When people hear the words “self-defence,” they usually think about someone defending themselves from an attacker using an array of martial arts, tasers, and folding knives.
However, one important aspect of self-defence that’s often overlooked is preventing these attack scenarios from happening in the first place.
One great way to do this is through the use of “situational awareness,” which is something that everyone should be practising on a daily basis.
What is situational awareness?
It’s actually pretty simple – situational awareness (also known as “tactical awareness”) is essentially the state of being aware of your surroundings. It also includes the ability to process what’s going on around you and to notice any changes around you that could be a potential danger.
There are 3 levels to situational awareness, as it’s usually understood. These are:
– The ability to recognize important details
– Knowing what those details mean
– Predicting what will happen next, based on your understanding of those details
Most people sleepwalk through their daily lives – they don’t even get to level 1. This, as you can imagine, is pretty dangerous!
For a holistic personal self-defence regimen, you’ve got to be implementing all of these levels at all times.
How do you do that? Through daily practice.
3 exercises to practice your situational awareness
While there are a number of different exercises that you can do to hone your situational awareness, these are the 3 that I think work best. I recommend that you incorporate them into your daily life as much as possible.
Do an observational scavenger hunt
When you step out of your place and begin your day, you should decide on something that you’re looking for.
It’s a bit like a normal scavenger hunt, where you have a list of things to find. Except here we’re just trying to look for those things by honing our observational skills.
For example, you can decide on a short list of things to find, like:
– A woman in a red sweater
– A bowl of fruit
– A green SUV
Now, the hunt is on! Keep your eyes open and your head on a swivel and find those things.
What does this teach you?
It gets you in the mindset of always looking at your surroundings and soaking up those details (remember situational awareness level 1!). Only with a large number of details can you start drawing some conclusions and predicting what could go wrong.
Eventually, you can move on to more self-defence related scavenger hunts. Look for particularly shady attributes or even finding weapons on people.
There’s really no limit to what you can train yourself to look for if you make it a priority.
Create “what if” scenarios in your head
As you move throughout your day, one thing you can focus on is creating scenarios about what could happen around you.
– If you’re walking down the sidewalk on a busy street, imagine what would happen if a car veered off the road into your path. How would you react?
– Walking through a crowd of people? Imagine that someone is following you. What do you do?
– Driving in your car? Think about how you would react if a child were to run out in front of your vehicle – are you ready to react quickly enough?
Coming up with scenarios for things going wrong is an excellent exercise to keep your mind limber and always focused on the things that could happen around you. It helps you to stay constantly aware of your situation, which can allow you to anticipate a potential attack.
Learn to navigate by your other senses
This one’s a little crazy but bear with me.
In your home, set up some obstacles that you’re going to navigate around. Now, either blindfold yourself or turn out all of the lights.
Try to manoeuvre around those obstacles you set up, using only your memory of spatial awareness and your sense of touch.
Another thing to do is to push your sense of sight to the background when you’re out and about and learn to take in sounds, smells, and the tactile sensation of the world.
This will help you to get all kinds of details about the world around you, not just things that you can see.
Always be prepared
While situational awareness is an essential tool in anticipating a potential self-defence scenario, you should also be prepared.
Having the proper self-defence weapons on hand is one way to be ready for dealing with an attack. This could be a Taser or stun gun, a pocket knife, or some other handheld self-defence tool.
Got another technique for honing your situational awareness? Leave it in the comments below.