by Amy Horn
I recently sat down with an old friend Mike who is a police officer in Miami. We were discussing crime (a natural progression when in a conversation with a police officer) and he told me a few stories of street incidents he had been called to. This included things like nighttime muggings, a sexual assault on a young woman, and a nasty fight that broke out at a music festival. While shaking my head I asked him if he thought any of these situations could have been prevented or if the severity of the attacks could have been minimized. He looked at me and said, “Yeah-situational awareness. Not only should you be aware of your surroundings and avoid potentially dangerous ones but you need to know what to look out for.” He went on to describe the two types of situational awareness-subconscious and conscious. Subconscious awareness is run by our natural fear system; it’s the thing that picks up movements and sounds that indicate danger so that we avoid it. Conscious awareness is the things we actively do to know our surroundings and environment, i.e. scanning crowds, looking for oddities, etc. I asked him to give me an idea of the sort of things I could do to know what to look out for. This is what he said:
1. At first, look for movements, not people. Mike told me that if we are training our conscious awareness we should look first for movements that seem out of place. Is there someone who is moving where you’re moving, synchronizing their actions to your actions? Is there someone clearly following me? If someone is synchronizing their actions to your actions, they have probably already vetted the situation, identified who you are and if you’re alone, and have picked you as a victim. Mike told me that this surveillance stage almost always precedes an attack.
2. When no synchronization occurs, look for the odd man out. There are natural places where people wait around to perhaps meet friends. Outside a movie theater or perhaps at a street intersection. Unnatural places might include an ATM or the shadowed part of a building. “If you see someone in an odd place, take a look at how they’re acting. A criminal will hide the fact that they’re surveying the area-it won’t look natural, like they’re waiting for a friend to meet them.”
All of this advice and information got me thinking about how this relates to Krav Maga training. I’ve read articles and blogs of people arguing that Krav Maga only teaches you what to do when attacked but that there is little instruction on how to prevent that situation in the first place. This is complete crap in my opinion. When you have good instruction, Krav Maga encompasses everything. I remember going through a “Dealing with Multiple Attackers” workshop where I recall Randall telling us to assess situations when we’re in them to determine the best course of action; scan the crowds, look for people moving towards you, line up your attackers so you always know where they are. These are both conscious and subconscious actions that we develop when we train in Krav Maga. As it turns out that training was pretty effective for me as I had to use what I learned the next week in a real life situation. I was walking through a crowd of people one Halloween when I noticed unusual movement ahead of me in the crowd (Tip #1). There was a drunk fool grabbing girls in inappropriate places and because of the crowd, I had no other choice but to deal with this guy. I was quickly able to divert his grabby hands because I noticed what was going on and could make a decision that would put me in the best case scenario to avoid getting grabbed by the idiot. Being aware of my surroundings and situation helped me avoid being put in an uncomfortable place.
Krav Maga will teach you how to defend yourself, but it will also teach you how to not have to use Krav Maga. If something is going to happen to you, it will probably not be the “worst case scenario.” While I think we should have an idea of what we would do in a worst case scenario, we should also be thinking in the “most case scenario,” what will most likely happen and how do we train ourselves to detect that.