As most dedicated students of personal protection already know, teaching the awareness of one’s surroundings should be a cornerstone of any self-defense program. When one truly notices everything happening in the immediate area, the chances of detecting threats in its earliest stages increase exponentially. If one detects a potentially dangerous situation early enough, one can avoid the hazard entirely, or at worst, be given slightly more time to implement a countering strategy.
Because of the critical importance of situational awareness, almost all self-defense programs, books, or magazine articles provide information designed to make the student or reader a more aware individual. Unfortunately, the advice given is seldom adequate. It usually consists solely of some variation of the sentence: “Keep your head up, walk assertively, and look around for people who seem out of place.” While this is certainly good advice, it does not go far enough. Specific techniques for enhancing situational awareness have been developed by a number of instructors and are described in many sources. Any program or class claiming to prepare students to face a criminal attack without teaching specific awareness-building exercises is doing a disservice to its students.