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Empowerment Unleashed: Navigating Personal Self-Defense Awareness



Whenever we open a discussion with personal self-defense awareness we must start with the situational awareness component of self-defense. Situational awareness is the ability to perceive, understand, and react to one's situation. It involves understanding a given circumstance, gathering relevant information, analyzing it, and making an informed decisions to address any risks or hazards that might occur. This process I refer to as your personal OODA loop which was developed by military strategist Colonel John Boyd. He applied the concept to the combat operations process. OODA stands for Observe-Orient-Decide-Act. It is a process that can take a matter of seconds when the decision to defend yourself is on the line.


How can you enhance your situational awareness?

  • Identify objects and areas around you- whether it's for cover and concealment or an object you can use as a weapon you should at least know it's there.

  • Notice other people in your area. Do they look like good people or are they people you should avoid? What is their reaction to circumstances and events in the area?

  • Identify any exits and entrances in the area. If something happens how can you get out?

  • Learn to predict situations. If a conversation escalates to anger what happens next?

  • Trust your instincts. Never discount your intuition. A gazelle never looks at a lion as if it was harmless.

  • If you practice self-defense consider reality in the techniques.


Self-Defense, for the purpose of this article, is a countermeasure that involves defending the physical well being of one's self from being harmed and to counter an immediate threat of violence. The mental and physical preparedness of you, the defender, are of vital performance. Although it is true that there are no rules in a street fight, if one chooses to compete it might be the closest a person can get to learning to deal with kicks, punches, and chokes. Although de-escalation is often taught and recommended, in this article we are past the point of verbal judo.


Self-defense is as much psychological as it is physical. For example a women in a sexual assault situation might feign compliance in order to strike.


Owning a firearm does not make you capable with the firearm. If you are going to buy a weapon for protection, know it thoroughly and practice with it regularly. Learn to move and shoot and learn to draw a weapon from various environmental elements. Drawing a weapon in the winter with gloves on is different than being on the beach. Drawing from a concealed position is different than drawing from an exposed carry position. This goes for pepper spray, knives, brass knuckles, kubotans, or any other defensive tool you choose to carry.


Lastly, most of us spend an enormous amount of time driving. Whether it's avoiding an accident or avoiding a kidnapping your situational awareness should be activated all the time. Always practice the six situational awareness enhancement situations that was mentioned earlier. As always: Stay safe and stay vigilant.



Author: Lee Barnard has been involved in some form of martial arts most of his life. As a retired law enforcement officer he was also a California P.O.S.T. weaponless defense instructor and a Control Tactics Instructor trained at F.L.E.T.C. He competed regularly much of his life in Full-Contact Karate and Sport Tae Kwon Do in the lightweight and welterweight divisions . He coached boxers as Louie's Boxing Gym in Salt Lake City and at one time he owned his own martial arts school. He currently own a small threat assessment firm in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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