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What is Situational Awareness? 

A quick Google search of “situational awareness offers various definitions.  Wikipedia, for instance, defines situational awareness as “the perception of environmental elements and events concerning time and space, the comprehension of the meaning, and the projection of the future status.” This definition is comprehensive and covers the essential elements of situational awareness. However, if you presented this to most people, it would confuse rather than clarify.  

One way to understand situational awareness is to break it into four elements:   

1. Scanning Your Environment

2. Assessing Situations (what is happening in your environment).

3. Projecting Possible Scenarios. (what could happen in your environment).

4. Exploring Appropriate Actions. (what could you do to promote your safety).  



1. Scanning Your Environment.  Where are you? Are you in a vast space like a park?  Or are you on a crowded subway platform?  Who else is in this space?  Where are the exits?  Why is that man wearing a heavy coat on a hot summer day?  Is there something in the area I could use to protect myself?  Observing your surroundings. Look and listen. These observations will help you assess and act to promote your safety.   


2. Assessing Situations.  Why is he raising his voice? Is he joking or acting aggressively?  Where are peoples’ hands?  Why is that person shaking his fist?  Why is she walking away from that man, looking upset?  Is he following her?  Why are those people pointing at that person?  Why are they leaving the subway? Answering these questions gives you a better sense of what is happening in your environment.  

3. Projecting Possible Scenarios. What can happen? Is the man shaking his fist going to hit the guy he is yelling at? The person staring at me as he approaches me on this empty street might try to hit or grab me. Why is this person reaching into their pocket? Is he grabbing his cell phone or a weapon? 

4. Exploring Appropriate Actions. Do I walk away? Do I run? Do I call a security guard before that man gets hit? What do I do if he pulls a weapon out of his pocket? Should I cross the street to avoid the person approaching me on the sidewalk? If something happens, how do I get to a safer place? Here, you are exploring actions to promote your safety or perhaps the safety of others.  

Situational awareness is vital to safety and self-defence. Strive to minimize distractions to better scan and assess your environment. Greater awareness means better anticipation, and this drastically improves your safety.

If you want to improve your awareness, join one of our Krav Maga classes as we explore and train you for real-life situations.

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