That’s a statement we have heard a lot recently.
Sadly, when it comes to a virus that attitude is just not going to cut it!…
A load of old bollocks, if you ask me.
If you can see a virus coming, you’re a better man than me… you must be some kind of superhero.
However, when it comes to personal protection in the wider world, being aware is a very important concept.
Over the past 50 years of my involvement in the martial arts the phrases ‘Situational Awareness’ and ‘Staying Alert’ are bandied around as flippantly as a politicians’ promises and like some politicians it means nothing.
It gives very little real help.
Those that have trained with me and know me have heard me spout on about Awareness till the cows come home.
It is in fact my main priority when I teach Self Protection. It is so important that I spend at least an hour teaching it as part of my self-protection seminars and courses.
It is that important!
I consider Awareness to be the key to our survival, whether in a self-protection capacity or on a personal level. In other words being aware of what people say and your habitual reactions to them. Being mindful allows you to take control of that reaction and then let the reaction go!
Awareness was something I had an interest in from the day I started meditation and karate as a boy.
Sadly, none of my martial arts teachers gave me a clue as to how I could learn to be aware until I came across Commentary Walking.
It’s a great technique that I have taught to ALL of my students. Some of them have taken the idea on board and have given me great feedback on how it has not only made them feel safer but how it also changed the way they perceived the world.
Pretty Cool, eh?
So what is it exactly?
Well, it’s a tool that can be used for building a high degree of mindfulness in everyday life and it starts with you switching on your senses fully for the first time.
Most of us live through a haze of day-to-day distractions that bounce around inside our heads, thinking about the future and thinking about the past. Stuff that hasn’t happened yet and stuff that has long gone. Most of it is pointless and achieves nothing. It serves only to make us worry.
The future is yet to come and the past… well; it has passed!
When I see people walking out on the street, I can tell who is engaged with the environment and those who are not.
To be fair, not that many seem to be in the present moment. Most of them are lost in thought and from a self-protection point of view, that’s not good! It means that they are a soft target… easy pickings… a muggers dream!
Generally, an opportunist mugger is more likely to pick on a soft target because they have the element of surprise at their disposal. Surprise is the key, and that coupled with your fear is their weapon.
The number of times I hear people say to me: “Well, the attack came out of the blue”
What does that even mean! Did the attacker beam down in front of you, from the Starship Enterprise. REALLY?
No, they didn’t. They probably spotted you and saw you on your phone, or listening to music on your headphones, or you were miles away inside your head. Lost on the train of thoughts!
When you are outside, out in the world, you must engage your senses and get outside of your head.
Be in the present moment, because when you are it is obvious to all. It is the single most important thing I can teach, because it puts you back in control.
Control of the Environment and the people in it.
Control of your emotions and how they change your external physiology.
Physiology that makes you look weak or strong.
A Soft or a Hard target.
If I could only teach one technique for effective self protection, it would be this.
No palm heel strikes, elbows or hammer fists.
No Muay Thai, Krav Maga or Jiu Jitsu techniques.
It’s far more important than those things, because it’s preventative. Just like the best medicine. Prevention is better than the cure as they say!
We have all seen a nervous performer, a person lacking in confidence, a person out of control and well… It’s not a pretty sight. I have seen it happen many times when I was a comedian.
When someone lacks confidence, it oozes out of them… Literally sometimes!
When a person has control and confidence, that too comes across almost tangibly. You can sense it in the room, in the atmosphere.
OK Bob. I’m sold on it!
What the hell is Commentary Walking and how do I get started?
This exercise is the single most important technique I can teach you. If you practice nothing else this will most definitely save you from any type of harm.
It will make you a better driver, a better martial artist, a better human and maybe even a better lover!! It sums up everything I have said about being observant and here it is.
This technique links in with the O.O.D.A. Loop. (More about this in another post).
Far from being a secret, it has been used for a number of years now by advanced driving students. When they are being assessed an examiner will sit and listen to the driver as they talk through what is going on inside the car, outside the car, to their left and right. They will describe what is going on in the distance, in the middle distance and close up. In other words; giving a description of all aspects of the journey. This naturally makes them a more observant and therefore safer driver. Their levels of awareness have increased.
So here is how we do it…
The next time you wake up, (probably tomorrow), the moment your eyes open, look around and listen. Take conscious note of everything in your environment and start to run some internal dialogue.
Yes, talk to yourself about what you can see and what you can hear. Look, listen, feel, smell and taste everything around you. Notice things you have never noticed before and as you start to move around think about things in the environment.
Which way do the doors open? Where is the placement of objects around the house? Once you move out away from the relative safety of the home, continue to practice this exercise again, looking at everything about you, but don’t put them into the context of a self-protection scenario.
This will make you paranoid.
This will stress you out.
In life everything is not a threat. Your attention should be non judgmental and open. If you see something that requires your attention in terms of fight or flight, you will know. Trust your unconscious to deal with this.
For the moment, just be in the present and take things in.
You are therefore prepared for any eventuality, because you know exactly where to go and what to do as each situation is prepared for. As in the advanced driving example, you must observe to the rear to the front to the left and to the right. Look into the distance, into the middle distance and up close. You also need to be aware of how you are feeling and the type of internal dialogue you might be using.
Internal dialogue is the way you may talk to yourself…. Some individuals talk down to themselves; they frighten themselves with weak thoughts and put bad ideas into their own heads.
Telling themselves how stupid they are.
How much bigger and therefore stronger the opponent looks.
How small they must be and probably how weak they are.
They plan to fail.
Using words that indicate weakness and in turn creating a lack of confidence.
Strong people, have strong thoughts and tell themselves how great they are. How confident they are and how much weaker the opponent looks. They always talk to themselves in a confident manner with a strong tonality. No wonder they always do so well in life.
So recapping, all you do is run a simple internal dialogue describing as best you can everything that is going on in the environment.
When you do this exercise for a few weeks, it becomes a habit and like any habit it will run in the background whilst you get on with your life.
You owe it to yourself and who knows you might spot that £20 note someone dropped… and I am not joking.
Till next time switch on the senses!
Bob will be running an online self-protection course called No Doubt No Fear soon. Keep watching for details.