Awareness Details – Rory Miller


I don’t think I’ve broken this out as its own piece before, and doubt if I have the space to go into details. To follow along, you’ll need a basic understanding of Violence Dynamics, which is just a fancy way of saying you know about different kinds of bad guys and how they attack.

This is a quick overview of what I mean (and what I teach) when I say, “Be aware of your surroundings.”

1) The uber fundamental: You probably don’t think about the same things a criminal thinks about or value what he values. But you can. And once you understand the criminal’s goals and values, the threat becomes far more predictable.
1A) The criminal has more experience dealing with citizens than citizens have dealing with criminals.
1B) If you try to deal with a criminal the way you would deal with a civilian, you will probably fail.
1C) If the criminal is sophisticated, your standard (social) tactics will be used against you.

2) There are criminals with different needs. They choose different targets and attack in different ways. The goal drives almost every aspect of the attack.

3) Potential for danger
3A) Personal. What is your personal threat profile? How does it change over time and circumstances? A fit martial athlete is largely only going to be targeted for a Monkey Dance– until the day he is injured and/or drunk. The elderly are targeted by resource predators more than process. Women are targeted for many different types of violence. What would a predator or an insecure monkey want from you?
3B) Dangerous Dynamics. Most violence is predictable. If you are in or create a dangerous dynamic, physical skills are not the answer. In an abusive relationship? The relationship has to change, probably end. It is very, very rare for a person to be targeted by bad people unless he did something wrong or stupid. No, I’m dancing around this. Straight out, the number one prevention for probably 90% of non-drug related murders is to not sleep with somebody else’s mate. And the prevention for most drug-related murders is to stay away from drugs and the people who use them.
3C) Reading Terrain. The places where bad stuff happens has certain qualities. They are different–very different– between social violence and asocial, but all predictable. For social, groups of young men, alcohol… for asocial resource-rich (ATMs or out of town businessmen or collections of drunk college girls or…) with isolation and an escape route are good starts. You can learn, quickly and easily, to see this.

4) Presence of Danger. For social, this is largely the ability to recognize the script. For asocial, the absence of normal social cues. Big ones for this are proxemics (there are natural and unnatural distances to stand); Orientation (how often do people asking you questions stand at your flank?); and foot placement (normal social interactions will have the power line perpendicular to you.) Signs that a weapon is involved (hand placement, clothing, tells, unequal armswing when walking….). And whether there is an audience (social).
For both social and asocial, the ability to recognize the signs of adrenalization, and how to tell how experienced the threat is with adrenalized states (from adrenaline-controlling ‘self-calming’ behavior to the blank-eyed relaxation from someone who’s skin has just paled.)

5) Analysis of Danger. Kind of touched on above, but telling a social from an asocial situation and a resource predator (where giving up your purse will work) from a process predator (where it profoundly will not work.)

6) Analysis of Opportunity. Globally seeing what you can do about your identified problem– from bringing social pressure to bear (from getting the audience to intervene to creating witnesses) to learning to use the environment offensively to…anything.

COMMENT by Erik Kondo
1. This is a DECIDE stage in terms of the 5D’s of Self-Defense – DECIDE– DETER-DISRUPT-DISENGAGE-DEBRIEF
It deals with educating yourself about criminal behavior. Your education and knowledge makes your DETER stage more effective.

2. This is also a 2nd Dimensional category (Awareness) in terms of the Multi-Dimensional Paradigms of Self-Defense


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