Situational Awareness: It’s a skill you can learn that helps to improve your ability to identify potential threats, be more ‘present’ and be more aware of your surroundings.

Learning situational awareness is one of the most important skills you can learn in life. Why? Because your brain is a super calculator capable of analyzing multiple scenarios, reactions, and hypotheticals using the environment around you. You just need to go through the easy mental cues to analyze a situation or problem.

Situational awareness can sound like military jargon, but its use reaches so much further than emergency and combat life. Tactical awareness skills are something that are so easily adaptable no matter who you are, what your job is, or what situation you are in.

For survivalists, situational awareness is a crucial skill to ensure you are able to keep you and your family out of dangerous situations, and when the sh-t does hit the fan, you are able to quickly analyze the problem and think in practical terms “this is what I need to do”.

What is situational awareness?

Situational awareness is the level of understanding, identification, and application of your surrounding environment and the things going on around you.

Here is an example of how you use situational awareness in daily life

When you are driving you are (should be) constantly aware of your surroundings in busy areas, with unpredictable traffic, and scanning the road for likely hazards and traffic.

Situational awareness with the OODA loop

In the 1970s a US Air Force Colonel called John Boyd developed the OODA loop. Since his first publishings on the idea, it has been copied and applied as a tactical awareness principle through the strategic world from law, boxing and MMA, chess, military studies, policing and medical studies.

The OODA loop is the way you need to start thinking about every problem in your situation and surroundings. It stands for:

  • Observation
  • Orientation
  • Decision
  • Action

To apply these to an understandable example, think about these terms in the boxing realm. We are up against a strong fighter who lines himself up for a high jab to the head. We have just made an observation that strong fighter is about to punch. In the orientation, we think: if the fighter hits me, I am out or if the fighter punches and I block, I am safe. So I commit to a favourable decision which is to block the punch, and I carry out the blocking action against the fighter. The loop comes into effect as the fighter has now exposed himself, so I run through the OODA loop sequence to this time decide whether to hit back.

When you walk into a room and you are analyzing exits, potential weapons, and possible threats, you are committing the OO of the OODA loop. When the sh-t hits the fan in that environment, you are potentially running through the possible sequences of DA loops until you enter a new territory to make new observations and orientations.

What else can the OODA loop apply to?

  • Someone has been checking you out at the bar, what do you do?
  • You are entering into a conversation with a hostile neighbour, how should you approach?
  • A dog is coming to attack you, how do you defend yourself?
  • A person is moving toward you in a dark alleyway at night, how do you assess the situation?

All of these situations can use the OODA loop and your situational awareness to become aware of your surroundings and the other person, what their intention is, how actions would work, what decision would fare the best and commit to an action.

How to increase situational awareness

Just knowing about situational awareness will not bring you up to the level you want, like all things in life, it needs practice. But the practice isn’t boring to increase situation awareness, and a lot of the brain games and exercises are quite fun.

At Guardian Defence we combine exercises that increase situational awareness in our training. Come and train with us to find out more.

All of our Krav Maga Self Defence Classes are based in Bury near to Manchester.

About Dave Kay

Provided security for high net worth clients. Successfully gained Krav Maga Instructor Certification in Israel. Studied and successfully passed Sports Science degree. Led expeditions in mountain, jungle and other inhospitable environments. Regularly update skills and knowledge base in different combat sports. Specialties: Krav Maga, Self Defence, Boxing, Fitness training, Nutrition and Diet. Undertake mountaineering, ice climbing, rock climbing, skiing, fell running, orienteering, mountain biking.
All of our Krav Maga Self Defence Classes are based in Manchester