What Is Your Situational Awareness Level?

Threat PyramidWhen many people think about self-defense, they visualize the physical aspects, the punches and kicks. When we teach self-defense, one learns that there are many aspects of self-defense.  We teach that the last thing one does to stay safe is to fight.  In our opinion, the most important technique in self-defense is one that everyone should participate in on a continuous basis.  Situational Awareness — simply being aware of your surroundings — is the cornerstone of self-defense and the base of the threat pyramid.

color-codes-of-awarenessThe late Jeff Cooper, USMC retired, developed a system that described the different possible levels of awareness based on color.  Cooper’s Color Codes of Awareness are divided into 5 possible categories, white, yellow, orange, red and black.  Level white is one that no one should ever be in. If you are in level white, you are not aware at all in what is going on around you.  You are totally unprepared in the event someone attacked. We often refer to this as “Facebook” level of awareness in honor of those people walking around with their faces glued to their phones on Facebook, texting or other social media.  Code Level Yellow is where we should be most of the time.  In Level Yellow we are aware of our surroundings.  We are prepared but relaxed.  In Level Orange, we have determined that there is a possible threat and are prepared to act.  In Level Red, we are involved in an emergency and our focus is on dealing with that emergency.  Besides the event we are engaged in, a secondary danger is that because our focus is so intensely on this event, we may not see other possible dangers approaching,   i.e. friends of an initial attacker.  In Color Code Black, we panic, freeze and shut down.  This is the worst possible state.

By being aware of who is around you and what is happening at all times, one’s chances of staying out of trouble are increased significantly.


Another aspect of situational awareness that we use to teach quick decision making is the OODA Loop.  This process of thought was developed by Retired USAF Colonel John Boyd.  The OODA Loop teaches students to Observe, Orient, Decide, and then Act.  We teach students how to combine the OODA Loop with the Color Codes of Awareness so that they can both be aware of their surroundings and confident in how to make decisions once they make observations.

If you have questions on any aspect of self-defense, please contact us at Championship Martial Arts/Elite Defense Tactics.  We also invite you to come in and try one of our Krav Maga self-defense classes for FREE.  We teach the Situational Awareness aspects of self-defense as well as the legal aspects and of course, physical techniques to handle those Orange and Red moments in our lives.

Our Goal – For you to get home safely!