How to Increase Your Situational Awareness: 6 Tips to be Safer
So you know how to fight? That’s just great! But as Sun Tzu said: ‘The Supreme Art of War is to subdue the Enemy without Fighting’. Only fight if you have to.
Being Situational Aware will make sure you will have to fight less and be ready when the use of violence is unavoidable.
Situation Awareness is the missing, but crucial link in most self-defense courses.
Want to become less of an oblivious sheep and see danger when it comes? Check out these 6 tips for increasing your Situational Awareness.
Tune out distractions
This is an obvious one, right? You have 5 senses with which you can spot nefarious individuals and dangerous situations: Sight, Hearing, Smell, Touch and Taste.
One is more important than the other, but they all help. Make sure you can use them all to the full extend.
Don’t be a mobile phone zombie in public places. Just look around in any mall and you know what I’m talking about. Your Twitter/Instagram/Facebook-feeds are addictive. I get that. Check them in the privacy of your own home. Don’t compromise your security.
Don’t wear a headphone while jogging outside.
Make sure your kids do the same.
Stay Frosty and Alert
When you are tired and/or hungry it is a lot more difficult to stay alert.
How alert should you be, you ask? That depends on the level of threat that you assess, but consider the color code system developed by Jeff Cooper and don’t be in ‘Sheep white’
Trust your gut
If something feels ‘off’ , chances are……. they are. Don’t rationalize this feeling away as we have been conditioned by society.
If an elevator opens to let you in and you see 2 street thugs…..don’t get in. Get the next elevator. No matter ‘what people might think of you’.
These instincts have been developed to keep you alive through years of evolution. Don’t ignore them because of social conditioning.
This is a great lesson from the book ‘The Gift of Fear, Survival Signals that Protect us from Violence’, a classic by Gavin De Becker. This book concentrates on recognizing Pre-Incident-Indicators (see recommended reading).
Be your own enemy
How would you attack you? Think like an attacker.
Use this powerful method from the book ‘Sheep no more, the Art of Awareness and attack survival’ by former Navy Seal and Special FBI Agent Jonathan Gilliam (highly recommended read):
1. Describe locations in your life: Where you live, where you commute, where you work, where you go for diner, where you go to a ballgame, the gym, all places in full detail (also for other critical assets)
2. Describe the critical assets: You, your partner, your kids, the dog, money and other things of value, weapons, car, etc.
3. Describe the critical times: who/what is where at what time?
4. Describe the critical vulnerabilities.
5. Describe avenues of approach: How will predators get to your critical assets?
Now plan scenarios in which criminals will want to get access to your critical assets in the way that makes most sense to the criminal.
Then use simple internet searches to see how much information is available about your points 1 to 4 above, including Google Maps/Satellite. It’s amazing how much you can find by online searches.
Now do a recon of your locations (1) by foot and see what an attacker will see. How will your attacker build their ‘target package’?
This is where the rubber meets the road. Visualize how attacks are likely to unfold.
Who would you/they attack?
Why would you/they attack?
Where would you/they attack?
When would you/they attack?
How would you/they attack?
Based on the information gathered. Very strong method that will open your mind to how an attacker thinks and how he will plan an attack on you.
Arm yourself with knowledge
You don’t have to become an expert at profiling and methods of attack, but arming yourself with some basic knowledge is a very good idea. It will make you recognize deviations from the ‘ normality’ baseline and often used methods of attack.
This is recommended reading:
– Sheep no more, the Art of Awareness and attack survival’ by former Navy Seal and Special FBI Agent Jonathan Gilliam
– Left of Bang, How the Marine Corps’ Hunter Combat Program can Save Your Life’ by Patrick van Horne
– The Gift of Fear, Survival Signals that Protect us from Violence’ , a classic by Gavin De Becker. Very insightful book. Just a couple of pointers on Methods of Operation by sexual offenders from this book:
- Forced Teaming. This is when a person implies that they have something in common with their chosen victim, acting as if they have a shared predicament when that isn’t really true. Speaking in “we” terms is a mark of this, i.e. “We don’t need to talk outside… Let’s go in.”
- Charm and Niceness. This is being polite and friendly to a chosen victim in order to manipulate him or her by disarming their mistrust.
- Too many details. If a person is lying they will add excessive details to make themselves sound more credible to their chosen victim.
- Typecasting. An insult is used to get a chosen victim who would otherwise ignore one to engage in conversation to counteract the insult. For example: “Oh, I bet you’re too stuck-up to talk to a guy like me.” The tendency is for the chosen victim to want to prove the insult untrue.
- Loan Sharking. Giving unsolicited help to the chosen victim and anticipating they’ll feel obliged to extend some reciprocal openness in return.
- The Unsolicited Promise. A promise to do (or not do) something when no such promise is asked for; this usually means that such a promise will be broken. For example: an unsolicited, “I promise I’ll leave you alone after this,” usually means the chosen victim will not be left alone. Similarly, an unsolicited “I promise I won’t hurt you” usually means the person intends to hurt their chosen victim.
- Discounting the Word “No”. Refusing to accept rejection.
– Want to protect your kids? ‘Protecting the Gift, Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe’ by Gavin De Becker is a must read.
– A little disturbing, but very insightful: Watch Youtube videos of the scenarios you have visualized while ‘being your own enemy’ (see above). This will show you the tactics actually used.
A term popular from the military. And it’s true. Sure, after reading this you decide to be more alert. Great!
But you have to keep it up and keep re-evaluating if your situation or the tactics of nefarious individuals change. And they do. You can count on that.
Be Safe! Always be Ready!
Written by Robin C, Former Dutch SF officer, Operator, 12 years into adapting to civilian life