Real Situations. Effective Techniques.

The 4 Levels of Awareness - using them to protect yourself

There are four key levels of awareness and have a direct impact on your safety, each level or condition (as they are often referred to as) depends on the situation that you are in.

Condition White is the lowest level, you are not processing and evaluating any information for possible threats – you may be in this level as you believe there is no reason to watch for any threat, for example, this could be being at home with your family.

Condition Yellow is where you are aware of who is around you, approaching you, walking behind you, paying attention to you. If someone was acting out of the ordinary, or rapidly approaching you, your awareness would alert you to this.

Condition Yellow doesn’t mean that you need to be physically looking around all the time, you can also use of your peripheral vision. You can be looking straight ahead but still see out of the corner of your eye if someone was approaching if you are paying attention to your surroundings. Condition Yellow doesn’t mean you are being paranoid, just that you are aware of your surroundings.

Ideally everything is scanned before it is allowed to enter your body space, or comes too close to you.

Body language, kind of clothes, and some information about emotional state can all be assessed in a momentary glance, even what’s in a person’s hands if they are approaching you.

In Condition Orange Awareness, you have now gone from general focus to focus on something specific that may or may not be a potential threat, someone may be coming into your space, and now you experienced a heightened state and are evaluating if there is a threat. If were attacked in Condition Orange you would be already facing your attacker and not taken completely by surprise.

You are paying attention to a specific thing or person to see if you need to respond.

If you see something that is a definite threat you will move to Condition Red Awareness.

In Condition Red Awareness, you have now identified what you determine to be a definite threat and you are evaluating options that may be needed to protect yourself, such as getting your defence weapon ready. You are may be working on what if scenarios, looking for escape routes, and evaluating the best targets to strike in the current situation.

Matching your Awareness Level to the current Situation

There is nothing wrong with being in White Level Awareness when you are in a genuinely safe and secure place. However, when you are walking or moving about between places of safety, your awareness should reflect the situation that you are in.

Walking with your head down, reading on your phone while walking with both earphones in, not noticing people around you, who is walking behind you - this is White Condition Awareness and not suitable for many places and situations including moving between places of safety, such as walking on the road in a city.

These awareness condition colour codes were developed by self defence expert Jeff Cooper. The codes are used by police in their training, and are also referenced in other self defence systems.

Next time you are walking around, consider your levels of awareness, when are you actively in Condition Yellow, aware of your surroundings, did you move to Condition Orange at any point?

Match you awareness to the appropriate situation. React in accordance with the situation.

Some sources used in this article:

If you found this article useful, feel free to share it on social media, and / or like us on Facebook.

Interesting in training with us? See our Self Defence Training.

Back to Articles

Back to Home page