Why is awareness the primary factor in actual self defense? Because most people who get mugged are people who are not thinking about it when it happens.
The word “mugging” conjures up images of dark, lonely streets or back allies, where a person is isolated with no one around. Most muggings are opportunistic events that can take place anywhere a criminal notices someone unaware of the danger that is imminent.
A young man who I know, went to our local mall on the fourth of July. On any holiday, the mall is packed with people seeking out holiday “specials” and enjoying the activities surrounding the shopping chaos. Lots of people around.
Don't Assume Anything
On this particular holiday, my young friend decided to enter the Mall through a side entrance. While there were people coming and going, there is a brief stretch where the sidewalk meets the door between two short walls, going into the mall.
The hallway coming out of the mall was the least used, though there were a number of people nearby. What happened next shows how criminals will take risks if they think the potential gain is worth the risk.
Two young men met my friend as he approached the door between the short walls, briefly isolating them from the view of passersby. One blocked his path as the other demanded his wallet and cell phone. Because of the proximity to people and the scene that was unimaginable to my friend, he assumed they were joking.
The result was a blow to the back of the head that sent him to the concrete nearly unconscious. Next his his phone and wallet were removed from his pants.
Fortunately he was not seriously injured and a person approaching from the parking lot saw them hit him and run to their car. The passerby got their license plate number and they were apprehended shortly, though they never recovered his wallet or phone.
This young man who was mugged made several serious mistakes that started as soon as he got out of his car to enter the mall.
"Security" Is In Your Awareness - Not In Feelings
The crowded mall gave him a sense of security - in other words he “felt secure”. He was not thinking about being assaulted and robbed. And even when confronted he didn’t think they were serious.
Because of those mistakes, he did not take the necessary measures to secure his location and was not prepared for the actual attack that occurred. The result was a minor injury (that could have been gravely worse) and the loss of his property.
These were all mistakes that started with AWARNESS. The very first act that gives us the ability to defend ourselves. Without awareness, all other advice on self defense is moot.
Now, keep in mind that awareness does not mean fear.
It means that wherever you are, you keep in mind what surrounds you (cars, buildings, long stretches of hallway). Are there people nearby? How close are they to you? Is anyone approaching you from the side or from behind? What does their body language tell you?
Here is a little demonstration of how my young friend could have had a different outcome:
1. He would have kept an eye ahead and to the side of him looking for anyone approaching him.
2. When he noticed the presence of the two men, he would have retreated or changed his line of movement to make himself and them more visible to other people.
3. When approached, he would have moved in such a way as to keep them from getting within arm’s reach.
4. He would have verbally ordered them to stay back.
5. He would have been carrying a legal self defense weapon that would give him some advantage.
6. He would have reacted immediately when they demanded his property. NO STRANGER IS EVER JOKING WHEN THEY DEMAND YOUR PROPERTY OR MONEY!!
1-6 above would have been the result of awareness of his need for self defense. He would not be afraid to go to the Mall or enter through any open entrance. It would simply be an awareness that everyone needs self defense, prepares in advance and stays mentally alert to their surroundings.
This doesn’t take years of martial arts training. It just requires some mental practice and physical preparation for it to become automatic.