Always be Alert 

In 1989, Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Cooper, a former US Marine and creator of “the modern technique” of gun fighting, wrote a booked called Principles of Personal Defense and he came up with a color code to indicate the level of awareness a person has.

The scale goes as follows:


White – Unaware and unprepared

Yellow – Relaxed alert

Orange – Specific alert

Red – Condition red is fight.

Later on the United States Marine Corp also added Black.

Black – Catastrophic break down of mental and physical Performance

 To Quote a passage from his book

“Observe your cat. It is difficult to surprise him. Why? Natrually his superior hearing is part of the answer, but not all of it. He moves well, using his senses. He is not preoccupies with irrelevancies. He’s not thinking about his job or his image or his income tax. He is putting first things firs, principally his physical security. Do Likewise.” Page 8

A cat or many animals are often vary rarely in stage white. Perhaps it’s because of their more acute senses which allows it

to easier maintain awareness or perhaps, because in the wild dropping to a full white could mean death.

Just as these concepts apply to gun fighters and those in the military they apply to the civilian Krav Maga practitioner as well.


The first step to personal self defense is being aware and never putting yourself in a situation that you perceive as dangerous. If there is no chance of danger then you cannot possibly be ‘in danger’.

Of course, unless you suffer from agoraphobia and never leave your house the likely hood that you will never be in a place that you feel uncomfortable is slim.

If you are walking down the street in a “safe” neighborhood you will most likely be at a white or yellow level. However if you are walking down on East Hastings in Vancouver (An area that has been compared to skid row in LA) it is most likely that you will be at level Orange. For a person who is not exposed to this kind of situation very often and perhaps has some kind of anxiety disorder it is highly likely that a person could jump right to stage black causing a break down or panic attack.

The question I ask you is ” Is it a good idea to be at the White level in the ‘safe’ neighborhood and an orange or black in the ‘unsafe’ neighbor hood?

First let me point out that being in Stage Black is never a good thing no matter what the situation but my answer is no. Realistically at any point in any situation anything can happen. Just because you are in a ‘safe’ does not mean a rapist cannot attack you and do something. In fact in the ‘safe’ neighbor hood it is less likely that there will be any witnesses especially if at night. In the ‘unsafe neighborhood at least there is likely to be witnesses of some kind. Of course in the ‘unsafe’ neighbor hood should you always be at an orange or above? Again if being in Orange means that you are tense and have difficulties making rational decisions that will cause you to go Red and engage in conflict that could have been avoided then it is not a good idea.


When your our in the world like animals it is best to maintain a yellow level if you want to avoid as much conflict or issues that may occur. This in my opinion is because you are always aware but are at a level that keeps you calm and rational.

When we train Krav Maga or any martial arts it helps train our ability to mitigate stress in situations that may be considered dangerous. Perhaps its because we are more confident in our abilities to deal with the situation or perhaps its because we have been desensitized to the levels of stressed caused by the reasons but whatever the reasons trained individuals usually can remain calmer under stressful or dangerous individuals when compared to untrained individual.

Again keep in mind that both trained and untrained individuals can fall into Black if they have been pushed passed their limits. Either way saying calmly alert and avoiding un-necessary conflict is the best way to insure that you get to go home safely to your friends and families.

Written By :Jonathan F