The Most Important Self-Defense Tool

Posted by on Nov 19, 2012 in Self Defense for Kids, Self-Defense | Comments Off on The Most Important Self-Defense Tool


Many assume the goal of self-defense study is to train one’s body to hurt another if necessary.  That is part of it.  But, in fact, the most important part of your body to use for self-defense is your brain.  Choices you make, and things you say, increase or decrease the likelihood of you needing to physically defend yourself.

Today, I’ll talk about something instructors consider the most important piece of self-defense advice:  Be properly aware of your surroundings. There is a tool to teach this, called the color code of awareness, which I believe was created by a firearms training instructor.

White is the code for being insufficiently aware of your surroundings, due to either mental distractions or a sincere belief that nothing dangerous could possibly be nearby. Yellow is the code for the proper amount of awareness when not in danger–noticing sights, sounds, and smells such that, if anything dangerous developed, you’d be likely to notice it in time to avoid it. Orange is the code for noticing something potentially dangerous, therefore paying attention to it most, but not exclusively.

Red is the code for deciding something is dangerous, deserves almost all of your attention, and requires action on your part.  Black is the code for deciding the action you must take is to hurt someone.  Mistakes in awareness include both being in too low a level and being in too high a level, possibly missing a greater danger.

Recently, I went through a few levels of awareness while walking my neighborhood with my 4-year-old daughter.  Many her age spend much time in “white,” thinking about imaginary friends or bugs on the sidewalk.  But, I guess I’ve trained her well; because she doesn’t.  In fact, a few weeks ago I was walking in the white level of awareness–texting–and she, being appropriately “yellow,” moved to “orange” and said “Here comes a guy.” I looked up from my phone to see a stranger about to start a conversation.

Anyway, on the walk I’m referring to now, we were about to pass a house with several small dogs which I expected to bark at us.  Not feeling very confident about the fence at this particular house (patched in several places) I asked my 4-year-old to hold my hand and told her to expect some dogs to bark. They did; but the fence held fine.  As is a good habit when in orange awareness evaluating a potential threat, I glanced around to make sure we weren’t putting ourselves in any danger by paying too much attention to the barking-but-contained dogs.  I found we were:  Two similar, ankle-biter-looking, uncontained dogs were approaching fast from our other side.

Moving to red awareness, I took action by squeezing her hand, pulling her behind my right leg, and trying to stay between her and the loose dogs while we moved past that house. Meanwhile, I mentally reviewed what I teach in my defense-against-dogs class, in case I needed to “go to black” and strike one.  I did not.

I hope these dogs eventually found their way home; and, I hope this story sticks in the back of your mind and helps you keep an appropriate level of awareness as you move through your daily life, occasionally finding potential dangers, and sometimes needing to take action to protect yourselves.

Marcy Shoberg is the creator of “Bring Out Your Inner Bodyguard in Two Weeks or Less” home study course for adults and seniors. See