Basic Awareness is Your First Line of Self Defense.
From day 1 in Krav, you’ve likely heard about awareness. It is one of the principles that is so imperative to self-defense it is often called the “first” line of defense.
We know that we have to be “aware” and “pay attention”. But what does this really mean, and how can we get better at it? Some will argue that awareness is either something you have or you don’t. But I will dare to argue with them in saying that awareness is a skill, and like any other skill it can be improved if only we care enough to put the time and effort to not just be aware but excel at awareness. Below I will take you through some important principles I believe have personally impacted not just how aware I am on a daily basis but how quickly I’ve come to identify changes in my environment that either threaten or simply alarm my comfort zone.
What is your Baseline?
Baseline is defined as information that is used as a starting point by which to compare other information. For example: When you walk into our Krav school you can expect people choking each other, punching, attacking others with a knife or a gun. That is a baseline. It is normal to see that when you walk through the door. However, if you walk into your place of employment and suddenly an individual chokes another, or pulls out a weapon, your alarm goes off (or it should). It is not normal for you to see that in your place of employment, or a church, or your kid’s school. Each place you frequent has a baseline, and when something about that baseline changes it should certainly alarm your system in a way that you can effectively address the situation. Know your baselines so that you can quickly recognize when something is not right.
Just as important is the body language, and specifically quick changes in body language that happen around you. A person who is standing at the other end of the store, or bar, or subway station suddenly turns to walk your way rapidly with their hands in fists should send LOUD alarms your way. People moving rapidly are moving with intent. You’ve never seen a lazy or lost person moving rapidly anywhere. Especially if they don’t know where they are going. However, the minute they make up their mind their movement changes, their speed increases. They walk and move with purpose.
How can we tie all this together? The other morning I left for work late. I work in the medical center and therefore park my car off site and take the rail into the hospital. I get in and stand with my back facing (and close) to the back doors and the front of my body facing the doors through which people come in and exit. (I particularly cannot have my back toward a door through which people come and go. In restaurants I have to sit in a place where I can see the exit/entrance. ) On the second stop and one stop away from my destination a gentleman comes in and walks straight toward me and stands next to me, facing me. Is it baseline to be crowded and next to people on the train? Yes. Is it baseline that people stand at different angles to balance themselves when we begin moving? Yes. Is the rail crowded? No. Are we moving? No. So in that moment at that time, is it appropriate for someone to be so close to me? ABSOLUTELY NOT. These were all questions that I asked myself and answered in less than a second. The second that took me to move away from a potential threat and facing the threat so that I can be ready to address the danger should I be in the situation that warrants it. What is the moral of the story? It is not only important to know your baselines, but it is important to know and understand that they are constantly changing and if you have your head buried in your phone, or your ears drowning in loud music, you are immediately a target for someone with ill intentions.
Don’t be a target. Train hard but don’t leave your training at the door. Take it with you. Training Krav Maga and consistently putting your safety at risk because of inattention is a disservice to you and the lives of those who matter to you. Train hard, train smart.