Awareness, the main way of staying safe on the streets

Without good situational awareness, you could be vulnerable to various types of criminals that tend to prey on people that appear “switched off”.

When it comes to training in Self Defense, one of the first things that should be taught, is “Situational Awareness”
Situational awareness is an essential part of staying safe on the streets

Awareness, one of the main ways of staying safe on the streets


When it comes to training in Self Defense, one of the first things that should be taught, is “Situational Awareness”. This is part of Personal Safety and involves developing good habits that keep you out of trouble when out or in unfamiliar surroundings.

Types of attack, armed or unarmed

Without good situational awareness, you could be vulnerable to various types of criminals that tend to prey on people that appear “switched off”. Or those simply unaware of what is happening around them.

Obviously, you wouldn’t want to wander around in a constant state of paranoia, but neither would you want to walk around totally blinkered and vulnerable. Situational awareness is a learnable process. It’s the learning of good personal safety habits that help you to avoid violence or robbery before it happens.

If you look at muggings, for example, which are often seen as a random attack. They are actually planned well in advance and use various tactics to “ambush” the victim.

Geoff Thompson, Self -Defense expert states,

“Most muggings are not random acts; there is usually a ritual that precedes an attack. The attacker will select his victim, usually someone that is daydreaming or isolated. Often the victim will be stalked seconds, even minutes before the attack. Many professional muggers approach their victims before the attack and ask a distracting/disarming question such as ‘Have you got the time please’ or ‘I’m lost, can you give me directions’. This is done to engage your brain before the attack. It’s a primer. Once engaged the mugger goes to work.”

Geoff Thompson

Stay switched on to your surroundings or you may suffer

The opposite to good safety practice is when you are not switched on to your surroundings and, therefore, vulnerable to a predator. This is something pointed out in a good article in the Survival Cache blog, about female Self-Defense and describes a common situation where…

“Talking or texting on your cell phone when walking into or leaving the store is not a good idea. When you are entering the store, you should be taking that time to look at the vehicles and people around you. Being able to differentiate between a threat and the friendly. If anything looks suspicious you should take note of it and be prepared to react. Being distracted on a phone makes you look like an easy target, which is exactly what thieves and wrongdoer’s are looking for.”

A clear example of poor Situational Awareness

Have a look at this video. It shows a common habit that closes you off from potentially dangerous surroundings. A woman is pushed down a flight of stairs. She avoids serious harm, but as you can see, she was totally oblivious to her surroundings and didn’t hear or notice the man who pushed her from behind. We can all sympathize, but we can also see quite clearly that by not being open to her surroundings, one that we are all guilty of, it was easier for that kind of idiot to operate.

Avoiding Trouble in the first place

In an earlier blog, I discussed Personal Safety and how that applies to Self-Defense. At the core of the idea, is doing enough to avoid becoming a target in the first place. This, again, can be explained by using the AOI triangle. ( Ability. Intent. Opportunity ) Which acts as a guide to the criminal attack “process”.

The diagram illustrates three main things a “predator” would need for the criminal act to happen. If you can stop any of the three sides of the triangle from happening in the first place, you stop the triangle from being formed. This stops the “crime” in the centre from happening.

So, for argument’s sake, if you avoid walking through back alleys late at night on your own and stay in well-lit streets, you are denying a potential opportunity to a would-be attacker.

Another way of halting the formation of the triangle could simply be being sufficiently switched on and alert. This can give off an air of confidence and is often enough for a would-be mugger to doubt their ability to carry off an attack successfully. A predator looks for an easy target and can quickly move onto another potential victim if they have any doubts about getting away with a crime.

Further reading:

There are good articles here on The survivalist Blog and Functional Self Defense that describe in-depth, the process of staying alert and using your instincts to stay out of trouble in the outside world. In Functional Self Defense, it is summed up in this way,

If a predator does choose you as a target, you can still deny him the opportunity to attack you. By being aware of your surroundings, paying attention to warning signs, and noticing pre-attack indicators…”

I would recommend reading through the articles to get a clear all-round idea of what situational awareness is and how you could develop good habits through training.

To conclude:

Situational Awareness and personal safety go hand in hand. By developing certain habits that keep you aware of your surroundings and away from potentially dangerous areas or situations, it really is possible to minimize the chances of you getting into any trouble in the first place.

Author: Andrew Johnson

I trained many years in Kung Fu, fought in full contact competitions and am a qualified instructor at The Combat Academy in the UK. The aim of this blog is to look at what modern self-defense training actually is and what it most probably should be.

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