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Levels of Awareness

Are you familiar with the principle originated by Jeff Cooper called Levels of Awareness?

Depending on who you ask there are a number of levels. The idea is that a person's awareness of their surroundings directly affects your response time. Those with a lower level of awareness will take longer to respond to a threat than those who are anticipating or even expecting one.

The basic levels are white, yellow, orange, red, and black. Some have removed orange and added gray between red and black, but the idea is the same. Regardless of what you name the levels, the concept is what is important. As you go through the scale, the level of awareness increases.

In Condition White, an individual is practically oblivious to the possibility of an attack. If someone were to attack, they would be completely and utterly caught off guard. They would also likely experience denial that an attack was even happening! These people are targets for predators!

In Condition Yellow, people believe that it may be possible to be attacked but aren't expecting it. These people will take a casual glance in the back seat before getting in their car or look behind the bushes or around the corner every once in a while, but don't expect to find anyone there. If they did, they would be shocked but would react a little faster than the previous individuals.

Condition Orange is a heightened state where one thinks that an attack is more than a possibility, maybe even likely. Someone in this state, will take more than a casual look. Many consider this paranoid, but it is not necessarily. They make difficult targets because it is so hard for a predator to sneak up on them!

In Condition Red, attack is imminent. Think of an officer on a tactical team about to enter a room with an anticipated hostile. Stress is high and heart rate is likely escalating. In order to keep things from going off the chart with their adrenal system, they will likely need to control their respiration, use visualization, and other stress inoculation techniques.

The highest level is typically called Condition Black. This is when there is no denying that you are in danger and the threat is present and the fight is on!

Realizing that there are levels of awareness is the beginning of not walking around oblivious to potential danger. The more aware you are, the less likely you are to be a victim.

Ever notice people around you with headphones? Reading their phones? Reading magazines or newspapers? To a predator, these people are prey. They are without a doubt in Condition White!

So, go out and walk around the mall, down the street, or anywhere for that matter, and notice what level of awareness those around you seem to be in. Then ask yourself if you were a predator, who you would likely choose as prey. I bet you will find they are those in Condition White!

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2 thoughts on “Levels of Awareness

  1. Michael I work in London and constently am alarmed at the percentage of people who are in condition White totally oblivious to what is around them. They walk around with head phones in looking at phones heads down advertising themselves as a potential target and victim.
    Their situational awareness is extremely low.
    On the self defence seminars we run we highlight the importance of knowing what is around you. The best defence is don’t be there but to do that you have to be aware.

    1. Absolutely agree. We do the same. Always know entry/exits for all rooms you enter. Just be vigilant and alert to what is going on around you. Of course, it goes a lot deeper, but the vast majority of people LIVE in Condition White, which is beyond me!

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