Michelle (and her husband, Chris) Cerino's articles are always thoughtfully-written and well-executed. I was lucky to have been able to take a few handgun lessons under Chris a few years ago.
The "First Person Defender" series which they partially guest-host under the auspices of Gun Talk
(most of the videos, if not all, are available on the Gun Talk Media
YouTube Channel) are an excellent way to "take your mind there," particularly if you are not able to find or participate in live force-on-force training. Here's a typical example:
I believe they are now up to Season 7 of the series, so there's plenty of content to watch, for those who are interested.
alluded to, "your body will not go where your mind hasn't already" is a very real phenomenon. Most of the SMEs in the self-defense arena will bring up various incidents in which a protagonist (or multiple) manage to either survive or come to their demise because of just this phenomenon. Even if you can't physically get training in this type of arena, it's always instructive to watch what others have done, and the corrections that they are able to make.
One book I'd like to add to Michelle's reading list is the relatively recently released Amazon.com bestseller Violence of Mind
, by Varg Freeborn.
Similarly, I would encourage everyone here to try to get to one of Dr. William Aprill's excellent "Unthinkable" seminars - https://aprillriskconsulting.com/
All manners of interpretation that's been given here are totally correct -
Eye-contact means different things in different segments of the population. There are some areas/communities where such eye-contact is expected, and some areas/communities where it is not - and yes, in certain areas, it can be seen as a non-verbal challenge that will quickly escalate to verbal and physical posturing.
If you are not familiar with the customs of a community/area you find yourself in, take a moment to watch how personal interactions either are or are not manifest, if-possible. Sometimes, it's possible to blend-in; others, not. Regardless of which side of this equation you fall into at any given moment, there's going to be social norms that well-reasoning adults know that they should try to conform to, at least here in the States: resist the urge to fight the system just for the sake of sensibilities or political pretense - the other party may not care at all.
I've been an outsider virtually all of my life.
I'm obviously ethnically Asian, for those who have seen pictures/videos of me from this Forum and others.
When my parents and I immigrated to the US, they left Taiwan without the permission of their parents, so they received no financial support. We lived in the attic of my Godmother/Godfather's single home in what's considered (although we certainly didn't know it at the time - we just knew we [all of us] were poor) inner-city Baltimore. Starting public schooling in Baltimore City in the 3rd grade, I was the only Asian - and a non-English speaker at that - while all of my friends were black...well, all but the lone white kid.
Fast-forward 5 years, my parents relocated us to the suburbs north of Atlanta, Georgia, the then up-and-coming Alpharetta/Roswell area, and overnight, all of my friends became white...well, all but one lone black kid. I found myself at that time one of just five Asians.
At the same time - probably because I was either the only Asian or one of so few - I also never really felt nor was treated as "the outsider." Even today, I'm just as comfortable trolling the city for soul-food with my black friends as I am hunting down BBQ in the country with my white friends. Yet, I remain cognizant of who I am and what I look like - because the way the world perceives me doesn't care for my say.
Knowing who you are in the world fits directly into this awareness equation. A 6'4" 250 lb. black man walking down the street faces a very different threat profile versus a 5'2" Asian woman. Our way of dress, speech, and physical demeanor only further adds to that difference.
I've made it very clear in another post on this Forum (https://www.thearmorylife.com/forum/threads/critical-defense-or-federal-hst.91/page-3#post-6511
) that I have no real-life self-defense experience (well, I shouldn't say none, it's more like very, very little
) and that I'm glad for it - and that's the honest truth.
I'd like to think it's because I really try to walk the talk: to de-escalate as much as possible, and to simply "not be there" as much as possible (see @David N.
's wisdom: https://www.thearmorylife.com/forum/threads/the-21-foot-rule.441/#post-7328
Part of being "situationally aware" is understanding your interactions with others: understanding what the decorum/rules of that society happens to be - and importantly, how to apologize sincerely and to de-escalate earnestly, yet without appearing weak (and thus potentially instigating further aggression).