1.5 Avoidance

The second aspect of situational awareness in this context is the reaction to such situations in which we feel unsafe for whatever reason. Let us think back briefly to our super agents, who plan in seconds how they will eliminate their opponents, where and how they will escape, etc. In such situations, we must also think so, not necessarily so quickly and precisely, but nevertheless in this sense. What we need is a plan for emergencies, first of all a universal one, what do I do if someone, somewhere should attack me? Do I have any idea what I could do at all? The goal is to memorize certain behavioural patterns, what do I do if … A plan that is well thought out and that you remember in case of the cases, just as I would give such advise to my daughter, then we all suddenly have a plan, don’t we?

In our self-defense courses, you will learn a lot about such situations and what you can effectively do to help yourself. If I am aware of certain risks or dangers, I can also plan preventive measures, e.g. if I know that it is unsafe to go home through the dark park in the evening, then I have to think about alternatives in advance, can I maybe take a longer, but there well lit way, or can someone pick me up, is there a taxi that you can take, are there some places on the way where someone is still working at this time, e.g. a gas station, fast food, pub… You usually never think right away about all the possibilities there are, for example, someone works in every hotel at night and many commercial properties have security guards sitting at the gate at night, etc.

So there are quite a number of options that you can take into account if you really think about the situation beforehand. As I am in Germany right now, I will give you another popular example. We all like to go to the Oktoberfest of similar events, what ever they might be called. With the rides and variety of food and of course the happy gathering and drinking, these events attract millions of visitors every year. It is also fun experience for the whole family. But personally, I rate this kind of mass event, especially in the context of increased alcohol consumption and the large masses of people as quite dangerous. The same you could of course say for any big sports event or music festival. That doesn’t mean that I would let fear prevent myself or my children to have any fun and don’t go to such events at all, no certainly not, but I am simply aware that it can be dangerous there. So I prepare myself accordingly and to say it right away, no I do not arm myself or prepare otherwise somehow for conflicts, but rather we talk through a game plan. What do we do if we lose each other, where do we meet? How do we react if any drunks bump into us or any trouble arises? Who is taking care of the wallet, purse, phone, car keys?

And if it should come to the worst and I would find myself in some scramble or conflict, then we also have rules that women and children distance themselves and observe from a safe distance whether they have to call for help, record what is happening for evidence, notify the police or escape to the car. This may sound a little paranoid to some of you, but actually this is just a short family briefing on the way from the car towards the festival and the fun can start.

If you can’t avoid trouble, this still doesn’t have to be the end of it. De-escalation is the magic word here! So we’re still talking about a moment before a conflict develops into a physical altercation.

Often such conflicts develop slowly, for example, first as a verbal conflict and then slowly rocking up. Here, one can often prevent, with an appropriate attitude, that this will actually turn into a conflict. However, there are no universal solutions, de-escalation is contingent to situations. Sometimes simple ignoring helps, for example, when someone bumps into you, or even tries to provoke you. If you don’t let yourself getting provoked and just stay calm and continue to walk, that can be the solution in many situations. Sometimes an almost forgotten magic word, “excuse me” helps. Just think of the classic situation from everyday car life, someone cheekily pushes himself in front of us in rush hour traffic and you think “what a …,” unexpectedly, this one suddenly raises his hand and apologizes. One then notices that he was still so cheeky, but this gesture somehow takes away the anger. So it is even if someone bumps into you, perhaps he is provoking intentionally and seeking for someone who will react to the provocation, and then the other says unexpectedly ” Sorry, didn’t see you … “ This doesn’t always work out, of course, but an attempt it’s always worth it, but if you respond instead with an equally aggressive and perhaps also in an rude way, the basis for an conflict is created.

This, of course, does not mean that you should always give in small and give yourself humbly. On the contrary, one must clearly draw a line here with his posture and gesticulation and make it clear to the potential attacker that you do not seek a dispute, but have recognized the situation and are prepared. The lifting of the hands protectively in front of the body, signals on the one hand readiness, but at the same time is not an aggressive gesture. Should the attack occur, our hands are exactly where we want them to be, so we can defend ourselves. This way you can also get out of a short scramble in which maybe a few pats are exchanged. The ability to resolve and de-escalate conflict situations verbaly, is particularly important for security and emergency services personnel.

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