Environmental awareness is a crucial attribute in self protection. It is also something that is often given lip service without further explanation of what people need to be aware of or indeed how to improve their awareness.
The majority of self protection lies in the assessment, avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation of aggression and situations where conflict is likely, but regrettably this is not always possible.
Training your physical skills against habitual acts of violence increases your understanding and recognition of their telegraphs, an attribute that can increase the likelihood of reacting in time to a physical attack or preventing one through pre-emption. Scenario training can increase your comfort in dealing with verbal aggression and increase your ability to identify the behavioural precursors to a physical attack (if these are accurately replicated in the training).
Unfortunately we can often miss these indicators due to our focus on trying to resolve the situation peacefully. Our brains can become overloaded by the tasks of watching the person in front of us, trying to hear what he/she is saying, trying to think about whether to talk or hit or run, wondering what our friends will do, or what our partner or children will do, working out what to say and watching other people etc… This means that despite our knowledge of the telegraphs – we often miss them.
One solution to this in regular training is to work pad drills from a fence practicing hitting (or ducking) while listening and talking and adding in additional distractions.
In this video students and instructors from a range of different styles get caught off guard and hit by role playing aggressors. I hope the footage proves useful to you in your own training.
While training for event management is good, improving your ability to avoid the event altogether is more important. The ‘Driving School’ method of self-narrating what you observe in daily life and thus highlighting things that you might otherwise miss or dismiss is a good way to improve your ability to recognise potential dangers and to have greater mental stamina with regard to staying alert in public. I’m very bad at facial recognition until actively engaged in conversation so I tend to read people by body language and location rather than recognition of known versus unknown quantities. With practise and experimentation people will naturally gravitate to approaches that work best to how they think, and rather than being an intrusive or ‘paranoid’ approach this should become as background and unobtrusive in our thought processes as checking for traffic before walking across a road.
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