Two Tips to Strengthen Your Defensive Mind

posted on January 2, 2014

Self-defense trainers speak often of “mindset,” and how the brain is the best defensive tool we have. We all know that being aware of our surroundings helps us to identify dangers, and possibly avoid problems altogether. On the other end of the spectrum, many criminals have specifically-and successfully-targeted the clueless, the distracted and the unprepared.

But how exactly do we increase our awareness to achieve “Combat Mindset?” Reading and talking about it isn’t enough, especially since it should be thought of as a lifestyle, not just a specific skill. Ideally, the mechanisms that can keep you safe should be engaged as much of the time as possible-we’re not just talking about working out for an hour or two a day.

There are many ways to sharpen your mind’s focus on what’s going on around you. The best will help you take in your surroundings, and more important, actually register what you are seeing and evaluate it. It’s too easy for the eyes and mind to simply pass over elements in the environment, especially since we’re bombarded with more and more stimuli every day.

To get you started, here are two simple exercises that will improve your ability to analyze your surroundings:

Priority Awareness Zone

Imagine that you are the center of a 15-yard diameter circle. Look all around you-the entire 360 degrees-and evaluate each of the people within 7 or 8 yards of you. Start with those closest to you, and move out to your 8-yard radius. See anything unusual or noteworthy? Next, scan the same area, and see if you can pick out anything that could be used as a defensive tool-somewhere to hide, something that can be used as a shield or anything that can be used to strike. Finally, examine the same area and determine your best exit routes. For extra credit add the area above you, for a 540-degree awareness zone!

Head to Toe

Pick a person in your Priority Awareness Zone and describe that person in detail, paying particular attention to his or her most distinctive features-as if you might have to explain the person to the police. This helps you look more closely at people and process more information about them.

Since the first line of defense is avoiding a problem, good situational awareness is your first objective. Incorporating these exercises into a daily mental workout will get your mind used to paying a bit more attention to your surroundings, especially in that critical area of closest proximity.


Making Remington Shotshells Artv 3
Making Remington Shotshells Artv 3

Making Remington Shotshells

Remington Ammunition loads every kind of cartridge used by today's firearm enthusiasts, but the company is particularly known for its line of shotshells. Here's how they're made.

Preview: Savage Arms AccuCan Suppressors

With the launch of its AccuCan collection of suppressors, Savage Arms enters yet another product category in its continual push for growth.

New For 2023: Glock 49 MOS

The Glock G49, available as a limited edition through TALO Distributors, combines the slide and barrel length of a Glock 17 with the frame height of a Glock 19.

Colt CBX TacHunter: Precision For The Field

With an all-new bolt-action rifle that is likely to prove as versatile and capable as its brand suggests, Colt, the 187-year-old firearm icon, turns over a new leaf with its newly developed CBX line now in production at the company’s historic Hartford, Conn., factory.

InfiRay Outdoor Opens New U.S. Headquarters In Texas

Established in 2020, InfiRay Outdoor (iRayUSA), the United States Distributor of InfiRay Outdoor thermal optics, has opened a new headquarters building in Lewisville, Texas.

Review: Nighthawk Custom Counselor

There are myriad makers of the time-tested M1911 pistol, but very few concentrate solely on “premium” M1911s, and rarer still are those that are successful at doing so.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.