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Self Defense Law

What You Ought to Know About Situational Awareness

Criminals love people who don’t pay attention to what is happening around them, because they represent a very easy prey to hunt. Don’t fall victim to greedy jackasses, learn more about situational awareness and how it influences your daily life.

Self defense is a mistake! And all of you, who have read Rory Miller’s book Meditations on violence, would agree with me. The fact you got yourself in the situation when you have to defend yourself, can be very much caused by your lack of attention to what is happening around you.

Believe it! Most of the time, it is absence of awareness that gets you in trouble. You can just walk into the arms of threat, not seeing it coming.

But, can someone blame you? People are so busy these days, living their everyday lives, slowly killing themselves through stereotypes. And that is what makes criminals so effective. Your blindness allows them to get as close to you, as needed to do their job.


Being aware doesn’t make you paranoid, but ready!


Situational awareness

Everything in effective self defense starts from situational awareness. Not from training how to fight or where to find an improvised weapon. Learning about awareness is fundamental. Knowing where you are, who is around you and what happens in the area you happen to be at. If you don’t know it, you make a target out of yourself.

By the common sense, the situational awareness means that you know what is happening around you and in terms of personal security, you are able to identify potential threats, where they are located, what they’re doing and may be even what they are up to.

If you are aware of what goes around you, you can significantly influence what will happen now and in the future.


A very simple example: You walk the street from work and all of the sudden you see two guys in the crowd, speeding up your way. One of them is reaching for his back, apparently to take something hidden from under his jacket.

What would you do? Would you continue walking? Scream for help? Would you try to run away or would you take out your .22 Magnum and take your chances? … May be you’d freeze or choke.

Let me help you with the answer here.

Decision making

The decisions that you make based upon your understanding of the situation are the very important part of the awareness concept.

Why? Because from a decision comes up an action, which triggers some kind of reaction. And you make those decisions based upon your perception of your surroundings and of your body signals.

That is right, the signals your body is giving you. Sometimes you know you know that somewhere, something is not right. But you cannot tell what it is. You have a strong believe about something, but you don’t know why. We call it an Intuition.

The reason why I am mentioning it here is because it is a very important factor of situational awareness. Your brain unconsciously computes all the results of your perception and puts them together based on your previous experiences or your beliefs – without you even noticing it.

When you then have a strong feeling, like you really shouldn’t go through the park this evening and you just can’t find the reason why, it is the way your intuition is communicating with you – and in many times it shouldn’t be neglected as it is trying to tell you that something may happen.

Apart of the unconscious data gathering, another part of your decision making is based on the things you know you sense (see, hear, taste, feel, smell) in an actual moment and assess consciously.

These kinds of decisions influence mainly the things that happen NOW, because you yourself know they’re there.

Imagine you are at the bar and all of the sudden you notice that your girlfriend’s ex and some two big other guys are standing next to toilets. They are looking at you, talking to each other and then they split and slowly close their distance from you.

You know it means no good. Everybody would know that. So what you gonna do? The situation will continue according to your next decision. Either you stay and have your ass kicked, or leave, take a cab home and start taking self defense lessons the very next day, because this might happen again someday soon.

A good concept examining this kind of decision making is called the OODA loop.

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Common mistakes


  1. The main and biggest mistake is that majority of people are simply unaware. Not paying attention what happens around them at all. They think that “aware” means “paranoid” and you should think of everyone as a potential threat, what is clearly a sign of misunderstanding of the concept of situational awareness.

    What is worse – the modern technology allows people to be unaware even more these days. People are focusing their eyes on the screens of their smart phones while walking, deafening their ears with headphones at busy places or during night time (living in condition white).

    Let me tell you something – if I am a predator and I see you at night, walking with your headphones on, and texting, playing a game or whatever – you are mine and you won’t even “sense” me coming at you.

    So remember that remaining aware is not about being “paranoid”, but rather about being “prepared”. It is a way of life – not the way of crazy.


  2. Ignoring the intuition. Being too neglective to their body and just shaking the feeling off, thinking to themselves that it probably means nothing. To get more information about this really interesting topic I would recommend reading Gavin de Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear. The education you get from this master piece is priceless.


  3. Denial along with phlegmatic and passive approach to the situation.

    Sometimes people, who see the potential danger element, which is right in front of them, for whatever reason, deny the fact that it is actually happening.

    Just by looking away, doing nothing and pretending the danger is not there, they transform avoidable risk into a health endangering threat. And that is so wrong.

    How many times have you seen some crazy freak shouting sh!t at the bus station, acting weird or aggressively? Have you noticed how everyone there just turn their heads away as they pretend there is nothing to be bothered about? Not looking at him, thinking this way the crack head won’t notice they are there as well.

    Why do you think is that happening? Is it fear? Lack of self esteem? Not enough training? In my experience - usually all together and that is why training this stuff is so important. Training gives you a clue about the situation, about your reactions and the possible outcomes – makes your decision making much more effective.


If you can’t think to do it in training, what makes you think you’ll think to do it in the street. - Tony Blauer


Situational awareness helps you to recognize given information and make strategic decisions before a situation even turns up.

It gives you time to prepare or even overcome and remove yourself from the evolving circumstances. It also helps you to read the behavior of your opponents and recognize its patterns, what allows you to be more proactive and deal with the situation more efficiently.

To acquire such skills, you have to practice and through effective perception to teach your limbic system how to assess, understand and put things together so it can give you a signal at the right time and space.

In my honest opinion, everyone should incorporate such training in their self defense learning and develop skills, that would help them (you included) never to become a victim of a criminal activity.

Without awareness, there is no effective situational assessment, no decision making. Only oblivious blindness, what makes oneself an easy target.

That being said, I would like to invite you to read the article about: 3 great situational awareness decision making concepts and learn how you can implement them to your life and training.





TAGS: situational awareness street smart


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