everything to do with appearance. Think about it; who is more likely to rob you, the 80-year-old black grandmother in the wheelchair or the teenager sporting gang colors and gang tattoos? Was the skin color important, or was the person’s overall appearance important?
Some of this stuff is just common sense, and some of it requires ignoring what the media tells you is wrong and right.
Step Three: Situational Awareness Drills, Games, and Tactics
So now to the meat of the article; the real-world things you can do to help develop a situational awareness mindset.
Before it can become part of your background thought process, or your subconscious mindset, you are going to have to be purposeful and do things to hone your skills.
- Play games with yourself; if you have kids include them in the process. When you enter a store, see how many exit points you can immediately identify. Look for obstacles, threats, or anything that could hinder your escape should something go
- Start watching people. Try to notice how people normally behave; what’s normal, what’s not? One of the best ways to spot trouble is to be able to read people’s behavioral quirks. I’ve never been in a fight that I didn’t see coming, and I’ve avoided quite a few because I picked up on things like body language, emotions, and changes in a person’s voice that told me something was about to happen.
- Limit outside distractions. When you are out in public you need to put down the phone, leave the electronic distractions at home, and really spend time being one with your environment.
- Start trusting your gut! At first you may be wrong, but in the end, you need to beware of those primal instincts that are built into your very being. The fight or flight response is a very real thing, something that can be used to your advantage if you can learn to control it and not give into the fear aspect with which so many people in today’s society are overwhelmed.