The most important self-defense skill is awareness. Use the same Color Codes of awareness that most military and police organizations do to increase your awareness constantly.
Awareness, according to experts, makes up 90% of self-defense, the remaining 10% being physical techniques. With awareness, you can identify and avoid potentially dangerous situations. Without it, you become an easy target for a criminal.
Colonel Jeff Cooper, a combat pistol instructor, developed the Color Code system, used by most military and police organizations, to differentiate different levels of awareness.
These color codes help recognize, evaluate, and avoid potential threats. They are used to measure rising threat and make most situations avoidable. The following are the colors in ascending order of awareness of danger: white, yellow, orange, and red.
- You are secure.
- Awareness is switched off.
- You are unaware of your environment, its inhabitants, and their rituals of attack.
- All attackers look for victims in this state.
- You are cautious.
- Awareness is switched on.
- State of threat awareness and relaxed alertness.
- You have a 360-degree peripheral awareness of such environmental danger spots as secluded doorways, entries, and alleys, as well as such psychological triggers as adrenal dump and attacker ruses. Be aware of people, vehicles, behind large objects, dark areas, etc.
- You are in danger.
- State of threat evaluation.
- Specific alert. A possible target has been identified. A particular situation that has drawn your attention and could present a major problem. Someone may be giving oral indicators such as direct threats or using suspicious language. Focus on the potential attacker.
- Check to see if there is an avenue of escape, potential weapons available, and if others around you are friend or foe.
- Decision is made to take action.
- You are in conflict.
- State of threat avoidance.
- Fight or flight. Flee, defend, or attack. You have evaluated the situation, and if there is a threat, you prepare to fight or run.
- Never stand or fight if there is a possibility of fleeing.
- Carry out decision to act made in Code Orange.
- If use of physical self-defense techniques is necessary, use the level of force appropriate to the threat. E.g., don’t treat someone who pushes you because he is rude like someone who is trying to stab you with a knife.
How to Use the Color Codes of Awareness
The color codes of awareness are a continuum of your awareness and readiness to defend. The objective is to constantly flow from one color to the next above or below, depending on the situation.
Never be in white. Spend most your time in yellow, even in places where you feel safe, such as at home.
Constantly be aware and alert, and shift from yellow and orange often as you notice potential threats and dangers. When in orange, notice what you can do to flee, defend, or attack if it become necessary, and make the decision to take a specific action if the situation escalates to red.
When in orange, notice what you can do to flee, defend, or attack if it becomes necessary, and make the decision to take a specific action if the situation escalates to red.
The Color Codes in Practice
Here’s an example of how the Color Codes of awareness could be used. A 100-pound woman is walking to her car, carrying grocery bags. Being aware and alert in Code Yellow, she sees two suspicious men near her car.
She switches from Yellow to Orange. She decides on her self-defense options. They walk toward her and reach for her. She switches to Red, and executes her decisions: she throws the bags at them and runs back into the store.
Starting right now, be in Code Yellow. Throughout your day, identify potential areas of danger and switch to Code Orange as necessary. Switch back to Code Yellow if no threat exists. Do this exercise again tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. Eventually, awareness becomes a habit. Make the most important self-defense skill, awareness, a habit.
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