While many people now recognize that situational awareness is a key component of personal security and is the element that is most likely to help you avoid a bad situation, applying it daily can be a challenge.  One reason is that it is sometimes not taught or explained well in self-defense or personal protection classes as it might be mentioned but then glossed over without much guidance on practical application.   Sometimes it might be taught very well but the approach is somewhat complicated or requires a greater time investment in terms of practice.   As this type of training has evolved, the result has been some fantastic and extremely effective methods of enhancing awareness and detecting threats in the environment.  While this training can take you to the next level, it can be daunting to some people whose level of interest or commitment might be less than a professional working in a field such as military, law enforcement or close protection or an at-risk person who has an immediate need for that skillset.  Finally, some people struggle with the fact that situational awareness is scalable and does not need to be applied dogmatically.   They misinterpret Condition Yellow of Coopers Colors to mean they must be with their head on a swivel constantly, which is not the case.  Nor does it mean you need to try to take in every piece of information which would be overwhelming.  You are only concerned with things that may present a potential threat.  None the less, some folks have a hard type grasping this well.

For all these reasons it might be worthwhile to look at a slightly different approach to situational awareness:  Given’s Law.  Named after respected shooting instructor Tom Givens, Given’s Law states that whenever we are in public we should ask ourselves: “who are the people around me and what are they doing?”  This is a very straightforward approach that allows us to focus on the fact the likely threat is going to come from people.  If we are in some conflict zone where improvised explosive devices are being used then the need to broaden our awareness beyond people, but that is not the case for most of us.   The other factor worth considering are vehicles, both because vehicles can be used as a method of attack or as part of surveillance as a precursor to a targeted attack.  Even in this case we are primarily concerned vehicles with people in them.  Yes, at a higher level there maybe other factors in the environment that could indicate a potential threat that fall outside what is detectable using Given’s Law.  For example, the gate you know you closed earlier but is now open, footprints in the snow where there shouldn’t be any or the normally busy street that is empty and quiet.

Its important to note that Given’s Law is not contradictory to other methods of utilizing situational awareness, it complements them.  Its just a different and perhaps more direct approach.

So, if you or someone you know wants to apply or improve their situational awareness but is struggling with concepts like Coopers Colors, reading atmospherics or creating baselines and identifying anomalies then you may want to look at using Given’s Law as an approach instead.  The next time you are in public look around and ask yourself: “who are the people around me and what are they doing?”

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