11 Dec 2008 - Story by Sifu Lawrence Hochobeb
Article Views (non-unique): 1050
CRIME comes in many forms and disguises. Know that murderers, rapists, robbers and other predatory rascals don't look any different from "normal" people.
However, the good news is that they can be recognised by their behaviour. If you know what to look for, you can recognise a problem as it unfolds and stay one step ahead of criminal attacks. That is the goal of awareness.
Human predators don't just leap at the first person that comes along. There is an evaluation process that occurs where they deliberately or unconsciously assess the "victim". In doing so, they project their intentions by watching, following and even "testing" you. If you understand this process you will spot predatory intent before an assault is initiated. Realise that knowing what clues to look for will allow you to anticipate and respond effectively to a potential confrontation.
Awareness is the ability to "read" people and situations and anticipate the probability of violence before it happens. It is knowing what to look for and taking time to notice safety-related aspects of what is happening around you.
Awareness is not about being fearful or paranoid. It is a relaxed state of alertness that you can incorporate into your character. It is neither desirable, nor necessary, to go about life hectically scanning your surroundings for the criminal around every corner.
Your level of awareness should be appropriate to the circumstances you are in. Some circumstances call for a greater degree of awareness than others. Obviously, you would want to be more aware when walking alone to your car at night than when shopping with friends.
The sooner you detect and recognise a threat, the more options you have to respond to it. Imagine a timeline spanning from the time a predator forms the intent to commit a violent crime and the moment he initiates it upon you. The time it takes you to detect, recognise and respond, impacts how successful your actions are likely to be. The sooner you act, the more flexible and deliberate you can be in avoiding, escaping or responding to the situation. Awareness strategies focus primarily on the "pre-incident" phase of the encounter; to the signals you can detect and recognise that allow you to anticipate the event before it occurs.
There are three primary aspects of awareness: knowing what to pay attention to, paying attention to safety-related details and matching the degree of your awareness to your circumstances. You need to pay attention to the "right things" (people watching or following us, potential ambush places, escape routes, etc) at the "right time".
Remember the following:
- Your ability to recognise a dangerous person or situation makes you safer.
- Awareness involves knowing what to look for and disciplining yourself to pay attention.
- The earlier you detect and recognise a potential problem, the more options you have to resolve it.
- Attention involves adjusting your conscious focus toward what is relevant to a particular situation.
Have you ever heard of the, "I-never-thought-it-would-happen-to-me phenomenon?" Until you acknowledge, "it could happen to you," pre-incident clues may not register as important or relevant enough to notice. They will go undetected. Unless you acknowledge a need to be aware, you simply won't be. A predator's primary targets are people who are unaware of their surroundings and are lax about personal safety. One of the best, most proactive, things you can do to reduce the probability of being victimised is to improve your awareness skills.
Here are some examples of activities and exercises that will improve your awareness:
Accept full responsibility for your safety. Unless you take full responsibility for your safety and make it a priority, you are less likely to detect and recognise danger clues.
Identify situations in your own life requiring a higher level of vigilance. You can't be totally aware all of the time, nor do you have to be. Identify times and situations in your own life where a higher degree of vigilance is merited.
Build and refine your self-defence awareness by continuous learning. If personal safety is important to you, read books/articles about it, take self-defence courses, etc. Periodically review what you know and continuously build on what you've learned.
Analyse the news. Analyse news events to familiarise yourself with criminal patterns and factors, which contribute to violent crimes. Apply the questions who, what, when, where, why and how to these incidents.
Practise observations skills. Pre-determine specific things to look for as you go about your day-to-day activities. For example, when going shopping make a "game" of spotting as many tall men with a moustache as you can. Next time look for something else. Consider the fact that "playing" awareness games makes you appear more watchful to a predator who may be evaluating you as a potential target.
Establish self-defence habits. The truth of the matter is that you never know when you may be targeted as a potential victim. Assaults happen at all times of the day and in all types of setting and situations. The only effective self-defence strategies are those that you build into your day-to-day behaviour. They become unconscious habits by repetition and consistency.
Lastly, it is a fact that many people confuse the ability to defend themselves with the ability to fight. If your image of successful self-defence is fighting off an assailant, your solution will be directed at learning physical techniques. You would then be missing the point. Success in self-defence is not winning a fight but avoiding it. The ultimate success in self-defence is when nothing happens! If that's not possible, consider this philosophy: If you can't prevent it, avoid it. If you can't avoid it, defuse it. If you can't defuse it, escape. If you can't escape, you may have to fight your way out of the situation. If you do have to fight, it will be as a last resort, not a first. Does this philosophy influence your success strategies?
Sifu Lawrence Hochobeb is the founder and Chief Instructor of Namibia Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy. He can be contacted at: 0812782121.