All of the things I mentioned above are important, valuable training elements that should be included in your regular training schedule, but none will help you with the most important and often-used element of self-defense: Conflict avoidance.
We all know someone who can talk themselves into trouble. We all know that person who can make a bad situation worse. Let’s not be that person. Let’s all vow right here and now to be the person who can de-escalate a situation. Be the person who walks away from trouble if possible. Be the person who can identify situations early and take steps to avoid or defuse them.
Situational awareness is something you never get taught effectively at most training situations. You may be given a shoot/no shoot decision to make, but you will never be given a “talk your way out of this” scenario. More often than not, you will use your situational awareness skills to avoid a confrontation and move away from danger.
The big question is, “How can you train for this?”
The most important thing you can do is be aware of your surroundings. Jeff Cooper came up with color codes are but seems too much to follow. I prefer another method: Unaware, Aware, Alert, Alarmed.
Unaware: You should only be unaware if you are in a locked room or someplace completely safe. You are unaware when you are reading a book or texting.
Aware: You know what is going on around you. You pay attention to possible cover or escape routes. You know roughly how many people are hanging around and where they are. No one is sneaking up on you.
Alert: You have noticed something that could be a threat and you are planning your possible action. It could be anything from escape to direct engagement.
Alarmed: The fight is on and you are carrying out your plan. Inside the scope of these conditions of readiness, you must practice effective conflict voidance.
Don’t go places when you are carrying that you would not go when you are not carrying. Don’t argue with people when you are carrying. Don’t hit your horn and flip the bird when driving while carrying.
The best fight is the one you are not in.