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Self Defense Law

5 Easy Exercises That Will Help You to Improve Your Situational Awareness

Do you want to get better in seeing things before they even happen and be able to avoid bad situations? Then you need to know how to train your situational awareness skills and understand that it isn’t just a tactical concept. To make the most out of it, it must become part of your life; the way you do things and how you behave in your every day routine.

There are many drills that enhance situational awareness skills. It is only through smart training and disciplined behavior that you make yourselves better in seeing things soon enough and making adequate decisions for the best possible outcome.


What you practice, is what you’ll do! – Benny Urquidez


Here I’ll share with you some training concepts that I am using, which really work for me and my students as well.

Training awareness


The type of training I chose to share is the one you can apply on your own, anytime, anywhere and for which you don’t need any partner. So let’s get to it.

  1. Get to know the environment you are at

    Learning about the place where you live, work, travel etc. can really help you to put the situational awareness to a whole new level.

    There are many clues around you that have a very specific meaning, which if you understand them, can boost your orientation and decision making big time.

    It is like driving the car and looking at the traffic signs. You know what they mean and you manage your driving accordingly.

    Such a sign representative could be local gang’s graffiti, marking their turf. A tattoo telling you that this man is a member of that gang; or that he killed 2 people already and apparently is so proud of it he had to mark it on his skin. It could be some writing in a language of the minorities living in a near neighborhood telling you to keep out. An animal claws mark on a tree, telling you that there is probably a bear somewhere around.

    It depends on your own environment and your need and ability to recognize those signs.

    Understanding them can tell you for example, that you shouldn’t go through that area, talk to that person, or that you should heighten your awareness level and prevent you from running into a trouble situation.

    On the other hand knowing where are the escape routes, for cases of emergency like fire, may save your life someday.

    So I want you to think – what dangers we have HERE. What things I often see and don’t understand? What people I meet? What languages should I understand, to know if someone is talking about me?

    Write it all down and get to know it good.



  2. Observe other people and their behavior

    Go to some place, where there are many people. I like going to the malls for example. Have a coffee, sit down and watch.

    What you are looking for is how they behave and react. Look for their body language, expressions of emotions. You’ll see that there is plenty of stuff you can learn like this.

    Now – after you get in to it a little, I want you to change from an innocent observer, to a predatory observer. Put yourself in a position of a criminal who searches for a prey to hunt. Look around you again. Whom would you choose as your victim and why? What are the signs that tell you this is the one? And what are the signs that tell you that this person is not? Write it all down.

    When you get home, analyze your notes taken when looking for a good victim type of a person and think. Can you recognize your own typical behavior there? At which part? Victim or not-a-victim?

    Implement this knowledge in your daily routine and train not to look like a victim.

    This exercise will also help you to improve your self-awareness and identify, when you fall in the good-victim behavior so you can change it if the time and space requires it.

    For the sake of this exercise; it might be good to learn more about human body language and what different gestures mean. By connecting this practice with such knowledge, you’d become able to tell what goes around with this or that person.



  3. Keep developing your peripheral vision

    Increasing your field of view is really a great asset to your situational awareness skills, which helps you recognize things much more easily and in a larger scale.

    There are plenty of different exercises and they are mostly based on focusing on things and movements that you see peripherally.

    When ever you are waiting for someone, traveling in a bus or a train, you can try for example this:



    The man on the video mentioned an exercise, when you move your fingers and spread your hands open so wide, until it reaches your peripheral vision limits. This is actually a very good exercise I have learned from Lee Morrison.

    Try it now. Move your hands back until you can’t see the moving fingers. Now go back a little bit so you can see the fingers again. Keep looking forward and focus peripherally on the finger movement. Keep it up for a while.

    Easy, right? Now, as you do this, keep moving your fingers with hands where they are, but slowly look down on your shoes. You’ll notice that your field of side and back peripheral vision view has dramatically increased.

    This comes handy for example when you turn around to see what or who is behind you.

    Keep practicing these exercises every day and see how your peripheral vision improves.



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  1. Get dynamic

    By that I mean – go and practice in the real world. Again, pick some place where people occur in higher numbers and walk chaotically. It can be a busy street, a mall, party, whatever you can find (actually parties are great for this exercise as your vision is usually diminished due to low light conditions).

    As you walk around people and people around you, don’t let anyone to get near you without your knowledge. That means you have to pay close attention to all the people approaching you from all angles. Even from behind.

    What I want you to add is looking at their belt line (waist high). Reason being that this is the space, where they would most often hide their weapons – behind the belt or/and in their pockets.

    Also, look what their hands are doing. Are they reaching for something? Are they still? What are they holding?

    This exercise, if done consciously, will really improve your orientation game. Go and try it. It’s fun.



  2. Adopt situational awareness to habits

    I guess this is one of the most important things to do – you have to make your situational awareness an automatic behavior.


    • look around you and observe when you are outside
    • know who is around you / in the room / bus etc.
    • don’t let anyone come near you unless you know it
    • look at peoples waists and hands, NOT in their eyes
    • in restaurants / busses etc., sit at places where your back is protected (by a wall for instance) and from where you have a good view at the space where other people are
    • in the bus / train / taxi / public transport etc., know who is sitting at the seat next to you and what he/she is doing
    • look around and identify possible exit routes when in a closed environment

    It must become something you simply DO, not something you consciously WANT to do.

    To reach that state, you have to repeat such behavior repeatedly every day until you get there. Some people say that it takes only 21 days to create a habit. But that is not quite accurate.

    Actually, according to some studies, it is approximately 66 days. However, what you need to appreciate is your individuality and keep going until you yourself reach the state of habit. It can take you 15 days, or a year.

    Sooner or later you will create automatic “triggers” that will literally activate your intuition alarms and heighten your awareness, if anything comes up.

    It takes big deal of discipline, but in my opinion it is well worth it.



Having good situational awareness skills can tell you a lot about what is happening around you, about people and your environment.

Should the day when you would have to defend yourself against criminal activity or any sort violence, knowing it is coming and be able to adapt to the situation is a luxury not many of us had.

Keep practicing and make yourself hard to hunt. By incorporating the situational awareness decision making concepts to your training you can even deepen your understanding and put the skills in this field to a whole other level.





TAGS: situational awareness street smart exercise


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