Possibly the biggest part of a relentless self-defense plan that people often overlook is the skill of situational awareness. Why is that?
I believe a big part of the reason why people don’t focus much on situational awareness is that it is not talked about that often. It is easier to market shooting drills and hand to hand techniques than it is to talk about situational awareness and it’s roll in conflict avoidance and threat assessment beforehand, but the facts of the matter are that:
The only way to survive a violent encounter with 100% certainty is to avoid it in the first place.
2. You can’t defend against what you can’t see or be otherwise aware of.
3. Criminals are more likely to target people that aren’t paying attention to their surroundings.
These are three of the most important reasons why situational awareness is so important. Now that we have established that, what are some things that we should or should not do to be more situationally aware?
1. Get off your phone in public
a. When we are focused on a small device in our hands, it makes us unable to effectively observe the world around us and be able to see possible threats or notice shifts in the environment around us.
2. Take your earbuds out when you are in public (or in the very least turn the volume down)
a. It is hard to be situationally aware if you aren’t able to hear what is going on around you, be it voices, vehicles, or footsteps.
3. Make a habit of making eye contact with anyone in your near vicinity.
a. This lets them know “I’ve seen you and am aware of your presence.”
b. Maybe even add in a “Hi! How are you?” Why not brighten up someone’s day a little and be a good human?
4. Be observant of your surroundings
a. Locate exits, possible ambush points, cover, concealment, barriers, and routes of escape.
5. Figure out baseline for the area you are in and be mindful of disturbances to baseline. (baseline is the general ambiance of an area and includes the culture, how people walk, talk and act, how people dress and speak, how houses or yards are kept up, and even could include animal presence and activity.)
6. Make a game to yourself of trying to figure out who might be carrying a weapon.
a. Are there bulges in clothing that could maybe be the handle of a firearm?
b. Is someone wearing an NRA or Glock T-shirt or hat?
c. Does someone keep fidgeting with, or adjusting something that could be a holster?
d. Do they have a clip for a knife on their pocket?
7. Watch the eyes and hands.
a. Eyes can be an indicator if someone is giving you too much attention, possibly planning to harm you or try to rob you.
b. Hands kill. If you are confronted by someone, or are surprised by them, always check to see if you can see if their hands are holding a weapon, reaching towards a weapon, or balled up in a fist, ready to strike.
All of these habits to develop or get rid of, will help to keep you more aware of your surroundings and hopefully out of violent encounters.
- Criminals target people that appear to not be paying attention to their surroundings.
- You win 100% of the fights you can avoid.
If you are looking for more info about this topic, I highly recommend the book "Facing Violence" by Rory Miller. It is a must read!
Stay safe and have a great day!
-Memento Mori Tactical