We spend sometimes thousands of dollars on equipment and ammunition, hundreds of hours on the range. Suffer skinned up knuckles and knees and roll with the derision from our friends that comes our way when our gun goes “bang”…but the target doesn’t go “clang”!!! Personal defense training is one of the few skills we train in that we sincerely hope we don’t have to use. Without relying totally on luck and the will of our fellow man, what part do we play in keeping those skills from being used? A BIG part!!! It goes without saying that the best way to avoid trouble, is to…avoid trouble. To avoid trouble we need to be aware of our surroundings. Therein, as the bard says, lies the rub. In today’s society awareness to one’s surroundings is becoming as scarce as the West African black rhinoceros!!
We have so many attractions vying for our attention that we can’t hope to process all of them. Cell phones, smart cars, hoards of Facebook friends even billboards that emit scents, crowd and overload every sensory input we have.
To cope with this deluge and keep our sanity we start letting people and places become part of the scenery and they fade into the background. We walk head down, tuned out expecting life to just pass us by and run into situations like this picture. Selfie accidents are perfect examples of events that could be avoided by paying attention to your surroundings. Bumping into people or walking into a closed glass door may hurt your pride for a bit, but they have no lasting effects. Turning down a dark alley at night and not seeing the two people on opposite sides half way down may have a totally different out come on your welfare.
To start with, we need to learn to put our competing tasks into separate compartments in our mind when we walk out the door and leave them there. I know that in today’s busy and competitive workplace it’s hard to do that. Deadlines demand that we spend our waking moments either working on a task or thinking about a task. For your continued safety and health you should hit pause when you walk out the door. Take a note where you left off at and change gears from heads-down to heads-up. The attention that you pay to your work should now be the same attention you apply to your surroundings.
Gun fighting legend COL Jeff Cooper came up with a color code system to describe the different states of awareness that people are in. Let’s break each one down:
- In Condition “WHITE” you are at or at least feel you are at your safest. Usually this is when you are at home. but some people erroneously think being at work is also a cause for being in “WHITE”. This condition is characterized by almost total separation from our environment.
- In Condition “YELLOW” you are paying attention to your surroundings and giving certain areas or people additional scrutiny. This is the lowest condition most say that you should be in once you step out your door.
- In Condition “ORANGE” you have identified a threat and are going through your decision matrix or tightening your OODA Loop ( future discussion ). This is also where your body is preparing itself for Fight or Flight response. Fine motor skills start to go, eye sight narrows and breathing increases.
- Once you reach Condition “RED” action is required! Doing nothing is no longer an option as you are being met by some kind of physical harm. The harm doesn’t have to be from a person either, it could be due to an accident happening in front of you or a tree falling down from a lightening strike. What ever it is demands IMMEDIATE action from you.
- Condition “BLACK” is the state of being in complete sensory overload and unable to do anything. This state is even more dangerous than Condition “WHITE” because you are physically and mentally unable to do anything. In Condition “WHITE” you can at least move up the scale.
The Color Code system is not linear either. You can go back and forth on the scale and indeed most of us do this on a daily basis. The problem is that most go from WHITE to RED because they were not aware of what was around them. If you are walking head down in your phone look up and see this scene: How do you determine quickly where the treat is at? Where is the pick pocket? Who has a gun? You can’t. Even in the best of circumstances you probably won’t be able to do it unless you are looking for clues.
So where do you start? First be cognizant of what “normal” looks like in your area. Whether it is on your street or the parking lot where you work know what belongs and what doesn’t. The 1981 kidnapping of Army BG. Dozier in Verona, Italy was successful because neither him nor his wife noticed a plumber’s van sitting in their neighborhood for 30 days. Interruptions in daily routine can provide clues that something may be amiss. Next, familiarize yourself with the type of people that are regularly in your surroundings. This will be easier for some and harder for others depending on where you frequent. For instance, where my wife works is mostly high-end type of business people and clients. They dress nicely even if coming in on a weekend and they drive well maintained late model vehicles. They are single-minded and direct in their purpose going to and from their car and the building.
Next learn how to read people. Now I don’t mean the type of in depth study that our nations intelligence and counter-intelligence people perform, but simple things to look for. Who is walking and constantly looking behind them? Is there somebody with clothes that don’t match the area. Is there a person standing and watching everybody as they walk by? Is somebody staring directly at you? Is somebody holding their hands inside their coat or are they wearing a coat when the weather doesn’t warrant it? The answers to these questions do not in and of themselves mean something negative, but multiple ones may herald danger.
When you step out your front door you take full and complete responsibility for your safety and those with you. Don’t relinquish that to Samsung, Apple, Microsoft or anybody else. In the Army we had the saying “Stay Alert! Stay Alive!” With the state of affairs turning as bad as they are, that saying is coming more and more true!!
Remember you can always reach out to us here at Delaine and Lee for any questions you have.
Products and equipment are only one third of the solution to survival. Training and Awareness complete the triad to help you keep safe. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for information on products, or training at firstname.lastname@example.org.