Awareness, Training, Intention and Intentionality

Levels of Awareness

It is arguable that self-defence starts and ends with awareness. Not to be aware is to be a sitting duck and even the greatest fighter can find themselves dazed and bewildered if they don’t see the threat. Self-defence teachers often talk about levels of awareness, sometimes using the traffic light system to describe ‘states of alarm’. Intentionality is even more important.



Unfortunately, most people are in ‘sleep’ mode most of the time. Think about the last time you were driving on the motorway and you covered miles and miles without being able to remember a single thing about the journey. How about the guy crossing the road with his back to the traffic, eyes looking straight ahead listening to music? Same scenario.

Recognising the situation

The other levels of awareness can be seen as ‘amber’ – a car break light in front of you prompts you to up your game, with flashing amber representing the feeling you would have if a whole load of cars started breaking and red would mean something really had kicked off and evasive action was necessary.


Essential ingredients

This analogy is fine and accurate however it is incomplete. The other vital ingredients for motorway survival and effective self defence are Training, Intention and Intentionality. These are the focus of this article.


It’s one thing being able to recognise when action needs to be taken but without the right training and tuition the actions you take will be flawed. This will mean becoming a victim within the self-defence context or, to continue with the traffic analogy, ending up as a road traffic accident casualty.


Just as we need to know how to break effectively, how to manoeuvre the car smoothly, how to signal correctly, understand the correct lane to use, we also need to understand the different ways a person may try to strike us, how to evade, how to block and parry, how to counter, how to strike; in brief – the training required to defend ourselves.

Intention and Intentionality

Intention and Intentionality have to be looked at together to really understand the subtle difference. When we have an intention to do something, we are actively seeking the opportunity to act.


If we intend to punch we will find an excuse to punch. Having the intentionality to punch means we have the potential. If we intend to do an emergency stop we will drive in such a way that it becomes necessary by driving into situations too quickly. Intention creates a self-fulfilling prophesy. Intending to drive as conscientiously as possible. Intending to live as peaceful and safe a life as possible. Now they are great intentions. I like them. Intentionality is better because everything is possible where necessary.


Intentionality is a different and essential ball game. Ever known the person who really hated reverse parking or parallel parking? Or the one who didn’t want to leave the left hand lane unless it was absolutely necessary? Likewise, we all know people who would not hurt a fly, who wince at the mere thought of violence.


Now let’s be realistic. You can lead a horse to water…My mother (RIP) was a living saint (but I am bound to say that) and I could teach her any technique I wanted just as I could hand her a rifle and tell her how to load it up and pull the trigger. None of that would change the fact that she would not willingly do something to hurt another being. Chances of her pulling the trigger of a rifle, even if her life was in danger? Zero.


Intentionality is the missing link between training, understanding the situation and EXECUTING the training effectively. Without intentionality, the physical training is a total waste of time although if the other aspects of training have been actioned (conflict avoidance and resolution), that person will get to go home safely.

If a situation does become unavoidably violent, the difference between you going home in one piece or becoming another victim, assuming you have the training to overcome the threat, will depend on whether or not you are prepared to do what it takes. Another important element will be how you can react while charged up with adrenalin and this is dealt with using adrenal stress training which is whole blog discussion in itself.


Assessment, Training, Appropriate Reaction

So there’s the process laid bare. Effective awareness should mean that fights are avoided most, if not all of the time. If things escalate to a fight, then we need to have the correct training to respond coupled with the stomach to put the training into practice.


Intentionality and adrenal stress training relate to mindset and mental programming. If you are interested in finding out more about this type of training, then drop me a line to find out about my open seminars and courses, regular classes and one-to-one sessions.

Stay safe and be productive.





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