Situational Awareness
Audio by Jonathan Fader

Whether it is for Krav Maga, real self-defence situations, or just life, we always need to be “situationally aware” and assess, re-assess, and assess some more. This ensures that, at any given moment, we are making the correct decision based on the information we currently have. Short of being clairvoyant, it is unlikely that you will ever have all the information to make the perfect decision in a situation. Yet, we still must to make a decision! When it comes to self-defence that decision needs to be fast. All the while processing every factor in our environment, the use of force decision tree, managing our fight, flight, freeze mechanisms, and attempting to act before our assailants.

To our current knowledge humans have not developed superpowers. Therefore, the best way we can make the best decision is, as mentioned, to constantly assess for new information. In a self-defence scenario we have to rely on our senses and experience to collect as much information as we are able.

  • Sight – Can you see another assailant? Can you see a weapon? Can you see a clear exit path to safety? etc…
  • Sound – Can you hear another assailant? Can you hear police coming? can you hear gun fire? etc..
  • Touch – Can you feel the assailant resisting more or less? Do you feel have control of their body or are losing it? Can you feel an injury?
  • Smell – Can you smell fire? Can you smell the release of toxic chemicals? etc…
  • Balance – Do you still have good balance? Is your balance compromised due to trauma or alcohol and substances use? etc…

There are degrees of subtlety to your senses, and you should not limit yourself to just the above examples when assessing; though they are most likely the ones you will rely on during a self-defence scenario. At any point, a scenario can go from fine (safe) to not fine (dangerous).

Maybe you had the situation handled with one person, as you effectively deployed stage 2 self-defence (De-Escalation) and talked the person down, but then their friend showed up and their confidence increased, which made them (and their friend) more aggressive. Now the situation is quickly moving from bad to worse. If you fail to assess correctly, and avoid (run) or preemptively strike, you may find yourself at the end of a sucker punch (or stab!).

Often, new students become so fixated on the application of techniques in training that they forget the need to adapt in the moment based on new information.

For example, a common mistake for beginners is forgetting to disengage and create space, even after they have clearly lost control of the situation. Instead, they continue to struggle for control even though the tactile information (sense of touch) has told them they can no longer safely control their opponent. This is because they know they are supposed to gain control by moving through the situationally appropriate ranges, but they forget that new information has changed the strategy from attack, to avoid.

Whether you are a new student or experienced fighter, failure to accept new information, from constantly re-assessing the situation as it unfolds, can mean going from a “successful”* violent encounter to an un-successful one.

So remember, Assess, Assess, Assess, but don’t take too long to make a decision, as, after all, hesitation could mean death.

*In truth, a “successful violent encounter” is to avoid it in the first place! In the absence of this possibility, a successful one could be considered anyone in which you escape alive, with minimal damage to yourself or loved ones.

**Topics under any principle category (Eg. Krav Maga Principles) may be updated from time to time.  So check-in every few months to see if the posts have been updated.