Ferris Beuller may have taken a day off school, but he would never take a day off of Situational Awareness. (source)
Are you really DEFCON Ready? Written By Danny Y.; Audio by Jonathan Fader

Recently, a superstar pop culture icon began a historically unprecedented and wildly spectacular freefall into the abyss of cancel culture with a tweet declaring that he would go “death con 3” against a certain group of people.

Whereas the widespread collective gasp of the Twitterverse populace seemed to acknowledge the implied aggressive and offensive tone of the aforementioned twit, er, tweet, it also demonstrated complete amnesia of yet another culturally iconic and nerd heralded old school, 1983 classic film, “Wargames“.

In “Wargames”, our early 1980s, lovably anti-social, free-minded American, teen-angst heart throb Matthew Broderick essentially brings the entire American military defence apparatus to its knees with a simple phone call. In doing so, we, the easily entertained nerd throng of the era, are introduced to the superiorly militaristic yet apparently-brittle-to-teenaged-malfeasance concept of defence readiness conditions otherwise known as DEFCON.

Defence readiness condition you say? Yes. Readiness condition. More specifically, DEFCON 3, the level indicating an alert condition which requires that the Air Force be ready to launch planes within 15 minutes of any order.

So yes, DEFCON 3 is a defensive posture, and no, Kanye has no operational authority over the Air Force. Well, I suppose not yeet yet.

Which brings us to the topic at hand. (No, not yeeting, and not Ye, nor a yeeting Ye… uh… neither.)

No, the actual meat behind this potatoey introduction is the idea of readiness. In self-defence circles you may hear it referred to as “situational awareness”; a personal DEFCON if you will.

Situational awareness gets a bad rep sometimes because it is a lazy, catch-all phrase that is meant to be said but not necessarily understood. An instructor talking about “situational awareness” to a class of self-defence knowledge seekers is likely to get a lot of knowing nods. Unfortunately, the knowing nodding is each student knowing they have no idea what exactly the instructor means, but are each too afraid to look silly in the situation they are clearly in need to be aware of.

At UTKM the core tenet of self-defence is critical thinking applied to maximizing your personal safety. It’s a mindset shift that means every situation needs to be observed and evaluated according to what makes the most sense. Critical thinking in a self-defence context would imply not turning your back on someone mentally unstable, or making doubly sure that the taxi that stopped in front of you is actually, in fact, a legitimate taxi. Be in mental awareness colour code Yellow (relaxed alert), rather than White (unaware). Observing and assessing your surroundings to maintain a moment to moment readiness.

Personally, I do count exits in any space I enter for the first time. I look for potential hazards when I sit at the doctor’s office and wonder what would be the most survivable scenario were an earthquake to hit this moment. Would running down the escalator the wrong way be faster than taking the stairs here? Note the extension cords; don’t trip on those. These doors swing outwards; pull, don’t push. If there’s a stampede exiting the building, don’t use those doors. Walk with purpose and stand out less. I even risk manage the clutter in my kitchen drawers, to minimize the potential of mistaking parsley for basil. Culinary disaster of disasters; the humanity!

Applying critical thinking to your everyday routine requires only a bit of imagination and common sense. It’s a layer of preventative thought, like the protective coating of saran wrap around your remote control (you know who you are). It doesn’t have to be hard or taxing, and done frequently enough it becomes second nature. But it needs to be done.

Self-defence isn’t something that you use when an unlikely, unfortunate situation arises. It’s an active, on-going stream of assessments and judgements that you make to minimize the risk to yourself. Krav Maga simply is the forceful application of that judgment should it become absolutely necessary.

Admittedly, we can’t always keep our guard on high alert; life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. But in today’s climate of unhinged celebrities, polarizing media, poor public safety policies, and mental health violence, an ounce of prevention is worth a tonne of cure.

Written by Danny Y. – UTKM Yellow Belt

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