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PostSubject: AWARENESS   Wed 12 Aug 2015, 10:29

AWARENESS
by
NICK HUGHES

In most military colleges there is a sign that says, “A General will nearly always be forgiven for being beaten but never for being surprised.”
As a professional Bodyguard the question I am most often asked is “Do you carry a weapon?” The answer, which is NO, almost always surprises people. The fact of the matter is, that in the U.K., the only armed Bodyguards are members of the Police Royal Protection Squad and the Diplomatic Protection Group. No private Bodyguard has the right to carry or use a weapon. Even though outside the U.K. there are countries where a Close Protection Operative can “carry”, the hassle involved in getting weapons in and out of airports, with all their stringent security measures makes this practically impossible.
So, what primary weapon do Bodyguards use as their defensive arsenal? Their eyes, ears and brain i.e. awareness!


[Nick on range in USA]

If you’re at all interested in self-defence and if you’re reading this, I think I can safely assume that you are ,then you should be concerned with awareness. A Martial Artist Without Awareness Is Like A Battleship Without Radar! Think about that for a minute. Modern man has developed state-of the-art weapons technology…yet it would all be rendered obsolete but for radar.


[Trainee bodyguards working on protecting a VIP during heli ops, during a CQB Services course]

Miyomoto Musashi, the famous Japanese strategist, said in his Book of Five Rings that: “What is true for one is true for a thousand and what is true for a thousand is true for 10,000.” In other words the same rules apply to you, the individual, as apply to an Army; without the radar read awareness your weapons are obsolete.
Wild animals have this sixth sense in abundance, as do men who in their chosen professions put it on the line. Policemen, Soldiers, Doormen, Bodyguards etc. Civilized man however has had this essential survival skill muted to such a degree that it is practically non-existent. That because we live in a Society that appoints certain of its members (Police, Soldiers) to protect the rest, thus unburdening us of such considerations. Would that it were so!
Unfortunately, one only has to watch the news or read a paper to realise that Society is not coping. The thin blue line is indeed thin. Whilst there is no doubt but that a great many members of the Police Force are genuinely interested in stopping crime…as a group, one must question their motivation. Sir James Wheatstone, in the late 1600′s, said that there is a logical problem inherent in a law enforcement institution: ” should the Police actually succeed in eliminating all crime, they will simultaneously succeed in eliminating themselves as a necessary adjustment to society, and no organised force or power will ever eliminate itself willingly.” Progressive members of society have long seen the writing on the wall and know that the onus is upon themselves for defence: hence the resurgence in popularity of the Martial Arts. As the sign on my office wall says “Combat Karate, It’s All About Looking After Yourself When Nobody Else Will Do It For You”.
The underlying key to this survival is awareness. All the techniques in the World won’t do it as our analogy of the battleship indicates. You may be able to walk on eggs and not break them, one-inch punch a rugby prop across a room, bend an arrow on your throat and backflip over a three story building hut, if you don’t see them coming, then you’re going to wake up with a crowd around you arid someone doing CPR on your chest!
If you are one of those students of the Martial Arts who don’t like to “put it on the line”, then this skill is even more important! This ability to recognise a potential attack and avoid it before it starts is paramount. Remember, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
By now hopefully, I have established the importance of Awareness….lets discuss how to develop it. I’ll do my best to give you some concrete examples of its use.
One excellent way to develop this skill is something we used in Australia. I was head of Security for a large North Queensland Night club and the four doormen who worked for me and myself, all lived in the same house. What stared one day as a game, reminiscent of Kato in the Peter Seller’s Pink Panther movies quickly became a very valid training exercise. Everyone in the house would try and ambush everyone else. A simple walk from bedroom to kitchen for example, would provide the would-be assailant’s with several vantage points from where they could launch their attacks. It didn�’ take very long before we all discovered we were developing eyes in the back of our heads. Even Tony Young who could sleep through earthquakes would be awake and ready when we’d creep into his room in the mornings to get him up to go running. (Getting someone up meant sneaking up on the incumbent figure and bashing them with our bamboo, shinai and/or throwing cold water on them).
Professional Soldiers I have met, during my time in the Military and whilst working as a Bodyguard, have often spoken of the same thing, especially those who served in Northern Ireland. An awareness of an impending attack that manifests itself by an intense feeling between the shoulder blades, hair standing on the back of my neck or simply a feeling in the water.
By now you may have gathered that awareness is not a technique, nor is it a set of “Do’s and Don’ts” rather it is a state of mind that one must actively work to develop until it becomes second nature. To get those interested started in the right direction I have listed some ideas that I’ve picked up over the years. And no, the list is by no means exhaustive. Use it as a guide line to develop your own:
* Always sit with your back to a wall in public transport or restaurants. This will permit you to study who enters and will also prevent attacks from behind.
* Know where the exits are.
* When walking through a crowd, keep your hands free (There’s a Martial Artist/Bodyguard in one publication who�s always standing round in photos with his hands in his pockets…yeah right!)
* Always keep your jaw clenched. If someone “sucker-punches” you’ll have a better chance of riding it and less chance of a broken jaw.
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Nick's original DVD set French Foreign Legion Combatives is available here

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