If violent criminals all had a distinctive “look” or maybe wore “I’m in the Psycho Club” T-Shirts as uniforms, would that reduce the chance of becoming their victim?
Of course it would, but unfortunately rapists, muggers, serial killers and other violent criminals rarely look any different than “normal people.” Take a look at some convicted serial killers below:
Levi Bellfield Situational Awareness for Self DefenseLevi Bellfield (born 17 May 1968) is an English serial killer. A former nightclub bouncer and manager of a car clamping business, he was convicted on 25 February 2008 of murdering Marsha McDonnell and Amelie Delagrange. He was also convicted of the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy at the same trial. On 23 June 2011, Bellfield was found guilty of the murder of Milly Dowler, and sentenced to life imprisonment. The judge recommended that he should never be released.
Peter Bryan Situational Awareness for Self DefensePeter Bryan is an English serial killer, paranoid schizophrenic and cannibal who committed three murders and indecently assaulted a 16-year-old girl between 1993 and 2004. He was jailed for life in 2005.

karla homolka Situational Awareness for Self Defense
One of Canada’s most infamous female serial killers, Karla Homolka, was released from prison after serving a short 12-year sentence for her involvement in drugging, raping, torturing and killing young girls over a decade ago. The dead teens included her own younger sister whose innocence was offered by Homolka to her boyfriend as a gift.

Be honest, if these people walked past you on the street or asked you for the time, would you know what they are just by looking at them?
The good news is that they can be recognized by their behaviour or character traits, that’s why situational awareness is so important.
If you know what to look for, you can recognize a problem as it unfolds and stay one step ahead of a potentially very bad day. That is the goal of situational awareness.

Communication is predominantly non-verbal

According to Prof. Albert Mehrabian of the University of California Los Angeles. His studies during the 1970s revealed that People communicate their intent in three ways. Seven percent of your ability to interpret that intent is based on words, thirty-eight percent through voice, and a whopping fifty-five percent is through body language.
Situational Awareness for Self Defense
The non-verbal elements are particularly important for communicating feelings and attitude, especially when they are in-congruent: if words and body language disagree, one tends to believe the body language.  Prof. Albert Mehrabian
Why is this information important? A predominant aspect of self defense involves the communication process. Just like any predator, humans don’t just pounce on the first person that comes along. There is an evaluation process that occurs where they deliberately or unconsciously assess the “victim potential” of a target.
In doing so, they can’t help but to project their intentions by watching, following and even “testing” you. Their body language may show signs of nervousness, intoxication, looking around for witnesses, perhaps indicators of accomplices or a concealed weapon. If you know the relevant cues to watch for, you can possibly spot predatory intent before an assault is initiated.

What is Situational Awareness for Self Defense?

Self defense awareness is the ability to “read” people and situations and anticipate the probability of violence before it happens. It is knowing what to look for and disciplining yourself to pay attention to what is happening around you.
Awareness is not about being fearful or paranoid. On the contrary, it should be re-assuring and build confidence.  Awareness a relaxed state of alertness that can be strengthened and improved with practice.

The 3 primary aspects of Situational Awareness for Self Defense

1.   Knowing what to look for
2.   Paying attention to what is happening around you
3.   Matching the degree of vigilance to your circumstances
Check out my other posts coming soon on the 3 Principles of self defense and The 7 Componants of Self Defense.
Response time
The sooner you recognize a potential threat, the more options you have to respond to it.
Imagine a time line spanning between the time a predator first forms the intent to commit a violent crime and the moment he begins to carry it out.
The time it takes you to detect, recognize and respond, determines your options and how successful your actions are likely to be. The sooner you respond, the more flexible and deliberate you can be in avoiding, escaping or defending yourself.
Awareness strategies focus primarily on the pre-incident phase of the encounter; to the cues and signals you can detect and recognize that allow you to anticipate the event before it occurs.

In Part 2 I will be continuing this discussion on Developing Situational Awareness for Self Defense with how to detect and diagnose potential threats.
About the Author:
Daughter of a 2-9 British Army Commando and Combatives Instructor, Kelina Cowell grew up on a military base in Dortmund, Germany. Inspired by training with her father from an early age, she continued her combative journey into Krav Maga, Submission Wrestling, Filipino Martial Arts, Pencak Silat and Muay Thai. She searches for the truth in personal protection, simply keeping what can really work on the street and the discarding the “Hollywood” techniques that don’t.
Kelina Cowell is the Founder and Chief Instructor of Apolaki Combat Systems:
  • Apolaki Krav Maga – a unique blend of traditional Krav Maga, with elements of Filipino martial arts, Pencak Silat, Muay Thai and Submission Wrestling. Complete with it’s own 5 Level syllabus and gradings.
  • Apolaki Dirty Boxing – A more in-depth training into Filipino boxing, Western Boxing, Muay Thai and Pencak Silat. Complete with it’s own 5 Level syllabus and gradings.
  • Apolaki SPD: Self Protection for Dwarfs – Co-founded with her student Eugene Grant who was born with Achondroplasia (a form of short-limbed dwarfism). An adapted form of Apolaki Krav Maga suitable for dwarf body types.
www.apolakikravmagalondon.com  www.facebook.com/apolakikravmagalondon