Personal Perotection (Part 2)
What is Effective Personal Protection?
At the core of any good personal protection system are one or two techniques, at most a handful, honed and developed using the principles of simplicity, directness and efficiency. Given the opportunity, these techniques should be applied with the intention of being first, being fast and being ferocious.
Be honest and ask yourself if your system fits these criteria, and if it doesn’t, then maybe it’s time to reassess your approach to Personal Protection. Consider the following definitions:
SIMPLE: does not require analysis or thought processing is as automatic as blinking; does not require balletic poise; utilises the minimum number of movements.
DIRECT: follows the shortest distance from point A to B; where possible, attacks the closest target with the nearest weapon.
EFFICIENT: does not create targets for the attacker; has minimal effect on balance/stability; uses economy of motion, achieving the expected outcome with minimal expenditure of energy.
THE PROTECTION LADDER AND LEVELS OF AWARENESS
Levels of Awareness
It is the ability to constantly monitor your surroundings that affords you the greatest level of protection from attack. As with most things of value, the functional levels of protective awareness take time and effort to develop.
One technique that can be used to help develop a better understanding of the different levels of awareness is a visualised colour system. Such systems have been utilised with great success in combat pistol instruction and are easily applied in the realms of self-protection. It is also a system that Thompson and Consterdine have tailored to suit their own protection method and has proved inspirational in the development of our model.
The colour guide can be seen as an ascending ladder (see next page) and has been prepared to help readers to understand the various levels of awareness, or the “colour condition” that they are in, in relation to a threat, the form and content of these threats, and the likely consequences.
Levels of Awareness (in summary)
Condition White: Condition White can be seen as the level of awareness that is dangerously low. Unfortunately, it is the condition occupied by most people most of the time. To be in Condition White means that your chances of being aware of any threat to yourself are greatly reduced. The resulting inability to perceive a threat, for example, as a result of being mentally distracted, will dramatically increase the chances of being taken by surprise, with little or no chance of avoiding an attack or issuing a counter-attack.
THE PROTECTION LADDER AND LEVELS OF AWARENESS
FIGHT OR FLIGHT
THE PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE
RESPONSE TO THREAT
MAKING A DECISION
BASIS FOR PERSONAL SECURITY
AWARENESS – EVALUATION – AVOIDANCE
LACK OF AWARENESS
THE VICTIM SYNDROME
Condition Yellow: By developing a calm, subliminal awareness, not paranoia, you will be aware of a change in the environment and have time to adjust. Being “quietly alert” is another way of putting it.
Condition Orange: When a change occurs and you are aware of it, you give yourself a chance to avoid or counter a threat. In practical terms, you will be able very quickly to evaluate the threat and put in place strategies and tactics to avoid or otherwise deal with the threat in an effective and efficient manner.
Condition Red: Fight or Flight the moment of truth. If you have to fight, be first, be fast and be ferocious. It is far better to be pro-active than reactive. Seize the initiative before it is too late.
It can be useful to get a visualisation of the awareness levels in your mind, using the colour code as outlined above. When applied correctly, this will enhance your decision making process.
NB: Condition Red must not be visualised as, say, a red flashing light overlaid with words like “emergency” or “battle stations”. That would presuppose that there is still time left to prepare for action. Instead, Condition Red should be seen as an automatic, virtually instant trigger for full blooded, totally committed action.
Levels of Awareness (in detail)
Condition White – Having little or no awareness
Attack can take numerous forms, eg.:
All these can be inter related and the threat posed by a thief should not be thought of as less serious than the threat posed by a rapist, as a thief can easily become a rapist or murderer. Therefore every and any threat should be taken seriously and dealt with following the method which forms the basis for developing a sense of personal security (see Condition Yellow). For example, if you are unaware, your attacker can use two major weapons, fear and surprise, against you. In fact, your lack of awareness has the potential to turn you into a target. Condition White (being unaware) must therefore be avoided at all costs, and at all times.
Condition Yellow – Forming A Basis for Personal Security
To attain Condition Yellow, you need to have developed a subliminal level of awareness (it must be stressed that this is not to be confused with a sense of paranoia). Subliminal awareness can be developed in a number of ways, however the most accessible of these is a standard technique used in training advanced tactical drivers. It is called “commentary driving”, and is a procedure whereby one has a conscious recognition of the changing environment. The same can be done whilst walking. The idea is to verbalise your changing surroundings as you move along, noting as many things as possible, such as the traffic conditions, weather, scenery, people in your environment, areas that could be used for concealment, and so on. By using this simple technique, and depending on your seriousness, it can take from one to four weeks to develop a conscious, continuous and accurate recognition of your surroundings. Once this is done, there is no need to verbalise anything, it will occur naturally on a subliminal level.
There are a number of complementary drills which can be used to develop and enhance your subliminal awareness. These include:
1. Peripheral awareness drills
2. Photo retentive recognition drills
3. Recognition of threatening body language (static and dynamic)
4. Recognition of pre-fight rituals (verbal and physical)
5. Victim recognition/threat evaluation drills
6. Immediate threat recognition drills
7. Development and testing of a pre-plan
8. Development of acronyms, eg: ‘KEYS’
The ability to maintain cognitive awareness is indicative of Condition Yellow and is of vital importance. It provides a strong foundation from which you can develop your personal security through:
It is important to note here that a tactical evaluation is only valid if the appraisal of your part in the scenario is realistic and honest.
At this stage, it may still be possible to walk away from the threat or danger, and Threat Avoidance may be your best option. However, you may not be able to control the situation and may find yourself in a position where your level of awareness is heightened to Condition Orange.
Condition Orange – Threat Escalation / Making the Decision
This is in some respects the most crucial condition that you will find yourself in. Having come from the personal security basis of Condition Yellow, with the understanding of threat awareness, evaluation and avoidance, you are now faced with making the decision!
Threat Evaluation and Avoidance
This is a tactical situation and requires a critical assessment. If your training has led you to believe that you will somehow be able to control yourself and the situation without your training ever having placed you in harm’s way, then you have been misinformed. To truly understand how the pressure of a confrontation (or the potential of a confrontation) can effect your decision-making process, you need to duplicate the pressure in the dojo or kwoon. There are vast differences between sparring in an institution where you know that a fight will not deteriorate to the point where your opponent is going to bite you or stab you after you are knocked to the ground, and when these things become a very real possibility.
Attackers often perform patterns of behaviour before they commence their assault. If you can identify these patterns you may even be able to implement your own psychological tactics and gain better control of the situation.
Whether they know it or not, your attacker will probably employ one of the following ploys when approaching you:
1. Disarming / Deceptive (eg. asking for the time or directions, etc.) When using this ploy your attacker is not only trying to lull you into a false sense of security, but also attempting to draw your attention away from his “line up” (ie: his intentions, and the position/posture from which he intends to launch his attack). If successfully executed, where you are taken by surprise, the effects can be devastating. Not only will you be unprepared physically for the attack and most likely receive the full brunt of the blow, but, more importantly you will be unprepared emotionally. Here, fear is your enemy, and to now be able to bring the resultant rush of adrenaline under control will be extremely difficult. There are, however, methods of training that can bring about the spontaneous control of adrenaline and, consequently, you will be more able to fight from this disadvantageous position.
2. Aggressive (using verbal and/or physical threat behaviour) There are many ways to display aggression. Understanding patterns of behaviour is extremely important. Verbal aggression (whether your attacker understands it or not) is a means whereby your attacker can engage your mind, resulting in a multitude of effects. These range from a general feeling of unease all the way through to blind panic, thus disabling one’s ability to react instinctively. Physically threatening behaviour is perhaps the most frightening and potent weapon that the attacker can employ. While many of us have been in a verbal argument, most people have not experienced the type of physical contact that may be a precursor to a full-blown assault.
Of course we can talk about how we could cope with such a situation, but unless you practise and develop strategies to deal with physical and verbal abuse as part of a pre-fight ritual, your skill in dealing with this scenario will be lacking. The fight can be won or lost before the first punch is thrown, yet this often discussed aspect of fighting goes largely unpractised. For instance, how do you maintain the optimal distance to launch your own pre-emptive strike without moving into kicking or grappling range? How do you maintain a tactile reference that allows you to subtly monitor your assailant’s intentions as well as controlling a bridging arm? If there is more than one attacker, how do you maintain or even attain a superior tactical position if your attackers are not compliant and/or mobile and aggressive? The answer is probably, “You cannot!”, unless it is a skill that you have developed and practised under pressure. Another idea to keep in mind is that you can gain some understanding of your enemies fears by recognising the means he uses in an effort to frighten you.
Armed and Aggressive
If it were suggested to you that the opponent you were about to face was carrying a concealed weapon, that the attacker had every intention of using the weapon (let’s say that he has a butcher’s boning knife), do you believe that you would then proceed in a similar fashion as you would if you were in ignorance of the weapon? You would be well advised to treat every attacker as armed, whether a weapon is in evidence or not.
Have you been in a threatening situation where people around you were unknown to you? If a fight had started could you discount the possibility that those around you would not join in with an attack against you? Just as weapons can be concealed, so can your potential assailants. Treat every attack as a multiple attack.
The above would suggest that fighting should be avoided because of the incalculable and hidden variables, however if you have to fight you should dispatch your attacker(s) as vigorously and quickly as possible, with little remorse. Avoid going to the ground because once there, it is difficult to get up if you are outnumbered. There is now a huge increase in the popularity of grappling arts. There can be no doubt as to their effectiveness, but arts that seek to take their opponents to the ground at the earliest opportunity may place the practitioner at a disadvantage, especially if those who are attacking them are prepared to do so with absolutely no consideration for gentlemanly fair-play, and no regard of the consequences.
Remember, any tactic that the assailant uses is designed to engage your conscious thought process. You are left vulnerable if this is allowed to happen and must guard against such tactics. By being aware of these psychological tactics you can also employ similar and additional counter tactics to engage your attacker’s thought processes. You too can be:
1. Disarming / Deceptive (eg. asking a counter or nonsense question)
2. Aggressive / Demonstrative (“call their bluff” through the use of verbal or physical intimidation). Remember where ignorance is common, arrogance is king.
3. Submissive (this is an additional tactic, ie. a “pretend” submissiveness to lull your attacker into a false sense of security by switching off his adrenaline).