The Importance of Awareness in Self Defence – Darren Norton

What if it was possible that all Violent people looked the same as each other?
If that was true, and we knew what it was that gave them away, would that reduce the chances of ever falling victim to their attacks?


But in reality Muggers, Rapists and other violent criminals rarely look any different than normal people.

However! There is good news; violent criminals can be recognised by their behaviour.

If you are aware of your environment, you will be able to recognise a problem as it unfolds and stay one step ahead of a potentially bad situation. That is the importance of Situational Awareness.

Communication is Predominantly Non Verbal

when we communicate; we show our intent in three ways. 7% of your ability to interpret that intent is based on our words, 38% through our tone of voice, and 55% is projected through our body language.

So why is this important you ask yourself!

Well a large aspect of Self Defence involves the communication process. Human predators don’t just jump on the first person that walks by. There is always an evaluation process or what is known as the interview that occurs where they deliberately or unconsciously assess the “victim potential” of a target.

In carrying out the victim evaluation or Interview, they will project their intentions by watching, following and even testing you as a potential victim. Their body language may show signs of nervousness, intoxication, looking around for witnesses, perhaps indicators of accomplices or even a concealed weapon.  If you know the relevant cues to watch for, you can spot the intent before an assault happens.

Situational Awareness is the ability to read people and situations and anticipate the probability of violence before it happens. Through knowledge and awareness you will know what to look for and disciplining yourself to pay attention to what is happening around you.
Awareness is not about being fearful or paranoid. On the contrary, it should be reassuring and build confidence. 

Awareness is a relaxed state of alertness that can be strengthened and improved with practice. It is the ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, thoughts, emotions, or sensory patterns. In this level of consciousness, sense data can be confirmed by an observer without necessarily implying understanding. More broadly, it is the state or quality of being aware of something. In biological psychology, awareness is defined as a human’s or an animal’s perception and cognitive reaction to a condition or event.

You don’t have to go through life constantly scanning every shadow and corner, but the level of awareness should be appropriate to the circumstances you are in.
Some circumstances call for a greater degree of vigilance than others. Obviously, you would want to be more aware when walking alone to your car at night than out with friends in broad daylight.

What is Successful Self Defence?

The importance of awareness has a lot to do with how you define success in Self Defence.  That definition determines the strategies you implement to achieve it.

Many people confuse the ability to defend themselves with their ability to fight. Physical skills are important but those skills are only a small piece of the puzzle.

Broken down it equates to 60% Psychological – 25% Emotional and only 15% Physical.

If your idea of successful Self Defence is fighting off an attacker then your solution will be directed at learning physical techniques only, but you would be missing the point.
Success in Self Defence is not just about winning the fight (although that is important if it gets to the physical) but more importantly avoiding or defusing it.  The ultimate success in self-defence is when nothing happens!
If that’s not possible, consider this general rule of thumb:

If you can’t prevent it, then avoid it. If you can’t avoid it, defuse it. If you can’t defuse it, escape. If you can’t escape, then fight. If you do have to fight your way out of a bad situation, it should be as a last resort, not your first.
The sooner you recognise a potential threat, the more options you have to respond to it.

Imagine a time line spanning between the time a predator first forms the intent to commit a violent crime and the moment he begins to carry it out.
The time it takes you to detect, recognize and respond, determines your options and how successful your actions are likely to be. The sooner you act the more flexible and deliberate you can be in avoiding, escaping or responding to the situation.

Awareness strategies focus primarily on the pre incident phase of the encounter; to the cues and signals you can detect and recognise that will allow you to anticipate the event before it occurs.

Let us, for a minute imagine this scenario.

You plan to drive from home to your friend’s house which is miles away.  At the beginning of your journey, you have a variety of options available to you on how you are going to go get there.  You can choose from a variety of routes and make provisions for unexpected car trouble, delays and detours.  You have options.
The closer you get to your friends house, the more limited you are with your options and the flexibility of your travel plans.  On the threshold of arriving you only have two options, they are pull up and stop or don’t.

Self Defence is like that.  The sooner you detect and recognise a situation unfolding, the more options you have to respond to it.  The longer those cues go undetected, the more limited you are about what you can do to influence the situation in your favour.  If your first recognition of an assault is the physical attack, then you’re dangerously limited to reacting.

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