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Situation awareness training

Discussion in 'Personal Security Devices & Self-Defense' started by IThinkTooMuch, Apr 11, 2016.

  1. IThinkTooMuch

    IThinkTooMuch Loaded Pockets

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    Situation awareness (SA) is often, and rightly, toted as a way to avoid being victimized. But, telling somebody to develop SA is like sticking them in heavy traffic without any sort of defensive driving training. They'll eventually figure it out, but not before they have a couple of close calls or accidents.

    So, what training/exercises/drills can be used to develop SA? I've read Rory Miller's text on the monkey dance and predator types to help in reading situations, and Amanda Ripley's on crisis reactions. But, what else can be used to read/profile individuals? How do you 'notice' things faster and more frequently? How do you improve on the spot retention/recall? More effective on-the-go thinking?
     
  2. Water-Rat

    Water-Rat Loaded Pockets

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    As with many things, you learn by doing. I don't know if there's any specific training options out there. But, you can do a lot yourself. Sit on a park bench, hang out at the bar, walk through the mall, and just scan your environment. Over time, the things to look for will become more obvious. They should already be pretty obvious. I wonder if there's videos of random people you could use to train your observation and recall? I am a lifeguard (part of why it's natural to me to scan my environment) and the red cross has training videos where we are required to spot what is wrong in the picture. Very useful for engaging lifeguard specific skills, and you could probably find videos of random people in public that could be used for the same.

    As for noticing/spot retention/recall, I train myself on this by picking one person or group of people as I scan my environment and trying to remember as many things as possible, then I look at them again and see how many things I got correct. I often do this when I walk on the boardwalk, this helps because often when I walk back in the opposite direction I run into some of the same people and then I will again see how much I can remember about them. I also do this with license plates and car types. If you aren't familiar with car brands and models, this is a good thing to know as it can lead police to catch criminals.

    When I look at someone I look at their:

    1. Face - tells me what their emotions may be and where their looking tells me a lot about their emotions, mind set, state of readiness, etc.
    2. Hands - tells me if they are prepared to defend themselves and what if anything they may do it with (open hands, clenched hands, are they pressing their hand/arm against part of their body (to reassure themselves of the presence of their weapon), etc.
    3. Body - to scan for weapons and to make a conclusion about their physical fitness level.
    4. Legs - tells me about their ability to run away or charge forward. Also, legs are another place to conceal weapons.

    Well, hope that helps and I wanted to subscribe to this thread as well, it's a good idea for a discussion.
     
  3. IThinkTooMuch

    IThinkTooMuch Loaded Pockets

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    So far, I've found two decent resource, but suggestions for any more are appreciated

    Currently reading "What Every Body is Saying" by Joe Navarro - reading body language with an eye toward interrogation. Although, it'll work nicely in dovetailing with the second book. The book breaks it down into largely involuntary lizard brain (cerebellum) reactions which covers basic freeze, flight, fight, flop, feed, and :censored:[reproductive] drives that haven't changed since before we were human. The somewhat involuntary monkey (limbic) reactions, which governs peer relationship (and tends to get us into trouble). And, the human (cortex) brain, which is completely capable of lying and is generally unreliable to read.

    The second, and next to read, book is "Left of Bang" by Patrick Van Horn - covers how to spot a potential problem person by how they act in comparison to everybody else. It relies on differences between the individual and the crowd with regards to comfort/discomfort (lizard brain), dominance/submission (monkey brain), and interest/disinterest (human brain) behaviors. It also introduces the OODA loop and Cooper's color system.

    The behavioral tells introduced in Navarro's book form the "observe" part of the OODA loop, and comparing them to the situational norms forms the "orient" section.
     
    Last edited by IThinkTooMuch, Apr 14, 2016
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  4. Kristina Cay

    Kristina Cay Loaded Pockets

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    I took an online video training from the website pretty loaded. I'm a woman and it was geared more towards women but not exclusively
     
  5. Holliday

    Holliday Banned

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    Great idea for a thread. I've always been fascinated with any and all nonverbal communication- aka body language. I firmly believe that having a proper understanding of how we humans communicate - without saying a word - is one of the most important skill sets one can acquire. It literally crosses over it every single aspect of our lives...particularly when it come to violent and potentially violent confrontations.

    I have all of Navarro's books and I really like them. So, I will add I few more. The first two are absolutely essential reading on the subject:

    "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker - simply put, groundbreaking
    "Telling Lies" by Dr. Paul Eckman - THE foremost authority of nonverbal communication and the man who pioneered it all in modern times
    "Body Language" by Allan and Barbara Pease - more of a "fun" book on the subject, but still excellent
    "You Can Read Anyone" & "Get Anyone To Do Anything" by Dr. David J. Lieberman - the latter is very good to use with "verbal judo"

    All of these will help sharpen your SA. It is not a panacea, but these skills will go a long way in helping to avoid conflict (and avoiding the monsters) - which is the ultimate goal. Nietzsche said it best:

    “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
     
  6. CatherineM
    • In Omnia Paratus

    CatherineM Loaded Pockets

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    I took a NLP class in law school to learn to spot when I'm being lied to. I still find that very valuable.


    Sent by owl post.
     
  7. MinistryOfTruth
    • In Omnia Paratus

    MinistryOfTruth Uber Prepared

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    Mooching some reading tips, been looking into "reading people"-skills and SA subject as a martial arts student and instructor.

    In return i recommend researching Transaction Analisis (TA), it's a model from psychoanalisis, a friends dad has used it in treating patients in prison who were violent and/or addicts, he said there's a lot of practical stuff in ther for reading groups and individuals, especially handling manipulative people and defusing someone who is about to break down, lash out violently.
    Useful both for reading and handling group dynamics and individuals.

    Favourite SA-type drill i do is try to listen to my local or current area, what sounds are regular, what sounds are sudden, can i guess what they are and almost always try to check to see if i'm right.
    How do steps behind me echo against a nearby wall as opposed to steps echoing from across the street?
    How do urban animals (we have birds galore here where i live) react to people and other animals in the area? Magpies always chatter for cats, thats how i know my cat is back from her walkabout.
    "Smelling" the air in a bar or at a party, whats the vibe, who affects, who do people go to when something needs attention and is it the same person for solving a situation.

    Uh, i digress. Thread watched!
     
  8. IThinkTooMuch

    IThinkTooMuch Loaded Pockets

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    OK, after going through Joe Navarro's book, and researching other articles, there seems to be the big 4 when using SA trying to avoid conflict

    1) Jon Boyd - The fighter pilot who developed the concept of "situational awareness" and the OODA loop. On my to read list is the book "Connecting Into Observation and Awareness" which seems to be the nuts and bolts of noticing what's around you.

    2) Joe Navarro - Not so concentrated on conflict avoidance, but a good general read on body language. He get's referenced a lot in psychology articles involving body language. If you enjoy people watching, it's a pretty good reference.

    3) Gavin de Becker - The gift of fear. On my reading list

    4) Patrick Van Horn - Left of bang. Pretty much a rehash of Navarro's work with emphasis on combat, not interrogation. Also, has a website called cp-journal.com, which is a continuation of his Combat Profiling techniques.

    I also found a video on youtube called "bad guy body language (pre-incident indicators)" that merits a look. But, to be honest, the body language cues were a bit of a giveaway (stiff legged strides, target lock stare, lack of normal mild submission during encounters (common courtesy). etc).
     
  9. HardToHandle

    HardToHandle Loaded Pockets

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    Good stuff. Street smarts or other threat awareness is a mix of mindset leavened with experience.

    I have taken some counter surveillance training, including field exercises. I consider myself a knowledgable amateur. As Water-Rat notes, practicing is valuable, as is someone to help critique your analysis. You will have some blind spots, ignorance, culturally or otherwise.

    Suggestions on informed sources:
    Got any cops for friends?
    Ever done a police ride Along?
    Know any folks into entrepreneurial pharmaceutical sales?
    I have regular-type buddies who have had some type of discussions like this at GoRuck Jedburghs.
     
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  10. CatherineM
    • In Omnia Paratus

    CatherineM Loaded Pockets

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    I like people watching. We spent a Christmas week at West Edmonton Mall a few years ago. Watching people scurrying to buy presents was fascinating. We played this game of which ones would be best to mug or pick pocket. I was amazed at the people walking by engrossed in their phones. Those with wallets half hanging out of pockets or purses. Even those who were drunk and oblivious. Such easy pickings for a bad guy. Being in a hurry is a good way to let carp happen.


    Sent by owl post.
     
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  11. Water-Rat

    Water-Rat Loaded Pockets

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    I read a pretty good article about this topic on the Art of Manliness website recently. The article was focused on a scene from the Bourne identity where Jason Bourne recites all the things he noticed about everyone in a restaurant. In addition to the usual people watching, Bourne mentions having memorized all the license plates on the cars outside the restaurant. I'm not that great at memorizing them, but I do practice noticing them and also translating them into the NATO alphabet as a remembering tool. I also attempt to memorize make, model, and color of cars. It's very useful for things like figuring out if you know anybody in the place where you're going. How someone keeps their property can give you an insight into who they are, so looking into parked cars can give you an idea of what kind of people may be around you. Just simple things like how messy their vehicle is or whether or not they have children's items in the car can tell you a lot.

    The article also mentions many of the authors and books mentioned above. Just google "art of manliness Jason Bourne" and you should be able to find it.
     
  12. duke vin

    duke vin Empty Pockets

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    Are you the person who ends up in fights, or who gets jumped / robbed regularly? If not you have situational awareness to some degree.

    Instinct is in itself not enough, situational awareness is as much about consciously acting on your instincts, and consciously acknowledging the potential results. Some people are called ‘natural’ victims, but they could still be aware of the threat, just not able to act, or not react to it (see people who answer the the question ‘whats your problem?’).

    First know what the rules are where you live. In the UK people are mostly unarmed, so you know if they are, its a pretty big warning right there.

    I have lived in London 20 years, first I lived in Brixton just off what they used to call the 'front line', I was at Art college (so not SAS material if you know what I mean), I came home late, wasted, carried drugs, saw fights, and avoided or talked my way out of them too. I was never arrested, or even stopped; now I live in Notting Hill, the difference is maybe millions in house prices, but the streets are the same. Before London I lived in Jamaica for a time and LA until they chucked me out (special relationship my arse) - you know when you turn into the wrong streets, it's not ghettoised like LA (Veuve Cliquot or Moet) , but it's readable, and you almost always see it coming. It's also highly contained, there are very few random acts of violence, it is almost unheard of for true bystanders to be shot, or for you to get knifed without being complicit in some way. If you're buying drugs, or something similar, you are actively courting danger, and violence is no longer random.

    When you're in a nightclub in Kingston Jamaica (never had any trouble there), and you're dancing with a girl, and some guy swings you around and tells you thats his sister, you don't pull a gun, you smile tell him she's beautiful, and buy him a drink, and then exit unnoticed. Anything else is pride :censored:ing with you. You can feel trouble, it's visceral; the reason people don't mess with random people - especially in London, is because it isn't ghettoised (yet), so random violence is rare because you don't know the outcome, and the sheep and the wolves are not clearly demarked. He might be some annoying skinny :censored:, but he also might be someone's cousin in the Adams family.

    Don't look away, but don't stare people down, answer a question, but don't engage with a threat (typically 'have you got a cigarette' etc...) Move with confidence, but back down unless you absolutely can't (family / friends).

    Ultimately if you are decided on a course of action - make sure it is conscious, not out of anger or fear alone, and when in the UK know you can go to prison for a very long time, right or wrong. If you see a friends in real trouble, don't step in between waving your arms, approach the threat from behind don't say anything, don't shout warnings, or attempt restraint (unless you are extremely well trained), assume the threat is better at fighting, and has more friends - pick up something heavy, ideally a crash helmet (normally, its a bar, look around, bottles are not good, ice bucket pretty fair), and attempt to permanently disable them in one blow. Hit them until they are no longer a threat, and do it without stopping to see the result, rely on the viciousness of your attack to delay the response of their friends and get out.

    Every time I have been robbed, at gunpoint in Bogota, in Kinshasa or just outside my house in West London, it was because I messed up, streets don't just suddenly empty, and do not be too drunk to use your own keys. Fortunately that is professional violence, give them everything, and call your insurer.

    The most dangerous thing in the world is the pissed up young white banker, just out of the rowing team, and bowling down the streets of some rich suburb thinking he rules the world, that is random violence, but stay out of the home counties is my advice those kids are crazy.


    You want to count number plates, knock yourself out, I watch for the guy who’s looking to lock eyes with someone, anyone; the guy who’s laughing too loud, making dumb offensive jokes, but is barely drinking, he’s wanting somebody to say something, stand up for some girl’s honour or whatever. There is no honour in being beaten, having your jaw broken, or your retina detached.
     
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  13. 0dBm

    0dBm Loaded Pockets

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    Situational awareness is fine as long as you have a plan to address the circumstance when it develops exigency. Do you have a plan?

    Most of the people with whom I associate do not. All of them are well-educated. They have spent all of their adult lives addressing circumstances that affect their affluence except the fundamentally potentially-explosive aspect of their existence: their personal security. Over the years that I have associated with them, I have noticed that their confidence levels seem to have escalated particularly when I'm in their company with respect to their physical personal security when we are out in public.

    They have a would-be sentinel! They know who will step-in when that circumstance develops into something they are have not adequately prepared for, if at all.

    Do you have someone like that? Are you that person? If so, do you have a "plan?" Do you have training? Do you have any field experience? Do you have legal counsel on retainer? Are you prepared to do something because someone...
    Do you have any objections to others having this significance of reliance on YOU? Do you consider it your defacto duty or responsibility to do this for others?
     
  14. SlimJim16v

    SlimJim16v Loaded Pockets

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    Dead or Alive, by Geoff Thompson is worth reading, also some of his other books. He is the real deal.

    There's a website by Marc 'Animal' MacYoung which has some good info too - http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/
    There are various opinions about him being a fraud. True or not, some of his writing on situational awareness is very good.
     
  15. 0dBm

    0dBm Loaded Pockets

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    I've read quite a bit about this subject matter. Thompson's and MacYoung's material is very good. Still, they don't adequately address WHAT to do when you become aware of the danger.
     
  16. SlimJim16v

    SlimJim16v Loaded Pockets

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    Well, apart from the obvious GTFO, there's the Geoff's Fence and the Sniper option. However I don't like the sound of these until the :censored:. There's also the fact that when they see you're aware of them, they'll probably move on to someone else, an easier target and I've had this happen myself.

    They also say you should be assertive, not submissive; without being confrontational. Yeh, like that's easy for most people to do. OK if you're a bad MF, but I don't see it working for a small well spoken guy like me. In fact I've had arguments with people who just think I'm a soft touch, where I know it wouldn't happen were I bigger.
     
  17. earthman

    earthman EDC Junkie!!!

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    Blimey, I bet that most of the residents in Notting Hill would be horrified to hear you compare their streets to Brixton's. Lol

    Last time I were down Electric Avenue were about 30 years ago now so Brixton could be a totally different place now?