Posts Tagged ‘Situational Awareness’

You all thought I was joking.  No, I don’t joke about sleep.

So during class, Jon (lead instructor, has been compared to a dying wolf spider with fewer legs EDITORS NOTE: First I am aware of this but sure)  posted a picture of me to the UTKM Instagram story. Look at the picture below carefully as I shall be referring back to it.

When I found out about the post I, of course, was annoyed and I then reposted it and threatened to rant “share about my life experiences” or whatever Jon always is asking people to do. So in my mild annoyance, enjoy my rant.

If you’ve been to enough classes or poked around on the blog, you will have heard of the mental awareness color code. If you are a student of UTKM who is reading this, you should know that ‘white’ is when you are unaware of your surroundings, usually in a safe place like your home (If you don’t, you need to read all the principles and listen more in class). Eyes closed, headphones in, I’m not going to really argue about that. I was pretty close to white. However, I WOULD argue that if you are asleep that you are closer to black, which is when your brain can’t protect you as it’s shut down. While your brain doesn’t actually turn off while you sleep, sleeping is a lot closer to having been choked out, fainted, or gone into ‘the black’. And I was not in stage black, as you will see if you keep reading. If you stop now, then you are wasting all the effort I put into making a convincing argument. I even did research! Like five minutes worth but still… Might as well keep going to make sure I don’t just say “LET ME SLEEP I WAS TIRED”.

So, is falling asleep in Krav class a good idea? Well first we have to keep in mind the location. Krav class. That’s very different from a Skytrain. I personally wouldent recommend falling asleep on a Skytrain? I mean, I’ve done it, but I also missed my stop once cause of that soooooo TRY TO GET YOUR RECOMMENDED AMOUNT OF SLEEP AND DON’T DIE.

The only people who should be there (Krav Class) are students, instructors, or people interested in joining. There are not going to be random people just hanging out there for no reason. Also if people are coming to class for the purpose of  attacking other students for no real reason and UTKM isn’t stopping it, that’s a major problem. This is why I’m glad that the students are nice (of course until they get to orange belt and they’ve been long enough to feel comfortable with one another, then all sorts of things might happen.)

Look at how nicely that leads to my next point that I’m not sure should been its own point but is anyways cause I’m the author yay! You need to be able to trust the people you train with. To be honest, I’m not sure if there’s a blog post, annnd okay, there is I just checked. It’s more about being a good (student and) training partner but it is close enough. The way we train, it could be easy to injure each other. To all the new people, don’t worry, injuries thankfully don’t happen that often. That’s because we know how to be careful and trust our skills and those of our training partners. Now, if someone can refrain from hurting you in class (where it would be easier to pass it off as an accident), why the !#$@ would they attack you unprovoked in plain view of others (please no one attack anyone in or out of class). Note that I said your fellow students should not being trying to kill you at least, they will and have pulled pranks (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE).

Now, let’s say a threat did come in with the intent to harm someone (with a knife because I say so) during that class. They aren’t going to be going for me specifically as I don’t make bad life choices! I think? If there’s anyone out there who wants to kill me, mind giving me a heads up? Or you could just not. So this person has come to stab people. First, they’d have to get through a room full of dancers. Why bother looking in other rooms when there are convenient things to stab right there? But okay fine. They LOVE dance and refuse to hurt the dancers, moving on to a small room where your author lies helpless. -_- I’d like to draw your attention to the kick shield wall on the right side of the picture. This wall is between me and the door, making me hard to see. Plus why attack me when you can stab Jon, who is conveniently right there. Now in this class, we have Jon, a yellow belt, three white belts who have a decent amount of experience, and obviously me. I have faith in their combined skills to take this attacker down. Or failing that, at least make enough noise so that I wake up and A) fight them off B) steal their knife and stab them or C) run and call the police. I’m voting for C but who knows. Regardless, I’m not dead!

So why would it be a bad idea to fall asleep in class? The place is safe(ish, watch for pranks), the people are more or less good, and you have a bunch of free bodyguards! At this point if you can’t relax you may need to look at the blog again and make sure you aren’t in mental state orange. Guys I’m covering three of five states, that’s so many more than I planned for. This is the exact and the only reason why we should expect the unexpected (to my shock and dismay, there isn’t a blog post about this but Jon has talked about it enough sooooo good enough also I didn’t look that hard). Right, I had a point. If you can’t get out of orange while you are at Krav, it is kinda a problem (obviously be prepared during drills/sparring). But if you are in a place where you trust the people around you (to a certain extent) and know that if something does go wrong the people around you are prepared to handle it and you are STILL worried someone’s going to attack you? You are getting paranoid (or you made very very BAD life choices). I can’t think of anything else to say to transition to the conclusion. I’m so glad this is voluntary and I’m not getting a grade back. That would NOT go over in my English class.

A few things the picture doesn’t show you. I was feeling sick that day which *I* thought was justification for a nap, clearly I was wrong.  I watched at least 1.5 hrs of class, so it’s not like I was sleeping through all of it. Now, are you ready for this? I wasn’t actually asleep, just listening to a podcast. And you see that knife in the bottom right? Later on I actually grabbed that knife just in case (if you’ve been half-heartedly scrolling through and not paying attention, allow me to reiterate, DO NOT TRUST ANYONE NOT TO PRANK YOU! They WILL betray you).

Hey look at that. A well-reasoned explanation that ties in Krav principles and is more than “aaaaaaaah i’m tired let me sleeeep” bet you didn’t expect that! I don’t think I did. I put way too much work into this if only I could do the same for my school work. I’m not kidding I have school tomorrow (actually it’s now tomorrow) and I’m doing this instead of schoolwork. Moral of this story is don’t sleep at Krav if you don’t want people to poke/kick you awake because it’s time for class, or build a FREAKING FORT AROUND YOU! WHY? I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING.

That is all,

Karis out!

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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 devised a colour code to indicate the level of awareness a person has. Black was added later by the USMC after realizing what extreme stress can cause. The awareness colour code is a simplified view of a person’s stress and awareness under stressful potentially dangerous situations. It is important to know both in Krav Maga and in life at what level you are to avoid reaching code Black. A keyword often heard in Krav Maga is ” Situational Awareness” this as taught in class is usually referring to environmental awareness. Here you must ask yourself things like, are there multiple attackers? are their weapons? Do I have viable escape routes? etc… However, a big part of situational awareness is also your personal mental state and your ability to act or react appropriately. Enter, the Awareness Colour code. An easy guide to understanding your mental state at any given time.Principles of self defense.jpg

White – Unaware and Unprepared

This is you sitting relaxed on the couch after a large meal. Often students like to test an instructor, however even if a black belt is teaching but is at this level, any person could easily sucker punch even the most accomplished martial artist. This is a relaxed and unassuming state, you are not anticipating an attack and are relaxed both mentally and physically. This is a state you should be in only in safe environments.

Yellow – Relaxed Alert (A)

Most animals such as cats or dogs spend most of the time in this state. To quote his book;

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

 – Jeff Cooper (2006). “Principles of Personal Defense: Revised Edition”, p.14, Paladin Press

In this stage, you are relaxed but still paying attention.  It would be harder to surprise a person at this stage but they are still not at a level of any stress, just simple awareness. It must be understood that being at Yellow, or relaxed alert, is not paranoia. If one were to mentally be at orange (below) or above on the scale on a regular basis, identifying everything as a threat whether real or imaginary then this would then be moving into paranoia. Remember, relaxed alert is just that, relaxed. Here you can stay indefinitely with out any issues other than being more prepared to perceive, Analyze, Formulate and Act (See Action Vs. Reaction: Stages of Mental Processing for more) against identified threats.

Orange – Specific Alert (A) (D) (PE)

This is when you have identified a specific area or person of concern and your attention is focused. A nefarious looking person walking towards you. A soldier on patrol assessing windows and doors. While Yellow is a stage that you can maintain indefinitely, Orange requires mental concentration. Consider working an 8 hour job. Statistically most work is done before noon as people still have the mental focus to be productive. The same goes for Orange; stay here for too long and you will begin to read the situation incorrectly.

Red – Condition Red is Fight (PE) (RA)

Either the situation was unavoidable or you misread it but you are now actively engaged in a fight or conflict. Imagine a car tachometer.  How long can it stay red lined until the engine blows. The same goes for a fight. How long can you maintain this level both mentally and physically? This is why for us, as Krav Maga practitioners, we try to limit time spent here and end it as soon as possible.

Black – Catastrophic Breakdown (Non-Functional Freeze (NFF))

You have now experienced a complete catastrophic breakdown mentally, physically or both. The longer you spend at condition Red the more likely you are to experience this. An example of this would be shell shock. However, sometimes, some people go straight from White or Yellow to Black. This would be the “freeze” reaction, which is when your nervous system is overwhelmed and instead of entering “fight or flight,” simply shuts down. You can avoid this by training properly so that your brain and body know how to react appropriately. However, it is impossible to know who will experience this. Some people are prone to it and some people are not. It is also important to have proper mental decompression if you spend too much of your time at Orange or Red. If you experience this or anything like it and have survived a violent confrontation we advise that you seek professional counselling to ensure that you do not suffer from Depression or Post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result and can get a proper debriefing both practically and emotionally.

* See The Stages of Self Defense post for more details on the below information

  • (A) – Avoidence
  • (D)- Diffusion
  • (PE) – Pre-Emptive
  • (RE) – Re-Active

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


 

situational-awareness

While Krav Maga is by no means new, it is still new to many people, especially in North America. When I am asked, which is often, what is Krav Maga, I usually go into some long unending history of it  to the unfortunate individual who was silly enough to ask me that question. I usually say it’s complicated, but it is basically self defense that works with an Israeli twist. However, I think I can simplify it even further. It is the art of awareness.

After being asked to describe the importance of awareness in sports psychology, the first thing that came to mind was Krav Maga. As most Krav Maga practitioners should know, Imi Lichtenfeld,the man essentially responsible for creating Krav Maga famously said, when asked what Krav Maga was created for, “So one may walk in peace.” Add this to something I picked up from Nir Maman, “You win 100% of fights you are not in,” You begin to realize that the essence of Krav Maga is awareness. You may walk in peace because you know avoiding the fight is the best way to be safe and the only way to do this is by being aware.

Situational and environmental awareness is probably the most important thing you should get out of a good Krav Maga school. If you are only learning a set of moves, or just losing weight you should probably start looking for a new instructor or school. Now granted, being situationally aware may sometimes be seen as paranoia, it really is not. On the awareness colour code originally created by Jeff Cooper, being slightly aware is where most animals are at the yellow awareness level. This means you are calm, but still paying attention, while a person who is paranoid spends most of their time at the orange level which for most people would simply burn them out.

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Being aware simply means paying attention to what is going on around you. In today’s modern world, largely due to the smart phone,most people spend their time looking down at some kind of digital display and not paying attention to the world around them. This means that countless generations are losing that spatial and situational awareness that was crucial to early human survival in the wilderness. While I understand we are not in the wilderness anymore, the world once again is getting very violent. Being aware of your surroundings could literally be the difference between life or death. This means that if your Krav Maga training has made you aware of what’s going on around you then it is doing its job. I would like to think that we at Urban Tactics have put together a good program to get our students thinking. I mean I guess we are, since I regularly have students tell me that they are now paying attention to things they never used to. As teacher, educator, instructor, this makes me happy. It lets me know that my students are truly learning to be aware so that they may walk in peace. To sum it up, in the future when someone asks me what is  Krav Maga, I can now answer with ‘It is trained awareness for self defense, or simply awareness.” I realize that I will most likely end up giving another Krav Maga history lesson as it is my passion but I think it’s a good place to start.

Written By: Jonathan Fader

holding cellphones

I noticed a funny thing the other day that I have never put much thought into. I had forgotten something at the grocery store so at 11pm at night I headed back out to walk to the store.

I currently live in a relatively nice area of one of the suburbs of Vancouver, Cars lined the street and the trees grow tall hanging over the sidewalks. It was a clear mild night perfect for a late night outing. I looked up and about 200m down the sidewalk I saw a young woman. Her hands were out, and she was walking at a comfortable pace. As we got closer and closer she pulled out her smart phone and looked down at it as she walked passed me.

It dawned on me. Our technology is increasingly giving us a false sense of security. In this case, her looking down at her phone would do nothing to prevent me from attacking her if I was a bad person. Not only this, from a self defense point of view, the fact she has taken her eyes off of me for the perceived safety of the phone has actually put her in a worse situation.

If she had been looking at me and I attacked she would be able to have some kind of normal human instinctual flinch response, such as throwing her hands up to protect her face. However, now with her eyes down, focused on the screen pretending I was not there she would have no time to even do that. Technology has gotten in the way of our ability to even react with our normal instinctual reactions. This is bad.

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I thought about it even further and I am partially guilty of this myself. I know that if I am walking and I have my phone in my hand, while I am always paying attention it will drastically reduce the speed at which I can react. Why? because in the back of my head I think, this phone is my life, I run my business from it and it is expensive thus, I must protect it. I even may try to justify this fact by suggesting that the phone cannot defend itself so I must protect it.
This of course is not a good mentality, as a phone is just a thing and my life is well, mine and I would like to stay alive.

I know that with the phone in my hand I am at least initially operating as if I only have one good hand as my other will be holding on to the phone. Instead of the dropping it immediately or throwing it like I know I should it is likely that I will protect it first. Again, this is bad.

Granted, If I am in an area that I am really not comfortable in I always put it away and remain observant, but complacency can happen and I could still potentially be in a bad situations and not know it because I am still focused on my phone.

Imagine this, you are on a crowded subway or light transit system. What will you most likely see now in the 21st century?

You will see the same thing, many people looking down at their phones. If someone is attacked or being aggressive the only thing people will do is look up, see what’s going on and then look down back to their “safety”. There may be even one so bold as to film it and post it on YouTube for later viewing. Of course this is the Bystander effect at its greatest. The advantage now, compared to 50 years ago, is that there is evidence for later prosecution or arrest, but for those being attacked this is too little too late.

So I say to you, stop using your phone to avoid paying attention, it does not make the situation safer. If you see someone or something your are unsure of or do not like, pay attention. Put your phone in your pocket or purse and observe. You do not need to look at the person or thing in question, simply pay attention. Your phone will not save you in the moment but your situational awareness will.

Written By: Jonathan Fader