I’ve had tons of students over the years ask me the same question: what is the best way for me to defend myself? I always tell them the same thing, develop situational awareness and invest time in good self-defense training. Unlike the divers in the above picture..
It is just one of the reasons I made situational awareness one of the core principals of the Tactical Defense program, because I would say a good 95% of conflicts can be stopped though having and practicing good situational awareness. You can never be totally aware of your surroundings 100% of the time, you need to recharge and be a functional human being in society. Practicing good situational awareness means knowing how to pick up on social cues and profiling effectively. When it comes to self-defense, you can’t be politically correct. If there is a man wearing a hoodie, that’s acting strange, and you think might do something harmful; trust your instincts and get yourself out of a potential dangerous situation. Some cues that you can string together might indicate that someone is about to do something stupid and dangerous. Some of these signs include but are not limited to:
Making it look like their busy (Pretending to talk on the phone, texting, etc.)
Hiding their face.
Dipped Chin / Prolonged Stare.
Avoiding Eye Contact.
Flushed White / Cold and Clammy appearance.
The way I was taught, we used a color-coded system that helped gauge how to approach a potentially dangerous situation. White Zone – No Awareness / Yellow Zone – Alert but not paranoid (situationally aware) / Orange – Heightened sense of something about to happen / Red Zone – The fight is on.
I have a personal story that may sound silly, but illustrates this point well. I was in a stop in go store a few years back buying my mother some M&M’s, don’t know why she had to have them but I digress. When I’m out and about I’m usually pretty aware of my surroundings (Yellow Zone) and in walks a man who looked like your regular white trash/hood rat/”gangsta” fill in the blank here. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, so I grabbed my mom’s M&M’s and just kind of kept an eye on him. As I’m standing in line behind him, he puts a pack of cold beer on the counter and asks the cashier tell him the price. When the cashier answers, he says he doesn’t have the cash to pay for it. As he begins to argue with the cashier I notice his hand start to reach toward his back, and that’s when I saw the unmistakable imprint of a pistol on is waistline. Red flags went up big time, being a CHL holder with invested training (A CHL is no good to you if you don’t invest the time and training to use it) I was preparing myself to get my gun into the fight just in case this guy tried to pull his pistol on the cashier. Luckily for me, and everyone else that was in there the cashier told the man he could “get him back next time”. This gleaming member of society then grabbed his beer, and left peacefully. God was certainly looking out for me because that situation could have ended a lot differently. If I had not been situationally aware, I might not have had enough reaction time to stop that threat.
Most criminals are ambush predators, they prey on the weak and WILL NOT fight fair. The best way of getting ahead is practicing good situational awareness. If you can see the signs before they happen it makes it a lot harder for them to get the jump on you.
But what happens when you have someone who’s heated, and screaming at you to get you into a confrontation? There’s an answer for that too, and that’s knowing how to diffuse problematic people effectively. That’s why I’ve always believed in not just being able to observe the signs BUT ALSO being able to diffuse a confrontation so it doesn’t escalate into a fight. When you look at the root of why people get heated, or yelling it has to do with their EGO. They want to prove that they are RIGHT and you and WRONG, the best thing to do is not give into what they want. I’ve found it best to just smile and walk away. If they persist, try to find common points of agreement and determine a mutual purpose. A great example of this is when I was a bouncer many years back, I used to have patrons get mad all the time when I’d ask them to leave. Most of the time I got them to leave voluntarily just because I knew how to diffuse the situation. When they would start giving me trouble or talking back, I’d find a common point (their friend, g/f, b/f, spouse, ect.) and tell them they were outside and wanted to talk to them. Nine times out of ten, they would immediately run out and then I’d tell the HPD officer or the bouncer working the door to not let them back in. They would get screaming mad, and I got called everything in the book. They would threaten how they were going to kill me and my family later. I’d just smile, and walk right back in to do my job. Patrick Swaze in RoadHouse said it the best: “Be nice. Be nice, until it’s time to not be nice.” Let them call you every name in the book, walk away if you can, but if they start throwing punches then take the gloves off and handle business. God says vengeance is mine, Jesus was nailed to a cross and handled much more than insults that were thrown His way and never got in a fight with anyone. It takes a much stronger person to restrain, than to jump into the fight. Some of the best fighters I’ve ever known have all known, and understood these 2 fundamental principles of situational awareness and diffusion.