Awareness

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!

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