Situational awarness

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Gweilo, Jan 12, 2020.

  1. Gweilo

    Gweilo Black Belt

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    Situational awarness came up in another thread, some people think its a valuable tool, others not so valuable, and I was wondering the forums opinions on it.
    I myself beleive it is a very valuable tool, we even have drills in Systema to enhance such a skill. A little while back Bill mattocks wrote a thread about a time he stopped off for a bite to eat, and his ability to read a situation and people, he was able to avoid a potentially violent situation. Noticing the signs of danger before they arise is only one part of this awarness, the other is noticing tensions in an opponents body or stance that can give away their intensions, i.e certain tensions in the shoulder can give away your opponents intension to punch, and the tension of a feint can be very different to the tension of an actual strike, and of course training in knife attack, should help you to recognise the danger movement of someone with a knife, even deeper than that, you can spot the body language of a person concealing a weapon especially if they are not proficeint or have little experience with such weapons, its not 100%, but neither is anything else we train, but it may just be the difference berween avoidance, having to control a situation, or having to go to the awlful senario of destroy.
    Any opinions, or experiences you would like to share.
     
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  2. CB Jones

    CB Jones Senior Master

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    Situational awareness is important but I think its often times misunderstood.

    People get focused on looking for certain clues that something is going to happen which causes them to miss the clues they aren't looking for that are there.
     
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  3. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    Of course it's important. If It's late at night and you see a group of drunk guys on a pavement you don't just walk straight through them you cross the road to avoid them. Now those guys may not be causing any trouble and might not be looking for a fight and could be regular decent guys. But it'd still be a risk walking through them. Situational awareness is very important and can help you either avoid a fight altogether or put you in a situation so you can justify self defence
     
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  4. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    For me, situational awareness comes down to three things:
    1. Knowing what to look for that shows violence is imminent
    2. Not focusing on something so much you get tunnel vision and are blind to what's going on around you
    3. Acting appropriately on what you were able to notice because of 1 & 2
    Some of this is natural to all martial arts training. The more you see punches and take-downs in class, the earlier you see them coming. As an instructor, I have to pay attention not just to myself, but to all of the students, so I do have to pay attention to the room. And if you have the confidence from training, you can avoid a lot of fights just by not freaking out when someone tries to pick one.

    However, a lot of times you go to a martial arts class and you learn how to fight when the fight is already started. You're only paying attention to yourself and your opponent. In this environment, you're not really training on #1 or #2. It's a lot better to notice someone's potential violent behavior from across the room, than it is to wait for it to be right in front of you. This way you can avoid them, or if they're going to attack someone else you can be there in time to stop them.

    So it's something to speak about and be mindful of when you train. It's something to pay attention to when you're out and about.
     
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  5. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    im not sure its something you can teach, so much as its an experience thing, if there,s a gang of hoodlums giving you a hard stare, do you really need a lesson that, that is bad and its getting time to leave, for other more subtle clues, its about an ability to read intent from body language and thats an enormously hard skill to perfect, and needs experiences to do so

    which then leaves with a whole series of possible things you can do, and ts that choice that makes it a bad or very bad encounter even if you were accurate in the first place, which if you wernt may mean there some guy with a broken nose that only wanted directions
     
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  6. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Sometimes things that are obvious to you are not obvious to everyone else. A good teacher recognizes this.
     
  7. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    I separate my self defense skills into 3 arenas. Pre-Conflict, Conflict, and Post Conflict. Most people focus on the last 2, But in reality, people need to be more active in the first one. It would save them a lot of trouble, and in some cases their life. What you are speaking of seems to be in the Conflict phase "violence is imminent". This stage means that a lot of other things have failed. Often times the I will have friends, family, or co-workers alert me to things in the Pre-Conflict things. I know I'm going to get flack for my next sentence so I'll accept it. When friend's say, "Don't dress a certain way when you go to a specific location" or "When a friend says, I don't trust that guy or gal" They are often picking up things that we aren't seeing, because they have the advantage of seeing how people interact with us.

    Think of it like a sparring video. When you spar you only see certain things, then when you watch your video, you are able to see more. It's like that. My wife knew 4 years in advance that someone was no good for me. She was right. But it wasn't so bad because I took her concerns to help shape things so I could deal with the conflict when it comes and even then, I still wasn't prepared and the conflict was much bigger than I cold have imagined. It didn't turn into a fight but I got screwed, However I was still able to prepare myself enough to prevent it from being worse.

    The other thing about situational awareness is that it's not just a "self-defense" thing for me. There doesn't have to be a threat of conflict in order for me to use it. Which is why I think of it as Pre-Conflict
     
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  8. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I was specifically talking about situational awareness. Which wouldn't apply so much to the other two phases.
     
  9. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    but the point is, apart from the very obvious, they are not obvious at all, they are very subtle and reading such subtlety cant be instructed?.

    how would you do it,
     
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  10. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Without using weasel words.

    I would look for clues and pay attention to behavior and then craft an action plan that would take steps.

    So nothing like that.
     
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  11. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Figure out what is obvious to the other person and what isn't. Instead of assuming what they should know and failing to teach, or making them feel stupid for not knowing what you know.
     
  12. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    i mean how would you teach the subtle of movement and posture that can reveal bad intent ?
     
  13. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Description or demonstration.
     
  14. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    ok how would you describe a subtle movement

    give an example
     
  15. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    I fully agree there is no substitute for experience in the frame of this discussion. A person who lives in a tough city/country/upbringing is going to be more conditioned to sense, look for, and see the 'invisible' markers.
    The puffy couch potato may think they get all they need from their MA classes, which may be true if there is never any conflict in their life.
    I do strongly feel there is great value in teaching situational awareness, assuming it is taught effectively. Oral discussion is a pretty weak way to teach/learn it. Scenario training is the only way I know how to give someone a 'near real' experience.
     
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  16. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    To me, Pre-Conflict, & Conflict is where situational awareness exists. I think pre-conflict is pretty obvious. There is a ton of SA in the conflict phase that is often overlooked or taken for granted. In both phases it is all the 'what if' scenarios you can dream up (and more). I think it is very good training to use the common scenarios. When I teach a specifically SA class I always ask for scenario descriptions from the class. I have had some surprising responses.
    Post conflict is good to teach, but in the frame of the discussion and it's intended purpose (being able to go home in one piece), I do not thing it is important.

    I give you ZERO flack for your comments. It is just good common sense to listen to good, trusted friends. The 'better safe than sorry' analogy heavily applies.
    An example; my wife it the biggest 'Pollyanna' I know. She gives almost everyone the benefit of a doubt, even when the evidence is stacked against them. We have had hundreds of 'you need to think this through' conversations about people. The fact is some people are predators and some people are prey. Thankfully, most people are somewhere in between.
     
  17. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    You could do it if you knew what you were on about.

    Which I don't to the level it would take to break that down in to a teachable method.
     
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  18. Rat

    Rat 2nd Black Belt

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    Its always annoying when somone or somethign makes you jump and it was avoidable. But i think the reading of tells is of so-so importance if you keep a barrier and can keep a barrier from said person. You should do such a thing anyway, awarness would just stop it being complete suprise and also aid conflict resolution tactics.

    I have personally adjusted some route due to awareness.

    At least the principles and what to look for are catching on. but that also means people can conciously adjust their behaviour to hide intent better.
     
  19. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    One of the most notable stats I remember from LEO training; if a person is Not expecting someone to rush them, the person can cover about 15 feet before you can draw a weapon. If a person Is expecting a potential rush, they can only cover about 6 feet. This is an accurate and tested stat.
    SA is very real in this scenario.
     
  20. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Green Belt

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    Situational awareness is a broad concept that can be applied to many things in everyday life. When driving, I'm aware of cars to my sides which may prevent me from swerving to avoid another car, how far back is that car behind me, those young kids on the corner who maybe will run across the street, etc. Then, there are those drivers who plod along, never checking their mirrors or turning their head, confident in their god and their ignorance to protect them, as disaster unfolds around them. A pro quarterback can quickly scan the field and know where and when a receiver may be open, where the pass rushers are, where the first down marker is, etc. Having worked in a county jail, I was aware of every inmate within fifteen feet of me as well as the general mood.

    Another name for situational awareness can be "proactive perception" - seeking out stimuli worthy of notice. With much experience and practice, the seeking becomes less deliberate and more passive, your unclouded mind seeing all and filtering out the useless from the useful, quickly computing appropriate responses to the latter. I'm sure, combat vets and police have this ingrained. Others, whose livelihood (or lives) are well insulated from dangers, not so much. People live their lives on different planes of awareness (too metaphysical?)

    A calm spirit is required to correctly gage a situation. "Mizu no kokoro" Mind like water, as the old maxim goes.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2020
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