Situational Awareness – Being proactive on the street…

Unfortunately, we live in a world that at times can be a dangerous place.

I guess this blog post is the first of many that I’ll be writing to raise awareness on being smarter on the street. Here are the first steps to take:

Don’t listen to your music/headphones

Listening to music can be a big distraction and loses one of your major sensors, being able to hear others. By being alert on the street it will allow you time to hear something from a distance and be able to slip away. Or give you the last split second indication of an immediate threat to allow you to initiate a defensive stance, enter pre-emptive striking, talk yourself out of a situation or simply run away.

Avoid wearing a backpack with two straps

Even though it is better for your posture to wear both straps on a backpack, I tend not to do this, the simple reason is that if a surprise attacker approached from behind they could take you off-balance if they pulled on your back pack. You’ll be on a back foot from the start. Whereas if it is on one strap when they pull on the back pack you can spin around and attempt to deal with the situation.

There is no problem with wearing both straps if you are confident that there are no threats in range, and if you are being fully aware and sense any situation no matter how small you can slip one arm out of the back pack to be proactive.

Wear sensible clothing

Whenever I purchase clothing I ensure I can fully extend my arms and legs to ensure I my movement is not restricted. Comfortable footwear is also a must.

If you have it, don’t flaunt it

Be careful what you display in public. Showing off new phones, watches, gadgets, cash or even your own body can be tempting for the opportunist criminals.

Don’t under estimate anybody

You don’t know what type of day they have had, they could be in a mentally bad place and not a care for their own life never mind anybody else. They could be intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. I’m not too concerned by drunks, in-fact these are quite humorous to deal with as their reaction speeds are not as good as they think. The problem with people on drugs they may not feel immediate pain, so for example a groin strike which could normally take them out may not be enough as they physically cannot feel the pain (until the drugs wear off). So, if you sense that somebody is on drugs then more force would be needed as a precaution. Assuming it is reasonable force and justifiable (I’ll cover reasonable force on another blog at a later date).

The last part of this point, is not to be over-confident, not matter how long you have trained for there is always an element of risk. Depending on the situation it’s not always going to be smooth just because you have done a few lessons (or years) of training. It is all about minimising the risk.

If you get punched, kicked or stabbed once, make sure you don’t get punched, kicked or stabbed twice!

Be observant, know your surroundings

This is a big one, and in-fact has got me out of numerous situations. Here’s a story to help explain.

I’d taken my wife to Prague for a romantic weekend; We were sat in café drinking coffee and eating pastries.

When we had left the café we walked around and went into a shopping mall, after walking round a few shops in the mall. I whispered to my wife, ‘from this point on, do everything that I say’.

It is worth pointing out here this is the difference of being observant, my wife was oblivious to anything and was just enjoying looking at hand bags. I on the other hand had been observing two suspicious guys that had been following us from the café.

These chaps had been sat on another table in the café and left at the same time, followed us round the streets. I had then strategically lead them into the mall and around the shops to evaluate the threat. We were clearly a target and it needed to be dealt with.

So, by being observant is not only a case of monitoring other individuals but also your own circumstances and environment.

No matter where I go, I always opt to sit with my back to the wall so I can observe everything else in the room, such as:

  • Where are ALL the exits?
  • What weapons can I use (glasses, mugs, chairs, tables, pool cues – whatever)?
  • Who looks potentially suspicious/dangerous?
  • Who am I protecting first?
  • What is the safest/quickest place to go in the event of gun fire?
  • How strong are the windows?

The list goes on, this is a continuous evaluation, right from the start of walking into a building I have assessed so much before my foot even steps through a door even leading up to it and everywhere on the street.

Don’t act like an easy victim

Just in case you were wondering about the chaps from Prague.

We then left the mall and lead them down a quiet side walk (I wouldn’t recommend doing this – but at the time it felt right). I then aggressively told them to do one and after they shouted what I assume were some explicit language back they left. It was lucky as these were some big chaps and I didn’t want to ruin my shoes. In this scenario if we hadn’t had led them down the alley way and initiate the ‘defence’ then they would’ve thought we were easy victims and I’m sure it wouldn’t have gone as smooth. Sometimes your aura and energy is enough to make potential attackers think twice.

So, whilst being on the street be aware of the surroundings, be smart and reduce any risk of surprise attacks – and don’t look like a victim. This subject about situational awareness is massive, if you are interested in knowing more let me know and I’ll continue writing further blog posts.