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05/09/2005 Archived Entry: "Color Code of Mental Awareness"


Blogispondent Ian here again. That was the title of one of the lectures I heard as part of my rifle class at Front Sight. They said (several times) that it was the most important information they would give us during our training, and I'm inclined to agree. More than anything else, it will keep you from getting into a life-threatening situation in the first place - and as Sun Tzu said, the ultimate victory is to avoid a fight.

The concept behind the Color Code is by no means new, though I believe the first person to write it down in this format was Jeff Cooper. The basic idea is that there are five mental states which you can function in: white, yellow, orange, red, and black.

In condition White, you are basically unaware of your surroundings. You may be engrossed in a book, daydreaming during a class at school, or walking down the street reading the latest stock quotes. You aren't looking for potential threats or objects of interest. A good litmus test is that if someone can make you jump by saying "boo!", you are in condition White.

White is a bad place to be. In the best case, you may embarrass yourself by tripping on a curb when in White - and in the worst case, you might walk straight into a mugging.

The next level up on the scale is condition Yellow, which is where you should be as a general rule. In yellow, you are paying attention to what is going on around you, and watchful for anything out of the ordinary. In yellow, you would step to the far side of the sidewalk when passing a dark alley, and look down it as you pass (in White, you would simply amble past without even noticing that it was there). In Yellow, you know where the people around you are (or if you're driving, where the other cars on the road are and what they're doing). Yellow isn't paranoia, simply r)elaxed alertness. It enables you to spot trouble coming and either avoid it (if possible) or be ready for it (if you can't avoid it).

If, while in Yellow, you spot something that looks like a threat, you move to condition Orange. Orange is a state where you are paying close attention to something specific which may or may not be a genuine threat to you. For instance, you're walking down a city street and as you pass an alley, tywo guys turn out of it and being following you. Maybe it's a coincidence, but maybe they want to harm you. You obviously can't whip out your gat and plug them right there, but you definitely want to keep an eye on them.

I should point out here that even in Orange, you shouldn't be totally fixated on a potential problem, as it may not be the only potential problem, If you really do have a Bad Guy following you, he may well have a partner coming at you from another direction (a situation like this actually happened to a fellow on a forum I frequent).

The best thing you get from being in condition Yellow is a deterrant effect. Predators can see who is alert and who isn't, and they will very rarely make a move on someone who isn't likely to be an easxy victim. Simply by being alert, you can greatly lower your chances of ever needing to resort to anything more drastic.

Whatever the potential threat is, condition Orange is your opportunity to understand it and evade it if at all possible. If someone suspicious is following you down a city street, step into a store. If they continue past without paying any attention to you, then you can go back to Yellow. If they stop out front and wait for you, you know you have a problem to deal with. If you notice someone hanging out in the shadows next to an ATM at night, you would likely go into Orange, and hopefully decide to pass it b y and use another to get the money you need.

The key to Orange is to discern whether your potential threat is a real threat, and make a plan (or more likely, several plans) to deal with it. Firgure out how to evade the danger (plan A), and at the same time make a plan to combat it if you can't get away (plan B). This will probably involve doing anything you need to do to have ready access to your firearm, like unbuttoning a coat. You should make yourself ready to win a fight if one is unavoidable.

If the potential threat becomes a real threat, you move to condition Red. if the suspicious guy puts his hand in his pocket and moves towards you after you tell him to stop, you have a real threat. If the truck that has followed you through three or four consecutive turns lightly rear-ends you at a light and its occupants get out, you have a real threat. Once at this point, you should decide on a line in the sand at which you will use deadly force, while executing your plans made in condition Orange. For example, if a Bad Guy is demanding your wallet, reasonable lines in the sand might include seeing him produce a weapon, or having him advance towards ytou after you've already tossed your wallet at his feet.

If your line in the sand is crossed, you move to the last of the color codes: condition Black. At this point you are actively fighting - your primary concern is "front sight, press." If you've practiced decently well on the range, your shooting will be largely automatic.

Posted by Ian @ 02:38 PM CST

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