Mental Awareness in Street Self Defense

Most people who sign up for a formal Martial Arts program do so with the objective of learning self-defense. More often than not, the majority of these programs neglect the mental aspect of street defense. They emphasize physical preparedness by using drills intended to give you physical tools to defuse the attacks. I am not saying that physical self-defense training is a waste of time. This training is equally important, but street attacks are dynamic and chaotic and to prepare a physical response to every possible attack is virtually impossible. Not to mention the limits to the level of physical prowess we are all able to attain. A four foot nine, ninety-pound woman or a seventy five year old man with a physical disability cannot realistically expect to neutralize a six foot, two hundred fifty pound attacker, no matter how long and hard they train.

What is limitless in its potential is the mind, and seventy percent of self-defense it mental. The ideal self- defense mindset is crucial to avoiding the attack before it becomes a physical confrontation. Avoidance is the ideal defense, and mental awareness is one of the major keys to avoidance. The good news is, you do not have to spend thousands of dollars and years of your life training your brain to be mentally alert to avoid danger. This skill is inherent to all of us and honing it to a keen edge requires only a conscious effort on our part.

Very simply, it comes down to trusting your own intuition. We make life saving decisions every day based solely on intuition. Just judging when to cross a busy thoroughfare is a decision largely based on intuition and experience. Your mind identifies potential danger and sends messages to the rest of the body to react.

We all have intuition. Call it the sixth sense, the “gut reaction”, or that “something’s not right” feeling is present in us all. And yet, society conditions us to disregard any emotion we cannot rationally justify with tangible evidence. Most victims of a violent attack recount that they had a “bad feeling” about their attacker. It could have been just a subtle, fleeting signal in their minds that registered something out of the ordinary they either did not recognize or failed to acknowledge. The reasons we dismiss those signals are various, ranging from fear of ridicule to apathy and denial.

There is nothing mystical about intuition. Your mind’s eye registers and processes information, which causes subconscious reactions you cannot explain. Something as obvious as a person shifting their eyes rapidly from side to side as they approach you is an unusual situation that may alert you. This may not necessarily signal the inevitability of an attack, but it should at least engage your attention.

There may be no obvious visual clues and yet, you experience a “tingling” sensation at the back of your neck. This happens because there are visual clues your conscious mind just did not register. It is now time to engage your attention, because physical attacks never occur without prior warning, despite popular belief that they “come out of nowhere”. In fact, violent attacks are the most predictable of all crimes. Most of them, committed by people you know, which increases your ability to predict them.

Most often, your heightened state of awareness will preempt the attack. In the victim selection process, criminals act based largely on their own intuition. Your heightened state of mental alertness sends subtle signals that you are not the ideal victim. They move on to the next person, which reinforces your feeling that your instincts were wrong, when what most likely happened was that your potential attacker simply decided to move on to another victim. Regardless, you will now have heightened your awareness, and can take physical action sooner, rather than later when the physical engagement is then inevitable.

I am not advocating a state of paranoia and fear. This creates a stressful condition that is counterproductive to good health. I am simply stating that you become more aware of your environment and trust your own intuition. It is there to protect you as it has since we were running from Saber-tooth tigers. The byproduct of this state is that you can then live in peace, knowing that you will sense danger in time to take preemptive action to avoid the physical confrontation. Live aware and peace will come to you.

By Anthony D. Hubble
Author of Protecting Nahir


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12 responses to “Mental Awareness in Street Self Defense

  1. sdpate

    Probably true. Article lacks specifics and will send most people off in the wrong direction.

  2. tonyhubble

    Thank you for your comment. The article is not intended as a “how to” and the lack of “specifics” is intentional for various reasons. Mostly because of the paucity of space in this medium. The idea is to get people to become more aware and trust their own instincts. Instincts we all have without any training. This will most certainly not send them in the wrong direction. Quite the opposite. In fact, their instincts will usually guide them to take action and action is key. Anthony DiSalvo (the Boston Strangler) in fact stated that the victims he passed on where the ones who offered resistance, however slight. My intention goes even further and involves de-railing an attack before it begins. As Tony Blauer says, physical self-defense is what you do when your personal self-defense strategy has failed. This area is the one most neglected by self-defense instructors.

  3. I agree with you, being aware of our instints is key in order to prevent or save our life. The built-in warning system we all possess but ignore out of busyness, worrisome, being exhausted from being from place to place but we can’t let our hard down. I guess since I was raised in PR – like any big city- helped me be more attentive to what goes around me and suspect everything. Thanks for sharing.

    Clary Lopez

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  5. Very good site. Thanks!!

  6. Very good site. Thank you:-)

  7. What I have read here is almost exactly what I cover in my assault prevention seminars. I have created a 24-page assault preventio handbook that I make available at no cost to anyone who asks for it. Let me know if you’d like a copy. I think you’ll see yourself in it. Check out my posts and you’ll see huge similarities in the way we both approach assault prevention. Great job and great site.

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