Martial Arts Awareness

Anyone who has to work late may have to come home after midnight across a dark parking lot or through a parking garage, and if you’re tired and not paying attention, then this can make you a prime target for thieves and other criminals looking for an easy victim. The following is adapted from a July 2008 article by Deb Shinder, a former police officer and police academy defensive tactics instructor. Her concern over the lack of awareness among her business colleagues prompted her to offer a few tips to help you decrease your chances of becoming a victim.

Pay attention! The first and most important step in defending yourself against potential muggers and other criminals is to develop the proper mental state of awareness. That means constantly assessing your surroundings, especially when you’re in an environment where risk is high, such as working or walking alone late at night.

The late Colonel Jeff Cooper, well-known in law enforcement circles as an expert on marksmanship, safety, and the defensive mindset, developed a color code system to describe the states of awareness in which we operate. These range from Condition White (oblivion) to Condition Black (actively involved in a fight for your life). Many people spend most of their time in Condition White, which means that if danger presents itself, they often don’t recognize it in time to avoid it. The key is to learn to live, as a matter of daily life, in Condition Yellow —which means you’re still relaxed, but you’re aware of everything that’s going on around you. You can read more about Cooper’s Color Codes at

After a while, awareness becomes second nature. You automatically check the back seat before getting into the car, scope out the path to the front door for places a criminal could be hiding, notice whether another car is following you, and so forth. This heightened awareness can be the key to surviving not only a criminal attack, but also accidents, natural disasters, and other dangerous situations.