Spatial awareness in martial arts
What is spatial awareness in martial arts?
This is an interesting question which is over looked in martial arts in favour of just dealing with an attack as it is occurring i.e. concentrating on ways learnt in a system or style of martial arts to defend against the oncoming attack. Once the attack is under way then of course you have to deal with that attack as it is happening but we really should be focusing on the signs to avoid it long before it gets to that stage.
In these modern times people now go around almost totally unaware of their surroundings. They are on their phones, checking Face book or some other media site, looking at pictures of dogs wearing a hat on a skateboard or they have headphones on and cannot hear anything in fact most people go about their daily lives with all their senses switched off. For the switched on person an attack starts long before any physical contact has taken place.
There are always precursors to any physical confrontation. The signs are there but people do not read them correctly and or miss them altogether. Then they say when interviewed that the attack happened so fast but in reality it did not, it is just that they did not read the signs that were in front of them and that were so obvious as to be able to avoid a situation and or an attack.
For personnel in the military, armed force, police, security etc they are taught to control and be aware of the space and or the environment they are in. An example would be if you are in a public building, restaurant, cinema etc. Can you see and get to the exits in an emergency? Are you sitting where you can see what is going on around you? We never want to whenever possible have our backs to the door, it’s not about being paranoid it is just having awareness of your surroundings, you still have to enjoy yourself but we live in times when things can escalate very quickly as in a terrorist attack. There could be a package or suitcase left near you that no one else takes any notice of until it is too late and so on.
In a personal attack what could we use as a weapon or a self defence aid if necessary? A chair would be an example in a public place but of course there are many more things that you could think of.
Let’s take a look at a situation that could happen to you. You are walking back to your car alone after a night out at a restaurant. When you reach the car four guys are hanging around on a bench near your car and looking a little drunk. They are shouting and being boisterous. As you walk towards your car they also start to walk towards the car. Now you are already in the situation. This could be totally innocent as they had a great time out and are in high spirits and are just starting to make their way home or they come towards you and want to rob you, molest you and or harm you. This scenario can apply to a man or woman there is no difference it is about personal safety and not gender specific.
What things could we have looked at or done differently before we arrived at the stage where they are walking towards you and you not knowing their intentions?
Here are a few examples and these are no way all of them as I am sure you will have many of your own that could be equally applied. These are presented here to stimulate your thought process.
- Try to go and arrive home with friends
- Where possible park your car under a lamppost or in a well lighted crowded area.
- Don’t walk back to your car alone. See number 1
- Don’t drink too much alcohol as this can impair your judgement and or the choices you make.
- Avoid being on your phone while walking, don’t text, don’t wear headphones or anything else that can distract you from being aware of your surroundings. If you have your phone out you are just presenting another target for would be assailants.
- Assess the area before you get to your car, if you notice the four guys hanging around near your car, could you go back to the restaurant or wait in a safe place until they have gone?
Be aware for life and martial arts, be safe. By GM Angelo