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My training continues even if my blogging has slowed. Sometimes life just gets in the way. But, a kernel of an idea planted itself in my head a few weeks ago I am finally putting it to paper. So you see, I have been “blogging” even when I haven’t been blogging. And we can train when we aren’t training too. In fact, sometimes we should.

In the Okinawan style that I train in we use the term Rok-kan for a specific type of awareness training. Rok-kan literally translates “Sixth Sense” and refers to studying a potential opponent to determine his physical characteristics before you have to fight him. How tall is he, how heavy is he, how does he carry himself, is he left or right handed, does he walk with his shoulders forward or backwards, head down or up? All these questions can be answered by watching someone, especially when they move.  This information can be very helpful if a fight develops. It allows you to determine a strategy ahead of time and control the fight from the outset.

Whether real potential opponents surround you are not, Rok-kan can be practiced constantly. No matter where you are in the office, at the gym, in the grocery store, pick someone out and observe him or her as if they could be a threat. Can you see a weakness in their stance, in their weight? Do they look like strikers or grapplers by nature? What can you determine about their attitude. Would they back down from a show of strength or rise to the challenge? What would your first move be? As an example, in the gym you see many men who focus on strength training for their arms and chest but often have relatively delicate ankles and legs. This makes them top-heavy and susceptible to leg strikes.

Interestingly enough, these ideas can be combined with a Western concept of awareness training that is talked about primarily in gun circles: The Cooper Color Code. Jeff Cooper (1920-2006) is considered the father of what is known as “modern technique” in handgun shooting. A veteran of WWII and Korea, he built a career on training civilians and law enforcement in shooting protocol. The color code recognizes that it takes a certain state of mind to shoot someone and if you can determine, ahead of time, what that state of mind is for you and what triggers it, you can act quicker and with less decision making should an incident arise. Here are the codes, taken from wikipedia, with only minor edits.

White: Unaware and unprepared. If attacked in Condition White, the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy or ineptitude of your attacker. When confronted by something nasty, your reaction will probably be “Oh my God! This can’t be happening to me.”

Yellow: Relaxed alert. No specific threat situation. Your mindset is that “today could be the day I may have to defend myself”. You are simply aware that the world is a potentially unfriendly place and that you are prepared to defend yourself, if necessary. You don’t have to be armed in this state, but if you are armed you should be in Condition Yellow. You should always be in Yellow whenever you are in unfamiliar surroundings or among people you don’t know. You can remain in Yellow for long periods, as long as you are able to “Watch your six.” (your blind spots). In Yellow, you are “taking in” surrounding information in a relaxed but alert manner, like a continuous 360 degree radar sweep. As Cooper put it, “I might have to shoot.”

Orange: Specific alert. Something is not quite right and has your attention. Your radar has picked up a specific alert. You shift your primary focus to determine if there is a threat (but you do not drop your six). Your mindset shifts to “I may have to shoot that person today”, focusing on the specific target which has caused the escalation in alert status. In Condition Orange, you set a mental trigger: “If that person does “X”, I will need to stop them”. Staying in Orange can be a bit of a mental strain, but you can stay in it for as long as you need to. If the threat proves to be nothing, you shift back to Condition Yellow.

Red: Condition Red is fight. Your mental trigger (established back in Condition Orange) has been tripped. “If ‘X’ happens I will shoot that person”.

If we combine the ideas of Rok-kan and Coopers color code, we have a very nice solo training exercise. Rather than the suggested yellow, from time to time, choose a potential threat from the people around you, let that trigger a code orange, and assess the threat using the Rok-kan concepts. Take it a step further and plan your course of action. Do not only analyze the person’s physical nature but look for where and how they might be concealing a weapon. What type of action, on their part, will trigger you to act. And, given everything that you have taken in about the threat and the surroundings, what techniques will best serve your needs.