Survival Series Part 3 - Situational Awareness, Self Awareness
This week's Survival Series is going to be focusing on the different approaches behind situational awareness and how to leverage them as best you can to both avoid an attack and add to your options should you find yourself in a dangerous situation. Continue reading to learn what you can do to minimize your chances of becoming the victim of an attack.
Think about that for a moment. Too many people read this and continue on, not really letting the message sink in. So we'll say it one more time: If someone wants to attack you, there is no way to prevent it. All you can do is take the right precautions, at the correct times, to maximize your chances of:
1. Avoiding Looking like an easy target
2. Keeping control of the situation when it happens
Anybody looking to attack you and gain the advantage will already have it through initiative. They have the luxury of knowing exactly when and how they will choose to attack you. This puts you at a severe disadvantage from the start. Again, unless you have the ability to read a person's thoughts, you have no idea of what those around you have planned.
Predators Target What They Perceive As Weak
So it has always been, with just about every species of animal that is found on this planet. Humans are no exception. A predator will scan a crowd of prospective targets and evaluate each one, calculating their potential value along with chances of success. This decision may happen in minutes or milliseconds. What can you do about it?
Stop Looking Like A Target
* Listen to your gut
* Prepare Your Mind - What if scenarios
* People Watch - Who is doing what
* Distracted - Ipods, cell phones, intoxicated
* Look around you
Situations in which to be more aware: * At night * In parking lots * At movie theaters * Train stations * Online (While we are focusing more on real-world predators, training yourself to be cautiously aware is something that can even apply to your online presence)
Keeping Calm When Things Get Out Of Your Control
As we've already clarified, more often than not, you will have zero say as to whether you will be the target of an attack. At this point, your attacker has the advantage, but you can still have control. It's the person that keeps a cool head during this time that will be able to get through alive.
Become Aware of Yourself
Under times of extreme stress or danger, the human body is naturally wired to go through the popular 'Fight or Flight' response that you've probably heard of. 'Fight or Flight' is the term given to the primitive response that every human will instinctively resort to when they feel that their survival is threatened.
So What Happens During Fight or Flight?
During this period, the first thing your body does it prepare itself to handle the perceived threat. How does it do this? Easy. It basically pumps itself up with a chemical cocktail of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol.
The downside to all of this (you knew there had to be one)comes in the form of one major drawback: Distorted thinking. The ability to make rational decisions and evaluate situations calmly is completely stripped away from the person in 'Fight or Flight' mode. They are now in the most basic of 'survival' modes and will remain so until their mind/body perceive otherwise.
Chances are you can think of a time that Fight or Flight set in. The quickened heart rate and breathing as your body was hit with a flood of natural adrenaline, you could almost feel your blood pounding through your body. How almost all of your senses felt amplified, creating a surreal sense of hyper-awareness. Maybe you noticed (if you were unlucky enough to become injured during this time) how you didn't really feel the pain at first. It's entirely possible that somebody had to tell you that you were hurt in the first place.
How Can I Gain Control During Fight or Flight?
The best possible way to train your mind to acquire control over your body during these moments of Fight or Flight is handled much like any other type of training. Repetition, repetition, repetition. You must train yourself to recognize the onset of these responses, only then can you begin to control them.
This is exactly how many military/law enforcement professionals prepare themselves during their training sessions. One of the main reasons that these occupations focus so heavily on real-world training scenarios is to illicit this very response. Instructors know that the only way for a soldier/officer to gain control of their response is to become as familiar as they can with them.
Once one begins to recognize the tell-tale signs (quickened heart-rate, breathing, etc) they can gradually force their rational mind to become more and more participatory in the scenario. Rather than surrender to their instincts, they are now becoming more in control.
While we don't all have the opportunity to place ourselves in danger simulations, we can use one of the most potent tools available to us: Fantasy.
Run through a series of 'What If' scenarios, focusing on every detail as vividly as you can. If you train in any kind of self defense art, focus on these scenarios during your training. While your brain will clearly know the difference between fantasy and reality, it will slowly become used to the ideas of 'being mugged in parking lot', 'being forced to comply', 'being surprised by an attacker', or any number of scenarios you can conjure. It's not the best kind of training you can have, but if it's between that or none at all, choose a few minutes of daily fantasy.
I'm In Control, Now What?
Now that you've (hopefully) begun to train your mind into making clear decisions under extreme stress, the next step is to ensure that you make the right ones. Regretfully, this article would be way too long if it were to include what to do in every situation. (Perhaps another series down the road?) There is, however, one golden rule to follow with nearly every type of mugging: Comply. Do what you can to keep this interaction as short as possible and get out of there.
If a situation escalates to a point in which you are fighting for your life, then do so, with zero hesitation. Try to recall some of the tips learned from Survival Series Part Two. Grab anything you can for a weapon. Call on anybody you can for help. Hopefully you've had the chance to practice some of the techniques touched upon in this article. Always remembering that your mind is your greatest weapon. Lose that, and you've lost everything.
And thus concludes the third part of the KarateMart.com Survival Series. Check back next week for the fourth and final part of the series. Feel free to post any comments or suggestions on this article. We'd love to hear from you!
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