How do you increase your situational awareness?

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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by Myana » Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:58 pm

I believe that 'awareness' isn't an absolute quality. It's not a simple question of alert vs non-alert people. We notice things that are important to us. Every waking moment, we're swamped with way more data than our brains can process. To deal with this, our brains do a kind of triage. We quickly sort input into categories. That water trickling in the background? The cats' DrinkWell. Not important, so I don't really 'hear' it. Gagging noises from upstairs? RED FLAG! CAT YORKING ON RUG! I'm scrambling at the first retch.

My husband drove this point home to me. He thinks he's much more alert than I am. He notices deer, fish, attractive individuals, 'weird' things, much faster than I do. Yet he is completely oblivious to other things. Suspicious behavior. Messes in the house. Chores that need doing. We're not more and less alert -- we're, uh, differently alerted. And I think the bottom line is that different things matter to us. I've lived in bad areas; he hasn't. Ergo my brain flags suspicious behavior more than his does. Chores are my job; he doesn't see them.

So my advice for improving SA is:

1) Care about it and practice. If it's important to you, if you do some of the training that people have recommended, you'll get better.
2) Educate yourself about what could go wrong. You won't see what you don't recognize.
3) Consider work that forces you to be aware. My SA improved dramatically because of two jobs. One was loss control at Spencer's Gifts. I stood around for hours, watching customers and preventing shoplifting. The other was bartending in a rough bar. Again, you spend hours watching people and judging how close they are to violence and/or dangerous inebriation.

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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by Gaston » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:41 pm

Myana wrote:1) Care about it and practice.
This can't be repeated too often, and it's where I fall down as I don't have a ready opportunity to do so. That's my fault, as I could make my own opportunities more often than I do.

When I was a student in one of Masaaki Hatsumi's US dojos we often did a drill where 12-15 of us would stand on the grass in a circle with our backs to the center and our eyes closed, and one person in the center would try to sneak up and touch a person he/she picked out randomly. If you (in the circle) felt that presence you turned, eyes closed, just enough to point to the threat and then opened your eyes. If you were pointing at the person and not guessing you traded places with them, which was more fun than standing there bored. At first the person in the middle was instructed to try to project as much evil/hate/destruction/kill/slash/murder as possible in their mind, and before long we all got pretty good at catching them before they even got close. It's just a practiced version of the old "someone's staring at me, I can feel it on the back of my neck" feeling. It may be a bit ephemeral, but if you practice it a while in a controlled situation you'll find that it's very much real.

Next the person in the middle was instructed to try to keep a neutral attitude, their only goal is to touch you before you turn to point. After many sessions, we got pretty good at catching them, too. Finally, and the hardest part and the part that makes ninjutsu what it is, the man in the middle is told to do his/her best to turn those feelings/emotions inward, to not project any emotions at all, good nor bad, in fact to try to "suck them in". This takes a lot of practice and it is hit or miss at first, but it is why I'm posting this here. We found out that the very experienced weren't detectable at all unless they lost concentration, which they would admit (it was after all a learning and training session) if that was the case. A practiced person who could suppress "sending" their emotions could be in your back pocket and your sixth sense if you'd like to call it that would be of no avail in detecting them, and not even the sensei could catch them sneaking up.

We all (or at least, most of us) have those senses or potential in us, but they have to be brought out and it takes regular and constant training to fully develop them and hone them. I was once an excellent pistol shot, and now after years of neglect I look and shoot like Barney Fife at the range. It's my own fault mostly, and partly the fault that I had no place to practice, but excuses don't help in a firefight. If you don't train you won't get the skills and you won't keep the skills.

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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by CaptainDrewBoy » Sat Sep 07, 2019 7:00 am

Concentration, concentration, concentration.
Always concentrate on being aware and you will see improvements. :mrgreen:
Let's all be as safe as possible, 'aight?

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