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Mental Preparedness For Self Defense

Awareness Is The First Key to Staying Safe

Being aware of your surroundings is the first step in keeping yourself safe. Our favorite way of explaining the different levels of awareness was first told by Lt Col Jeff Cooper. Although we do add one extra level at the end.

Cooper's Color Code

Condition White: Unaware

(Basically not paying attention to anything that is going on around you.)

Condition Yellow: Aware of what is going on around you.

(Paying attention to people around you, looking for possible threats in your vicinity.)

Condition Orange: Alert to a possible threat

(This is when you have spotted a possible threat and you start to formulate a plan, like trying to avoid the threat.)

Condition Red: Confrontation

(This is the moment that a confrontation is going on, physically or verbally, with the attacker.)

Condition Black: Freeze

(This is when you have frozen in the face of an attacker.)

When you are in any public place you need to be in Condition Yellow. Pay attention and look out for possible threats. You are less likely to go into Condition Black if you stay out of Condition White when you are in public. After seeing hundreds of hours of surveillance video from attacks, the vast majority of people that freeze during an attack were not paying attention to anything that was going on around them.

Condition Your Mind To Deal With A Self Defense Situation

Ok, so now you are doing an awesome job at being aware of your surroundings. Now you have to be mentally prepared if a situation was to arise.

If someone was to attack you, how could you respond? You could comply, attract attention to yourself, run away, fight, or freeze. Any of these can be the right thing to do, except for freeze, which is never the right thing to do. Unless you are confronted by the T-Rex from Jurassic Park/World.

If someone is holding you at gunpoint and only wants your money, comply. Your money is not worth risking your life to save. But if that same attacker is asking for you to get in a vehicle, fight, run, or attract attention. You should never comply when it's your life on the line.

Knowing your options in a self-defense situation is important. While you cannot imagine every single situation, you can learn about and mentally prepare for enough of them to make a difference when you are faced with one.

What If Games

Another way to mentally prepare for a self-defense situation is by playing the What If games. This is simply allowing your brain to think about the things that you normally try to suppress. For example, you're sitting in a restaurant and you think, what if someone came in the front door and started shooting. What would you do?

If what goes through your head is anything like you would see in the John Wick movies, rewind and start again. Think about it seriously, come up with a plan, and then continue to eat your food. Don't worry about it, don't stress over it, but allow your brain to go through the motions of how you would escape that situation.

This simple game would actually help you to survive if you are ever faced with a situation like that. If you don't know what you should do, look for an answer from a reputable source.

Actions Have Consequences

Understand that whatever happens, or whatever you do, your actions have ethical, legal, moral, and physical consequences. Even in a self-defense situation. And that means that you may defend yourself in such a way that you end up getting sued or scrutinized by the police. You need to make sure that whatever you do is within the laws if at all possible.

There is a saying that goes "I would rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6." I understand the sentiment, but I think I would rather successfully defend myself and then spend time with my family not having to worry about legal ramifications.

So you have to think about mental preparation when it comes to self-defense. You need to have good awareness when you are in public, understand the different ways you can react to certain situations and which ones are appropriate, how to prepare mentally with What If games, and understand that even when you are defending yourself there are possible legal ramifications that you may face.

Train hard. Stay Safe.


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