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Real self-defense happens long before violence actually occurs. We have a system for coding and identifying the various awareness states that one can be in so that we stay safe.
Condition White – Oblivious
In this mental state you are completely oblivious to your surroundings. This is the state that people are in when they are texting on their phones or running with loud music in their ear-buds. This is the state that we do not want to be in. When you see someone in this mental state make a mental note to yourself as a reminder to not do what they are doing. Remember—attackers and perpetrators of violence are looking for people that are in condition white!
Condition Yellow – Aware
Someone in this state walks with their head high, scanning the horizon. They take note of the people that are near them and occasionally glance behind them. They check to see if anyone might be concealing potential weapons and they are actively searching their surroundings for danger zones. Keep in mind that this is not a paranoid state, but an aware and confident state of mind. This is the mental state that we should aim to always be in.
Condition Orange – Alert
This is the state that one transitions into once they have been alerted to a potential threat. This could be a noise in a dark corner, shouting or fighting nearby, or a stranger approaching within 5 feet of you. If you find yourself alerted to a potential threat, then it is in this state that you want to start considering your options. What Verbal Judo tactics can I use (all of my students learn tactical communication techniques) Can I escape if something happens? Are there people nearby that can help? Do I need to change my course of travel? Are there weapons nearby that I can use to defend myself? How will I attack if I need to? Visualize your plan of action.
Condition Red – Concerned
In this state, the potential danger has been confirmed and action must be taken. This is the state of mind in which you carry out the actions that you visualized in your orange state. You may still be able to de-escalate the situation but be prepared to act otherwise. Make as much space between you and violent threats as possible. When you can’t make that space and are you still under attack, then you must fight.
Condition Black – Under Attack
This is the mental state that your mind will go into when you are violently assaulted. This is where your consistent training will carry you through. If you have not put your body and mind through correct training you may not survive. Many victims of violent assault report that while being attacked they were questioning in their minds, “why is this happening?” and were not in a mental state that allowed them to fight back or even flee. You see, your mind and body will choose for themselves how you respond during a violent assault—put in the training time so that the best decision is made!
Like any habit, these mental states must be practiced. First, do a little bit of people watching at the park or at work. Identify the people you see as either oblivious or aware. Then, throughout the day, check yourself. Are youoblivious or aware? Occasionally throw yourself into an orange state of alertness and visualize where you would run or escape to if you were assaulted. What weapons are within reach? Are there any good barriers that you could put between you and your attackers? Conditions Red and Black are best trained and practiced with partners with professional teachers. Find a good self-defense class or martial arts school that train these concepts.
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