Survival is the interplay of perception, time and space
Surprisingly, a universally accepted definition and model of Situation Awareness is yet to emerge. Personal defense instructors may speak of a three-level model, a perceptual approach, or an activity theory. Whatever the definition, Situation Awareness boils down to an individual’s perception of the elements in the environment including time, space, and the comprehension of their meaning.
A relative was going to the Plaza in Kansas City with his family for a little outing and shopping. Pulling into the parking garage, the family got out of the car and went on their quest. Moments later, a gunfight occurred and person was killed in the parking garage. The family had no perception of the meaning of time and space on their environment. The space was secluded, there were other people, their events were working on a separate time frame. None of the people were aware of the other groups. By the time the family returned to their car, the garage was filled with police tape, officers, and official vehicles.
It is easy to get caught up in the illusion that everything has a degree of normalcy. When one is found in a situation where deadly force becomes an issue, time is compressed and perceptions become distorted. We practice a game - that has real world applications.
What if there are three men in hoodies walking toward me one block away and given the environment, time, and space, I feel uncomfortable? I cross the street.
What if they cross the street? I feel uncomfortable? I might enter a business.
What if they enter the business? I feel uncomfortable? I might move to the far end of the business and look for another means of exit. Once it becomes clear they are following me, the environment changes. Rules of Engagement become important.
Stereotyping is considered politically incorrect, and it can be prejudicial and inaccurate depending on circumstances. But, stereotyping is a form of trend analysis. If a person dresses, chooses a car, speaks, and acts in certain ways, there are clues to the person's values, morals, ethics, and activities. I was in a sport coat, slacks, nice shoes, and hat. One might conclude I was in a business activity and I might have some money. They would be right.In my CCW bag, there was cash and NRA membership applications. My weapon was hidden in a cross draw position. More on this later.
Their car was flashy. The were from the neighborhood near 38th and Prospect in Kansas City, MO. In case you do not visit the neighborhood much, it is the Hood, it is in the heart of KC's war zone of drug gangs and shootings. The two men were dressed like avid professional sports fans with fairly expensive jackets and shirts, atypical of the KC neighborhood, or the time of year in Sedalia. I was staying to myself catching their conversation.
Their "business plan" was to make $10,000 this week during the state fair at the carnival grounds.They were not owners, managers, or operators of any of the rides or food stands. They asked about the bus boy that usually works behind the bar, he was not there. Their attention turned to me.
They observed that it appeared to them I might have some money. They inquired as to what I did. It was clear they were now considering me as a target. If they were good at deception, then I am a master of deception.
A retired law enforcement officer, retired military; a firearms and NRA instructor, I directed the man's attention to my "purse" and the glass of white wine I was slowly sipping. It went with the fish. I told him I was an insurance salesman between jobs, deep in credit card debt, and was waiting to meet a friend when he got off work. The two men drew their own conclusions, moved to the other end of the bar, and began hustling people who might be interested in the product they were selling.
My Rules of Engagement:
- Evade - When I see a threat, I evade the situation using the What If, threshold technique.
- Deceive - Over the decades, this has become a near art form. People believe what they want to based upon their own perceptions and prejudgments. The men at the bar jumped to conclusions they were preconditioned to accept. I just helped them a little.
- Distract - When facing a situation that may result in the use of deadly force, changing hostile intent to another activity has worked. My twins were just at the age they could walk with the assistance of holding tightly to my index finger. A man saw my vulnerability and drew his gun. It was night and I was outside seafood restaurant in Eureka, CA. The deception was in my sudden whining from fear. The distraction was my telling him of my worry for the twins and that I had over $150 in my wallet in the right back pocket. I was a deputy sheriff and never had more than $10. What I had in my belt above my right rear pocket was a 1911 .38 Super. What he saw was my reaching for a wallet, a process I described in detail as my hand let go of one boy and slowly went to the wallet.