22 October 2012

Know your operational environment

This past weekend I was at the Ohio Classic Knife Show put on by Blind Horse Knives and Self-Reliance Illustrated. Each day I did a demo on Impact/Improvised Weapons, which one of my favorites these days is the Spartan Knives CQB Tool trainer. So much so that we are talking about doing a short DVD showing the attributes of the trainer as a impact/control tools. In anticipation of this Curtis and Mark, co-owners of Spartan Knives sat in on the demos and took pictures. For those who are not familiar, both Curtis and Mark are retired Army Spec Ops types, but decided to make knives instead of writing books about their adventures.

Our table was right next to Spartan, so I had a good opportunity to pick the minds of these two fellas. During my class I spoke about the three kinds of Awareness ; Self, Team, Situational. Curtis and Mark later commented that part of the big picture they teach is knowing your operational environment. Let me give an example-

When I started at the club four months ago I was a bit overwhelmed. Unlike police work I never get a break from the crowd, I am among them. It took me a while to get used to the acceptable level of violence. In the punk community the mosh pit and circle pit are a reality. People beat the shit out of each other for fun. What I soon realized was that for the most part we let them go, it is part of the show, the reason they come. So people ask me when do you know it has gone to far? Actually it is pretty easy, as soon as someone stops smiling you need to intervene. By being in the middle of the show floor you pretty much consent to a reasonable level of violence. This is strange to many of us, but makes perfect sense to the people who come to shows. It is just about knowing your operational environment.

So if you are not a police, corrections, security, or bouncer, what does this mean for you? Plenty, much of our environment is based on levels, levels of temperature, light, sound, movement. Without thinking about it, we have a baseline for all of these things set in our heads for everyplace we frequent. That is the reason why at a bar we don't freak out by sudden loud music as we might at home. Since we already have these subconsciousness baselines, all we need to do to be more aware of our environment is to be more aware of the baselines. It creates a layered defense, using sight, sound, and touch. We know what is "normal" and respond when something is not.

The hard part is establishing these baselines on unfamiliar areas. As the saying goes there is no replacement for experience. So as we have discussed before, when you lack experience in an environment, you simply use other people. Watch their reactions to changes in the environment. Learn to recognize when something or someone is making someone uncomfortable. We all do this when starting a new job. They call it "learning the ropes". After time we just become acclimated because we become part of the environment. So work in being cognoscente of the baselines for places you frequent, as well as using using others reactions in unfamiliar places.

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