1. Awareness allows you to make logical decisions that will increase your chances of survival before an attack begins
Self-defense instructors mention the importance of being aware of your surroundings and the role it plays in your survival. However, instructors don’t spend enough time teaching you WHY you should be aware. Today, I’m going to focus on the latter to motivate you to hone this valuable skill. Violent criminals rely on the element of surprise to overpower their victims. It stands to reason then that the awareness we employ is best utilized to eliminate the violent criminals best weapon which is surprise and attack. Therefore, awareness enables us to disrupt our assailants plan, properly assess our options and increase them before a violent encounter begins.
2. It allows you use tactics that disrupt your attacker’s plan making it less likely for him to continue his pursuit of you
The sooner you perceive a violent attack the quicker you’re able to put your assailant on the defensive. Imagine you’re waiting on the train and notice a suspicious person staring at you too long, getting off at your exact spot, and following you up the stairs. While attempting to make an approach you suddenly scream BACK OFF, LEAVE ME ALONE, I’M NOT INTERESTED IN TALKING TO YOU while maintaining your personal space. This makes them have to reassess their strategy and decide if they want to keep pursuing you. Certainly, if I feel threatened enough I could simply run away, call the police right there on the train. The point now isn’t too debate which tactic is best to use but to say that awareness creates the opportunity to use tactics that throw your attacker off.
On the other hand being unaware increases your attackers chance to put you on the defensive. Using the above example consider if you engross yourself in your new ibook you’ve been dying to read and don’t notice any of the signs I mentioned above. The first time you’re “aware” of your potential assailant is when they say “excuse me I need to ask you a question”. This puts you on the “defensive” forcing you to to assess the situation quickly without context. This person could be a cop needing to speak to you, or a good samaritan who noticed you dropped your purse or a criminal attempting to interview you. However, you missed the valuable information that dictates how to respond appropriately. Now you’re playing their game according to their script.
3. It gives you more time to decide on options
The sooner I notice a potential situation the more time I have to decide on what to do. For example if I’m standing on one side of a football field and a person charges me with a knife from the other side I have a lot of time to decide how to deal with it. I can draw a weapon, I can run away or I can run into my car. Hell I can go to the grocery store and grab tonight’s dinner if I have that much distance! The point is awareness gives me time, precious seconds I need to assess the situation and act accordingly.
Lack of awareness eliminates time forcing you to assess situations quickly and increase the chance of making a bad decision. Consider now you’re going to your car at around 9:30pm after leaving the gym and a man is waiting next to his car. He’s not wearing gym clothes and reaches in his pockets as he nervously looks around. He approaches you abruptly “out of nowhere” from your perspective. You feel a sharp object on your back which you eventually see is a knife. Now you have far less time to assess the situation than if you had noticed the signs I mentioned. With the knife on your back you must quickly decide is he robbing me? Does he want me to go with him somewhere? Is he with accomplices? Which hand is holding the knife etc. This becomes A LOT to perceive in the moment and far from the ideal situation.
4. It increases the options you do have
Finally, practicing awareness increases the amount of options we have before a situation turns violent. Notice in the above “football field scenario” I listed quite a few options that you have. Now in the scenario with a violent criminal holding you at knife point ordering you to come with him in his car you have only ONE reasonable option. FIGHT LIKE HELL! The later you become aware of a violent attacker your options decrease more and more until eventually they could become zero. To properly understand what I’m saying research what happens when victims of violent crime go to “crime scene number two”. At crime scene number two, options are gone and we are almost totally controlled by a violent criminal.
5. Final Thoughts
It’s my hope that after reading this you’ll give serious thought to developing your awareness as a daily habit. Keep in mind, being a violent criminal in a certain sense is a job. They make money from robbing people, beating people, home invasions etc. They gain pleasure from beating, raping and abusing people. So it’s their job to to victimize you and like most people they want their “work day” to go as easy as possible. So, what’s easier, attempting to attack someone who’s not paying attention, has their head down, with headphones on without any idea of who’s around them? Or a person who’s noticing those around them, takes caution not to allow strangers in their personal space and is at the ready to defend themselves?
Good Luck and Stay Safe.