The Power of Awareness


In part one of this three part series on self defense, I will discuss the importance of awareness and using common sense to keep you safe. I’m not a fan of using statistics on violent crime in order to scare people to read this article. One only needs to have some awareness of what’s happening in any major center including Edmonton to realize violent crime is on the increase.

Unfortunately the general public will typically get an unrealistic view of what a violent crime looks like, either from T.V. or the movies. This is how many writers portray a violent situation. Picture this: a girl is walking through a dimly lit parking lot. Out jumps a scary looking guy. The girl although startled, strikes the offender in the eyes with her keys, or kicks him in the groin. Then with the attacker subdued, the girl flees in her car. Sound about right? Well in most cases it’s not even close. This is how a real life situation would most likely go: when the girl goes to strike the scary guy in the eyes or groin, the attacker reads the girl’s counter attack. Angered even more by the girl’s attempt, he grabs her arm or leg and throws her to the ground. This places her in a bad situation where she is less able to defend herself and doesn’t allow herself the option of running away.

Many people think that self defense is about punching or kicking, when truly it’s about using your brain. Self defense is a very complex and convoluted subject, which can have multiple outcomes based on your reactions. The better prepared you are mentally for a violent situation and the more aware you become of how a violent criminal thinks, the greater chance you have in avoiding a potentially dangerous situation. Now instead of worrying about numerous situations that could possibly happen to you, it is important to focus on what is most likely to happen. This will aid in making a complicated subject more manageable. Initially it’s important to look at your lifestyle and decide what types of threats you are most likely to face. Then introduce strategies to reduce the chances of them happening.

Some ways you can reduce your risk of encountering a violent crime situation include:

1. Trust your instincts because you are probably right.
If you encounter an individual that makes you feel uneasy, remain aware of his presence and his location in the room. If the feeling remains or gets worse, leave the area making sure you are with somebody you know. If you are alone find somebody to walk you to your vehicle or cab. Any grocery store, restaurant or bar will have an employee that will walk you out.

2. Know and be aware of the environment in which you are in.
Pay attention to your surroundings. When you are walking down the street, know what is happening ahead and to the sides of you. Make sure that the area that you are going to be walking in is well lit. If something in your mind is telling you to leave a location, do not hesitate or second guess yourself. For example, there have been times when I have gotten a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton and decided to leave the area. I am not asking you to always behave in a paranoid manner, but with a certain level of awareness that fits the environment that you are in.

3. Your body language must show confidence.
The individuals that commit violent crime specifically choose victims that portray little confidence. A few ideas to keep in mind: walk with your shoulders pulled back in a good postural stance, and with your head in an upright position (which is good for your body anyway). You should look like you know where you are going, walking with a strong stride and acting alert.

4. Have a plan.
You want to think ahead to keep yourself one step ahead of the criminal. When you are walking, be aware of areas where a criminal might hide. Know where you are going and how long it takes to get there. Tell somebody where you are going and tell them that you will call them when you get there. Do not walk or run with an MP3 player on, especially when it is dusk or dark. I suggest talking on a cell phone at these times only if the purpose is for your protection and not if it is drawing your attention away from what is happening around you. These tips may sound a little extreme, but they may save your life.

Awareness, as you now see, is your largest ally that will aid you in preventing an attack. Prevention is vital when dealing with a potentially violent criminal when they have already made the decision to do whatever it takes to get what they want from you. Looking ahead to part two of the series, I will deal with issues of boundaries, and why some types of people will typically get attacked more than others.

Craig has been training in martial arts since 1995. He has achieved his third degree black belt in Go-Ju-Kai Karate and a instructors level in Estakata Kali Arnis. He instructs at a DoJo in the west part of Edmonton. Craig also has been a personal trainer for the past 14 years and has been a co-owner of Custom Fit since 2005.
1 reply
  1. Don Darwish says:

    I can’t count the number of times I have heard both men/women recount stories of sensing something bad was going to happen and not doing the right thing at that right moment, to later regret the end result. The advice that Craig offers is direct, and has been highly proven to be extremely effective. Most languaged shared throughout the day with human incounters is through body language (approximately 60%), so if you walk with a purpose, and confidence this will greatly reduce your chances of confrontation.
    As an aside you might want to read “The Gift of Fear”, this book is all about the topic Craig has covered.

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