Situational Awareness

kidswarrior

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Came across this quote in my studies tonight, and it made me think of this thread:

A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow. -General George S. Patton
 

Brian R. VanCise

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First, to the OP, great thread.

I agree with whats been said so far. I think humans have the inate(sp?) ability to be highly aware both conciously and subconciously. But I think we have been so long removed from the natural order and the predator/prey situation that our senses are a bit dull. Can a person be taught to use this ability. I would say yes, but they have to be willing to use it often or it will go dull again. Besides training, a way that I stay sharp is hunting. Now I realize that people are not going to run out and take up hunting, but I'm using this as an illustration. In order to be a successful deer hunter, I have to be aware of everthing that is going on around me in the woods. It takes focus. During the first two weeks of november I will usually sit in a tree stand for 8-12 hours a day. This is where the subconcious part helps. Inevitably, my mind will wonder off to winning the lottery or some other nonsense, but even as I'm daydreaming I am still scanning the woods and listening although I don't notice I am. My point of all of this is that it takes practice to become proficient. Since I hunt some type of animal for 5 months out of the year this allows me more practice to hone my skills than most people.

All of this helps in public, but there are still other things that can help one be prepared.
Some things I do:
Always sit in an area where I can see all entrances/exits or if theres only one DO NOT sit with my back to door.
Be aware of people moving against the flow on normal patterns.
Always have a plan. My wife thinks I am paranoid, but I am constantly thinking "If X happens, I will do Y".

The sad fact is most people do not want to be bothered with this line of thinking. They are always inside their own little world. This is a sure way to become a victim. Prevention is always best.

You are definately right on in the predator/prey being removed from most peoples everyday life habits. However, having lived in a big city aka Detroit in and around some rough areas you would be amazed at how well people in general are tuned in there. If you drive down the street and look at someone that is tuned it they will return your look. You see they picked up that someone was checking them out. They live in a red zone so they are tuned in for not to be would indeed be very, very dangerous. Similarly when hunting, when that buck picks up you looking at him. Hunting is an excellent source of getting in tune with your surroundings and those skills work great as well when you are on the street if you let them. Meaning if you pay attention to them!
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KenpoTex

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Awareness as I've known it is a mind state. Some will call it "street-smarts". I've had to learn mine the hard way. But learn it I did because I'm typing this all out in the comfort and (relative) safety of my parent's home. It can be taught and it must be practiced. Especially if you live/work/train in a potentially hazardous area.
Far too many people walk around life with their "head down" and "mind's off". These are the ones we read/discuss about in the Study and Horror Stories section of this forum.

Well said. It really boils down to mindset...can it be taught? sure, but it's up to the student to implement and practice it ("you can lead a horse to water..."). I harp on this so much that my older students (the ones that have been with me the longest) probably feel like choking me every time I say the word "awareness" but some sheeple will never "get it."

One great tool that can be used to teach awareness is the Cooper Color Codes (google that term if you're unfamiliar with this). This model makes it very easy for people to understand the fluid nature or continuum that must be implemented.

The biggest enemy of good SA is "task fixation" (credit to instructor "SouthNarc" for the term), also known as head-up-the-*** syndrome. Basically, this is focusing on anything to the point that you are oblivious to your surroundings. Common examples are talking/texting on the phone while in public, balancing the checkbook in the car after you leave the store, etc. It's easy to get so wrapped up in our daily routine that we forget to pay attention to what is going on around us.

One of my favorite drills to help develop SA is what I call the "predator game." Basically, when you're out in public, put yourself in the shoes of the bad guy and mentally select a victim for your crime of choice. By identifying the traits or behaviors that make another person a good potential victim, or those that indicate that we're looking at someone we wouldn't want to tackle, we can recognize those things in ourselves and make any necessary corrections so that we don't look like food to the real predators out there.
 

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Fast Eyes help (The ablility to slow things down by training your eyes to focus on fast moving objects). But that takes training too.
 

Deaf Smith

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Can situational awareness be taught?

Yes.

1) Start with the color code system of Jeff Coopers.

2) Ditch the cell phone and start living in the here-and-now.

3) Learn the indicators of a confrontation (as I've posted here at MT.)

4) Take a FOF class like at RMCT.

You not only need situational awareness, you need to understand positional awareness to. They both go hand and hand together.

Deaf
 

MA-Caver

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The biggest enemy of good SA is "task fixation" (credit to instructor "SouthNarc" for the term), also known as head-up-the-*** syndrome. Basically, this is focusing on anything to the point that you are oblivious to your surroundings. Common examples are talking/texting on the phone while in public, balancing the checkbook in the car after you leave the store, etc. It's easy to get so wrapped up in our daily routine that we forget to pay attention to what is going on around us.
This is true, however I do not subscribe to Mad-Eye Moody's admonishment of "CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!" Because that is living in fear and that leads to paranoia, which would eventually lead to our downfall.
Basically l apply the yin-yang to it. Yin being looking around and seeing everything that there is to be seen, then Yang in relaxing and attending to what I need to attend to... but only for a few moments before going back to Yin to make sure and note whatever changes there are. This is just switching back and forth and relying upon intuition, the hairs on the back of the neck type of thing and just following the common sense of stopping what you're doing and looking around, noting this and that and going back to whatever it is that needs to be doing.
Correctly assessing the area where I'm at helps me (at least) determine how "vigilant" I need to be. The neighborhood around my parents isn't noted for crimes or muggings so there's not too much to worry about. I still look around but might take 30 or more seconds attending to what I'm doing before I do so again. However; the neighborhood where I go to get my pictures developed is a place where one needs to watch and that more frequently. So I'm no-nonsense there. Do what I need to get done quick and head on out of there. In my jeep my eyes roam the streets and the mirrors. Using the mirrors to check around the car before getting out after I park, make an effort to see around the blind spots of my jeep while approaching it (it's has high clearance so I glance under it for feet), looking into the back seat before opening my driver side door, walking wide around corners and so on and so on.
With all of these I try to be subtle, casual because the easiest victims are the ones who look/act like victims.

Again, the book "Gift Of Fear" is a good one to study up on.


One of my favorite drills to help develop SA is what I call the "predator game." Basically, when you're out in public, put yourself in the shoes of the bad guy and mentally select a victim for your crime of choice. By identifying the traits or behaviors that make another person a good potential victim, or those that indicate that we're looking at someone we wouldn't want to tackle, we can recognize those things in ourselves and make any necessary corrections so that we don't look like food to the real predators out there.
 

Hawke

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Previous posters already gave some good advice.

I look for reflections (car window, shiny objects, etc).

I walk away from corners.

Look for the major light source and see if there are any funny shadows.

Walk down the street or mall and see which person looks like prey or predator.

Mentally go over what you will do in case the person(s) walking toward you is a yo-yo.

These are just fun games I play.

Another fun game is when you drive is to see how many cars are in front, behind, to the side of you, and figure out the safe path if the car in front slams on the brakes.

I like playing the restaurant game, but Brian already mentioned it.
 

KenpoTex

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This is true, however I do not subscribe to Mad-Eye Moody's admonishment of "CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!" Because that is living in fear and that leads to paranoia, which would eventually lead to our downfall.
Basically l apply the yin-yang to it. Yin being looking around and seeing everything that there is to be seen, then Yang in relaxing and attending to what I need to attend to... but only for a few moments before going back to Yin to make sure and note whatever changes there are.

Good points...

The problem though, is that most people are so completely clueless that when they first start trying to develop their SA, it might not be a bad idea to try a little "constant vigilance" for a while. After they've instilled sound practices, then they can relax a little and go on about your day.
 

girlbug2

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Thanks MaCaver, you have given me additional things to think about. And, I will be looking up the Gift of Fear on Amazon:)

I have a confession to make that illustrates your point about intuition. Typically I do not lock my vehicle because it is an older model and I keep nothing of any value inside -- maybe a few books, sunscreen, and the like. One evening last year I parked it at the local community center and sat reading for a moment before I got out and went inside the building for an hour. During that short time I had this really weird feeling of being exposed, or of being watched, but when I glanced up and checked around I could see nothing that would obviously make me feel that way, so I discounted the feeling and left the vehicle unlocked as usual.

Well of course one hour later when I came back I discovered that somebody had in fact been inside ransacking through my papers and stuff in the glove box -- left a nice mess for me to clean up. I was annoyed with myself and I felt violated, but then I also realized that I had actually left a small point and shoot camera in the console, tucked under some books out of sight and forgotten. I was fond of that little camera, it wasn't especially expensive but I hated to lose it and when I realized that the thief had gotten it I felt like the world's biggest idiot.

Long story short, I was too embarassed over my own stupidity to report the crime, but I did learn a lesson about locking my vehicle.

More importantly, I will never ignore that feeling of intuition even though I can see no "logical" cause for it.
 

morph4me

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I'm glad that you learned your lesson with such a small loss. I once mentioned to a woman in a deli that she had left her bag on the counter near the door while she was talking to a clerk in the back of the store, she told me "That's ok, there's really nothing in it except my driver license and a couple of dollars" She didn't stop to think that her drivers license gives her home address and I knew she wasn't home, she probably also had her house keys in the purse. It could have gotten very ugly if I were a different type of person.
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Thanks MaCaver, you have given me additional things to think about. And, I will be looking up the Gift of Fear on Amazon:)

I have a confession to make that illustrates your point about intuition. Typically I do not lock my vehicle because it is an older model and I keep nothing of any value inside -- maybe a few books, sunscreen, and the like. One evening last year I parked it at the local community center and sat reading for a moment before I got out and went inside the building for an hour. During that short time I had this really weird feeling of being exposed, or of being watched, but when I glanced up and checked around I could see nothing that would obviously make me feel that way, so I discounted the feeling and left the vehicle unlocked as usual.

Well of course one hour later when I came back I discovered that somebody had in fact been inside ransacking through my papers and stuff in the glove box -- left a nice mess for me to clean up. I was annoyed with myself and I felt violated, but then I also realized that I had actually left a small point and shoot camera in the console, tucked under some books out of sight and forgotten. I was fond of that little camera, it wasn't especially expensive but I hated to lose it and when I realized that the thief had gotten it I felt like the world's biggest idiot.

Long story short, I was too embarassed over my own stupidity to report the crime, but I did learn a lesson about locking my vehicle.

More importantly, I will never ignore that feeling of intuition even though I can see no "logical" cause for it.

I hope you have started locking your care after that incident? The papers in the glove compartment box generally will have address and info on them so they can be a dangerous thing to leave available to anyone.
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MA-Caver

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Thanks MaCaver, you have given me additional things to think about. And, I will be looking up the Gift of Fear on Amazon:)

I have a confession to make that illustrates your point about intuition. Typically I do not lock my vehicle because it is an older model and I keep nothing of any value inside -- maybe a few books, sunscreen, and the like. One evening last year I parked it at the local community center and sat reading for a moment before I got out and went inside the building for an hour. During that short time I had this really weird feeling of being exposed, or of being watched, but when I glanced up and checked around I could see nothing that would obviously make me feel that way, so I discounted the feeling and left the vehicle unlocked as usual.

Well of course one hour later when I came back I discovered that somebody had in fact been inside ransacking through my papers and stuff in the glove box -- left a nice mess for me to clean up. I was annoyed with myself and I felt violated, but then I also realized that I had actually left a small point and shoot camera in the console, tucked under some books out of sight and forgotten. I was fond of that little camera, it wasn't especially expensive but I hated to lose it and when I realized that the thief had gotten it I felt like the world's biggest idiot.

Long story short, I was too embarassed over my own stupidity to report the crime, but I did learn a lesson about locking my vehicle.

More importantly, I will never ignore that feeling of intuition even though I can see no "logical" cause for it.

I'm glad that you learned your lesson with such a small loss. I once mentioned to a woman in a deli that she had left her bag on the counter near the door while she was talking to a clerk in the back of the store, she told me "That's ok, there's really nothing in it except my driver license and a couple of dollars" She didn't stop to think that her drivers license gives her home address and I knew she wasn't home, she probably also had her house keys in the purse. It could have gotten very ugly if I were a different type of person.
I hope you have started locking your care after that incident? The papers in the glove compartment box generally will have address and info on them so they can be a dangerous thing to leave available to anyone.
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girlbug2 you're welcome.

There's a far more compelling reason to locking your car than just stolen papers that may be used for identity theft. A person can hide in the backseat on the floor, hunkering down and hope that they won't be seen til you get in the vehicle and shut the driver's door, then you're basically at their mercy because they're behind you, have a car seat protecting them while still having access to your vulnerable sides and neck and head.
Always glance in the back of the car before opening the front door. See a suspicious lump that wasn't there before... get the hell away from the vehicle and start calling 911 on your cellphone. Let the cops find out it's that mess of dirty laundry or delivery to good-will that you forgotten you put there.
 

chinto

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Can situational awareness be taught? How?
I know mine is mostly fear of the other shoe dropping, paranoia, so to speak.
Not the best reason to know who is around me and what is happening in the vicinity, but, it has worked so far...

Seriously, how do you teach someone to be aware of their environment (Put, your hand down, Gore, we weren't talking about that!) without just instilling a sense of impending doom?


sounds like a plan to me.. I am aware of who is around me, and their manor and things.
I think that the idea of the fact that any one around you who you do not know very very very well may be a problem or even a threat is something that can be taught.... but the biggest thing to teach is that they should trust their gut as to when things get dicy, let alone possibly deadly.
 

MA-Caver

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Originally Posted by Big Don
Seriously, how do you teach someone to be aware of their environment (Put, your hand down, Gore, we weren't talking about that!) without just instilling a sense of impending doom?

sounds like a plan to me.. I am aware of who is around me, and their manor and things.
I think that the idea of the fact that any one around you who you do not know very very very well may be a problem or even a threat is something that can be taught.... but the biggest thing to teach is that they should trust their gut as to when things get dicy, let alone possibly deadly.

Trusting your gut ... if you've the experience to know that sudden twisting feeling in your gut and those hairs on your neck rising are your age-old instinctive early warning systems going off.

But realize this as well. In my experience and just off the top of my head without hard numbered statistics to back this up... I'm guessing that the odds of you being in a McDonalds' restaurant or in the mall or wherever you are and someone going nuts and being a threat to everyone ... the odds are probably about the same as getting hit by lightning.
So relax, pay attention yes, but relax... you're SUPPOSED to go through this life enjoying it. How can you do that when you're labeling everyone that walks into the door as a potential threat?

Oh and stop stereotyping... threats don't always mean that it's going to be a man. A woman is just as capable of pulling a knife and start slashing everyone in sight or pointing a gun and pulling the trigger.
 

KenpoTex

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GREEVNVILLE COUNTY, S.C. -- Deputies say that they believe a violent rapist will strike again, and they had a warning for both residents and those who may be close to the man who attack a teenager last weekend.
...The 19-year-old victim was running in the Terra Pines subdivision about 9:45 a.m. on Sunday when she was hit in the back of the head and knocked down an embankment. She was sexually assaulted and severely beaten.
http://www.wyff4.com/news/16576925/detail.html

Very tragic story (as stories like this always are). What the article doesn't say is that this happened in a "good" part of town and that the victim had ear-phones from her I-pod in both ears (which rules out being able to hear someone sneaking up on you)...task fixation?
 

zDom

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I spent a LOT of time flying online World War II air combat simulations (games) ... and learned a LOT about SA (situational awareness).

In these sims, it was made quite clear that SA is more important than fighting skill (although you DO have to have a certain level of proficiency in fighting skill) when it comes to surviving encounters.
 

Sukerkin

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That's an important point to bring out, Dom.

You can be the bestest scrapper known to history but if you don't see an opponent coming or fall over an object you weren't aware of then all that fighting prowess loses it's strength.
 

thardey

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The best hands-down training I've ever had was on my motorcycle.

You feel exposed, vulnerable, and sometimes even targeted. Yet I still have fun with it! It all comes down to the "what-if" game. I don't ride paranoid, but at some level, some part of my brain is alway on going "what it that guy crossed the line and came head-on?" "What if that guy changes lanes on top of me?" "What if that car doesn't realize that I'm slowing down to turn?"

For the first 6 months or so of riding, those questions were conscious. For the first year, the theoretical responses were thought-out decisions. After that, they started to merge into the "trained instinct" category. After a while, it's just part of riding - it's just there with me. It's like changing gears, or turning. I know what to do, I know how to do it, I just don't need to think about every detail all the time. You also begin to sense cars behind and to the sides of you, as well as picking up the intentions, or awareness of the drivers around you.

It's the same with life - it's gotta be a "what-if" game. At first, it's a conscious question-and-answer period, a time of "awakening" and over time, it simply becomes second-nature.

The thing that sort-of confuses me is that driving a car doesn't seem to give the same training for awareness. At some level, yes, a car makes you comfortable, so it's easier to stop being aware, but on another level, a car is just as lethal as a motorcycle. The difference is not really safety, so much as a difference in perceived safety.

In our day-to-day lives, if we have the perception of safety, it's harder for us to train situational awareness. If our environment does not have that veneer of safety, it is much more natural to learn that.
 

KELLYG

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I think situational awareness is very important. I try to look around and identify possible threatening situations/people were ever I go. I also represent myself in a confident manner. I also make eye contact and speak with everyone with in a distance around me that lets them know that I have seen them as well. I also trust the little hairs on the back of my neck. If in a store and someone makes me feel uncomfortable I will hang back and wait for them to leave or leave before they do. I have left work walking across the street and saw some fellows hanging out and turned and walked back to work and got an escort. I think by and large people are oblivious or don't want to embarrass themselves by being perceived as paranoid. I would rather live with the title PARANOID than die because I was self consciouses.
 
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