Situational awareness in self defense

Having Situational Awareness of Your Surroundings

December 1, 2016 / in Self Defense Tips / by Betsy Olay

We’ve all heard the saying, “The best defense is a good offense.” Well, a good offense begins with having good situational awareness of your surroundings and being aware. Being aware of the people, the vehicles, the number and location of exits of the building you are in, etc can all mean the difference between becoming a target and avoiding an attack. We must train ourselves to always be aware. It’s not just for at night. Situational awareness isn’t only when you’re in strange areas. It’s also not just for when walking to your car. Situational awareness is needed at all times.

How often are you aware of your surroundings? In general, most people think they have a pretty good idea of what surrounds them while out and about. If you’re honest with yourself, you may be surprised at what you may have overlooked. Think about the about the last time you left a shopping center. Now ask yourself these questions:

How many people were sitting in their cars as you were leaving the shopping center? If so, what were they doing?

Did you walk by any trucks? Did any of them have open truck beds? If so, were you walking close enough to that truck that someone could have jumped out of it and grabbed you?

Living With Better Situational Awareness

Granted, most people sitting inside their cars or who happen to drive a truck are not out to attack anyone. Still, it’s better to be aware of the potential for a problem to arise than to assume there never will be one. Both of these first two awareness situations can also be practiced with your children. Make it a game. Ask your kids to count how many people they noticed who were sitting in their cars. How many pick-up trucks did they count on the way to their own car?

Were your hands full as you walked to your car? Would you be able to use them to defend yourself? When possible, use a shopping cart to transport your bags to your car. Not only does this give distance between yourself and a would-be attacker, but the shopping cart can be pushed into an attacker if the need arises.

Did you have your keys ready and in your hand before you left the shopping center? Always have your keys in your hand before you leave the relative safety of the shopping center, building, etc.

Were you on your phone (texting, talking, playing a game, etc.) as you walked to your car?

Stay Alert When Walking

Keep your head up and avail yourself the use of all of your senses. Don’t use your phone as you walk to your car.
Whether your hands are weighed down with shopping bags, you have to reach into your pocket or purse for your keys, or you’re on the phone, you’re distracted—even if only for a few seconds. An assailant can use those seconds to spring an attack when your awareness is compromised.

Situational awareness extends well beyond just leaving a location and getting to your car safely. You need to learn to extend your realm of awareness into all areas. Other situations and ideas for using situational awareness will be discussed in a further article.

Practicing situational awareness is a great starting point to decrease your chances of becoming the victim of an attack. However, if you are attacked you will need to have the skills to defend yourself. That’s where Wing Chun kung fu classes come into play. Sifu Och Wing Chun can help you learn to protect yourself and those you love.

Sifu Och Wing Chun Kung Fu Studio
World Ving Tsun Association Regional Director for the Southeastern USA
116 East Pine Street, Lakeland, Florida 33801

Betsy Olay
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Betsy Olay

A martial arts enthusiast all of her life, Betsy practiced Shotokan Karate as a child, and then moved into Tae Kwon Do where she trained for 10+ years. In 2014, she was attending a Downtown Lakeland First Friday event where she met Sifu Justin Och who explained the practical self-defense of Wing Chun Kung Fu. She was very impressed by what he said, but even more impressed when she attended her first class later that week and saw Wing Chun in action. That momentous first impression of class at Sifu Och Wing Chun hasn't worn off and continues to inspire her as she continues her journey as a Wing Chun practitioner.
Betsy Olay
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