Awareness training (part 3)


Awareness Training (part 3)

Nice to see you again! I trust you read the first and second parts of this series on awareness before you ended up on this one. If you haven't read the first two parts, then I strongly advise you to give it a read! If you've already done that, then let's continue.

As stated, I will now explain the skill-sets that professional individuals have developed over time (and I believe quite a few nerve-racking experiences).

Colonel Cooper's color codes:

Colonel Cooper had a great impact on the firearm and defense training industry, most of his teachings are used by highly trained teams of today. That says a little something of his findings. In essence, he developed the 4 stages of awareness:

  • White - Unaware and unprepared
  • Yellow - Relaxed and alert
  • Orange - Specific alert
  • Red - Fight

Some may want to go the extra step and add Black - Total ignorance to that list. But I encourage you to go read more about Mr. Cooper's work and decide for yourself, you will notice that I used his specific notations as I feel they will be more easily interpreted by someone, not in the security, military or law-enforcement industry.

White - So at this stage, you are completely relaxed (as you would generally find yourself when at home or a BBQ), and you do not care much about what and who is moving around you.

Yellow - Without acting paranoid or driving yourself insane, being constantly aware of what is going on around you and always thinking of your next step or move and mentally being ready to counter any threat that might pop up. The idea is to see, feel, hear, or smell a risk before it turns into a threat. Yes, I said that, use your senses!

Orange - At this stage, you have already identified a possible threat while you were in the Yellow stage. Now your attention is more focused on that threat while moving yourself into a position to strike/defend or by removing yourself from the imminent threat.

Red - At this stage, the game is on! You are no longer scanning for threats, you are now engaging the threat, or if the opportunity presents itself, removing yourself from the threat! This stage is not necessarily attacking the threat, but it demands action from your side, whatever action you might choose.

Most people find themselves in either the White or the Red stage, they have a complete lack of awareness, until an attack happens or a threat presents itself, and then they have to suddenly jump into action. The problem with that, of course, is that they now have no preparation at all! So their chances of survival or escape become very slim! As someone who aims to have a greater level of awareness, you would want to be dwelling in the Yellow and Orange stages. That gives you the most reasonable chance of survival or escape! Read more here.

The OODA Loop:

Next, we need to discuss Colonel John Boyd's OODA loop. No, not those annoying plastic circle things you could never master as a teenager! Were talking about a decision cycle. If followed promptly, this cycle can most likely place you in a position of advantage when you need to act on a prevailing threat.

  • O - Observe
  • O - Orientate
  • D - Decide
  • A - Act

The concept is quite simple. Observe (awareness) your surroundings and the possible threat that is unveiling itself to you, then you need to orientate yourself towards the threat (or away if your escaping), you can turn to face a threat head-on, or so that you can have your full attention towards a threat. After that you need to decide what are your best options and possibly their consequences, then lastly you have to act on your decision. You simply do what you decided to do and deal with whatever comes next, by restarting the loop. The OODA loop is a constant process, you have to be working through it every minute of the day! I like to see the loop as a distraction from paranoia when I tend to over-analyze things. I have found that by the time I reach the decision stage, the threat I was looking at simply is irrelevant to me at this moment in time. That in return allows me to more efficiently direct my attention to more serious threats and restart the process again and again, without wearing myself out.

Awareness aims to create time!

So using these techniques is just a start, situational awareness can be complex. Think of someone you know who can make assumptions on things just by the sounds they make or the way they smell, like what type of car is approaching or who's perfume they smell in the next room. Your level of awareness can improve significantly when you start to pay attention to patterns, shapes, general behaviors, sizes, and so on that you encounter regularly. You always neglect to see the beauty around your home town but can be easily captivated by surroundings in some other town right? Think about it... The aim is to create time! I always teach self-defense students the importance of time in a fight. And that applies to each of us! I'm not saying you can in any way alter, manipulate, or restructure time. I'm simply saying that you can use it to your advantage. Here's the formula:

  • Time = Distance = options

With more time (awareness), you can create more distance, or close the distance if need be (OODA Loop), and once you're in the ideal or advantageous distance you have more options! Simple as that! The threat is too close, close the distance, and reduce exposure. The threat is too far, close the distance and strike/act first! The threat cannot reach you, get out of there!

Closing off:

As we're reaching the end of this series now I'm going to fall back to what I said in the first post. For an attack to take place, a criminal has to go through those initial stages. Your job is to break that cycle and not allow an attack to proceed. Every attack you manage to foil even before it happens is a victory to you! To give yourself a better chance at surviving an attack or avoiding being a victim, you need to be aware, but being aware and not acting on your findings will help no one! And the same the other way around, it does not help if you are highly trained in any form of martial art or "whose your uncle" defensive system, but you cannot recognize a threat in time. Practice these techniques as often as you can, invite the whole family and see who can identify the most possible risks and threats around you.

Till next time, stay sharp!

Awareness Training (part 2)


Awareness training (part 2)

Welcome back!

This post is the second in a series of posts on awareness training. In the previous post, I explained the basics of how criminals tend to choose their targets and the steps they go through. This post will cover the difference between Soft and Hard targets and how you can implement small changes to make yourself a harder target.

Let's start with soft targets:

A soft target generally means anyone easy to overpower or manipulate. Now, it's important to note that anyone can be classified under a soft target (even a really strong man), if and when the perpetrator is a more skilled or even more powerful man/woman than him. This is not a one size fits all type of deal, it is very varying from situation to situation. And often a good criminal will plan around that to overpower or manipulate a much stronger or riskier target. As I said in the previous post, criminals can be very professional.

What makes you a soft target?

Habits: Bad habits such as constantly checking your phone while out in public, or when you're pulling from the drive-way and just need to send that last message. Or what about all those times checking out those blondes from afar, things like these draw away your attention from potential threats. Now I'm not saying you should never have a look-see, I'm just saying you should learn how to do it more strategically. Position yourself in a way that you can focus more attention on specific sectors of your vision. Focus on what you should focus on, before committing necessary attention towards something that is not crucial to your survival.

Routines: As I like to say, Consistent consistency leads to exploitation. It's simple. When you do something very specific in a very specific way in a very specific timeframe, then you're creating an opportunity for someone to exploit that to their advantage. Think of it this way, you wake up every day at 4:00 AM, run your morning routine, and at about 5:00 AM your in the car, pulling out the driveway on your way to work. I can exploit this by simply planning to pounce on your home at 5:30, this will give me a window of comfort that no one will be suspecting off, or, I can also use that specific timeline to plan an attack on yourself at the gate, especially when you incorporate the habits such as opening your gate manually, etc.

No/Poor training: So this one speaks for itself. If you're not up to date with training to identify possible threats, then you're playing a risky game. Hopefully, this post at least ups your game for now. Book a class buddy! Whether it's just some light reading, some research into crime trends, or taking part in a full course on awareness or any other type of security-related training.

Low morale: Criminals feed off of negativity and your lack of confidence! That grandma that stares everyone in the face until they explain themselves, yeah, that scares them too! But big Brutis from the gym who never raises his mighty whip to hurt a fly, yip, he is going down quick and easy! Low morale can also be seen as a lack of will to survive, and that automatically qualifies you for a quick pass to the next realm of uncertainty. Brutal, I know, but that's the reality of it.

Hard targets:

So as you can see, there are a few factors that you have to keep in mind to not make yourself look like a soft target. Likewise, there are a couple of things you can do to make yourself appear as a harder target to pick on. Just keep in mind, you can and still will be a target, no matter how hard you might be to take down, an idiot with a plan beats any man with no plan!

Spice up your habits and routines: So now you know how a really specific routine, which you might think is a good one, can probably lead to exploitation. Change up your habits and routines now and then. Use a different street every other day on your way home, leave at different intervals for work, and so on.

Know your surroundings: So this is a really important thing to get used to, know your surroundings! You should ALWAYS be fully aware of what is going on around you and position yourself to be in the vantage point at all times! Place yourself behind hardcover when seating in restaurants, be closest to escape routes. Know where the fire extinguishers are or the nearest lavatories even. Where is the car parked? how many people are around you? And the list can go on and on and on!

Immediate action drills: Last but not least, you need some IAD's! You need to know beforehand what your reaction is going to be when something happens, are you pulling a knife when someone bad-mouths you during a movie? No, but someone else might, so you should be thinking of all the possibilities that can go down wherever it is you are going to be. Then, you need a plan for each situation, what do you need to have access to? How will you be able to get it? Who will you need to be able to contact? Ask yourself this type of questions while you're still at home. Use that information to assemble your Everyday Carry gear or your gear bag for emergencies. I carry certain tools on me every single day, I have first-aid kits in every bag I own, in the car, at home, and work. I have some gear in the car or close to where I will be spending a certain amount of time. You can be over-prepared, but only if you fail to put some thought into it. A post on that a bit later perhaps.

Read more about Immediate action drills over here.

Now you know the difference between soft and hard targets and how you can improve your target hardness. In the next post, I will finally be telling you how to increase your awareness, with proven skill-sets that have been developed by law-enforcement professionals.

Awareness training


Awareness Training

Welcome to a series of posts about awareness! In a previous post, I talked about the importance of having yourself trained in the art of awareness and how it can help save your life. With the next few posts, I will take you through a whole course, to try and teach you the fundamentals of awareness. Use it, don't use it, it's up to you at the end of the day to apply the knowledge or not. Although I wish I could do it for you, unfortunately, I just can't. My only hope, for now, is that you apply it and continuously strive to learn more! Here we go...

Objectives of this series:

The objectives of this series of posts will include the following points:

  • Understanding how psychological actions can influence your survival probability
  • Improving your ability to evaluate and interact with your environment to increase your chances of survival in a life-threatening situation
  • Reading the signs

Understanding the background:

Like any other important topic, we need to look deeper into the background of awareness. To make it simple, you need to understand that criminals feed off of individuals' awareness, or the lack thereof anyway. They will generally wait for an opportunity where your awareness has been dropped or create a situation that causes your awareness level to be more relaxed or even completely sucker punch you both literally and figuratively.

There are 3 stages through which criminals would generally work through in anticipation of an attack:

  1. Selection
  2. Positioning
  3. The Attack

Let's dive into it:

Selection: So as discussed earlier, criminals would want to choose a target that is "easy" to quickly and efficiently attack. Meaning, they want to get what they want/need, get it with ease and as little resistance as possible, with the least likelihood of being caught or injured and with the highest risk to reward ratio they can get. And to achieve that, they have to carefully select their targets or create a scenario that gives them less risk and more reward.

The factors of the selection phase will vary from each situation, some criminals might not be afraid to get into a scuff, whilst others do not even want to be seen, more dangerous criminals simply might not give a damn and go all out Rambo on your ass just because they think they will easily take you down with their physical ability or even a more intellectual approach.

I cannot stretch enough the fact that criminals are not just "chancers" anymore and that they have evolved crime into a very lucrative business, and they will continue to do so for as long as crime exists! You increasingly see police officers, firemen, lawyers, security contractors, and even politicians getting involved in crime. And that just goes to show that, as always, crime pays! And more professionally trained individuals to join in. Just as we as protectors learn incredibly advanced skills to curb crime, they too can be well trained, especially with technology now bringing a ton of information right to your fingertips!

Positioning: After the target has been selected, the perpetrator will now work himself into the perfect position of opportunity. The positioning phase will feed of the selection phase in terms of what angle he might use with the least amount of risk and the highest chance of success. By positioning himself into the best angle of approach, he can be able to act swiftly and with great accuracy. Take for instance a man running down a crowded mall, clapping his shoes on the hard tiled floor, running toward a group of men that immediately notice him coming, his chances of successfully stealing something from one of the men are not too great are they? They will probably notice him from a distance. Now, take someone who is blending in with the crowd at a normal pace, right behind an old lady which has her purse loosely hanging from one arm....which provides the best opportunity? Grabbing the purse and then only to start running into a pre-planned escape route will be more challenging to block, right?.

The attack: Now he has his target set into sight, and he is positioned perfectly to his advantage, all that needs to happen now is proceeding with the attack. The attack might not necessarily be a physical pounding of a poor old lady's face, but maybe just jerking a purse hard enough to cause her to panic or jump into a state of fear. The more aggression an attacker shows, the more likely someone would be to co-operate. The attack again has many different varying factors, it might be lethal or non-lethal, it might include a weapon of some kind or it might just be a verbal assault or perhaps a persuasion that he has a lethal weapon on him which he does not. Think for instance the same guy had to walk up to the old lady, press his thumb into her thigh and demand the purse, or else he would drive the "thumb-knife" through her.

So how is all of this relevant to your awareness? Well, as you can see, there is a process that a perpetrator goes through before actually committing to a criminal act, that requires some time to go through. And, given that you know how to read these signs, you might curb his intentions by counter-acting his actions or at least buy yourself more time. You see someone observing you, you counter, you notice someone might be pulling up into a unique position, you act on it. You notice an attack is being made on you, well you have some time to re-position yourself and increase your chances of survival or escape.

This is part of a series of posts on awareness, be sure to check out the next post, where I'll explain the difference between soft and hard targets and how to make yourself less "attractive" to criminals.

“Once there is seeing, there must be acting. With mindfulness, we know what to do and what not to do to help.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh