“Give Me an A for Awareness”!
The ABCs of FAST Self-Defense can be used in your everyday life to be assertive, resolve conflict peacefully, to be safer, and experience less stress on a regular basis.
The A stands for awareness– both external awareness and internal awareness. Most self-defense classes cover a lot of external awareness which is important, but even more importantly is internal awareness. This is one of the most important aspects of preventing the need for physical self-defense as you’ll soon see.
External awareness includes: paying attention to your surroundings and who may be in them, and not taking unnecessary risks- like walking to your car in a dark, vacant parking lot by yourself, as you pause to dig for your car keys.
Internal awareness includes: learning to listen to your “gut instinct” or inner voice, understanding how you tend to react when confronted inappropriately (are you passive, aggressive, or assertive?), and knowing what happens to you internally when you’re in a scary or dangerous situation and experience adrenaline.
In our society we’re very conditioned to NOT listen to our inner voice or gut instincts- often telling ourselves things like: ”Oh, I must be imaging it, that person isn’t staring at me in an odd way.” When in reality, that odd feeling we get is there to help protect us and has been around since the beginning of time when the cavemen got a feeling that a dinosaur was about to swoop in and eat them. So one of the most basic components of self-defense is listening to your inner voice and taking whatever action you deem appropriate to stay safe.
Another part of internal awareness is knowing what hot buttons or triggers you have. Are there any words or phrases, or actions that someone can employ towards you that will get a consistent reaction from you? Think about it. If you’re not sure, ask your friends, family, or significant other. Chances are, they’ve already figured out what they are, lol.
Some common hot buttons for people are bad language, a finger pointing in their face, the use of a certain tone of voice, etc. A friend of mine’s friend, decided in advance, that if anyone called him “Sport” in a condescending tone, that a fight would be on and he’d kick their butt. For him, he decided that he’d react with aggression because he did not want to be spoken to that way. In reality, we all probably have a few triggers and don’t appreciate being disrespected, but, if we’re aware of the reaction we currently have, we can change to not react at all or at least to react more appropriately, keeping our cool.
Think of this…If anyone can say something to you, to get a negative or freaked-out reaction from you-you’ve just given them a weapon to use against you and to control you.
It’s also an important part of self-defense to understand what happens to your body internally when you’ve got some adrenaline flowing. Has someone ever caught you off guard by yelling at you when you least expected it, or have you ever had a scare, maybe from an attacking dog, that caught you off guard as well but left you shaking a bit? If so, you were feeling the effects of adrenaline.
With a bit of adrenaline, you may have butterflies in your stomach and a nervous feeling. Add a bit more, with an increased heart rate and you may get tunnel vision, audio exclusion, lose the ability to use fine motor skills, and even be so scared that you “freeze” like a deer in headlights. The higher your heart rate gets when you’re scared- the closer to fight or flight you become. When you’re body shifts into fight or flight, the logical part of your brain checks out-you lose your ability to rationalize and think.
Understanding this is important and practicing how to keep your cool and react appropriately in a variety of “what if” situations, will give you the best chance to taking life-saving action should a real crisis occur. Role playing and scenario training can help you develop new habits and stay in control…just in case.