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Preparatory Considerations

by James Tindall, Ph.D.

Suppose that you are a special operations member and that a critical component of your mission is to avoid a physical encounter or, you are an average citizen and have little skills when it comes to self protection. Consequently, avoiding the danger associated with a physical encounter is very important. There are two principles that will be covered within this article to begin you on your journey of preparatory considerations. These are acceptance and environmental awareness.


This is a simple concept. You must accept the fact that there are ever-present dangers around you, whether on the battle field or on the street corner and, you must seriously consider them. The best way to do this is to conduct yourself with the assumption that danger can and will happen to you. The response of most is to disregard danger as if they are invulnerable to it. Like judging a book by its cover, you must not assume that an innocent looking situation is without risk or peril. It is often such that lead to tragedy. As an example, a police officer has made hundreds of traffic stops; because nothing has ever happened, the principle of acceptance has waned until one day it is completely gone, he or she makes a stop, and what had been so mundane before suddenly turns into a crises situation as the person in the car pulls a gun and begins firing.

Complacency and self protection do not coexist together. Because danger is always or has the potential to be present, you must take logical measures to prevent or avoid it. The fortunate thing for most is that these measures do not require great speed, strength, or physical skill. However, they do require an understanding of how danger strikes. By understanding this, you have automatically armed yourself against attack by a potential aggressor. Watch the news when stories of attacks, shootings, and other crimes are reported. Imagine yourself at the scene as the reporter described what happened. Then, place yourself in the scene and plan different scenarios of defense, attack, observance, acceptance, and other things you might think of to assist yourself. What could you have done, had you been present, to protect yourself or others, with or without using physical skill? Would you have seen the danger coming?


As you may suspect, this term refers to total awareness of environmental conditions. These conditions can be two-fold; either they enhance your well being or they endanger it. Good examples are where you live, how you live, where you work and how you get there. Also, where you travel, the school you attend, what kind of vehicle you drive, interior design of the workplace or other buildings you frequent, and all surrounding conditions. All of these conditions can enhance or endanger your well being. An impending danger is a situation that has not occurred and by proper preventive measures and planning, may not occur. To be proficient in environmental awareness you must be able to identify the types of danger that can occur, understand elements of danger related to each type, and you must periodically re-examine both types and elements of danger.

Identification of Danger Type

You must develop an awareness of any and all situations that could occur that may endanger you. To do this, you must become curious, which was described in a previous article. By doing so, you can be prepared for a variety of situations that might occur. Also, any one environmental condition has the ability to produce several dangerous by-products. For example, suppose you are in a crowded night club and a fight breaks out between two people. Generally, most bystanders just like to watch. However, any time you have a crowd, things get out of control and what will usually happen is that many others become involved in the brawl until the majority can be drawn in and put at risk. This same scenario can happen at a bus stop, as you walk along the street, or attend any public event. You must study these concepts and develop personal strategies to deal with the possibilities.

Understanding the Elements Related to Danger Type

To understand each element that can be encountered relative to a dangerous situation, you must look for a deeper hidden meaning, even if one may not be present. What would you think if an enemy invited you to dinner? Wouldn't you begin questioning the motive and possibilities of why he or she wants to see you? By beginning this process, you automatically begin delving into possible deeper and hidden meanings so that you can understand the facts more clearly, be more suspicious, and be better prepared to deal with a potentially harmful situation. If a person approaches you and smiles broadly, are they just being friendly or is there an ulterior motive.

Understanding each element of danger and their effect on the environmental conditions surrounding you is another avenue worth considering. For example, during World War II, allied tanks were able to pass from one point to another without difficulty until the rains came. Passable routes became impossible to traverse as tanks sank in the mire. Consequently, a change in climate forced alternate plans to be made because wet, muddy conditions hampered initial efforts. As with a military operation, the layout of an area, terrain type, floor plan of a building, or neighboring obstacles can hamper or even enhance your abilities and the ability to convert possible disaster to your favor. Such understanding is gained only through due diligence and practice, which must then be linked to individual or team maturity, insight, and creative thinking.


After a thorough understanding of these processes, you will find it well advised to have continual practice and re-examination of these concepts. Repetition is a key to success because these concepts and principles must become an ingrained habit. And, no matter how sharp you tune your skills and abilities, personal threats can still occur. However, putting these concepts into operational practice will at least minimize these threats. You must develop flexibility of both thought and action, i.e., they must be done without thinking since each situation is different, i.e., dynamic and flowing.

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