Our brains are the most important assets that we have, some work better than others but we all have one. Like the Leatherman tool or the Swiss Army knife, our brains can be used as tools or weapons. The instinct for survival is a primitive trait that we all possess. When we couple the innate instinct for survival with the use of our brains, we have the basic building blocks for an effective self defense.
Through the extensive use of our brains, we have created an advanced modern society. The inventions that we have created for our own benefit are very complicated. We have all of these modern conveniences to improve our quality of life, and yet it seems that we have less time. We have created some very complex systems for something as simple as self defense. We have self defense industries, classes, products, color codes, theories, and laws. We have phrases such as situational awareness, use of force continuum, personal protection, and so on, that complicate a simple practice.
Situational awareness, personal awareness, contextual awareness, covert awareness, etc., all have the component of awareness in common. The concept of being aware is as old as the human race. Covert awareness is the knowledge of something without realizing it. We all have awareness to some degree, yet not everyone practices being aware. Just like we all have the instinct for self preservation or survival, yet we don't routinely practice that instinct in our modern society. The caveman was much more in touch with his instinct for survival due to the numerous threats that he faced on a daily basis. Those of you reading this article have a greater interest in self defense and awareness than most people with whom you come into contact in your daily lives. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and others have used the terms "sheep" and "sheepdog" to aptly describe those people that are aware and ready as opposed to those people that walk around with their head in a fog. Sun Tzu's, "The Art of War", discusses awareness in the first chapter, and it was written in in the late-sixth century BC.
These concepts of survival and using your brain are not new. Regarding using your brain, it has been correctly stated that common sense is not common. We all have these vital skills and abilities; the more you practice using them the better off you will be should a violent situation arise in your presence. Keep it simple; sometimes less is more. Start practicing your awareness everyday, wherever you are.
You can practice with your family, friends, or even alone to help you improve your awareness. People watching at the mall can be a fun exercise. Start looking at your surroundings. Start listening to your "gut feeling" as it is often right. By increasing your awareness, you will have more options at your disposal if, and when you are confronted with a violent situation. Hone and refine your skills for your own safety and that of your loved ones. Being aware will often times cause the bad guys to look elsewhere when they are looking for that "easy mark". The criminals in our society usually try to pick an easy target. While you can't prevent crime, you can reduce your chances of becoming a victim by making yourself a "hard" target. You are going to be a harder target when you are more aware.
Use your senses while you practice increasing your level of awareness. Sight, smell, hearing, etc. Keep it simple and above all else, stay safe!