This article crossed my Twitter feed the other day and it struck me as a great example of the mindset required to defend yourself against predators, whether it is a cougar or a human.
This particular quote from the article jumped out at me:
The runner did everything he could to save his life. In the event of a lion attack you need to do anything in your power to fight back just as this gentleman did,” Mark Leslie, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northeast Region manager, told KKTV.
When faced with a wild animal, nobody thinks twice that this runner did everything he could do survive to the point of choking this cougar to death.
Think about that? This guy, probably already injured and bloody, managed to subdue a cougar to the point that he could choke the life out of it.
Let’s not mince words: he choked the life out of it. Now, I don’t know what his mindset was prior to going on a run that day. I don’t know if ever considered he could be attacked by a wild animal. Maybe he did, or maybe he had to turn on that “switch” after he was attacked. You need to know that switch is there, and that you are capable of turning it on before you need it. This is the mindset you have cultivate in your training: the will to live, the will to do what it takes, the will to fight until you cannot anymore (and then find more).
This is a universal mindset in regards to your personal safety. The species of the predator is irrelevant. When it has decided that you are its next meal, you need to be able to turn on the survival switch.
God gave us five senses (and a sixth, our intuition) and being aware of them is only half of what you need to do in order to stay safe from all sorts of dangers in the world, not just the social and asocial predators out there. Walking into work today, I had the opportunity to consider what good our senses are if we don’t confirm the information they are sending to our brain. This is a regular topic from your Basic CCW course to the Advanced “Operator” courses available in the firearms world. Trainers incessantly talk about awareness because it is our first line of defense, and the one that will get you out of 90% of the dangers you come across. Haven’t we all heard:
“Pay attention to your surroundings!”
“You must be situationally aware!”
“Your general state should be Cooper’s ‘Condition Yellow’!”
… and so on. I’ve heard some variation of that admonishment (and said it myself) in every class I’ve been to. That gets me to today’s lesson. The second half of that equation is confirming what your senses are telling you, which is what I did today with a very regular occurrence in all of our lives.
As I walked from my parking lot to the office (about 3 blocks), I began crossing the street at the light. Iced coffee in hand, I clearly observed the light change, and I had the white “Walk” sign. I had looked both ways (even though it was a one way street) and observed a car approaching the red light. It was still quite far away so the driver had ample time to slow down and stop. I began crossing the street and at about the mid-point, I realized the car was still coming pretty fast. I didn’t see it. I could hear it. Rather than make the assumption he was going to stop, I looked to my left and confirmed that “yes, the car was still coming at me” but “yes, he was in fact slowing down and coming to a stop.” He just had to get his foot a little harder on the brakes. Maybe he was on his phone, maybe he was still waking up, it really doesn’t matter. My brain received “out of the ordinary” information signaling potential, albeit unlikely, danger. I still picked up my pace anyway, not much, but enough to move me “off the line” of the vehicle.
To put it into Boyd’s OODA loop, I observed by hearing a vehicle still moving faster than I expected, I oriented by turning my head and visually confirming what I was seeing, I decided by noting the driver was slowing down sufficient to stop, but still I acted by picking up my pace enough to get me off his line. This all literally happened in less than a second. There was no real danger, but I confirmed my senses and acted to move into a better position had it turned into danger. Maybe his foot would slip off the brake. Maybe he realized I was that lawyer who screwed him over years ago and here was his chance. Maybe he would have a psychotic brake in that moment and began a vehicle rampage. All unlikely, but my decision to follow through with OODA at least put me a better position if something did. And it cost me nothing more than a turn of the head and small increase in my step.
Don’t just be situationally aware. Confirm your awareness.