by: Brent Smith at the Common Constitutionalist
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The following is a departure from my normal politically oriented articles, but I think with all the violence popping up everywhere in America, it’s more important than ever to understand and develop situational awareness. It can, quite literally, save your life and the lives of loved ones.
In the video below, Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine of SEALFIT explains the OODA Loop – Observation – Orientation – Decision – Action, and incorporates it into the Cooper Color System.
The OODA loop is a practiced mindset of constant situational awareness, and the ability to take swift and decisive action from the information collected from that awareness.
This is different from mere paranoia. Situational awareness is more like tactical observation. It’s more than just noticing that there are a bunch of people gathered across the street waiting to cross, or a blue van driving by. It’s more like “Where’s Waldo,” or “one of these things is not like the others.”
Practicing situational awareness can keep you or your loved ones from simply walking out into traffic or prevent you from entering a potentially dangerous or deadly situation or encounter, by merely avoiding it all together.
With practice, one will be able to pick out Waldo fairly quickly – like the guy wearing a trench coat in the middle of summer. And with practice, you’ll find there is almost never a Waldo to find – that everything is the way it’s supposed to be.
This is situational awareness.
And you don’t need to be a special operator or self-defense expert to achieve it. Like anything, it just takes practice.
It should be common sense to simply be aware or your surroundings, like consistently checking the mirrors in your car as you’re driving. If the vehicle in front of you stops suddenly, you can veer right or left to avoid it, because … that’s right … you checked your mirrors and know which lane is clear to do so. Like I said – common sense.
But you know what they say about common sense.
And really, how many of us do this? How many of us really take notice of what’s around us, particularly these days.
We’ve all seen videos of people literally walking into light poles because they are transfixed on their smart devices.
But it’s not just about a singular distraction like a phone or a screaming child. It’s that most people live their daily lives completely oblivious of their surroundings. And if that’s how they want to live their lives, so be it.
But I prefer the alternative.
Now, the OODA loop, as Mark describes, takes us through the entirety of the loop – from simple situational awareness, Observation, through Orientation, to the Decision of fight or flight and if you must, to take defensive, or offensive Action that may have to be taken to extricate oneself from a situation. Observation – Orientation – Decision – Action.
Knowing that many simply do not possess the correct mindset to see it through to the end, as it were, using the OODA loop system, will afford you the opportunity of at least more easily being able to find cover or already have a basic exit strategy if something were to happen.
In the military and in martial arts, one is not taught that the best defense is good offense. No, the best defense is simply not to be there – to avoid a situation if at all possible.
Orientation may be as simple as never sitting with your back to the entry of a restaurant, or giving a quick scan of all the potential exits. Again, this is not paranoia. You’re won’t be the guy or girl that people point at a wonder, what is wrong with him or her? – the whacky, unstable guy we see in the movies, constantly looking over his shoulder, convinced that he’s being watched or followed.
Nor am I talking about the savant-like individual who can tell you what the lady two tables away is wearing in her hair without looking up.
No, it’s just about basic situational awareness. No one is asking the average person to take the Loop or Cooper Color System to it’s extreme, by training yourself to be a weapon. It’s not for everyone, as it requires a certain mindset that most people simply aren’t comfortable with. It what sets the sheep dog apart from the sheep.
How many students, teachers or church-goers could have saved themselves and others with situational awareness or tactical observation? How many parents know this or have taught their children to remain aware of their surroundings.
Call it what you like, but these simple techniques may someday save your life or the lives of your loved ones and friends.